How The Select Committee Wrote A Prosecution Memo For Trump's Indictment

How The Select Committee Wrote A Prosecution Memo For Trump's Indictment

The House Select Committee investigating the January 2021 attack on the Capitol has referred former President Donald Trump and A handful of top aides to the Justice Department’s special counsel for criminal prosecution under four statutes related to impeding the transfer of power to Joe Biden after Trump lost the election.

The focused criminal referrals and short list of named possible defendants is a sign that the select committee is hoping to achieve accountability in federal court that was not forthcoming during Trump’s second impeachment – which was triggered by the insurrection -- according to former government lawyers.

“It’s important that the committee did not overcharge here,” said Norm Eisen, co-author of a Brookings Institution report on Trump’s post-election criminality. “The committee is disciplined in not naming a laundry list of individuals but pointing out that there are additional names that should be the subject of additional review by prosecutors that have powers that the committee did not [have] to get at the truth.”

After a final hearing Monday where committee members summarized a different aspect of their findings about Trump’s effort to seize a second term and unanimously voted to send the criminal referrals to the Justice Department, the committee issued an extensive executive summary that offered more details about the coup and the evidentiary basis for its criminal referrals.

“The committee’s report reads like a prosecution memo. It documents in meticulous detail the evidentiary basis for four separate crimes against Donald Trump and some key insiders,” said Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney and professor at the University of Michigan Law School. “They take each of the four crimes, they break them down into their essential elements, and they list the evidence that applies to each and every one of those elements.”

The crimes range from straightforward actions to more complicated activities. On the simpler side of this ledger, the committee cited the statute making it a crime to obstruct a government proceeding – in this case, congressional ratification of 2020’s Electoral College vote. A second charge, conspiracy to defraud the United States, refers to two months of pressure campaigns aimed at state officials and federal agencies to reverse and publicly question the election results – such as Trump telling the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” votes, and a later effort to push the Justice Department to tell states that their certified election results were inaccurate or fraudulent.

A third charge, conspiracy to make a false statement, concerned one part of that state-centered pressure campaign, where, in seven states, 84 Republicans who were following orders from Trump and his lawyers, signed and submitted fake Electoral College certificates declaring that Trump was their state’s winner.

“There is some evidence suggesting that some signatories of the fake certificates believed that the certificates were contingent, to be used only in the event that President Trump prevailed in litigation challenging the election results in their States,” the executive summary said. “That may be relevant to the question whether those electors knowingly and willfully signed a false statement at the time they signed the certificates. But it is of no moment to President Trump’s conduct, as President Trump (including acting through co-conspirators such as [lawyers] John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro) relied on the existence of those fake electors as a basis for asserting that the Vice President could reject or delay certification of the Biden electors.”

That paragraph was a rare instance of the executive summary naming Trump accomplices as co-conspirators, McQuade said, which suggests that they, like Trump, will almost certainly face prosecution if the special counsel pursues charges. Other named probable defendants include Trump’s lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato.

The committee also referred four members of Congress to the House Ethics Committee for refusing to testify: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is seeking to become the next Speaker of the House; Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is in line to become Judiciary Committee chair; Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ).

The fourth charge against Trump and his top aides and allies was the most sweeping; to “’Incite,’ ‘Assist’ or ‘Aid and Comfort’ an Insurrection.”

This accusation encompasses Trump summoning supporters to come to Washington; urging them in a rally on the mall to march to the Capitol; targeting Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding at the ratification; and then saying and doing nothing to stop the violence for nearly three hours that afternoon.

McQuade noted that the executive summary did not detail likely defenses to its recommended charges, such as Trump claiming that his speech on the mall before the riot was protected under the First Amendment. However, she said that the committee’s discussion of that charge noted Trump’s tweets during the riot inflamed the violence, which was not protected speech.

The report said:

“As explained throughout this Report and in this Committee’s hearings, President Trump was directly responsible for summoning what became a violent mob to Washington, DC, urging them to march to the Capitol, and then further provoking the already violent and lawless crowd with his 2:24 p.m. tweet about the Vice President. Even though President Trump had repeatedly been told that Vice President Pence had no legal authority to stop the certification of the election, he asserted in his speech on January 6 that if the Vice President “comes through for us” that he could deliver victory to Trump: “if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.” This created a desperate and false expectation in President Trump’s mob that ended up putting the Vice President and his entourage and many others at the Capitol in physical danger. When President Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m., he knew violence was underway. His tweet exacerbated that violence.”

The executive summary took a more cautious stance with seditious conspiracy charges, which involve coordinating with militias and fascist gangs like the Proud Boys before January 6. If Trump is charged and convicted on this count, the 14th Amendment would prohibit him from holding office, McQuade said, although that has “never been tested” in court.

It also said federal prosecutors should look at witness intimidation, and related issues -- such as how Trump used political donations to pay for lawyers and job offers to White House and campaign aides who had been subpoenaed to testify.

While the Justice Department’s Special Counsel Jack Smith will decide whether to bring charges, the select committee’s work is not symbolic. Never before has Congress referred a former president to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. And the voluminous cache of evidence gathered by the committee has few modern precedents, apart from the Watergate hearings in the early 1970s.

The committee's inquiry over the past 18 months held nine televised hearings, issued 400 subpoenas, conducted 1,000 witness interviews, and has amassed more than one million pages of documents and other files. One reason that only Trump and his top co-conspirators were named in the committee report is that prosecutors will try to ask or pressure accomplices with lesser roles in these actions to become prosecution witnesses.

“The dangerous assault on American constitutional democracy that took place on January 6, 2021, consists of hundreds of individual criminal offenses. Most such crimes are already being prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said. “Ours is not a system of justice where foot soldiers go to jail and the masterminds and ringleaders get a free pass.”

The Midterm Election Is Over, But Election Denial Conspiracies Persist

The Midterm Election Is Over, But Election Denial Conspiracies Persist

Republican candidates for governor, secretary of state and attorney general who denied the results or the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election were widely rejected by battleground state voters in 2022’s general election. But those results have not put stolen election conspiracies to rest nor silenced their promoters.

The multi-faceted narrative of massive illegal voting, voting rules changes favoring one party, and secret software that can reassign votes has resurfaced in election challenge lawsuits, fundraising pitches, and pro-Trump media with a new twist. Debunked falsehoods about 2020 are not just being portrayed as fact, but they are being cited to contend that many of 2022’s top races were similarly stolen.

“Our election system throughout the country is compromised and we got to do something about it,” said Jim Marchant, who ran for Nevada secretary of state, led a national coalition of election-denying secretary of state candidates, and on Tuesday told The Lindell Reportbroadcast that he lost in November only after 170,000 votes were switched in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located.

“Once again, the ’22 election proved they’re doing the same thing they did in ’18 and ’20, and certainly 2022,” Marchant said.

The persistence of election conspiracies in pro-Trump circles will shadow 2023’s state legislative sessions and American political culture where a lingering distrust of election officials, voting systems, and results have led to a loss of confidence in elections and has led to threats against state and local officials.

Nationally, nearly 180 election-denying candidates for federal and state office were elected in November’s general election, according to the Washington Post. The insistence that elections are untrustworthy already has led to a new round of 2023 state legislation to winnow voting options and to police various stages in the process. (A pending Supreme Court case could lessen the judiciary’s check on new voting laws, from gerrymanders to access to a ballot.)

The election-denial problem has deepened in recent years and has not shown signs of going away, according to recent reflections by top state election officials.

“Right now, we’re talking about mis- and disinformation,” said Judd Choate, Colorado director of elections, at a Thursday webinar on model state responses to these narratives hosted by the University of Minnesota’s election administration certificate program. “But it is fair to say that this has metastasized into other things like threats against election officials and making our lives all much more difficult in things like open records requests and endless lawsuits.”

On Tuesday’s Lindell Report, Marchant was joined by Nevada businessman Robert Beadles, who, among other things, has offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who can “prove me wrong” that more than 170,000 votes were secretly switched in Clark County during 2022’s general election.

Beadles’ and Marchant’s claim was based on reviving a conspiracy theory that was debunked in 2020 involving two software programs called “Hammer” and “Scorecard.” The programs, which were patented in 2008 and 2009, theoretically can access blocks of votes in counting systems and can then alter results. In 2020, Trump’s allies claimed that the software was used to tilt the presidential results. However, the Trump’s administration’s top cybersecurity official disagreed.

“On allegations that election systems were manipulated, 59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.’ #Protect2020,” Chris Krebs, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, tweeted in November 2020.

Nonetheless, Beadles and Marchant claim that the software had been used remotely to alter electronic vote counts in 2022 elections in Nevada and other states to the detriment of pro-Trump candidates. As “proof,” Beadles cited a 77-page statistical analysis that he said had found mathematical traces of the hack.

A Lindell Report host asked, “Where is this machine [hosting the software] running so that it can control all of these different outcomes?” Beadles replied that he did not know; the software “literally could be flipping votes from anywhere on the planet because everything is hooked up [to the Internet].”

Beadles also recited allegations that are not new in pro-Trump circles, but which have appeared in recent post-2022 election lawsuits, such as Kari Lake’s lawsuit to overturn Arizona’s gubernatorial election where she lost.

Nevada’s voter rolls were “corrupt,” Beadles said. Its vote-by-mail system invited fraud, he said. Ballot-collection campaigns – “harvesting” – should be illegal, and signatures on ballot return envelopes were not properly vetted, he said. And after paper ballots were scanned and the electronic counting began, Beadles said that the “Hammer” and “Scorecard” programs secretly reshuffled votes.

“That’s where the old switcheroo happens,” he said. “And we can also prove, just in the last general election, that they stole 174,000 votes from Jim Marchant, just in one county alone. So, he is the rightful winner for the secretary of state, and, again, there’s a $50,000 reward out there to prove me wrong.”

On November 22, Nevada’s Supreme Court and its departing Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, certified the 2022 general election results, which included Republican Joe Lombardo defeating Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. And other Nevada Republicans who took public office after claiming that Trump’s second term was stolen, have attested to the accuracy of 2022’s results.

Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf, a 2020 election denier who was appointed last summer and elected in November, oversaw an unofficial hand count of 17,700 general election ballots. The hand count found that Nye County’s voting system computers, made by Dominion, had correctly read 99.87 percent of the ballots, Kampf said Friday.

The incorrectly counted 0.13 percent were votes where voters had sloppily marked the ballot. Dominion’s system did not count those votes until county election workers – with political party observers watching – looked at a digital image of the ballot (made by the scanner) to determine the voter’s intent. A second looked resulted in reassigning the sloppily marked vote.

“It was something that everyone needed to see,” said a Nye County clerk's office employee, referring to the system’s accuracy. “There’s always a doubt.”

But Beadles, who is continuing to cast doubt on elections where his preferred candidates lost, keeps spreading misinformation.

“No human is verifying that the votes are legitimate,” he said Tuesday on The Lindell Report, where he made no mention of Nye County’s hand count.
Winning Georgia Senate Seat, Warnock Overcomes Final GOP Push

Winning Georgia Senate Seat, Warnock Overcomes Final GOP Push

In a stunning finale to 2022’s midterm elections, Georgians reelected Sen. Raphael Warnock in a runoff that concluded Tuesday night, when the incumbent Democrat and Atlanta pastor defeated Herschel Walker, a football star who was handpicked by Donald Trump but rejected by the Peach State’s diverse urban and suburban voters.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Warnock had won by 95,000 votes out of more than 3.4 million votes cast, a margin of 2.8 percent in a race where Warnock campaigned vigorously on his accomplishments – and the state Democratic Party and many grassroots civil rights groups urged Georgians to vote. Walker, in contrast, sought to leverage his celebrity to be elected to high office, but his campaign was shadowed by disturbing revelations about his personal life and further impaired by dodging questions and making strange statements in speeches. He conceded the race before 11 p.m.

