Category Archives: fraudulent fraud squad

“Texas rejects hundreds of mail ballot applications under new voting limits”

Reuters:

Texas election officials have rejected hundreds of mail-in ballot applications, abiding by a new Republican-backed law just weeks before a March 1 primary kicks off this year’s U.S. election cycle.

“My friends, this is what voter suppression looks like,” Democrat Dana DeBeauvoir, the Travis County clerk, told reporters on Tuesday.

The county, home to the state capital Austin, invalidated approximately 300 applications because people failed to meet the law’s stricter identification requirements, said DeBeauvoir, who retires at month’s end….

Among other provisions, the law requires voters applying for a mail ballot to provide either a driver’s license or Social Security number, which must match the number they gave when first registering to vote.

That leaves some voters playing a “guessing game,” DeBeauvoir said, because many people cannot recall which number they provided originally and there is no easy way for voters to check….

Other provisions in the law are also creating obstacles, she said. The office previously added a sticker with voters’ addresses to applications that were mailed out to save them a step, but that is no longer permitted, Callanen said.

The law also prohibits residents from obtaining applications for other people, including relatives. Callanen said her office regularly receives messages from senior citizens asking for ballots for themselves and their spouses; under the law, spouses must make their own separate requests.

“It’s sort of thwarting us at every turn,” she said.

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“Florida governor proposes special police agency to monitor elections”

WaPo:

A plan by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would establish a special police force to oversee state elections — the first of its kind in the nation — and while his fellow Republicans have reacted tepidly, voting rights advocates fear that it will become law and be used to intimidate voters.

The proposed Office of Election Crimes and Security would be part of the Department of State, which answers to the governor. DeSantis is asking the GOP-controlled legislature to allocate nearly $6 million to hire 52 people to “investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of election laws. They would be stationed at unspecified “field offices throughout the state” and act on tips from “government officials or any other person.”

DeSantis highlighted his plan as legislators opened their annual 60-day session last week….

Voting rights experts say that no state has such an agency, one dedicated to patrolling elections and empowered to arrest suspected violators. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) announced the formation of a “2021 Texas Election Integrity Unit” in October, but that office is more limited in scope, has fewer than 10 employees and isn’t under the governor’s authority.

A literal fraudulent fraud squad.

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“Trump Rally Underscores G.O.P. Tension Over How to Win in 2022”

NYT:

Former President Donald J. Trump returned on Saturday to Arizona, a cradle of his political movement, to headline a rally in the desert that was a striking testament to how he has elevated fringe beliefs and the politicians who spread them — even as other Republicans openly worry that voters will ultimately punish their party for it.

Mr. Trump’s favored candidate for governor, Kari Lake, is a first-time office seeker who has threatened to jail the state’s top elections official. His chosen candidate to replace that elections official, a Democrat, is a state legislator named Mark Finchem, who was with a group of demonstrators outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 as rioters tried to stop the certification of the 2020 election.

And one of his most unflinching defenders in Congress is Representative Paul Gosar, who was censured by his colleagues for posting an animated video online that depicted him killing a Democratic congresswoman and assaulting President Biden.

All three spoke at Mr. Trump’s rally in front of thousands of supporters on Saturday in the town of Florence, outside Phoenix. It was the first stadium-style political event he has held so far in this midterm election year in which he will try to deepen his imprint on Republicans running for office at all levels.

When Mr. Trump took the stage in the evening, he lavished praise on the slate of election-denier candidates in attendance. And he suggested that perpetuating his grievances about being cheated would be a decisive issue for Republican candidates.

“We can’t let them get away with it,” Mr. Trump said. Then, he added, referring to Ms. Lake and her rejection of the 2020 results: “I think it’s one of the reasons she’s doing so well.”

But as popular as the former president remains with the core of the G.O.P.’s base, his involvement in races from Arizona to Pennsylvania — and his inability to let go of his loss to Mr. Biden — has veteran Republicans in Washington and beyond concerned. They worry that Mr. Trump is imperiling their chances in what should be a highly advantageous political climate, with Democrats deeply divided over their policy agenda and Americans taking a generally pessimistic view of Mr. Biden’s leadership a year into his presidency.

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“Cyber Ninjas, firm that led Arizona ballot review, is closed, CEO confirms”

Arizona Republic:

The CEO of the Florida cybersecurity company that conducted a highly contested election review in Arizona confirmed Friday that his company has closed and laid off its employees.

