Bipartisan Legal Experts and the States United Democracy Center File Bar Complaint Against John Eastman

10.4.2021

Complaint: “The available evidence supports a strong case that the State Bar [of California] should investigate whether, in the course of representing Mr. Trump, Mr. Eastman violated his ethical obligations as an attorney by filing frivolous claims, making false statements, and engaging in deceptive conduct.”

Los Angeles, CA — The States United Democracy Center today filed a complaint against California bar member John Eastman for assisting in former President Trump’s attempts to discredit and overturn the 2020 presidential election results. The complaint requests that the State Bar open an investigation into Eastman’s conduct and is supported by 25 bipartisan signatories, including former federal and California state supreme court judges, numerous former Republican officials, leading law professors and the Bush and Obama White House ethics advisors.

The complaint offers strong evidence that the State Bar should investigate whether Eastman violated his obligations as an attorney by filing frivolous claims, making false statements, and engaging in deceptive conduct. Based on publicly available reports, it details Eastman’s actions from Election Day to January 6, 2021, when Congress’ electoral vote count was violently disrupted, and includes his work in the frivolous lawsuit Texas vs. Pennsylvania, his role in helping provoke the pro-Trump crowd at the “Stop the Steal” rally, and his authorship of wildly misleading legal advice to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count lawful votes from numerous states — all with the aim of ultimately delaying the election or throwing it to Trump.

“Across the board, John Eastman’s actions were anti-democratic — from his legal work to promote Trump’s frivolous claims in the Supreme Court, to the dangerous speech he delivered to disillusioned Trump supporters at the National Mall on January 6,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center. “There is strong evidence to support an investigation by the State Bar of California.”

“Individuals from every profession should be held to the highest of ethical standards and accountable for their actions. It is essential that policymakers and legal experts from both sides of the aisle stand up and fight against these anti-democratic actions taken by John Eastman and his peers,” said Christine Todd Whitman, Board Co-Chair of the States United Democracy Center and former New Jersey Governor. “This bar complaint is one important step to ensuring our democracy prevails even in the face of unprecedented disinformation and attempts to overturn a free, fair election.”

“The 2020 election was evaluated as the most secure election in history, and the official results stood up against multiple recounts, legitimate audits, and at least 60 legal challenges,” said Ambassador Norm Eisen, Board Co-Chair of the States United Democracy Center. “Yet enablers like John Eastman continued to incessantly and baselessly promote Trump’s Big Lie — a lie that led to a violent insurrection. States United is committed to holding these individuals accountable; our democracy depends on it.”

Key excerpts from the complaint include:

“There is no doubt that Mr. Eastman’s memoranda were wrong in their core claim that the Constitution gave Mr. Pence unquestioned and unreviewable authority to declare the Electoral Count Act and Concurrent Resolution unconstitutional and to refuse to count or delay the counting of the ‘swing state’ Electoral College vote certificates, even though those certificates were proper in form, had withstood all timely legal challenges, and were not opposed by any valid competing slate of electors. Other lawyers who looked at the question — many of them stalwart conservatives and Trump supporters — believed that that advice was absolutely wrong.

“Mr. Eastman’s advice, however, was not simply wrong — it was false or deceptive, in multiple respects. First, it rested on factual statements that were false or misleading, including the falsehoods that there were competing slates of electors and that there existed outcome-determinative fraud. Mr. Eastman also misleadingly omitted the fact that virtually every timely filed claim challenging the ‘swing state’ election results had failed. … 

“While a finding that unethical conduct caused harm is not required to support professional discipline, it is surely relevant here that Mr. Eastman’s conduct caused substantial harm and threatened to cause even more. Mr. Eastman’s conduct caused harm because it was intended to, and did, further Mr. Trump’s false narrative that in 2020 American political and judicial institutions at both the state and federal levels failed to ensure a free and fair election — when in fact those institutions did just that (even while conducting an election during a global pandemic). The damage of that corrosive lie to our collective life is incalculable. But the harm that Mr. Eastman’s conduct sought, but failed, to achieve — the jettisoning of those lawful results was far greater. Mr. Eastman’s conduct in seeking that outcome deserves the most searching of investigations, and, if the case outlined above is sustained, substantial professional discipline.”