By the campaign’s close, Walker reverted to clichéd Republican talking points that mocked Democrats, while Warnock continued to speak of his state’s unmet needs and his hope that they could be addressed in Washington. Despite that contrast in substance and leadership capacities, the runoff’s margin underscored that Georgia’s Republican voters still are a formidable and loyal bloc in one of the country’s newest battleground states.

When Warnock took the stage after 11 p.m., he pledged to work for all Georgians in sermon-like remarks that framed his election as an affirmation of American democracy’s progress.

“It is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: the people have spoken,” he said. “I often say that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children. Voting is faith put into action. And Georgia, you have been praying with your lips and your legs; with your hands and your feet; your heads and your hearts. You have put in the hard work, and here we are standing together.”

Warnock, who was elected to a two-year term in 2020 that also required a runoff election, is the first Black Georgian to be elected to a full term as a U.S. senator. He noted how his parents had struggled under segregation, and how voter suppression was still very much alive in his state.

“There are those who would look at the outcome of this race and say that there is no voter suppression in Georgia,” Warnock said. “Let me be clear. Just because people endured long lines that wrapped around buildings, some a block long; just because they endured the rain and the cold, and all kinds of tricks in order to vote, doesn’t mean that voter suppression does not exist. It simply means that you, the people, have decided that your voices will not be silenced.

“Let us not forget that when we entered this runoff, in a vestige of the ugly side of our complicated American story, state officials said that we couldn’t vote on Saturday,” Warnock continued. “But we sued them, and we won. And the people, once again, rose up in a multi-racial, multi-religious coalition of conscience… and you voted because you believe as I do.”

Warnock was referring to a mid-1960s state law that required a runoff when no candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote. That law was adopted to try to keep Black candidates from winning office. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, initially said that GOP-authored election law modifications adopted in 2021 (after Democrats won the state’s presidential and senatorial elections) barred Saturday voting in a shortened runoff season.

Ironically, various provisions in that GOP-drafted law, as well as Trump’s proclamations that the only votes that should count are those cast in person on Election Day, probably undermined Republican turnout during the runoff. As the results trickled in, it was clear that many more Democrats than Republicans took advantage of voting before Election Day, as well as using mailed-out ballots. Moreover, the weather on Tuesday across metro Atlanta and surrounding counties, where most of the state’s voters from both major parties are concentrated, was dismal – foggy, damp, and cold. Such conditions often depress turnout, especially among older voters, who are a key GOP constituency.

As the runoff came to a close, Republican strategists said that Walker needed voters in GOP-majority rural counties to turn out in comparable or slightly better numbers than in November’s general election, where he trailed Warnock by 38,000 votes. (A Libertarian candidate prevented any contender from winning more than 50 percent.) Walker also needed to boost his numbers by roughly five percent in metro Atlanta counties, where Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who was re-elected in November, received tens of thousands more votes than the football star.

While Republicans predicted that Kemp’s last-minute efforts to boost the former football hero's candidacy could prove pivotal, Walker never obtained the votes that he needed in the Atlanta region. In rural areas, by contrast, Walker’s support remained strong. Yet Warnock didn't lose votes in rural counties and saw his support grow in the state’s metro regions.

Visits to precincts north of Atlanta where Walker hoped to increase his support – because Kemp won by large margins – hinted that he would fall short. In a half-dozen precincts in Cobb County, a stretch of suburbs on Atlanta’s north side, the turnout was steady but generally not crowded. There were hardly any elderly voters visible. And voters repeatedly said that neither last-minute campaign ads for both candidates nor Kemp’s efforts on Walker’s behalf changed many voters' intentions.

“People had their mind made up,” said Amie Carter, who works in technology sales. “Spending all that money on paper and TV ads was probably not very influential.”

Monica Brown, a Black social scientist who worked to turn out Black voters in Cobb County, said Walker’s history of domestic violence and buffoonish campaign trail antics mortified many people in communities of color.

“When we think of Black excellence – this notion that you have to be more prepared, better – in this particular race, where was that excellence?” she asked. “We cannot afford to lessen it. What is the rationale for picking this guy?”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

latinas to the polls

In Georgia Runoff It's Loud, Visible Democrats Versus Quiet, Covert Republicans

The margins are razor-thin in Georgia’s Senate runoff that ends on December 7, according to interviews with dozens of party insiders, grassroot organizers, and voters at polls and rallies across the state during the past week.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, appeared to lead as early voting concluded on Friday – a sentiment affirmed by CNN’s latest poll, which reached voters from Thanksgiving weekend through last Tuesday. But Republicans say that their base prefers voting in person at local precincts on Election Day, fueling their hope hat a surge will elect Herschel Walker, the Georgia football star whose Republican candidacy was propelled by Donald Trump.

As early voting closed, 1.83 million Georgians had voted in person or returned mailed-out ballots, according to the secretary of state’s office. While daily turnout broke records, including 350,000 votes cast on Friday, only 26 percent of Georgians with active voter registrations have voted so far. In contrast, during 2020’s runoffs when control of the Senate was at stake, about 4.5 million votes were cast.

In many respects, both parties are reverting to core values and loyalties to bring out voters. At Walker’s rallies this week, he presented himself as a man who has been redeemed by Christianity and, if elected, would oppose the "evil" policies put forth by Democrats and the Biden administration.

Such religious and party orthodoxies were well-received by his supporters, who, in interviews after a Walker rally, mentioned that Trump’s offensive behavior did not stop the former president from enacting policies they approved. And, of course, Walker’s status as a football legend and “good old boy” was appealing.

“Everybody in Georgia loves Herschel. You should have seen that boy run,” said Fran, a retired furniture store owner, who declined to give her last name while attending a Walker rally on Monday in Toccoa, in the state’s northeast corner.

Interviews with voters in Republican strongholds, such as Hall County north of Atlanta, suggested that party loyalty – including the last-minute endorsement of Walker by Gov. Brian Kemp, the state’s top-ranking Republican, who did not back Walker in the primary election, will push party faithful to vote on Tuesday.

“I do think it will have some influence on people,” Sloane Mattadeen, who serves in the U.S. Navy, said after voting. “I think there is some authority there.”

On the other hand, Walker has an uphill climb. He received 200,000 votes less than Kemp in the general election and was 38,000 votes behind Warnock out of nearly 4 million votes cast statewide. What makes Democrats nervous is that Walker’s campaign has been eerily quiet in all but the state’s remote regions.

“They ran a quiet, very covert campaign this entire midterm,” said a Democratic congressional staffer who asked not to be named. “You didn’t see Kemp. If it was not for Donald Trump and his big mouth, you may not even know what was going on with Herschel Walker. You don’t see them when they come for fundraisers… The Republicans are making phone calls, but it is not overt at all.”

The GOP’s latest lawn signs do not mention Walker’s name; they just urge people to vote Republican. Typically, one usually sees one or two lawn signs for Walker, which contrasts with a half-dozen or more signs for Warnock on busy streets.

A former state government press aide who recently took a private sector job said that many of Georgia’s Republican leaders are tired of all things Trump, including his hand-picked candidates like Walker. That partly accounts for the lower-profile messaging, he said, adding that the GOP base understands Kemp’s signals.

Whether that comment applies equally to men and women is another variable. As of Friday morning, about 10 percent more women had voted compared to men, the secretary of state's office reported. (Academic experts said that split was normal in Georgia elections.)

Walker’s anti-abortion stance, despite his history of previously paying for abortions and of domestic abuse, both of which Democrats have publicized, was downplayed by several women who said they had just voted for Walker. Other voters, women and men who said they were voting for Warnock, said that Walker’s character was deeply flawed. Black voters went further and said that his candidacy was perpetuating ugly stereotypes about Black men that they have worked for years to overcome.

More Visible Democrats

In contrast, the Warnock campaign and many get-out-the-vote efforts addressing constituencies likely to support him have been highly visible and vocal. Groups that barely existed a few years ago have been conducting voter drives as part of longer-term efforts to empower their communities.

In a warehouse district north of Atlanta on Friday, three dozen volunteers – mostly young women wearing black sweatshirts saying “Go VOTA” – assembled for a car caravan through nearby neighborhoods to urge Latina women to vote. They also planned to knock on 1,000 doors. Organizers from seven groups behind this effort said they already had made more than 90,000 phone calls to voters.

There are grassroot efforts like this across the state. By Friday morning, more than 800,000 white voters had cast ballots, 477,000 Black voters had cast ballots and 24,000 Hispanic voters had cast ballots, the state data hub reported. While the Hispanic numbers were low compared to other groups, this voter drive’s organizers said their voters could make a difference if margins are close.

“I was born in Georgia and raised in Gwinnett County, a lovely multicultural, multi-lingual community,” said Leslie Palomino, senior canvass lead for Georgia at PoderLatinx. “Growing up in a mixed-status family led me, the middle child in a household of five, to become the first eligible voter. Today, I’ll be casting my vote alongside my sister, Kimberly Palomino. Latinas are a powerful force and today we make our voice heard.”

A few minutes later, Palomino and a caravan of flag-waving, horn-honking volunteers left to visit one early voting site and then rouse voters. There was no comparable effort from Republicans anywhere in sight.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Grassroots Organizers Mobilize Infrequent Rural Voters In Georgia Runoff

Grassroots Organizers Mobilize Infrequent Rural Voters In Georgia Runoff

ANDERSONVILLE, GEORGIA. – Late Tuesday afternoon, there were more barking dogs than people to be seen among the weathered homes on the outskirts of Andersonville, a small town in southwest Georgia known for its infamous Civil War prison.

But the quiet did not stop Tammye Pettyjohn Jones, who chairs Sisters in Service of Southwest Georgia and works with many local non-profit groups, and a caravan of like-minded community activists, from seeking Black voters to remind them of the U.S. Senate runoff and urge them to vote.

A motorcade, led by Jones driving an eye-catching Black Voters Matter van whose sides were printed with scenes from the last century’s Civil Rights Movement [AI1] and new slogans such as “WE WON’T BLACK DOWN… cuz freedom is our birthright!” pulled off the road in front of every cluster of homes. At a set of old duplexes, the smell of a leaking gas pipeline hung in the air – a health and environmental hazard.

Undeterred, teams of women who have lived for decades in the area fanned out with voter guides, cards reminding voters that a U.S. senator could help disadvantaged people and lawn signs saying Black people have power. Jennifer Watts, a Sumter County public defender dressed in a crisp white jacket, saw an elderly man at his door and started talking as she walked over. Charlie Hill stepped onto his porch.

“Early voting has started. It started Monday. It goes through Friday,” Watts said. “You can go to Americus to vote early, or you can wait until the actual Election Day, December 6.”

Hill said little more than “Okay.”

“We’re out telling you about this election and making sure everyone is registered,” Watts continued. “Are you registered?”

He nodded and then saw that his cousin, Nanette Hill, was among a handful of women handing out the information. Then he started talking and joking.

“So, you’re related to Kurt and all of those?” Watts asked. “Well, tell your family and friends about the voting.”

“We’re doing it,” he replied, sounding like he would vote in the runoff.

Across Georgia, the candidates, incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and Herschel Walker, a Georgia football legend and Republican, and their parties are spending millions on a final round of messaging that smacks their opponent. The runoff was triggered because no candidate won more than 50 percent in the general election. With nearly four million votes cast, Warnock led Walker by only 37,000 votes, elevating the importance of turnout in across rural Georgia. The state has 159 counties, of which perhaps 100 are outside of its metro areas.

The mission and messaging exemplified by Jones’ team is different. They and other civic groups throughout the state hope to engage registered-but-reluctant voters by outreach that emphasizes personal ties, local concerns, and solutions. In the short run, the activists are focused on the runoff. Their long-term goal is engaging voters to make conservative-led counties more representative.

