4/29 We Spy Election Interference

Published: 4.29.21

Dear All,

This week, I was joined by Ambassador Norm Eisen, Executive Chair of the States United Democracy Center, and Jessica Marsden, Counsel at Protect Democracy, in an op-ed for CNN that put a spotlight on a dangerous trend: majorities in state legislatures taking power away from trusted state and local election officials.

Headlined, “The threat to US democracy goes beyond voter suppression,” the piece highlights a recently released report by States United, along with Protect Democracy and Law Forward, that analyzed how partisan actors in the states are trying to politicize, criminalize, and interfere with elections. This week alone, election interference provisions moved forward in FloridaNorth Carolina, and Texas.

Although these election interference schemes have largely flown under the radar, the challenges we face to free and fair elections are not lost on our nation’s leaders. Before a joint session of Congress, President Joe Biden called on lawmakers to protect voting. In the nationally televised address, he remarked that voting rights are “being attacked” and “if we truly want to restore the soul of America, we need to protect the sacred right to vote.” The President specifically called on Congress to “pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act” and to send it to his desk “right away.” Last month, we released a report that outlined how H.R.1 would impact the states and provide clarity for federal election procedures.

I’ve included below a round up of some of the issues we are tracking here at States United as we prepare for more late-night state legislative sessions, next steps in the controversial so-called “audit” in Arizona (which we refer to as the “fraudit”), and the upcoming Senate mark-up of the For the People Act.


Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center

Here is this week’s update:

National Update

Bloomberg: “Corporate Activism on Voting Rights Echoes Role in LGBTQ Battles.” By Joshua Green. (April 29, 2021)
“With voter restrictions spreading to Florida, Arizona, and other states, the pressure on corporations to respond shows no signs of letting up. Veterans of past social justice fights say the current one reminds them of another political battle that gripped corporate America five years ago and could play out the same way: the push for LGBTQ equality.”

CBS News: “Biden calls Capitol riot ‘a test of whether our democracy could survive.’” By Victoria Albert. (April 29, 2021)
“President Biden on Wednesday called the Capitol riot ‘a test of whether our democracy could survive,’ and called on Americans to ‘prove democracy still works.’ ‘The insurrection was an existential crisis—a test of whether our democracy could survive,’ Mr. Biden said during his address to a joint session of Congress. ‘And it did.’”

Washington Post: “Four months later, there’s been little political accountability for the Capitol riot.” By Philip Bump. (April 28, 2021)
“A key lesson of the past four years is how Republican officials view Trump’s base often drives their political responses. There’s little apparent appetite within that base for a thorough review of Jan. 6 and certainly no appetite for anything that would cast Trump or other Republicans as having erred in either promoting election conspiracy theories or trying to block the final election results.”

New York Times: “Half a Year After Trump’s Defeat, Arizona Republicans Are Recounting the Vote.” By Michael Wines. (April 25, 2021)
“It seemed so simple back in December. Responding to angry voters who echoed former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, Arizona Republicans promised a detailed review of the vote that showed Mr. Trump to have been the first Republican presidential nominee to lose the state since 1996. ‘We hold an audit,’ State Senator Eddie Farnsworthsaid at a Judiciary Committee hearing. ‘And then we can put this to rest.’”

State Updates


MSNBC: “‘A dangerous, dumb thing’: Clumsy Arizona GOP audit stunt risks harming faith in elections.” (April 27, 2021)
“Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs talks with Rachel Maddow about why Arizona Republicans risk causing damage to democracy beyond their own state as they push their election audit stunt with low regard for fairness, transparency, or security of the ballots.”

USA Today: “Fact check: No evidence election audit in Maricopa County has found widespread election fraud.” By Devon Link. (April 28, 2021)
“Despite numerous county audits that confirmed the initial election results and several fruitless lawsuits from former President Donald Trump’s campaign and its allies, the Republican-led state Senate said it would conduct the audit to ensure the integrity of Arizona’s election system.”


CNN: “Florida House passes controversial voting bill that would add new restrictions.” By Dianne Gallagher, Wesley Bruer, Jade Gordon, and Kelly Mena. (April 29, 2021)
“After several hours of contentious debate, the Republican-controlled Florida House passed its version of a controversial bill that would add new restrictions to the voting process. The bill, SB 90, passed on a party-line vote of 77-40 on Wednesday. The bill now goes back to the Senate with a slew of changes, after the House adopted a ‘strike-all amendment’ that brought SB 90 closer to a similar bill that had been moving through the House. The legislation, as amended by the Florida House, would create a long list of restrictions.”


Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Sen. Tim Scott defends Georgia voting law in GOP response to Biden.” By Patricia Murphy and Greg Bluestein. (April 29, 2021)
“Using Gov. Brian Kemp’s frequent refrain, Scott said Republicans support making it ‘easier to vote and harder to cheat.’ He also called the new law ‘mainstream,’ and described the ways he said the bill will expand, not reduce, opportunities for Georgians to vote.”


The Detroit News: “Secretary of State Benson: GOP bill would criminalize officials’ election Twitter posts.” By Craig Mauger. (April 28, 2021)
“Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, raised the criticism Wednesday as the Senate Elections Committee began debating the proposal that seeks to bar the ‘name or likeness’ of an official from appearing in any ‘communication’ funded with public money that involves an election-related activity.”


Axios: “Voting groups fear Texas about to exceed Georgia’s limits.” By Stef W. Kight. (April 29, 2021)
“Local advocacy groups, big business and former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke are fighting a pair of Texas voting bills they brand as suppressive, each of which could pass the Republican-controlled legislature as soon as next week. Why it matters: Advocates say Texas’ pending changes are worse than those that recently caused an uproar and boycotts in Georgia. The fight comes as the Texas population is rapidly growing and diversifying—and turning more Democratic.”

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