News of the closure had reached Arizona on Thursday shortly before a judge issued an order finding the company in contempt of court and imposing a fine of $50,000 a day for its failure to produce records requested by The Arizona Republic. 

Company founder Doug Logan on Friday confirmed the shutdown to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, but said it wasn’t because of the fines, pointing instead to cash flow issues.

He notified the remaining four employees — down from eight when the audit started last year in Maricopa County — of the decision to close the business the first week of December. …

Logan declined to say whether Cyber Ninjas would file for bankruptcy. He also noted his company does not have the capability to pay such a large fine nor to comply with a public records request he said would require hundreds of hours to produce.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah ordered the company to pay $50,000 per day until it turns over public records from an elections audit to The Republic. 

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“GOP officials in Arizona’s largest county affirm 2020 election was secure in rebuttal to Trump claims”

WaPo:

The November 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county was administered properly and not marred by fraud, the Republican-led local government concluded in a lengthy report released Wednesday. The 93-page document debunks one-by-one vague allegations of potential problems previously identified by the GOP-led state Senate and championed by former president Donald Trump and his allies.

County officials said the blunt rebuttal, released on the eve of the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was intended to highlight the ongoing dangers of unfounded claims of mass election fraud.

“We have seen how people react when they think that an election has been stolen. They storm the U.S. Capitol. They threaten to kill and hang and shoot election workers. And they called other Americans traitors,” said Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates (R) on Wednesday. “The American family cannot stand for that. I will not stand for that.”

You can find the report here.

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“Election Falsehoods Surged on Podcasts Before Capitol Riots, Researchers Find”

NYT:

Weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck outlined his prediction for how Election Day would unfold: President Donald J. Trump would be winning that night, but his lead would erode as dubious mail-in ballots arrived, giving Joseph R. Biden Jr. an unlikely edge.

“No one will believe the outcome because they’ve changed the way we’re electing a president this time,” he said.

None of the predictions of widespread voter fraud came true. But podcasters frequently advanced the false belief that the election was illegitimate, first as a trickle before the election and then as a tsunami in the weeks leading up to the violent attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to new research.

Researchers at the Brookings Institution reviewed transcripts of nearly 1,500 episodes from 20 of the most popular political podcasts. Among episodes released between the election and the Jan. 6 riot, about half contained election misinformation, according to the analysis.

In some weeks, 60 percent of episodes mentioned the election fraud conspiracy theories tracked by Brookings. Those included false claims that software glitches interfered with the count, that fake ballots were used, and that voting machines run by Dominion Voting Systems were rigged to help Democrats. Those kinds of theories gained currency in Republican circles and would later be leveraged to justify additional election audits across the country.

he new research underscores the extent to which podcasts have spread misinformation using platforms operated by Apple, Google, Spotify and others, often with little content moderation. While social media companies have been widely criticized for their role in spreading misinformation about the election and Covid-19 vaccines, they have cracked down on both in the last year. Podcasts and the companies distributing them have been spared similar scrutiny, researchers say, in large part because podcasts are harder to analyze and review.

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Wisconsin: “Gableman subpoenas election officials and city IT departments as GOP election review widens”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Assembly Republicans hit the state Elections Commission and municipal IT departments with subpoenas in recent days as part of their wide-ranging, months-long review of the 2020 election. 

The demand for records and testimony came days after a Dane County judge said she would issue a ruling in January addressing the validity of earlier subpoenas. That decision will provide initial answers on whether Assembly Republicans can continue to perform their review largely in secret. 

The latest subpoenas, dated Tuesday, were issued by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is overseeing the review of the presidential election for Assembly Republicans. 

The latest subpoenas seek emails, logs of internet traffic, information about voting machines and data about individual voters. The scope of the requests suggest Gableman’s team plans to spend months more looking into an election that occurred over a year ago. 

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“Committee investigating Jan. 6 attack plans to begin a more public phase of its work in the new year”

WaPo:

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans to begin holding public hearings in the new year to tell the story of the insurrection from start to finish while crafting an ample interim report on its findings by summer, as it shifts into a more public phase of its work.

The panel will continue to collect information and seek testimony from willing witnesses and those who have been reluctant — a group that now includes Republican members of Congress. It is examining whether to recommend that the Justice Department pursue charges against anyone, including former president Donald Trump, and whether legislative proposals are needed to help prevent valid election results from being overturned in the future.