“It is especially important to empower these Black Belt counties and for minority voters in these ruby red counties to know that their votes do matter,” said Ray McClendon, NAACP Atlanta political action chair. “If we can pick up 1,000 votes in this county and 1,500 votes in another county, although it will look like it’s Fulton or DeKalb [counties in metro Atlanta] that put [a winner] over the top, it really is the aggregation of these counties that went from ruby red to purple that made the difference.”

But it all hinges on convincing more people that voting matters.

“The dogs keep on barking, and they just keep on talking,” said Jones, smiling at the canvassers. Jones, a Tuskegee University graduate, and chemical engineer, is overseeing voter outreach in several counties centered around the small city of Americus, near Plains, where former President Jimmy Carter lives.

As the twilight deepened and a half-dozen lawn signs saying, “Black Voters Matter,” “Vote Today” and “It’s about us,” were planted in a town that was the site of the Confederacy’s most notorious Civil War prison and later home to a national cemetery, Jones yelled, “Let’s go. The sun is going down.”

Why Rural Organizing Is Different

One fifth of Georgia’s voters live in its rural areas. Jones explained why rural organizing is different than in metro areas. To start, people are spread out over large areas, and it takes time to visit them. Many rural voters also do not have access to the same media and information sources as voters in metro areas.

In much of southwest Georgia, there are no local TV news departments or daily newspapers, Jones explained. The Internet is spotty. Not every home has cable TV. Those factors elevate the role of attention-grabbing efforts like motorcades and knowing how to engage voters.

“The main message is to let our rural people know there is a runoff,” she said.

Jones, like many organizers, is running phone banks and help hotlines. She also has created events, like a basketball tournament on Saturday, December 3, where everyone who shows up will first hear a brief presentation on how and where to vote. They will get shirts printed with a QR code that takes viewers to an online “Georgia Runoff Voter Guide.” The multilingual guide has information on local voting options, locations, hours and a summary of the candidates’ positions.

Behind these visible efforts are data-driven analyses to pinpoint pockets of unengaged voters and digital tools that make it easier for voters to register and get a ballot into their hands.

“We’re targeting them based on data,” Jones said. “We had to comb through a lot of data from the midterms. We looked at neighborhoods, precincts, women, men, ages. We made choices around ‘These are the areas we’re going to phone bank,’ and ‘These are the areas we’re gonna go hit in person,’ because we can get a bigger bang for the buck.”

High Touch, High Tech

A half-hour after leaving Andersonville, the Black Voters Matter van and several cars pulled into Magnolia Village, a recently renovated low-income apartment complex in Americus, the Sumter County seat. After parking, Jones greeted Dr. Brooks Robinson, the exuberant assistant principal of a local grade school.

Robinson, a tall, broad-shouldered man not yet in middle age, saw someone getting into their car and walked up the driveway to the driver’s window.

“How you doing sir? We want to give you some information about voting… Are you planning to vote,” he began. When the man tentatively replied, “Uh, I might,” – which probably meant that he wasn’t – Robinson took another tact.

“Do I know you? Where do you know me from,” he asked, taking a friendlier and a less business-like tone. Cedric Hurley, 37, replied, “from school.”

“Alright, you gotta go vote,” Robinson said.

Robinson asked Hurley if he was registered and when he last voted. Hurley didn’t quite remember. Robinson said he could check. He asked if Hurley wanted to use his phone to go to a state website to find out. Jones joined the conversation.

“It’s real simple,” she said, asking Hurley if she could use his phone for a minute. She entered the initial of his first name, last name, county, and date of birth.

“Yes! Your name’s Cedric, isn’t it? You’re registered,” she said. “You can go this week for early voting. Take your ID.”

But then Jones paused. She saw that Hurley was listed as an inactive voter, which meant that he had not voted in several years. She explained what that meant.

“You just go down here, to the old Sumter County fairground, tomorrow, Thursday or Friday. Take your ID. You can vote. They’ll just lift that immediately off and make you active again,” Jones said.

“You want me to go with you, Cedric?” Robinson asked. “Oh no,” he replied.

This personal touch, known as relational organizing, and tools such as checking one’s voter registration status online, have evolved since 2020, when Georgia’s two U.S. Senate contests also went into runoffs.

In 2020’s election and runoffs, a coalition of older civil rights groups led by NAACP Atlanta and newer groups such as Black Voters Matter made a deliberate effort to collaborate – instead of duplicating efforts. Other civic groups, such as Black fraternities and sororities, and professional organizations such as the Masons, who have chapters across the state, participated.

In 2022, those efforts have grown. In urban areas, such as the counties around Atlanta, groups like the Center for Common Ground have identified every precinct where at least 40 percent of registered Black voters have voted, said Monica Brown, Ph.D., a social science researcher leading that effort.

Metro Atlanta’s Cobb County was her top priority. “They have the most ‘super voters,’ but they also have the most inactive voters,” Brown said, interviewed in a parking lot after giving volunteers door hangers to put up in underperforming precincts. The literature listed voting options, locations, instructions, numbers to call for rides and other help, as well as issues that mattered to more suburban voters.

In southwest Georgia, where there were fewer voters, Jones said the targeting was different. She focused on reaching voters in county commissioner districts. That would “hold the line” for the Senate runoffs and nurture a base to elect more responsive representatives in future local and state elections.

“We’ve got a strategy,” she said. “I believe it will work.”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

In Senate Runoff, Georgia's Organizers Defy GOP Attack On Voting Rights

In Senate Runoff, Georgia's Organizers Defy GOP Attack On Voting Rights

On the only day of Sunday voting before Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff, the auto-parts store parking lot across the street from Atlanta’s Metropolitan Library looked and sounded more like a block party than a get-out-the-vote event.

“We’re having a good time on this corner. If you feel the spirit, let me hear your horn. Come on!” bellowed D.J. Concrete Kash above a sound system that played gospel music and was next to several orange shade tents filled with free food, water, hand warmers and voter guides.

“We have five or six organizations out here coming together to say, ‘Hey, we believe in what you all are doing,” said Chandra Gallashaw, a community organizer. “Georgia Stand Up is over there. The NAACP. Black Voters Matter. We Vote, We Win… It has nothing to do with anyone running for office. It has to do with these people over there in line exercising their right, their constitutional right to vote.”

The tables at this pro-voter effort comprised some of Georgia’s oldest and newest non-profit civil rights groups. While they were careful not to endorse any candidate, their presence was a powerful rejoinder to the state’s GOP-led government, whose 2021 legislation banned giving food and water to anyone waiting to vote, among other roll backs of voting options.

“As we know, our governor [Republican Brian Kemp] banned us from being able to give water in line. We have to be 150 feet away from the polls,” said Mykah Owens, a campaign associate with We Vote We Win. “One of our guys measured and made sure that we’re far enough from the polls so we won’t get in trouble.”

“We had to do something,” said Gallashaw. “The fact we cannot give water in line to people who stand in line for two or three hours… Some of these folks are 70, 80 years old. Some of them are diabetic. They have health issues.”

A similar “Party to the Polls” was held at three of Fulton County’s two-dozen voting sites on Sunday and will continue through the early voting period which ends on Friday. While the event was a rarity in this populous county, its significance was not lost on Black voters.

“I love the fact that although they tried to pass a law where you couldn’t give water and things to people in line, they just put it across the street,” said Yasha Yisrael, who, with her husband, Chasum Yisrael, were sipping free smoothies from one of three food trucks. “It’s amazing.”

“It’s something that should have been done all along and I hope they continue it,” she continued, “because it does encourage more people who would not normally vote who are registered to come in and vote because they feel this sense of community.”

“Every effort is being tried to stop our right to vote,” said Chasum Yisreal. “We’ve got to be smart about it.”

The couple said that they did not know who the newer civic groups were. But across the state’s 159 counties, a coalition of community-based organizations, from mainstays like the NAACP and sororities and fraternities from historically Black colleges and universities to new groups targeting younger people, are making a determined effort to turn out voters for the Senate runoff and to keep in touch year round to try to change state’s political representation.

Georgia, as Rep. Nikema Williams told the Democratic National Committee last June in a bid to urge the DNC to move up its 2024 presidential primary date, is one of the nation’s most racially diverse states with growing Black, Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander populations. It is the fifth-ranked state for women-owned businesses and 41 percent of all businesses are minority owned, which is double the national average. But cosmopolitan Atlanta is surrounded by the old South, where conservatives continue to dominate county and municipal government.

That landscape has turned every recent Georgia election into a struggle to engage voters. The Senate runoff was no exception and is operating under some new voting rules.

This is the first time that a statewide runoff is being held one month after Election Day. That timetable is half as long as the state’s two U.S. Senate runoff elections in 2020 and was created by the GOP’s 2021 legislation. One impact of the shorter timetable is to block new voters from registering. It also is too tight a timeline to obtain and return a mailed-out ballot.

Additionally, the legislation shortened the runoff’s early voting period to one week, although some metro counties expanded it through this past weekend, and a few counties started before Thanksgiving. (Republicans tried to bar voting on Saturday but lost in court last week.)

The early turnout numbers suggest that voters are not deterred by the 2021 law’s tightening of voting options. On Sunday, Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, tweeted that some metro Atlanta voting sites were experiencing waits of two hours. The wait at the Metropolitan Library’s first day of early voting on Saturday was as long, said We Vote, We Win’s Owens.

“We had over a two-hour wait yesterday. You usually don’t see that until the end of early voting – more towards the Election Day,” she said. “People are paying attention.”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Lacking Evidence (And Lawyers), Arizona Trumpsters Want Midterm Overturned

Lacking Evidence (And Lawyers), Arizona Trumpsters Want Midterm Overturned

Trump Republicans who are seeking to overturn Arizona’s 2022 general election are preparing to sue up to 15 counties with the hope that they find a judge who will be sympathetic to a litany of conspiratorial claims, according to recruitment and briefing materials sent Wednesday seeking lawyers, plaintiffs, and funds.

The materials from “Arizona Constitutional Advocates,” which do not specify which race, or races, they contend were improperly administered, also suggest that the supporters of losing Trump-affiliated candidates will sue whether or not they are represented by a lawyer.

Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and GOP secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem were defeated, according to the media’s preliminary projections. Neither contest, as of Thursday, would trigger a legal recount.

Lake, in her first statement since losing to Democrat Katie Hobbs, said Thursday that she was assembling the “best and brightest legal team… to right these wrongs.” That boast was at odds, however, with the materials circulated by her supporters to hastily assemble a lawsuit to try to block Hobbs’ victory.

“There is a narrow window of 5 days after the election Certification to file a suit-complaint that out election was flawed,” said minutes from a Wednesday meeting by the Gila County Election Integrity Team. “We need to prepare now!”

“If no attorneys, we as plaintiffs could represent ourselves,” it said, under a section entitled “The Plan.”

“The goal in getting the case to many counties [is] so we could find judges that are favorable to hearing the case as we’ve had about 6 rejections in the past 2 years for other voting suits in Maricopa County. As we know the judges can be part of the problem.”

Six documents described the strategy. Two are filing instructions and forms, and court fees, for Maricopa County Superior Court, which is based in Phoenix. The others are the group’s Wednesday minutes, “Election Fraud Claim Info for Possible Plaintiffs,” “Grounds [to sue],” and “Redress of Grievances,” which describes filing of affidavits -- and “How To Call In The Military.”

Many of the purported claims have been circulating in far-right circles since Donald Trump lost the 2020 election in Arizona and nationwide. Some claims are newer and based on glitches that led to 17,000 ballots not being accepted by scanners in Maricopa County’s vote centers on Election Day. Those ballots, whose ink was too light to be read, were set aside, secured, and counted later.

However, none of the 22 issues listed in “Grounds” document specified how general election votes were improperly cast, or improperly counted, in a manner that would alter outcomes – which is the legal threshold to contest an election.

