5/28 Women on the front lines

Published: 5.28.21

This week, I joined Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in Americain an op-ed exploring how telling the truth about the 2020 election has led to violent threats against election officials, and women have been among the top targets. The piece explores the threats that female leaders like Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Congresswoman Liz Cheney have endured as they push back on the lies about the 2020 election.

In addition to safety concerns, Secretary Hobbs is now seeing attempts by the same lawmakers who are backing the scam “audit” in Maricopa County to strip her office of powers to administer and oversee elections. According to the Washington Post, the bill “takes away Hobbs’s ability to defend election lawsuits, transferring that authority to Attorney General Mark Brnovich,” and “only appl[ies]through the end of her term as secretary of state in January 2023.”

These kinds of election interference and power grab provisions are not unique to Arizona. In fact, the Texas state legislature is slated to pass SB7/HB6 in the coming days, which would make Texas the latest state to follow the troubling nationwide trend of state legislatures trying to interfere with elections, criminalize election administration, and suppress the vote. We analyzed these provisions and others in detail in our report, Democracy Crisis in the Making, released last month with Protect Democracy and Law Forward. This week, our partners at the Voting Rights Lab spotlighted SB7 and its criminalization portions.

The congressional effort to create a commission to look into the January 6 insurrection continues to face an uphill climb, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doubled down this week on his opposition to the  bill, which is  currently before the Senate.

At the state level, Maricopa County-like schemes to keep lies about the 2020 election alive are now underway or being considered in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  As former Arizona Attorney General and States United Advisory Board member Grant Woods has  said, “the whole thing is a sham.”

Here is this weekend update:

National Updates

Washington Post: “The GOP’s brazen move to strip power from a fraud-narrative-busting secretary of state — again.” By Aaron Blake. (May 27, 2021)
“To be clear, this isn’t law yet, and if the failure of another elections bill this week in the narrowly GOP-controlled state Senate is any indication, it isn’t a cinch to pass muster. But it has now passed through key committees in both the state House and the state Senate and is part of a budget proposal due for a vote this week. And this proposal might actually be more brazen than Georgia’s. It would effectively take away Hobbs’s ability to defend election lawsuits, transferring that authority to Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich. What’s more, in case there were any doubt this is targeted at Hobbs, the law would only apply through the end of her term as secretary of state in January 2023.)”

New York Times: “On Voting Rights, Biden Prefers to Negotiate. This Time, It Might Not Be Possible.” By Katie Rogers. (May 27, 2021)
“Mr. Biden’s long experience in working across the aisle in the Senate—and his evolution from opponent of school busing to proponent of using the government to address issues of racial equity—taught him crucial lessons about navigating politically combustible civil rights issues. Yet even with his decades of work on the topic, he faces especially wrenching decisions when it comes to the voting rights legislation. Known as the For the People Act, the bill is the professed No. 1 priority of Democrats this year. It would overhaul the nation’s elections system, rein in campaign donations and limit partisan gerrymandering. But after passing the House, it hit a wall of Republican opposition in the Senate.”

New York Magazine: “‘Election ‘Audit’ Fever Spreads Beyond Arizona.” By Ed Kilgore. (May 26, 2021)
“It has now been well over a half-year since the 2020 general election, and nearly six months since all 50 states certified the 2020 presidential vote’s winners and losers, awarding the White House to Joe Biden. Bizarre rituals like the endless and farcical election ‘audit’ in Maricopa County, Arizona, are drawing widespread mockery, even from Republican elected officials. But instead of serving as the last after-shock of Donald Trump’s fact-free effort to overturn his defeat, the audit fever seems to be spreading, as the Washington Post recently reported, from Arizona to Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, and now Wisconsin.”

Washington Post (opinion): “The Jan. 6 commission wouldn’t undermine criminal investigations.”  By Danielle Brian. (May 26, 2021)
“A continued lack of a common understanding of what took place on Jan. 6 will only accelerate a damaging rift forming in our democracy. A bipartisan congressional commission is key to gathering a set of facts that all Americans can trust and helping legislators ensure such an attack never happens again. Some opponents of the commission have recently argued that a special Jan. 6 commission would be duplicative and could interfere with criminal investigations already underway, but this line of thinking is misguided.” 

The Hill: “Democratic state legislators form voting rights council amid GOP push for restrictions.” By Tal Axelrod. (May 26, 2021)
“Democratic state legislators from across the country are forming a voting rights council as the party searches for ways to fight back against a wave of GOP-led states codifying restrictions to the ballot box. The council, which is being convened under the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), will ‘convene legislators to strategize about fighting GOP voter suppression—legislatively or judicially—and access national resources in the fight to preserve Americans’ political freedoms.’”