“We have to address it — our families, our districts and our country demand that we get as much of the causal effects of what occurred and come up with some recommendations for the House so that it won’t ever happen again,” committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a recent interview.

The committee has taken in a massive amount of data — interviewing more than 300 witnesses, announcing more than 50 subpoenas, obtaining more than 35,000 pages of records and receiving hundreds of telephone leads through the Jan. 6 tip line, according to aides familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe details of the panel’s work….

“I think we may issue a couple reports and I would hope for a [full] interim report in the summer, with the eye towards maybe another — I don’t know if it’d be final or another interim report later in the fall,” said a second senior committee aide.

The five teams behind the investigation have begun to merge their findings. The topics include: the money and funding streams for the “Stop the Steal” rallies and events; the misinformation campaign and online extremist activity; how agencies across the government were preparing for the Jan. 6 rally; the pressure campaigns to overturn the election results or delay the electoral certification; and the organizers of the various events and plans for undermining the election.

Investigators said they are also pursuing questions outside of these lanes, including how Trump has been able to convince so many of his supporters that the election was stolen despite having no evidence to support that claim.

“I think that Trump and his team have done a pretty masterful job of exploiting millions of Americans,” said the second senior committee aide. “How do you get that many people screwed up that deeply? And continue to screw them up? Right? And what do we do about that? So there are some big, big-picture items that go well beyond the events of [Jan. 6] that the committee is also grappling with.”

Investigators have consulted with experts as they attempt to understand what might have happened if the electoral count was not completed that day and “we ended up in a constitutional gray zone,” said the first senior committee staffer.

With this in mind, the panel is expected to recommend legislative and administrative changes. Members have begun reviewing the Electoral Count Act, the 19th century law that dictates the procedure for counting electoral votes during a joint session of Congress. Legal scholars across the political spectrum have said the law is in need of reform.

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“Alleged ‘dead’ Georgia voters found alive and well after 2020 election”

AJC:

False claims that there were thousands of ballots cast in the names of dead Georgia voters can now rest in peace.

Election investigators found just four absentee ballots in the 2020 presidential election from voters who had died, all of them returned by relatives.

The State Election Board referred the cases to the attorney general’s office this month after investigators reviewed dozens of allegations. Almost all voters were found to be alive.

The tiny number of ballots actually cast on behalf of deceased voters contrasts with Republican Donald Trump’s false accusation that there were 5,000 dead voters in Georgia’s election.

It’s the latest in a series of unsubstantiated claims of fraud that have since been debunked, including allegations of counterfeit ballotsballot stuffing and forged absentee ballot signatures. Three vote counts showed that Trump lost by about 12,000 votes in Georgia.

In one case, a 74-year-old widow submitted an absentee ballot on behalf of her husband, William Nelson, after he died in September 2020.

“He was going to vote Republican, and she said, ‘Well, I’m going to cancel your ballot because I’m voting Democrat.’ It was kind of a joke between then,” Barry Bishop, an attorney for Sharon Nelson of Canton, told the State Election Board. “She received the absentee ballot and carried out his wishes. … She now realizes that was not the thing to do.”

Georgia election officials said there need to be consequences, even for a mistake.

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“Wisconsin Republicans pump new life into scrutinizing the 2020 election; The aim of the investigations has shifted to trying to subvert election boards and long-standing voting protocols”

Star Tribune:

The cash bar was open for business, the Lilydale Dance Hall decked out in holiday garland, but Michael Gableman wasn’t here with good tidings.

The attorney stood in front of Republican activists to share horror stories he’d heard in his investigation of the 2020 election: ballot harvesting, dead people left on state voter rolls and private grants to operate COVID-era elections used to get out the vote for Joe Biden, some claims misleading, some unsubstantiated. Gableman admitted he doesn’t think China or Russia hacked into voting machines, but they easily could have.

“I don’t think there’s anything too confusing about taking the dead people off of the voter rolls,” Gabelman said under the holiday lights, a stark reminder that more than a year had passed since Donald Trump lost the presidency.

Scenes like this are playing out across Wisconsin in the most aggressive effort by Republicans in any battleground state to pump new life into scrutinizing the last election. While some of the players are the same, their aim is different than it was a year ago, when groups unsuccessfully tried to overturn results that elected Biden. Republicans’ focus now is trying to subvert election boards and long-standing voting protocols in Wisconsin ahead of the critical midterm and 2024 presidential race.