“Anyone can file a lawsuit for the filing fee,” said Chris Sautter, an election lawyer who has specialized in post-election challenges and recounts since the 1980s. “If you’re not doing a recount, the vehicle by which you challenge an election result is a contest. And in an election contest, you have to demonstrate in your pleadings that were it not for the actions you were contesting that the result would be different.”

Sautter reviewed the briefing materials and said that they were vaguer than the 60 lawsuits filed by Trump’s lawyers after the 2020 election that led to every suit except one on a procedural matter being rejected by state and federal courts.

“This is all reminiscent of the kinds of cases that were filed by Trump and his allies following the 2020 election, only these seem to be worse,” he said. “They’re more amateurish. At least, with Trump, you had lawyers in those cases, who knew how to frame the cause of action [when filing a suit]. You’re not going to get anywhere by just going in pro se and representing yourself and throwing out a bunch of allegations that will be dismissed pretty quickly.”

Sautter also said suing in multiple counties to find a sympathetic judge was naïve.

“These people are not going to outsmart the system, which seems to be what they are trying to do,” he said.

The Newest Allegations

The first allegation is one that Trump Republicans raised before Election Day in a few red-run counties. A handful of activists had urged county supervisors to replace state-approved vote-counting computers with a hand count – which none of the counties had done recently. The activists claim the federal accreditation of the testing labs that approved technology used in Arizona had expired.

“If the Lab was not accredited, the voting machines were not certified,” the minutes said. “And if the voting machines were not certified, the vote count (canvass) cannot be certified… and the election cannot be certified.”

The next allegation – “failure of audit without remedy” – concerned Cochise County, which still wants to do a hand count. The county’s attorney “refused to represent them – a dereliction of duty,” the minutes said, referring to a county attorney who said that state law clearly barred a county-run hand count.

The next allegation – “disenfranchisement” – claimed that voters in Maricopa County whose ballots were rejected by scanners were blocked from voting.

“If you are in Arizona, and you are one of the many who was turned away at the polls, or you had your ballot rejected, or later learned your vote was not counted – then sign and notarize a statement saying you were disenfranchised,” the minutes said. “Email your signed affidavit to”

Another document that listed 22 “Grounds for Election Complaints—Maricopa & Other Counties” was even vaguer. It cited the above claims, and then issues such as “Lack of county department transparency,” “registration problems,” “no day of election records,” and more long-standing complaints from Trump Republicans.

“People came to voting centers to specifically be able to have their vote counted the day of elections were thereby unable to have their vote counted the day of the election, and potentially compromised their voter intent,” it said, reviving Trump’s contention that only votes cast on Election Day should count.

Among the “resources” to be viewed by possible plaintiffs were videos from Rumble, a pro-Trump media platform, “If Arizona Gets Stolen, Here’s How to Fight It,” a YouTube interview with 2020 election conspiracy theorist Cleta Mitchell, a segment from InfoWars, the website run by Alex Jones, who recently lost a major suit for attacking the parents of school children killed in the Newtown, Connecticut mass shooting.

“We seek bold trusted patriots who have had enough of stolen elections,” said a document seeking plaintiffs in 15 Arizona counties. “We’re working together to redress our claims at the courts and pray some judges hear our cases.”

Trump Gang Scrambling To File Suit Denying Kari Lake's Arizona Defeat

Trump Gang Scrambling To File Suit Denying Kari Lake's Arizona Defeat

Diehard Trump Republicans inside and outside of Arizona who cannot fathom that Kari Lake is projected to lose Arizona’s 2022 governor’s race are frantically trying to assemble a lawsuit to block the certification of the victory by Katie Hobbs, a Democrat and Arizona’s current secretary of state.

“We need 3-5 Attorneys. Please call any you think might be interested and see if they are willing to support the cause without the retainers,” said the top item on a Tuesday email sent by the Gila County Election Integrity Team. “The suit will be prepared by experienced legal writers.”

“We need to reach and recruit voters or candidates in other counties to become plaintiffs and get them up to speed,” it continued. “Who can help? Please shake the trees.”

On Monday night, national media called the race for Hobbs, who won 50.4 percent — or 1,266,922 votes — compared to Lake’s 49.6 percent — 1,247,428 votes. Those results, based on counting 98 percent of the votes, is a bigger than the 0.5 percent margin in Arizona law that would trigger a recount.

“Arizonans know BS when they see it,” Lake texted on Monday evening.

Lake, a former Fox News broadcaster in Phoenix whose political rise was based on viewers’ familiarity with her and Lake’s mimicry of Trump’s stances, led by claims that his re-election bid was stolen, publicly had been criticizing the counting process in Maricopa County, its most populous county.

Officials in Maricopa County, which is run by non-Trump Republicans who spent much of 2021 fending off election conspiracy accusations, replied that Lake did not understand how election are run and were offensive – given that hundreds of thousands of mailed-out ballots had been returned on Election Day and election workers had been putting in 18-hour days to count votes.

Before Monday’s media projection of her loss, Lake had been telling nationally known 2020 election deniers – such as True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht – that she planned to fight any outcome but a gubernatorial victory.

In her podcast last Friday, Engelbrecht said that she had spoken to Lake and was inspired by Lake’s determination to keep fighting – unlike other Trump-endorsed candidates in Arizona who had conceded.

“It’s one of the reasons we came to Arizona because Kari Lake is not quitting in the face of such uncertainty,” said Engelbrecht, who, with Gregg Phillips, a fellow conspiracy theorist at True the Vote, had been jailed for contempt of court on Halloween in an unrelated defamation case where they had accused an election vendor of giving China access to voter data.

“Tuesday’s election… didn’t go quite like many felt that it would,” Engelbrecht said. “But I submit to you it was sort of the same song, second verse. The things that go wrong on Election Day, and went wrong in 2020, went wrong in 2022. Like [voting] machines going out, not enough paper [ballots], bad chain of custody [of ballots], the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, elections taking far too long to resolve… what we want to avoid is becoming the new normal.”

Phillips said that he and Engelbrecht, who voter fraud fabrications were featured in the misinformation-laced film about the 2020 presidential election by Dinesh D’Souza, 2000 Mules, said the goal was stopping Maricopa County’s certification of the victories by Hobbs and other Democrats in top statewide races. (Phillips, Engelbrecht, and D’Souza have been sued for defamation by voters who were falsely accused onscreen of illegally casting absentee ballots.)

“Our view of it is that you always have to stop the certification,” Phillips said. “Once the certification happens, pretty much the cat’s out of the bag; it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle and everything goes wrong. But we have really learned some interesting things here because of this delay [in counting].”

Phillips said the county’s use of an Arizona-based ballot printing and election technology, Runbeck Election Services, to pre-process mailed out ballots – to vet the authenticity of voters’ signatures on the ballot return envelopes – opened up several avenues to argue that Maricopa County did not follow state law.

“We can now define them inside certain large buckets,” he said. “Like chain of custody issues [transporting ballots securely, and] issues that they have in compliance with the law relative to signature verification.”

On Monday’s edition of the J.D. Rucker Show on, a pro-Trump online platform, New Jersey attorney Leo Donofrio outlined another line of legal attack. He focused on the response by Maricopa County to the intermittent breakdown of ballot printers in 30 percent of its 223 voting centers on Election Day.

Bill Gates, the Republican lawyer who chairs Maricopa County's board of supervisors, told voters that they could put their ballots in a secure box at the vote centers to be counted later, or they could go to another vote center.

That advice was no guarantee that these ballots had been counted, Donofrio said, and it put voters at risk for voting twice, which exposed them to criminal charges.

“There is no function [in voting systems] for a voter to check out of a polling location once they have checked in… That is a complete fiction,” he said. “It’s like [the 1977 song] Hotel California, J.D., ‘You can check in, but you can never leave.’”

The “Gila County Election Integrity Team” said they would be meeting on Wednesday and communicating via a group chat on Telegram, another social media site. It urged insiders to reach out to Andy Gould, a state appeals county judge, “to seek behind the scenes support,” and Mick McGuire, a retired general who ran unsuccessfully for the 2022 GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, to see “if he can help also with statewide supporters who would be plaintiffs, or perhaps he would, [as] he is high profile and well liked.”

Throughout the vote counting process and Lake’s attacks on election officials, Hobbs rejected the charges and urged Arizona to be patient.

“Despite what my election-denying opponent is trying to spin, the pattern and cadence of incoming votes are exactly what we expected,” Hobbs said Friday. “In fact, they mirror what [political trends] our state has seen in recent elections. We must remain patient and let our election officials do their jobs.”

Polls Miss Again As Voters Mobilize To Protect Elections and Abortion Rights

Polls Miss Again As Voters Mobilize To Protect Elections and Abortion Rights

In 2022’s general election, the most consequential results were not just the defeat of Trump Republicans and continuing reaffirmation of abortion rights. It was what those choices by majorities of voters said about their expectations for American democracy. The electoral system did not sabotage the clear will of voters, but, instead, aided turnout by offering many options to vote, including mail ballots.

There is no single explanation for the still-emerging outcomes in blue and red states. Indeed, some red states saw Trump Republicans whose 2022 candidacies were launched by the U.S. Capitol insurrection win – or at least stay ahead as votes were being counted at the weekend.

But the rejection of Trump-backed candidates, support for core freedoms like abortion rights, record turnouts in key states – lifted by convenient mailed-out ballots, and civil servants’ ability to handle turnout and run an orderly process -- was not what many polls and pundits were forecasting before Election Day.

Indeed, the same outlets that on Veterans Day were reporting that “vote integrity and abortion” shaped the midterms were, for weeks, citing polls that said 2022’s voters mostly cared about the price of gas, food, and inflation. Democracy and freedom were not on the ballot, apparently, until it was discovered they were.

“The polls were telling us that people didn’t care about democracy or abortion. In fact, that’s what they cared about,” said one analyst in a Thursday briefing. “Our interest [is not] in who won this election, but that this country continued to have free and fair elections and that our freedoms continued to be protected… Any other narrative about what happened is going to leave us vulnerable again.”

Election Deniers Rejected

It’s easy to overlook that these outcomes were possible because the nation’s election infrastructure – the multitude of election officials and poll workers, and the technologies they use to verify voters and count ballots – did the job that most Americans have expected over the years. That assumption changed, of course, during the course of Donald Trump’s presidency, when Trump started attacking the accuracy of the system before he was elected, and especially after he was defeated in 2020. Millions of Republicans believed him and still do.

For the past two years, Trump and his allies hoped to create a path for a 2024 comeback by pushing national and state GOP organizations to back candidates for state constitutional offices that had varying degrees of authority to alter the rules surrounding access to a ballot, how votes are counted, and winners are certified. Many of those same candidates also embraced Trump’s belligerent attitude and vowed to revive culture wars – led by banning abortion.

That unofficial Republican Party platform, where many current GOP candidates claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, expressed little reluctance to tilting voting rules for the GOP’s benefit, and assailed many civil rights, became known as “election denialism” in the press and political circles.

The earliest returns on Tuesday night showed election deniers losing key state and federal races in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. By midday Thursday, only five new election-denying candidates out of 94 seeking statewide office had been elected, according to the States United Democracy Center, a bipartisan pro-democracy organization that has been monitoring these candidates.

“Election Denial as a platform was a new tactic we saw this year, and the results show that it didn’t work,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action, its advocacy arm. “So far, most of the Election Deniers who have won statewide office were already sitting elected officials in states that voted for Trump.”

“We’re still waiting on results from Arizona, Nevada, and a few other states,” she said. “But Americans have already sent a clear message: They believe in our free and fair elections. And they don’t want Election Deniers to have power over their vote.”

The rebuke was even wider than States United’s tally. In Michigan, voters passed a ballot measure with a slate of election reforms to make voting more accessible and transparent. Nevada voters passed an expansive equal rights clause to their state constitution. Voters in Michigan, like California and Vermont, opted to add abortion rights to their state constitutions. Voters in red Kentucky, like Kansas this past summer, rejected proposed constitutional limits on abortion.