State Updates


AP: “Arizona House rejects ID requirement for mail ballots.” By Jonathan Cooper. (May  27, 2021)
“The Arizona House on Wednesday voted down a bill that would have required voters to include identification with their mail-in ballots, a defeat for Republicans looking to impose more restrictive voting procedures. The bill was one of the most contentious of the dozens of voting rights bills that Arizona Republicans introduced following former President Donald Trump’s narrow loss in the longtime GOP stronghold. Influential business leaders, including the owner of the Arizona Cardinals, publicly urged lawmakers to reject it.”

Arizona Republic: Katie Hobbs slammed the sham ‘audit.’ So, of course, Republicans are after her power. By Elvia Díaz. (May 25, 2021)
“Arizona Republicans are taking the state’s top election official to the woodshed for criticizing the sham election audit and proposed voter restrictions. It can’t be just a coincidence that legislative Republicans are suddenly trying to yank election law enforcement from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs – a Democrat and vocal critic of the audit that has turned Arizona into a laughingstock.”

Washington Post: “The unresolvable dishonesty at the heart of the Arizona election review.” By Philip Bump. (May 26, 2021)
“In Arizona, the Republican-led state Senate authorized an effort to scrutinize the results not statewide but in one county, Maricopa, that alone accounted forBiden’s margin of victory. That effort is being conducted not by experienced auditors but instead by a firm that hasn’t done this work before and that is run by a guy who has actively embraced the sorts of fraud allegations for which no available evidence exists.”

MSNBC: “Arizona GOP’s election ‘audit’ going far worse than Trumprealizes.” By Steve Benen. (May 26, 2021)
Donald Trump has been watching the utterly bonkers election ‘audit’ in Arizona with great interest. In fact, a New York Times reporter recently noted that Trump has told people close to him that he believes the Arizona audit ‘could undo’ the results of the 2020 presidential election. There is no scenario in which any of that was true. On the contrary, a variety of prominent Arizona Republicans are increasingly mortified by this embarrassing fiasco. What’s more, as the Arizona Republic reported yesterday, the IT company that was in charge of running the day-to-day audit no longer wants anything to do with the partisan debacle.”


Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Ballot inspection seeks elusive proof of fraud in Georgia election” By Mark Niesse & David Wickert (May 27, 2021)
Aided by a treasure hunter, the tea party and an unshakable belief that the presidential election was rigged, a group of skeptics may soon inspect Georgia absentee ballots in an attempt to find counterfeits.
The court-ordered review is the latest attempt to question results that have repeatedly withstood scrutiny, with no evidence of widespread fraud.

CNN: “After embracing Trump’s effort to overturn the vote, GOP congressman wants to run Georgia’s elections.” By Alex Rogers and Manu Raju. (May 26, 2021)
“Rep. Jody Hice says former President Donald Trump would’ve won the 2020 election in Georgia if it were ‘fair.’ He says that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sent out 700,000 ballot applications to ‘illegal voters,’ and that there’s going to be ‘some fraud mixed up in there.’ To Hice,those ‘hundreds and hundreds of thousands of votes’ were potentially enough to ‘far outweigh’ President Joe Biden’s certified victory of roughly 12,000 votes in his state.”


MLive: “Michigan Senate tweaks ID requirements in absentee voting bills; Benson still unimpressed.” By Samuel Dodge. (May 26, 2021)
“The Michigan Senate tweaked some of the more controversial parts of its election legislation package Wednesday, though Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson still voiced opposition to the proposed changes. The Senate Election Committee unanimously approved substitutes to two bills during a May 26 hearing. The first addressed a bill requiring absentee ballot applications to be submitted with a photocopy of personal identification, while the other prevents Benson’s office from mass-mailing absentee applications.”

WTAE: “Search warrant issued for Fayette County Elections Office after ballot issues” (May 20, 2021)
The Fayette County District Attorney has confirmed an active criminal investigation after reports of issues for voters on Election Day this past Tuesday.
Richard Bower has filed a search warrant for the county elections office.
“We’re investigating issues that resulted in problems with scanning in the ballots,” Bower said.
According to the search warrant filed for the Elections Bureau, there were voter complaints that “Republican and Democratic ballots were being rejected by the voting machines due to a missing bar-code.”


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Top Wisconsin Republican Robin Voshires former cops to investigate November election.” By Patrick Marley. (May 26, 2021)
“Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is hiring retired police officers to investigate aspects of the November election, joining with Republicans from around the country who have questioned President Joe Biden’s victory. Vos, of Rochester, said he recognizes Biden narrowly won Wisconsin and is not trying to change the results with his taxpayer-funded investigation. He said he hopes the investigators can get to the bottom of issues Republicans have raised unsuccessfully in court, such as how the state’s largest cities used more than $6 million in grants from a private group to run their elections.”

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