“What you are seeing are people literally advocating for maybe having an election but allowing the state Legislature to override it regardless of who wins and install their own preferred candidate,” said Ann Jacobs, the Democratic chair of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, which is under attack by Republicans. “For a while it was sort of done quietly, and now it is just out in the open, this advocacy for the elimination of democratically elected representatives.”

Gableman’s taxpayer-funded investigation into the election has stretched on for months, flooding the state’s large cities with data requests. He’s asked to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay if they don’t comply with requests for private interviews. Some Republicans are calling for mass resignations from people who run Wisconsin elections. The Racine County Sheriff wants criminal charges brought against most members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

“On the one hand, it’s absolutely laughable because there’s no legal basis here. They clearly don’t know what they’re doing,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “On the other hand, it’s terrifying because it illustrates the lengths they are willing to go to cast doubt on our elections.”

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Must-read WaPo: “Inside the nonstop pressure campaign by Trump allies to get election officials to revisit the 2020 vote”

WaPo:

More than a year after Donald Trump lost the presidency, election officials across the country are facing a growing barrage of claims that the vote was not secure and demands to investigate or decertify the outcome, efforts that are eating up hundreds of hours of government time and spreading distrust in elections.

The ongoing attack on the vote is being driven in part by well-funded Trump associates, who have gained audiences with top state officials and are pushing to inspect protected machines and urging them to conduct audits or sign on to a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 results. And the campaign is being bolstered by grass-roots energy, as local residents who have absorbed baseless allegations of ballot fraud are now forcing election administrators to address the false claims.

The fallout has spread from the six states where Trump sought to overturn the outcome in 2020 to deep-red places such as Idaho, where officials recently hand-recounted ballots in three counties to refute claims of vote-flipping, and Oklahoma, where state officials commissioned an investigation to counter allegations that voting machines were hacked.

State and local officials said no one has presented actual evidence that rampant fraud tainted the 2020 election, and numerous ballot reviews and legal proceedings have affirmed that the vote was secure. Yet they and their staffs have been forced into a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole, debunking a steady stream of false allegations only to see similar claims emerge again from other groups or in other states.

Among those leading the efforts against the 2020 presidential election are MyPillow founder Mike Lindell — who said in an interview this week that he has spent $25 million promoting claims of election fraud — and one of his associates, Douglas Frank, a longtime math and science teacher in Ohio who claims to have discovered secret algorithms used to rig the 2020 election.

Throughout the year, the two men have been pressing their case with state and local election officials around the country and gaining meetings with many of them, according to people familiar with their activities.

In Ohio, Frank met for more than two hours in May with the senior staff of Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), presenting unsubstantiated claims that voting machines are connected to the Internet and have been hacked, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The Washington Post. Frank warned that he planned to pursue multiple legal actions around the country and said there could be consequences if LaRose’s office did not cooperate

“I’m warning you that I’ve been going around the country. We’re starting lawsuits everywhere,” Frank said, according to the recording. “And I want you guys to be allies, not opponents. I want to be on your team, and I’m warning you.”

After the meeting, LaRose posted a video on Facebook reiterating that under state law, no voting machines are connected to any network.

The doubts that Lindell, Frank and other Trump allies have whipped up about the vote have taken root across the country….

On social media, Frank recently began calling for prison or “firing squads” for those found guilty of “treason,” stating in one post that “history will not look kindly on state officials who turned a blind eye to the massive election fraud that took place in 2020.” On Saturday, he wrote that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who has refused to entertain his claims, should face a jury “capable of dispensing capital punishment.”

In an interview this week, Benson said she views the latest escalation as an assault on democracy. She said she intends to spend next year fighting back, and urging Americans to do the same.

Benson called the pressure on election officials “a political strategy to break down our democracy and put people in charge of our states who are unaccountable and will act in a way that doesn’t reflect the will of the people.”

Asked Tuesday about his comments, Frank said that after he and others who share his view about 2020 “win the war,” election officials such as Benson should face trial — adding that federal law calls for traitors to be subject to capital punishment.

“After the Nuremberg trials, there were hangings and firing squads,” Frank wrote in an email, referring to the military tribunals that tried Nazi leaders after World War II. In an interview, he added that he believes it is critical for officials to investigate elections to restore faith in their outcome: “I firmly believe they are not fair and free. I believe they are being manipulated.”

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