Many pre-election polls missed these pro-democracy and freedom sentiments. That conventional wisdom began to crack on Election Day, when the Associated Press’ Election Day poll of 94,000 voters – a much bigger sample than most pre-election polls – reported “about half of voters say inflation factored significantly in their vote,” but “slightly fewer voters — 44% — say the future of democracy was their primary consideration.”

The economy, of course, always matters. But democracy was on the ballot.

Still, The Election Isn’t Over

Meanwhile, anti-democratic threats from Trump Republicans remain.

While Democrats have preserved their U.S. Senate majority, the U.S. House, which President Joe Biden said on Wednesday may have a slim GOP majority, will have a GOP caucus filled with election deniers, including scores of representatives who voted against certifying the 2020 Electoral College after the insurrection.

In other battlegrounds, such as Nevada and Arizona, by Saturday evening it appeared that Democrats had defeated or were positioned to defeat most Trump Republicans. Nevada’s incumbent Democratic Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, was projected by the Associated Press to win her contest, preserving the body’s Democrat’s majority. Another Democrat, Cisco Aguilar, was projected to win the race for secretary of state. In Arizona, Democrat Adrian Fontes was projected to win the secretary of state race.

Masto, Aguilar and Fontes all defeated Trump Republicans who were among their state’s most vocal election deniers. However, some election deniers were winning high office. In Nevada, Joe Lombardo, a Las Vegas area sheriff endorsed by Trump, was elected governor. In Florida, Gov. Rick DeSantis, an authoritarian Republican, was returned to office. In deep red Wyoming, an election denier was elected as secretary of state.

As 2022’s election continues toward the process of officially certifying winners, it will be intriguing to see how the pro-democracy messages sent by voters will play out. In Arizona and Nevada, where the GOP ticket is led by candidates who not only rejected Biden’s victory, but also colluded with rogue county boards to take over counting ballots and declaring winners, some chaos is stewing.

These frays may be sideshows when compared to state and nationwide trends. But Trump and his allies have used local fights over election results and voting technology in a handful of counties to perpetuate his stolen election narrative and to sustain doubts about 2020, and to fundraise.

On Thursday, the Trump Republican-led board of supervisors in Cochise County, Arizona, announced it will meet next week to start a hand count that was blocked by a state court on Monday. The supervisors did not want to use a state-approved voting system, which reflects their distrust of computers that tally votes.

Initially, they wanted to hand count ballots and use those figures as the results – which a non-Trump Republican lawyer told me would let them create whatever totals they wanted. The hand count, which is likely to be stopped by the Arizona Supreme Court, is led by the former lawyer for the Cyber Ninjas, the Florida firm that oversaw the discredited post-2020 review sanctioned by state senators.

Voting rights lawyers are following these antics. In 2020’s post-election period, Trump and his allies filed more than 60 lawsuits filled with false claims but lacking in factual evidence – the basis of judicial rulings. He lost every suit except one. But they were a bonanza for creating stolen election propaganda in right-wing media.

In 2022, Trump Republicans claim they are better organized. They have recruited volunteers to gather evidence of malfeasance. If and how those reports are cited in future court filings, or surface in pro-Trump media, remains to be seen.

Most Conspiracists Sidelined

But what hovers over these ongoing developments in the 2022 general election is wide rejection of Trump Republican candidates and other signs that voters were moved by democracy issues and voted to protect elections and abortion rights.

The list of election deniers and rightwing culture warriors who lost bids for state office keeps growing, as tracked by States United Action.

Nationally, at least 42 million voters, a third of the electorate, cast mailed-out ballots, according to The National Vote at Home Institute, a non-profit that assists officials with this option. That usage will set a record for a midterm election and affirms that voters welcome flexible voting options and want to be heard.

Moreover, Election Day voting did not see widespread incidents of threats to election officials, or disputes among election workers and partisan observers, as many election insiders had feared. Nationally, officials administered an orderly process, even though some locales experienced glitches that delayed voters.

What stood out in the final Election Day briefing by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, were singular incidents where individuals with right-wing sympathies bullied or hurled “racial slurs” at voters waiting in line, and problems with voting sites near universities that were impeding students (which isn’t new). Such intolerance, which predates Trump, still lingers in his base.

But mostly, voters opted for candidates that did not want to subvert elections and to protect personal freedom. And today’s voting rules and infrastructure allowed record numbers of voters cast ballots and accurately recorded their choices.

“So far, new Election Denier candidates have only won around five percent of all races for statewide office,” said Thania Sanchez, State United Action’s senior vice president of research and policy development. “And there aren’t enough uncalled races left for that trend to shift much.”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Accountability Looms For Media Outfits That Spread Lies About 2020 Election

Accountability Looms For Media Outfits That Spread Lies About 2020 Election

A wave of litigation seeking accountability from media purveyors of smears and lies that falsely depicted the 2020 presidential election as "stolen" is percolating in courts around the country -- and heading toward trials or settlements in the near future.

These lawsuits augment the most high-profile investigations and prosecutions seeking accountability from Donald Trump and his White House and campaign aides for seeking to overturn the election’s result.

Indictments are anticipated from the probe conducted by Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, and possibly from the U.S. Department of Justice, whose investigation and prosecution of the invasion of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, is one of the largest in its history. (That said, some DOJ observers expect the first federal indictment of Trump to focus on his removal of government documents to his Florida home.)

While Trump faces 19 pending civil and criminal cases, according to, an online analytical forum, there are an additional 10 pending cases at various stages in state and federal courts that are targeting Trump allies in right-wing media and propaganda fronts.

The lawsuits allege the media-based provocateurs smeared election officials, local government workers, ordinary voters, and others by publishing false and defamatory claims about them, or additionally violated their civil rights by deploying illegal and violent tactics.

The suits stand apart from pending litigation by Dominion Voting Systems, one of the nation’s largest voting machinery makers, which is seeking $1.6 billion from Fox News for defaming its computer systems.

Many of these cases are being litigated with the help of, “a nonpartisan nonprofit organization formed in late 2016 with an urgent and explicit mission: to prevent American democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government.”

Protect Democracy’s ongoing lawsuits include:

• A lawsuit against filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, True the Vote, Salem Media, and others involved in the 2020 election conspiracy film, 2000 Mules, for defamation and voter intimidation, on behalf of a Georgia man who was falsely accused of breaking the law in the movie and its related promotional materials.

• A defamation lawsuit against Rudolph Giuliani in federal court brought by two former election workers in Fulton County, Georgia, Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, who testified before the House Select Committee on January 6. In late October, a judge denied Giuliani’s motion to dismiss the case.

• A lawsuit that led to a settlement with One America News Network, known as OAN, for the pro-Trump network’s publication of false reports about the 2020 election. A similar suit in a Missouri court against The Gateway Pundit, another pro-Trump right-wing website, is moving toward discovery and interviews of witnesses under oath.

• A defamation lawsuit against Project Veritas, James O’Keefe, and Richard Hopkins, for spreading the lie after the 2020 election that the postmaster in Erie, Pennsylvania, was illegally backdating ballots at postal facilities. A state court denied motions to dismiss the case.

• A voter intimidation lawsuit in Texas in response to an incident in 2020 where the “Texas Trump Train” – a caravan of Trump-supporting motor vehicles – tried to force a Joe Biden campaign bus off a highway at high speed. Discovery has been proceeding.

These suits are in addition to other litigation involving election denial. Last week in Arizona, in a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters, a federal judge barred “unlawful voter intimidation” by Trump backers who were staking out ballot drop boxes, carrying guns, wearing body armor, and taking photos and videos of voters, some of whom they followed.

The media-centered lawsuits are part of a spectrum of litigation that seeks to unearth evidence about the broad national conspiracy by Trump and his allies to overturn 2020’s popular and Electoral College votes.

Notably,, has filed public records requests for communications (e-mails, texts, and phone logs, for example) that have revealed the misconduct of Trump-allied activists, including the discovery of plans by state GOP officials and activists to forge fake Electoral College documents.

While it remains to be seen what will ensue from these lawsuits, they not only suggest that long-awaited legal accountability is looming, but underscore that spreading disinformation is a strategy deeply connected to more direct attempts to undermine election results and seize illegitimate power.

Trump And Imitators Again Attack Arizona Election, Exaggerate Glitches

Trump And Imitators Again Attack Arizona Election, Exaggerate Glitches

Like sharks at a feeding frenzy, Arizona’s Trump Republican candidates, rightwing broadcasters, and even the ex-president himself, jumped on malfunctioning ballot scanners in one-fifth of Maricopa County’s 223 voting centers early on Tuesday to attack the election’s legitimacy.

Kari Lake, Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, tweeted “your provisional ballot… might not count” as people were voting.

Charlie Kirk, a right-wing radio host tweeted, “2 hour wait minimum… DON’T LET THEM DO 2020 AGAIN,” which quickly sparked 40,000-plus social media messages, according to Election Integrity Partnership, an academic consortium that monitors online disinformation.

Neither Lake’s claim about uncounted votes nor Kirk’s claim about wait times were correct. But that didn’t stop Donald Trump from jumping in.

“Reports are coming in from Arizona that the Voting Machines are not properly working in predominantly Republican/Conservative areas,” Trump posted on Truth Social shortly before 11 AM local time. “Can this possibly be true when a vast majority of Republicans waited for today to Vote? Here we go again? The people will not stand for it!!!”

By early evening, Trump again singled out Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and more than 60 percent of Arizona’s voters.

“To the people of Arizona, in particular, because that’s the one that’s come up right now, stay on line. Don’t leave,” Trump said. “Already a lot of people have left. And it’s very, very unfair what’s going on. Maricopa County – don’t leave. Stay there.”

What happened with Maricopa County’s paper ballot printers and scanners was not entirely clear – even after local Republican officials, who run Maricopa County and oversee its elections, posted a video reassuring voters that their ballots would count.

But what was clear was that the snafu, which inconvenienced some voters and likely was a due to set-up error, did not mean that its 2022 general election was being stolen in plain sight as Trump alluded.

The impulsiveness and ferocity of the Trump Republicans’ reactions to a regrettable but fixable error reveals much about their tribal mindset and paranoia. To start, they were not attacking Democrats. They were going after Republicans previously deemed insufficiently loyal.

It did not matter that Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, the senior election official, has repeatedly said that he voted for Trump in 2020. Richer and Maricopa County’s Republican-majority Board of Supervisors have defended their 2020 election as accurate and legitimate, which is heretical in Trump circles.

Part of the county’s defense was debunking every false claim made during 2021’s post-election audit led by the Cyber Ninjas, a Florida cybersecurity firm hired by the Arizona Senate’s Republican caucus. That review concluded that Joe Biden won but spent months casting doubt on the election, fueling the 2020 election denier narrative.

One day before Trump and the others pounced on Maricopa County’s snafu, Arizona’s election deniers suffered a stinging defeat in court. A rural county led by Trump Republicans who wanted to count this fall’s votes by hand – instead of using a state-approved computer system – was ordered to use the computers. Their legal team, which argued in court last Friday, included the Cyber Ninja’s lawyer, Brian Blehm.

In short, many Trump Republicans do not trust anything electronic in voting. They believe that counting ballots by hand is more precise. It’s not, as many studies have shown, due to the tedium. Nonetheless, candidates such as Mark Finchem, a state representative who is the GOP nominee for Arizona secretary of state, has vowed to outlaw voting system computers as he has campaigned this fall.

“There’s a pretty large contingent out there that wants to get rid of [voting] machines in total,” said Benny White, a lawyer and longtime data analyst for the Arizona Republican Party who is disliked by Trump Republicans – because his analyses traced and explained Trump loss. “They’re very ignorant [about the nuts and bolts of running elections]. But they’re very vocal. That’s what you are hearing.”

In rapid succession, Cochise County’s election administration rebellion was quashed. Maricopa County experienced voting system issues. And Trump Republicans reacted with outrage rather than perspective.