This bar complaint against John Eastman is the latest action taken by States United and other legal experts to hold democracy violators accountable for their contributions to the January 6 insurrection. Learn more here.

###

About the States United Democracy Center The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We focus on connecting state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy. For more information, visit https://statesuniteddemocracy.org/.

6/4 Remembering the Tulsa Race Massacre

This week marked the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma, when Black Americans and their businesses were the targets of domestic terrorism that led to the murder of countless Black residents. In a speech memorializing the victims of this racist attack, President Joe Biden called on fellow Americans to remember that “this was a massacre—among the worst in our history, but not the only one. And for too long, forgotten by our history.”
 
When it comes to ending systemic racism in this country, there is much work to be done, and that includes ensuring our democracy reflects the will of the people, not just the will of some. President Biden showed he understood this by making the fight to protect and expand the freedom to vote central to his remarks and a top priority for his administration. He announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will take on a voting rights portfolio to make sure  access to the ballot box is protected at all levels of government, including securing the votes in Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
 
All of this is a reminder of both how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go. At the state level, there is progress to celebrate. In Nevada, Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 321 into law, making the Silver State the sixth to pass permanent mail-in voting. Vermont Governor Phil Scott  is likely to sign a similar vote-by-mail expansion bill that would send general election ballots to all active voters in the state.
 
We are continuing to keep our eyes on SB 7 in Texas, following a dramatic end to the legislative session last week. The voter suppression and election interference bill is likely to be a priority in a yet-to-be-determined special session. In Arizona, the more information comes out about the companies involved in the so-called “audit” in Maricopa County, the more concerning the chaotic operation becomes.  We are also monitoring Michigan and Pennsylvania as anti-voter and sham election review efforts are underway in both states.

National Updates

Washington Post: “With voting rights role, Harris takes on weightiest challenge yet as vice president.” By Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Mike DeBonis, and Sean Sullivan. (June 2, 2021)
“According to an aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, Harris emerged from that meeting with a request for Biden: Let me spearhead the administration’s battle against Republican voting restrictions. Now nearly a month later, during an event marking the centennial of the Tulsa race massacre, Biden formally announced Harris’s new portfolio on voting rights—placing the vice president squarely in the middle of a pitched partisan battle being fought at multiple levels of government.”
 
New York Times: “As G.O.P. Blocks Inquiry, Questions on Jan. 6 Attack May Go Unanswered.” By Luke Broadwater. (May 29, 2021)
“After many of the national tragedies we’ve experienced over the last 50 or more years, the response was to have a bipartisan investigation that would lay out the facts in a way that would be definitive,” said Michael Chertoff, who served as homeland security secretary under President George W. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. “It builds trust. It shows the public at a time of crisis, we can all come together and put the good of the country ahead of partisan interests.”
 
Business Insider: “House committee to hold a public hearing on the January 6 insurrection in the wake of a 4th inspector general flash report.” By Lauren Frias. (June 2, 2021).
“The House Administration Committee will hold another public hearing on the Capitol riot in the wake of a flash report by the inspector general, which the chairwoman said revealed ‘disturbing inadequacies’ in the Capitol Police’s preparation and response to the attack. House Administration Chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren announced Wednesday that the committee will host its fifth hearing on the events of January 6—more than any other congressional committee has held on the matter. The date of the hearing is yet to be set.”
 
NBC News: “New GOP voting laws target more than just voter access.” By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann, and Ben Kamisar. (June 3, 2021)
“Across the country, Republican-controlled state legislatures have done more than pass voting restrictions after losing the 2020 presidential contest. They’ve enacted or drafted provisions that create new election powers, change election administration and punish election officials who don’t perform their duties—which all have the potential of injecting chaos into the counting of the next presidential race. Here are just a few examples.”
 