Nationwide, many states and counties experienced problems with their election systems on Tuesday, according to a briefing by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which runs the 866-OUR-VOTE election protection hotline and logged several thousand phone calls from voters seeking assistance across the country.

But unlike the Trump Republicans, the Lawyers’ Committee’s state directors did not make accusations of an illegitimate election. They told voters what to do – which often involved being patient. In a few cases, their volunteer lawyers intervened on voter’s behalf.

Ironically, that’s what Maricopa County’s Republican brass tried to do.

“We’re trying to fix this problem as quickly as possible,” said Bill Gates, Board of Supervisor chair, in a video posted online midday on Tuesday.

“And we also have a redundancy in place. If you can’t put the ballot in a tabulator, then you can simply place it here,” Gates continued. “This is a secure box where those ballots will be kept for later this evening where we’ll bring them in here to central count to tabulate them.”

Later Tuesday, the Republican National Committee went into court to seek to extend polling place hours. White said there was no doubt that some candidates would end up suing. Arizona counties must certify their election results in 20 days. Then candidates have 10 additional days to file challenges.

“The loser of one of these races will base an election contest on the improper printing of the ballots,” White said. “You can file at any time, but you have to wait until you get some results in order to have some evidence and some grounds to present to the court.”

Whether those suits will have any legal traction remains to be seen. But they will likely spark more propaganda that ignores facts – and reveals how little they know about the way voting systems actually work.[With votes still remaining to be counted, Mark Kelly is ahead in Arizona's U.S. Senate race and appears likely to win. Democrat Katie Hobbs maintains a smaller lead in the governor's race against election-denying Republican Kari Lake.)

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Battleground Courts Reject GOP Efforts To Block Voting And Create Chaos

Battleground Courts Reject GOP Efforts To Block Voting And Create Chaos

On November 7, the eve of Election Day, judges in numerous battleground states issued rulings that rejected efforts by Trump Republicans to impede the casting and counting of ballots and replace state-approved vote-count verification processes with untested hand counts.

Those critical decisions, which push back on efforts to stymie voters and counting in Democratic strongholds such as the cities of Philadelphia and Detroit, came as the Department of Justice announced that it will send federal election monitors to 67 counties in 24 states across the country.

“The [DOJ] Civil Rights Division will monitor for compliance with the federal voting rights laws,” said the department, listing jurisdictions that are blue epicenters – cities and counties – in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The suits filed by Trump Republicans and their allies in national and state Republican Party organizations show the range of GOP efforts to stymie voters, disqualify mailed-out ballots, and create alternative vote counts that likely would clash with results produced by federal- and state-approved election systems.

In Wisconsin, a judge ruling from the bench rejected an effort to set aside and stop counting mail ballots cast by military service members. In neighboring Michigan, a judge rejected a lawsuit filed by Republican secretary of state candidate and election denier Kristina Karamo that would have imposed strict limits on counting Detroit’s mail ballots.

There were three rulings in Pennsylvania. The first rejected a GOP attempt to urge the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling on the date range (on mail ballot return envelopes) when the ballots could be accepted. The GOP wanted a narrower window.

(The high court also had ruled that ballot return envelopes had to be properly signed and dated by a voter. As of Monday, a Philadelphia election official said that 3,400 mail ballots had been rejected on these grounds, causing Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman’s campaign to file a suit seeking to count the rejected ballots.)

Another Pennsylvania ruling rejected an effort led by former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr that would have impeded Philadelphia’s ability to use electronic poll books to check in Election Day voters. The third ruling rejected an effort to impede election officials in Monroe County from starting to reach out to voters to “cure” – meaning fix – a mistake they made filling out their ballot return envelope.

In Georgia and New York, courts issued rulings to expand access for some voters who otherwise might be disadvantaged. Metro Atlanta’s Cobb County was told to accommodate 1,000 voters who did not receive requested mail ballots. In New York, a court rejected a GOP effort to prevent a polling place from being set up at Vassar College.

In Arizona, a state court stopped Trump Republicans associated with the notoriously sloppy post-presidential election “audit” led by the Cyber Ninjas, an IT firm selected by Republican state senators, from supplanting the state-approved counting and audit process with a manual hand count of every ballot before certifying winners.

In Arizona’s Cochise County, which is on the border with Mexico, Trump Republicans on the county board of supervisors sought to override the objections of their county’s election director and replace a count of all ballots by computer scanners with a hand count. The court said the supervisors, who are Trump Republicans, violated Arizona law.

“The Board of Supervisors has acted unlawfully,” Superiors Court Judge Casey McGinley held. “Defendants urge the Court to consider that permitting a full hand count audit would help ameliorate fears that the electronic count was incorrect, and that it ensures that every vote is counted and counted correctly. However, there is no evidence before this Court that electronic tabulation is inaccurate in the first instance, or more importantly, that the audit system established by law is insufficient to detect any inaccuracy it may possess.”

There will be more court rulings in comings days as the administration of the election shifts from the last day for casting votes – Election Day – to the counting of those in-person votes and processing of mail ballots, which, in many states, can still be received in coming days and will count as long as they were postmarked by November 8.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Trump’s Amateur Sleuths Poised To Decry Another 'Stolen Election'

Trump’s Amateur Sleuths Poised To Decry Another 'Stolen Election'

As Republican candidates, parties and groups are poised to legally challenge election results where they have lost or lag behind in the preliminary results, a parallel effort is underway in pro-Trump circles that likely will fabricate propaganda about illegitimate elections.

Candidates have long been able to challenge voters and ballots after Election Day during the vote count reconciliation process – called the canvass – which is before results are certified and recounts occur. But the efforts in Trump circles stand apart from these legal processes.

Trump Republicans and their allies are poised to gather “evidence” that frequently is not legally admissible in determining election outcomes, but can be exploited by propagandists to create distrust about voting, election officials, and the accuracy of voting systems.

“In some states, election deniers motivated by false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election are engaging in their own deeply flawed investigations to substantiate myths of widespread voter fraud,” reported the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School in a research paper released on Friday. “They have organized to engage in practices like amateur data matching with voter rolls, door-to-door canvassing to compare residents’ statements with voter records, and surveillance of mail ballot drop boxes. These error-ridden practices can disenfranchise eligible voters and strain election official resources.”

Among the most high-profile recent efforts has been surveillance of drop boxes in Arizona, a state where 80 percent or more of the voters cast mailed-out ballots. This effort includes taking photos and videos of individuals dropping off ballots and their car’s license plates. That tactic is among several to make the claim that legions of unregistered voters are casting ballots.

This tactic, apart from possibly intimidating voters, is an example of what the Brennan Center called an “error-ridden” practice. The address tied to a license plate may not be the same as a voter’s most recent registration information, especially if that voter recently moved.

Nonetheless, since the 2020 election, ex-Trump campaign workers and self-appointed data analysts have parsed voter rolls in swing counties in swing states to falsely claim that the rolls were rife with inaccuracies that could be exploited by Democrats to fabricate votes.

Initially, Trump activists started knocking on doors to verify if a voter’s address on their registration record was accurate, to ask if they voted in 2020 and gather personal information. That activity lead to accusations of voter intimidation by civil rights groups. Earlier this year, the focus shifted to filing mass challenges of voters’ credentials, such as in metro Atlanta in Georgia, where more than 60,000 challenges were almost entirely rejected by county election officials this past summer, who, nonetheless, had spent months investigating the complaints.

“Activists are being encouraged by those who claim the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ to perform their own amateur data matching. They are using National Change of Address lists, tax assessor data, a portal operated by government contractor Schneider Geospatial, public map services, and public voter data from multiple states to make inferences about current voter eligibility and past election legitimacy,” the Brennan Center report said. “In doing so, they are cobbling together incomplete datasets that can later become ‘evidence’ for candidates to baselessly challenge the legitimacy of the election if they lose.”

Those behind these efforts have waged recruitment drives to gather evidence for post-Election Day challenges or to generate fodder that almost certainly will be used for propaganda – filling media channels as some battleground states take more time to count their votes than others. (Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, for example, cannot start counting absentee ballots until Election Day. Florida, Arizona, and Nevada can start several weeks before.)

Whether led by ex-Trump White House officials or campaign lawyers based at Conservative Partnership Institute in Washington, or a looser collective of election deniers and self-appointed experts convened and funded by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, the ringleaders have instructed activists to use apps like Basecamp to coordinate their activities, and apps like VotifyNow to report incidents that they deem suspicious.

“In the upper left-hand corner is the menu tab that will bring up your voter integrity tools,” a VotifyNow tutorial said. “When you click on these buttons, such as mail-in ballot issues, you’ll see the app allows you to type in a brief description of any suspicious activity you notice, as well as upload a photo or video... That incident is then sent to our database to be analyzed and compared with other issues in your area.”

Needless to say, just because a citizen observer thinks that they are seeing something wrong does not mean that factually is the case, said Tammy Patrick, a senior advisor at the Democracy Fund, at a November 2 press briefing where threats to election officials were discussed.

“I’ve had some election officials tell me that these observers act like they’re going to find the body; that they are coming onto a criminal site or crime scene,” she said. “When you approach the information that way, when you don’t know what you are looking at, you’re going to find what [conspiratorial evidence] you are looking for.”

Nor are specious observations likely to be accepted as evidence in any post-Election Day administrative review or legal process. But what fails to meet a legal standard of evidence can succeed as disinformation.

“It is important to remember that all reliable evidence shows that our elections — including the 2020 election — are safe, secure, accurate, fair, and free of widespread voter fraud,” the Brennan Center said. “We cannot let these dangerous and defective schemes compromise our democracy.”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

In Nevada, Trump Republicans Attack Veteran GOP Election Clerks

In Nevada, Trump Republicans Attack Veteran GOP Election Clerks

Yerrington, Nevada – For the past 24 years, Nikki Bryan -- a patient, professional, plain-spoken woman -- has overseen elections, the courthouse, and other municipal duties as the elected clerk in Lyons County, a ranching, retail, and manufacturing region of 60,000 people in northern Nevada east of Lake Tahoe.

As Bryan stood before the early voting site her staff had set up in the Lyon County Administrative Center’s foyer, with voting stations carefully placed below artwork celebrating the county’s rural culture, her voice had a touch of resignation.

Like more than half of Nevada’s county election officials since the 2020 who have resigned or decided not to run for re-election, Bryan is reluctantly retiring. There are many reasons, starting with 2021 election reforms that have increased the workload – by mailing every registered voter a ballot – and drawn criticism from voters upset that some traditional polling places had closed.

But the main reason, by far, was that local Republicans she has known for years, who supported Donald Trump and believed the 2020 election was stolen, have incessantly attacked Bryan, a Republican, on a daily basis – even after Trump beat Joe Biden two-to-one in Lyon County and 75 percent of the voters turned out.

“I don’t know what they want,” Bryan said. “I’ve done everything that I can do, and everything that I can think to do, to make everybody happy and it’s just not happening. There’s so much anger and so much distrust and so much rhetoric of things that are absolutely not true.”

Local Republicans not only believed lies that they heard from Trump and on pro-Trump media more than Bryan, a local official they knew and had re-elected for 20 years, but the lies have become articles of faith.

“People hear that [the election was stolen] and I guess they believe it because they’ve heard it over and over and over from multiple people,” Bryan said. “And I think at this point it’s not really lies. I mean, it is lies. It started with lies. But then when people believe it. They absolutely with all their soul believe there was fraud and all of that, that makes it difficult for us to try to keep the confidence in elections.”

Bryan, after nearly three and none-half decades working in the county, will retire and return to raising miniature horses, llamas, goats, and sheep on her two-and-one-half acres, focus on photography, be with her family and travel.

The traumatic close of her career is not unique. In central Nevada’s Nye County, Clerk Sandra Merlino retired this summer after 20 years in office after her county commissioners, led by Trump Republicans, wanted Merlino to hand count ballots, which she opposed. In Washoe County, where Reno the state’s second largest city is located, Registrar Deanna Spikula resigned after receiving death threats.

Even Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State, Barbara Cegavske, was censured by the Nevada Republican Party Central Committee in 2021 because she investigated Trump Republicans’ claims and found no evidence of voter fraud in 2020.

“Regrettably, members of my own political party have decided to censure me simply because they are disappointed with the outcome of the 2020 election,” Cegavske said. “My job is to carry out the duties of my office as enacted by the Nevada Legislature, not carry water for the state GOP or put my thumb on the scale of democracy. Unfortunately, members of my own party continue to believe the 2020 general election was wrought with fraud – and that somehow I had a part in it – despite a complete lack of evidence to support that belief.”

The appointees replacing the outgoing county clerks in Nevada’s Republican-majority rural counties include several 2020 election deniers. Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising example is Storey County’s Jim Hindle, who in 2020 signed forged Electoral College certificates in an attempt to certify Nevada’s votes for Trump.

In 2020, Biden won Nevada by more than 33,000 votes. Hindle, who is overseeing Storey County’s 2022 general election, is expected to be elected on November 8.

National Exodus Of Experienced Clerks

Nationwide, sizable numbers of experienced election officials are leaving the profession, according to a national survey of local election officials by the Reed College’s Elections & Voting Center and the Democracy Fund, a grant-maker and voting policy hub, released on November 2.

“Among the 2022 survey participants, close to one third of the election officials are eligible to retire before the 2024 election—and 39 percent of those eligible plan to do so,” it said. The study found increased workloads in rural counties with small staffs were a factor, but also cited “abuse, harassment, or threats.”

In a Wednesday press briefing, Reed College’s Paul Gronke said that 26 percent of officials had experienced a “confrontation in the workplace,” “18 percent had reported “verbal or physical abuse,” and 14 percent had experienced “a confrontation in a public place… about what happened in your work.”

Tammy Patrick, a former Arizona election official who is a senior advisor to the Democracy Fund, recounted what one local election director told her during the research. She said, “I used to be the pillar of my community. I would walk down the street. Everybody knew me… and now I am the pariah, because of what they heard and what they believe, that I personally have abdicated my duties and undermined and stole the election.”

Patrick said she was hearing from many local officials who were determined to stay on. But there were many who simply had enough.

“There are some that are doubling down and they’re like, ‘Not on my watch. I am not abandoning my post,’” she said. “Whereas there are others that said, ‘You what, I didn’t sign on for this.’ ‘I didn’t sign on for my kids to get followed home from school.’ ‘I didn’t sign on for my voice mail or answering machine at home to be full of vitriol.’ ‘I didn’t sign on for my staff to be breaking down in the office because of the way they’re being treated.’ ‘I didn’t sign on for our local law enforcement, in some instances, to say, “well I agree with the protesters.” I agree with the individuals who are storming your office.’”

The survey found that local election officials who self-identified as Republicans, Independents, and Democrats all said that they had been targeted, with the most populous jurisdictions receiving the most threats.

Internecine Distrust In Nevada

Every state is a political microcosm. In Nevada, what stands out is that even as its rural counties have Republican-led governments, many Trump Republicans have not relented in distrusting the fellow Republicans running their elections.

“They’re more willing to believe those statements that are coming across newscasts or podcasts or through social media than they are the person that’s been in their community and committed to the process for years,” said Humboldt County Clerk Tami Rae Spero, a Republican, who has run elections in this northern county since 2003 and worked in the clerk’s office for a decade before that.

“Many people [Trump Republicans] are between a rock and hard place,” she said. “They’ve heard so much about the [in-person voting] equipment that they don’t want to use it. But they don’t want to vote the mail-in ballot either.”

It was discouraging that many doubters did not understand how elections were run, Spero said, including recent changes making it easier to vote – such as using a mailed-out ballot in a remote county where many people work in the region’s mines. Many people do not know how elections are run and are suspicious of what they don’t understand, she said, which translates into cynicism.

“The constant or virtually constant pushback from the public about something you’re committed to, and that you’ve sworn to uphold the law, has been trying,” she said. “But I have made the choice to run again. I did it because I believe that I made a commitment to the voters of this county when I first ran not to leave until I knew the job was done.”

Spero is likely to be re-elected as Humboldt County is deeply Republican. But she predicts that many voters will not believe 2022’s state and congressional results.

“Actually, the majority of our local races were determined in the primary,” she said. “But at the state level, especially with the type of secretary of state race we have this time [where the GOP nominee, Jim Marchant, is a 2020 election denier], I have the full expectation that there will not be an acceptance of whatever happens either way.”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

In Nevada County, A Harbinger Of The Chaos That Election Deniers Will Wreak

In Nevada County, A Harbinger Of The Chaos That Election Deniers Will Wreak

Pahrump, Nevada– One day after Nevada’s Supreme Court and Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske shut down a hand count of 2022 general election ballots in a rural county whose GOP leaders fell under the spell of 2020 election deniers, the man at the center of that political storm – Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf – was determined to resurrect the controversial process.

Standing outside the Bob Rund Community Center in Pahrump, an early voting site in a town of 45,000 located at the base of a desert county that stretches for 170 miles along Nevada’s western flank, Kampf said he spent a sleepless night writing a proposal to revive the hand count. It was stopped because observers were hearing how people voted, which is illegal in Nevada before voting ends.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was working on my revised procedure,” he said on Friday, October 28. “The procedure was what I had conceived of before I even got into this office [in August], which was a silent process… They [Cegavske’s staff] might get it tomorrow.”

Inside the voting center on Friday afternoon, it was quiet. As a Democratic Party observer noted, there were more poll workers than voters. A Republican Party observer said there had been no trouble apart from one man trying to bring his gun inside (Nye is a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County.”) He was told to leave it in his car. Another man who voted in the morning tried to vote again. Poll workers recognized him and told him to leave. The Democratic observer asked about a voter who put their absentee ballot on top of a drop box – not in it.

These mostly calm scenes belie the political issues and stakes raised by Nye County’s rebellion in election administration. Led by Trump Republicans who control the Board of County Commissions, Nye County has broken with how the rest of Nevada is conducting the 2022 general election in two major ways.

First, until it was halted on October 27, Nye County was conducting a hand count of 2022 general election votes that also were being counted on state-approved voting system computers. The hand count was an effort to assess the accuracy of the computers. Second, county officials want most voters to cast a hand-marked paper ballot, not a computer-marked ballot on a state-approved system.

Across Nevada, most 2022 general election voters will cast a mailed-out ballot – which is a hand-marked paper ballot. In 2021, Nevada’s Democrat-led legislature adopted this way of voting after it was used during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state also offers in-person voting before and on Election Day. Almost all Nevada counties use touchscreen computers for their in-person voting. These systems use software to record votes, which Nye County’s commissioners no longer trust.

If Nye County executes its plans, it could foreshadow what elections may be like in states should 2020 election-deniers win on November 8.

Political Theatre

The hand count has received the most attention and is a reaction to the distrust of computer voting systems by ex-President Donald Trump and his loyal followers. Last March, Jim Marchant, who became Nevada’s 2022 Republican secretary of state nominee, and several 2020 conspiracy theorists made a presentation to the Nye County Board of County Commissioners as the first stop on a statewide tour urging the banning of voting machines and adoption of hand counts.

The GOP-majority commission was swayed. It started pressuring the longtime county clerk, Sandra Merlino, to move to an all-paper, hand-counted election. She opposed that plan and resigned a few months later after 28 years of service in county government. Kampf, a retired corporate executive who specialized in supply chain controls and audits for Fortune 500 companies, was appointed interim clerk. He is expected to be elected on November 8.

Outside the Bob Rund Community Center on Friday, neither Kampf nor Frank Carbone, a Republican county commissioner standing with him, would say what they distrusted about computer voting systems. Instead, they said that their constituency – the 69 percent of county voters who voted for Trump in 2020 – had concerns that must be addressed.

“The Board of County Commissioners made a decision. It said they wanted to go to paper ballots. And that’s what we did,” said Carbone. “It has nothing to do with disliking machines. It had nothing to do with any of that process. The people said this is what they wanted.’”

So, on Wednesday, October 26, six teams of five people – plus political party observers, reporters, and voting rights lawyers watching – started reading aloud every vote that had been cast on a batch of 50 general election ballots and began to manually tally the votes. In 2020’s presidential election, roughly 25,000 votes were cast in Nye County. By day’s end, the teams only got through 50 ballots, because, among other things, counting mistakes were made.

Lawyers from the state’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter noted that they could hear the results, and on Thursday filed an emergency motion saying the hand count violated state law banning the release of results before the close of voting on Election Day.

Hours later, Nevada’s Supreme Court and secretary of state ordered the hand count to immediately stop. The high court told Nye County – meaning Kampf – to work out a hand count procedure that the secretary of state could approve. Kampf stayed up most of Thursday night revising his plans.

Kampf said his revised plan would have three members of each hand-counting team eye every ballot without saying aloud how people voted. They would write down the votes cast. If discrepancies appeared, a recount process would ensue and be documented. Thus, instead of speedy computer tabulators, there would be volunteers parsing bundles of 25 ballots, one contest at a time.

What gets lost in the political drama surrounding these details is that the hand count –which Kampf and Carbone said is to inspire public trust – has become a public relations sideshow. Even though Nye County’s GOP leadership wanted the hand count to replace the state’s official vote-counting process, that preexisting lawful system– as Nevada’s Supreme Court noted – remains in place. The hand count will have no impact on the official tabulation of votes in 2022’s general election. At this point, the hand count is merely an unofficial recount that may take months.

All Hand-Marked Paper Ballots

The more significant ongoing development, at least from an election administration perspective, is what has escaped notice by local and national media. That development is what Nye County is doing to ensure that almost every ballot cast will be a hand-marked paper ballot, not a computer-marked ballot.

In 2021, Nevada joined the handful of states that are mailing every registered voter a paper ballot. But not every voter will vote by mail. Nevada allows voters to opt out from receiving a mailed-out ballot, an acknowledgment that some Republicans, like their ex-president, do not trust any ballot that was not cast in person and counted on Election Day. It was not hard to find such voters in Pahrump.

“I didn’t ask for one,” said Bill Becht, who was manning a booth for the GOP candidate for sheriff. “I received one and promptly threw it in the trash.”

Every Nevada county also will have in-person voting sites. There people can register and vote on the same day. Those who do not want to use a mailed-out ballot can vote. And people with disabilities can use a computer voting station. In most counties, including Nye County before the 2022 general election, the in-person voting was done on a touchscreen computer made by Dominion Voting Systems – the vendor demonized by Trump and his ardent followers, which is currently suing Fox News and other defendants in a billion-dollar defamation case.

Dominion’s computer system has voters selecting their candidates by touching a large rectangular screen. The computer, in turn, records the choices on a thumb drive locked inside. After voting ends, the drive is removed by poll workers and taken to county headquarters where its subtotals are compiled into the overall results on a central tabulating computer. Each touchscreen voting station also prints the votes on a paper roll that can be seen, but not accessed, by voters. Nye County is the only Nevada County this fall that will not use the touchscreens except when requested by an infirm voter or person with disabilities.

At Nye County’s three early voting sites, there is only one touchscreen voting station set up. In contrast, at the community center in Pahrump, there were 36 privacy booths on four rows of tables, where voters would fill out their paper ballot by hand using a pen. An overflow room had additional privacy booths.

Poll workers checking in voters gave out pre-printed paper ballots. (There are 13 different ballots across the county, which vary by local races.) When combined with paper ballots mailed out by the state, Nye County has found a way to replace almost entirely all of its computer ballots with hand-marked paper ballots.