NPR: “Experts Call It A ‘Clown Show’ But Arizona ‘Audit’ Is A Disinformation Blueprint.” By Miles Parks. (June 3, 2021)
“To Matt Masterson, the review of 2020 ballots from Maricopa County, Ariz., that’s currently underway is ‘performance art’ or ‘a clown show,’ and definitely ‘a waste of taxpayer money.’ But it’s not an audit. ‘It’s an audit in name only,’ says Masterson, a former Department of Homeland Security official who helped lead the federal government’s election security preparations leading up to November’s election. ‘It’s a threat to the overall confidence of democracy, all in pursuit of continuing a narrative that we know to be a lie.’”
 
KJZZ: “Pennsylvania Lawmakers Want To Import Arizona-Style Election Audit.”  By Ben Giles. (June 2, 2021)
Hobbs and election experts like Joanna Lydgate have been warning that the partisan Arizona audit could lead to similar efforts in other states. “Other states should be concerned about this circus coming to them,’ Lydgate said in May.”
 
Washington Post (opinion): “How to get to yes on voting rights reform.” By Jennifer Rubin. (June 3, 2021)
“If the Biden administration and Democrats are going to make good on their promise to use every tool to defend voting rights, they need a deliberate strategy for turning the tide in the Senate and a comprehensive litigation approach. So far, we have not seen either.”

State Updates

Arizona

Arizona Republic: “Who is looking at your ballot? These are the companies involved in the Arizona election recount.” By Ryan Randazzo, Jen Fifield, and Andrew Oxford. (June 3, 2021)
“Cyber Ninjas is not the only company involved in the effort, though. Here’s what we know about the companies that are reviewing or previously reviewed the 2020 election results in Maricopa County.”


Michigan

Detroit News: “Michigan committee advances bills expanding voting ID requirements.” By Craig Mauger.  (June 2, 2021).
“A Michigan committee gave its first approvals Wednesday to proposals in the controversial 39-bill Republican overhaul of the state’s election laws, setting up potential votes in the full Senate in the coming days.”

Nevada

8 News: “Gov. Sisolak signs permanent mail-in voting system into law” By David Charns (June 2, 2021)
Permanent mail-in voting is now the law of the land in Nevada following Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s signature. The governor signed Assembly Bill 321 into law Wednesday, making Nevada the sixth state to have such a system.
The law requires a Nevada voter to opt-out rather than opt-in to receiving a mail-in ballot

Pennsylvania

Wall Street Journal: “Pennsylvania Republicans Call for Election Audit Similar to Arizona’s.” By Alexa Corse.” (June 2, 2021)
“Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers visited an ongoing Republican-ordered audit of 2020 ballots here Wednesday and called for their state to conduct a similar review, the latest sign that political fighting over last year’s election is far from over.”

Texas

Texas Tribune: “Texas’ GOP leadership already at odds over plans for special legislative session.” By Patrick Svitek and Cassandra Pollock. (June 3, 2021)
“Texas’ top Republican leaders are already on a collision course over a special legislative session. Since House Democrats staged a walkout that killed Republicans’ priority elections bill for the regular session, the governor and the leaders of the state House and Senate have diverged notably in interviews about how they are planning for the overtime round.”

Houston Chronicle: “Texas Democrats call on Congress to help fight voting restrictions.” By Benjamin Wermund and Taylor Goldenstein. (June 2, 2021)
“As Texas Democrats drew national attention over the weekend, dramatically killing a massive package of election measures that would have reduced access to the polls, they said they wanted to make a larger point about what they view as Republican efforts to suppress the minority vote.”