As of noon on October 29, 6,097 mailed-out ballots had been received by the county, the clerk’s office said. An additional 1,125 pre-printed ballots had been given out and cast in person at the early voting sites. Only 53 voters used the computer voting station for people with disabilities. Together, those ballots represented a 17.7 percent voter turnout.

In general, hand-marked ballots are praised by experts because they are a direct record of a voter’s intent. Jennifer Morrell, a former election official now with the The Elections Group, a consulting firm that assists officials, said that using all hand-marked paper ballots in polling places with one ballot-marking device for people with disabilities was not uncommon. "I've seen it in many jurisdictions across the country that operate a precinct polling location model."

Both Kampf and officials in the county clerk’s office stressed that they were making sure that the number of legal voters and ballots issued each day was the same – to ensure that no illegal votes were cast. Election officials routinely check this aspect of elections to prevent fraudulent voting or to trace illegal voting.

More Paper Means Later Results

The shutdown of Nye County’s hand count has halted that aspect of its election administration rebellion. It remains to be seen whether Secretary of State Cegvaske will accept Kampf’s proposal to restart that process.

But Nye County’s use of hand-marked paper ballots may have other Election Day impacts. If there is a heavy turnout on Election Day, particularly near the close of voting, it is likely that the tasks associated with counting all of the paper ballots will delay the release of its preliminary results until Wednesday, November 9, or later. Such late reporting in 2020 was criticized by Trump as an indication of a corrupt election, although that claim was factually inaccurate.

But if Nevada’s statewide and federal elections come down to the wire, Nye County – whose southern tier is in a U.S. House district now held by a Democrat – could be among the last of Nevada’s counties to report.

That delay would be due to several factors. The clerk’s office, where its central tabulating computers are located, is in Tonopah. That office is where all of the paper ballots are scanned and counted. (The scanner makes a digital image of every side of every ballot. Software then correlates a voter’s ink marks with the ballot’s layout of candidates and ballot measures.)

Tonopah is 168 miles and two-and-one-half hours to the north of Pahrump – on a two-lane highway locals call the “highway of death” because the speed limit is 70, it is unlit at night, and wild horses and burros wander onto the road.

That distance will delay the counting of the last tier of ballots from Pahrump, the county’s population center. Additionally, if the state allows the hand count to resume, Kampf’s staff in Tonopah has to fill out additional chain-of-custody paperwork so the paper ballots can be returned to Pahrump in batches of 25 ballots for the hand count. This will add more time to counting ballots.

Nevada, like many states, has taken steps to speed up its reporting of results. It allows county offices to preprocess mailed-out ballots before Election Day. That means signatures and identifying information on return envelopes can be vetted and the ballots taken out and run through scanners. Those computers will not display their subtotals until voting closes on Election Day.

The paper ballots given out at in-person voting sites can be counted starting on Election Day, which, in Nye County, will help the Tonopah office to get ahead of the ballots that will arrive after voting ends.

But Trump Republicans who oppose any form of voting other than in-person voting on Election Day and who expect results on Election Night are likely to be frustrated. Trump has said anything outside this window cannot be trusted. So even if Nye County is a harbinger of what elections may look like if election-denying candidates win this fall, some aspects of elections won’t change. Producing accurate results, even or perhaps especially in Republican-run counties, takes time.

“It would be nice to have the results by midnight on election night, but it won’t happen that way this time,” said Kelly Fitzpatrick, Nye County Democratic Party chair. “That’s another consequence of the Big Lie.”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Hand Counting Halted In Nevada County As Court Rips Pro-Trump Official

Hand Counting Halted In Nevada County As Court Rips Pro-Trump Official

One of the country’s most high-profile efforts by Trump Republicans to avoid using election system computers in 2022’s midterm elections and instead count votes by hand is coming apart at the seams.

Less than two days after Nye County, Nevada, began a controversial hand count led by an interim county clerk who is a 2020 election denier, Nevada’s Supreme Court and Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske issued consecutive orders late Thursday shutting down the operation until after Election Day, November 8.

The twin orders were narrowly focused on a hand-count process that interim County Clerk Mark Kampf created this fall and debuted on Wednesday. On its first day, only 50 ballots were hand counted. In the county’s 2020 presidential election, 30,000 ballots were cast by voters, suggesting a full hand count would not finish before the deadlines in state law.

Most of Nye County’s voters reside in its southern tier, which is located near Las Vegas. That location makes Nye County a potentially pivotal swing district in one of 2022’s battleground states.

Many of Nevada’s statewide and congressional contests are very close, according to numerous polls, including seats now held by Democrats. Among those are one U.S. House seat and a U.S. Senate seat.

The Nevada Supreme Court order agreed with an emergency motion filed by the Anerican Civil Liberties Union of Nevada earlier Thursday, which contended that the counting process violated other state election laws that require vote counts to remain secret until after Election Day.

The process created by Kampf, which led the ACLU to sue earlier this month, had two people reading aloud the choices made by voters on their ballots, and three other individuals tallying those results. When the hand count commenced on Wednesday, four teams counted 50 ballots and nearby observers – including ACLU lawyers – heard the voters’ choices. The observers also witnessed many counting errors, causing the teams to recount votes multiple times.

Nevada’s Supreme Court said that reading aloud the results violated state law and ordered the county to cease immediately. It also ordered the county and secretary of state to work out another hand count process that would begin after Election Day.

“Observers may not be positioned so as to become privy to the ballot selections and room tallies,” the court’s October 27 order said. “The specifics of the hand-count process and observer positioning so as not to violate this mandate is for respondents and the Nevada Secretary of State to determine.”

However, the secretary of state’s rebuke implied that the state and county might not agree on an acceptable hand count process.

“The current Nye County hand count process must cease immediately and may not resume until after the close of polls on November 8, 2022,” said Cegavske’s October 27 letter. “Further, no alternative hand counting process may proceed until the Secretary of State and Nye County can determine whether there are any feasible ‘specifics of the hand-count process and observer positioning’ that do not ‘violate the [Supreme Court’s] mandate.”

The issues at the center of the two orders are not the only problems shadowing Nye County’s handling of the 2022 general election.

In 2020’s presidential election, roughly three-quarters of the county’s voters supported Donald Trump. In late 2019, Nye County’s supervisors declared the county was a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” meaning that its citizens could carry weapons into public buildings.

On Wednesday, a female election worker with a gun tried to confiscate the notes taken by an ACLU observer. That incident was not the subject of orders by the state supreme court and secretary of state.

Other rural counties , which are less populous than Nye County, appear to have far more electronic voting stations per site than Nye County, where Kampf has opposed using the computers. How insufficiently deploying election equipment will affect the county’s voter turnout is an open question whose impact remains to be seen.

Most of Nye County’s voters are located in its southern tier, which is located near Las Vegas. That location makes Nye County a potentially pivotal swing district in one of 2022’s battleground states.

Many of Nevada’s statewide and congressional contests are very close, according to numerous polls, including seats now held by Democrats. Among those are one U.S. House seat and a U.S. Senate seat.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Cynical Trump Knew He Lost in 2020 But Used The 'Big Lie' To Seize Power

Cynical Trump Knew He Lost in 2020 But Used The 'Big Lie' To Seize Power

Donald Trump knew within days of voting that he lost the 2020 presidential election. But he deliberately chose to incessantly lie about a stolen election as he pushed top federal and state Republican officials to subvert the vote – which they would not do. And then Trump turned to an armed mob that he cultivated to violently storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempted coup on January 6, 2021.

The fact that Trump was repeatedly told by his campaign managers, White House counsel, the U.S. Attorney General, family members, and others that he had lost the election – but chose to lie about the results and mislead millions of voters, including insurrectionists now being prosecuted – were among the many details in the latest session by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The committee dramatically ended its October 13 meeting by unanimously voting to subpoena Trump to appear, an unexpected development as hundreds of 2020 election-denying GOP candidates are seeking state and federal office in 2022’s general election on November 8.

The committee session, which also highlighted previously unreleased Secret Service records and texts showing that White House security, and other police and intelligence agencies were aware that an insurrection was planned and likely, underscores the extent to which Trump was not merely power-hungry, but knew from the immediate aftermath of voting that he had lost and was still willing to lie about it – and later prevented police agencies from stopping the rioters.

“First, as you will see, President Trump had a premeditated plan to declare that the election was fraudulent and stolen before Election Day – before he knew the Election results,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the committee’s co-chair. “Second, please recognize that Donald Trump was in a unique position – better informed about the absence of widespread election fraud than almost any other American.”

[The hearing also examined Trump adviser Roger Stone's role in preparing the Trump "Big Lie" strategy and advocating violence with his allies in the proto-fascist Proud Boys and Oath Keepers organizations. The committee's scrutiny of his conduct led to Stone's meltdown in real time.]

“President Trump’s own campaign experts told him that there was no evidence to support his claims,” Cheney continued. “His own Justice Department appointees investigated the election fraud claims and told him, point blank, they were false. In mid-December 2020, President Trump’s senior advisors told him the time had come to concede the election. Donald Trump knew the courts had ruled against him. He had all of this information but still he made the conscious choice to claim, fraudulently, that the election was stolen; to pressure state officials to change election results; to manufacture fake Electoral [College] slates; to attempt to corrupt our Department of Justice; to summon tens of thousands of supporters to Washington, knowing that they were angry, knowing that some of them were armed, he sent them to the Capitol.”

Thursday’s committee meeting, coming after a two-month break, was described by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the committee chair, as a summation of their investigation’s findings to date, and also as an exploration of “President Trump’s state of mind,”

“What did President Trump know? What was he told? What was his personal and substantial role in a multi-part plan to overturn the election?” Thompson asked.

As numerous polls have shown in the 21 months since the insurrection, tens of millions of pro-Trump Republican voters believed Trump’s lie that the election was stolen – taking the former president at his word. But all along, top White House staffers and a handful of others said that Trump occasionally said in private that he knew he had lost, those individuals testified under oath.

On December 11, 2020, after Trump’s allies lost a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court “that he regarded as his last chance of success in the courts,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said, the president was fuming.

Texts by Secret Service officers confirmed Trump’s anger and were projected on large screen behind the dais.

The panel then played a videotape excerpt of its interview with Cassidy Hutchinson, the top aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who was with Trump and Meadows shortly afterward.

“The president was fired up about the Supreme Court decision,” she testified. “The president is raging about the decision and how it’s wrong… The president said something to the effect of, ‘I don’t want people to know we lost, Mark. This is embarrassing. Figure it out. We need to figure it out. I don’t want people to know that we lost.”

There were other signs that Trump knew he lost – even if he would not say so publicly, Kinzinger said, saying these were the actions of a commander in chief who knew that that he would be departing. Trump gave the military signed orders to withdraw all troops from Somalia and Afghanistan, which Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee would be “catastrophic” and a “debacle.” (The order was not followed.)

However, in speeches, including at a rally on the Washington mall before Congress convened to ratify Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College, Trump cited debunked conspiracy theories to claim that he had been cheated in his bid for a second term.

“It happened over and over again, and our committee’s report will document it,” said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA). “Purposeful lies, made in public, directly at odds with what Donald Trump knew from unassailable sources: the Justice Department’s own investigations and his own campaign. Donald Trump maliciously repeated this nonsense to a wide audience over and over again. His intent was to deceive.”

Millions of Republican voters were deceived and still believe that President Biden’s victory was illegitimate. More than 900 far-right militia members and radical Republicans who also believed Trump’s lies and followed his orders to storm the Capitol have faced federal prosecution.

While it is an open question whether Trump will ever sit before the House Select Committee, nearly 300 copycat 2020 election-denying GOP candidates are seeking top state and federal offices on this fall’s ballots.

They, privately, may not believe Trump’s lies. But they have parroted his election denying claims in the campaign – lies that the committee has shown that Trump knew all along were false. They want voters to believe that they are fit for office and will uphold the same constitutional oath that Trump knowingly and intentionally violated.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.