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Public Radio: “Elections Commission Report: 13 Instances Of Possible Voter Fraud Referred To Prosecutors From November Election.” By Megan Hart. (June 2, 2021)
“Local clerks in Wisconsin referred 13 allegations of suspected voter fraud to district attorneys in relation to the November 2020 election, according to an annual report from the Wisconsin Elections Commission. That’s out of nearly 3.3 million votes cast in the election.Commissioners approved the document during a meeting Wednesday. State law requires WEC to compile an annual report on election integrity. The latest document includes a total of 41 suspected cases of voter fraud from incidents dating back to 2016.”

Social Media

Follow the States United Democracy Center on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on the latest democracy protection news!

5/28 Women on the front lines

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

Arizona

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.”

Georgia

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.”

Michigan

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.”

Pennsylvania
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.”

Wisconsin

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.”

Social Media

Follow the States United Democracy Center on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on the latest democracy protection news!

5/14 The Accountability Era, Chapter 2

Dear All,
 
Today, States United Democracy Center Executive Chair Norman Eisen, Co-Chair Governor Christine Todd Whitman and I wrote a piece for Newsweek about where we are as a nation four months after the January 6 insurrection. It follows a piece that we penned for CNN in mid-February, arguing that the era of accountability for ex-President Donald Trump had begun. We are now in the second chapter of that era and, while we’ve made progress, the road to securing our democracy is anything but smooth. 
 
“The violent insurrection of January 6 led to a bipartisan impeachment and trial of then-President Donald Trump, and our view that the era of accountability had arrived,” we wrote. “Four months later, it is well under way—but so is a furious backlash from the adversaries of democracy. Those of us who believe in free and fair elections must redouble our efforts.”
 
On Wednesday, House Republicans chose lies over truth by voting to remove Representative Liz Cheney from the party’s number three leadership position.  Cheney has refused to accept the lies that contributed to the insurrection, and she has been vocal in her opposition to former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories. Prior to the closed-door vote, she reportedly told her fellow Republicans that we “cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy. Down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country.”
 
Speaking of  efforts to unravel our democracy, the “fraudit” in Arizona went on hiatus this week. Stretching into its third week, there seems to be “no firm end date for the audit.” And with graduation ceremonies set to take place in the venue where the “fraudit” is taking place, the entire operation was required to reassess next steps and has now been extended.
 
In 2020, telling the truth about the election was often met with threats of violence—and sadly that trend persists. In a response to Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’s plea for the state Senate to come to terms with the already twice-audited results, she received death threats. The threats were so serious that Governor Doug Ducey ordered Department of Public Safety protection for Hobbs and her family.
 
In addition to concerns about the Arizona “fraudit” spreading to other states and the wave of voter suppression bills sweeping the country, we have also been focused on putting a spotlight on another dangerous trend pushed by anti-democratic forces: election interference and manipulation. In his latest New York Times column, Tom Friedman cited our new report on the topic. More on that below.
 
Have a great weekend,

Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center
 
 
 
Here is this week’s update:

National Update

New York Times (opinion): “The Trump G.O.P.’s Plot AgainstLiz Cheney—and Our Democracy.” By Thomas L. Friedman. (May 11, 2021)
According to a new report by Protect Democracy, Law Forward and the States United Democracy Center, ‘Across the country, state legislators are proposing bills that would give partisan state legislators greater control over elections while hamstringing experienced state and local election administrators who have traditionally run our voting systems. . . .
 
“‘Many of the bills would make elections more difficult to administer or even unworkable; make it more difficult to finalize election results; allow for election interference and manipulation by hyperpartisan actors; and, in the worst cases, allow state legislatures to overturn the will of the voters and precipitate a democracy crisis.’
 
“Had these bills been in place in 2020, it added, ‘they would have . . . raised the prospect that the outcome of the election would have been contrary to the popular vote.’”
 
Talking Points Memo: “Manchin Compromise Idea For Voting Rights Gets A Shot Across the Bow From Cornyn.” By Tierney Sneed. (May 13, 2021)
“It didn’t take long for a supposedly bipartisan compromise on voting rights legislation that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is floating to get dumped on by a key Republican. At a Thursday Senate Judiciary Committee meeting to vote on one of President Biden’skey Justice Department nominees, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) didn’t call out Manchin by name. But he referenced a proposal Manchin has recently floated—first to a local news outlet, and then more explicitly in an interview Wednesday with ABC News—for addressing voting rights.”
 
Washington Post: “The making of a myth: Russell J. Ramsland Jr. sold everything from Tex-Mex food to light-therapy technology. Then he sold the story that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.” By Emma Brown, Aaron C. Davis, Jon Swaine, and Josh Dawsey. (May 9, 2021)
“Key elements of the baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump took shape in an airplane hangar here two years earlier, promoted by a Republican businessman who has sold everything from Tex-Mex food in London to a wellness technology that beams light into the human bloodstream.”
 
FiveThirtyEight: “Republicans Have Made It Harder To Vote In 11 States So Far.” By Nathaniel Rakich and Elena Mejia. (May 11, 2021)
“But Georgia is hardly the only state that’s made it harder to vote this year. Republican lawmakers have now enacted new voting restrictions in a total of 11 states—Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.”
 
CBS: “What we know about the ‘unprecedented’ U.S. Capitol riot arrests.” By Clare Hymes, Cassidy McDonald, and Eleanor Watson. (May 11, 2021)
“The Department of Justice told CBS News that as of May 6, approximately 440 defendants had been arrested since the attack. The government has said in court filings that in addition to the more than 400 people who had already been charged, federal prosecutors still expect to charge at least 100 more. Prosecutors have called the case ‘unprecedented’ in scale, and the government said in a March court filing that the Capitol attack ‘is likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.’”
State Updates

States United

 
Arizona
 
TIME: “Arizona Enacts Mail Voting Restrictions. Here’s What to Know.” By Sanya Mansoor. (May 11, 2021)
“Arizona’s governor signed a bill Tuesday that could take more than 100,000 infrequent mail voters off a voting list that automatically delivers ballots by mail to voters—in a state where President Joe Biden clinched victory in 2020 by less than 11,000 votes. Arizona has ensured that all eligible voters receive ballots by mail in every election cycle for more than a decade through its Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL). Many of Arizona’s voters—more than 70%—are on this list and almost 90% voted by mail in 2020.”
 
New York Times: “Why a Lifelong Republican Views Arizona’s Recount as Wrong.” By Jennifer Medina. (May 11, 2021)
One of the most outspoken Republican critics of the audit is Bill Gates, who was re-elected as a Maricopa County supervisor in 2020, and along with other supervisors helps oversee the county’s election procedures. Mr. Gates is a lifelong Republican who once worked as an election lawyer for the party. He considers himself a loyal member of the G.O.P. and points to former President Ronald Reagan as an inspiration for his interest in politics. But he is horrified at the partisan audit taking place in his district, saying that the recounts Arizona already conducted had sufficiently validated the results of the election.”
 
Michigan
 
Detroit Free Press: “Setting the record straight on claims made in support of Republican election bills.” By Clara Hendrickson. (May 12, 2021)
“Michigan’s Senate Elections Committee has held three hearings so far on GOP-backed election bills that would place new requirements on voters. Republicans have sold their 39-bill legislative push as an effort to beef up election security and restore faith in the election process. Voting rights advocates and election officials say some of the proposals would disenfranchise voters by making it harder to vote.”
 
Texas
 
New York Times: “Exchange Over ‘Purity’ of Vote Puts Texas G.O.P. Firebrand in Spotlight.” By Dave Montgomery and Nick Corasaniti. (May 12, 2021)
“The sponsor of Texas’s voting bill stumbled through questioning as he did not know the origin or some of the language in the bill, like the ‘purity of the ballot box’ came directly from discriminatory language in Texas’ Jim Crow past.”

Social Media

Follow the States United Democracy Center on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on the latest democracy protection news!