Special counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed local officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that were central to former president Donald Trump’s failed plan to stay in power following the 2020 election — for any and all communications with Trump, his campaign and a long list of aides and allies.
The requests for records arrived in Dane County, Wis.; Maricopa County, Ariz.; and Wayne County, Mich., late last week, and in Milwaukee on Monday, officials said. They are among the first known subpoenas issued by Smith, who was named last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee the Jan. 6 Capitol attack case as well as the criminal probe of Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents at his Florida home.
The subpoenas, at least three of which are dated Nov. 22, show that Smith is extending the Justice Department’s examination of the circumstances leading up to the Capitol attack to include local election officials and their potential interactions with the former president and his representatives. The virtually identical requests to Arizona and Wisconsin name Trump individually, in addition to employees, agents and attorneys for his campaign. Details of the Michigan subpoena, confirmed by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, were not immediately available.
A sensible proposal in Arizona, to address a recent development in how some voters are casting their ballots:
Ducey said people who want to drop off their early ballots at polling places on Election Day should be able to have them opened and counted there along with those who actually vote that day. Now, counties send those “late early ballots” unopened to a central location where the signatures on the envelopes must be compared to those already on file.
Only after that happens are the envelopes opened and the votes tallied. That process, which can take days, occurs only after all other ballots are counted.
It’s a proposal that addresses the kind of concern raised by Nate Persily and Charles Stewart in the Wall Street Journal last month: “A mantra of election administrators is that “accurate is better than fast,” which is absolutely true. Still, quick counting of ballots is an international standard for well-run elections, and states with equally complex electoral systems are able to count ballots more quickly and just as accurately as the slowest states. In an era of suspicion among the losers about whether vote counts are on the up-and-up, speed must become a priority, without the loss of accuracy.”
Ahead of oral argument in Moore v. Harper December 7, commentary and roundup is coming in from everywhere. A few pieces:
In the New York Times, Michael Wines has a piece, “Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Far-Reaching Elections Case.”
At Reuters, Andrew Chung writes, “Supreme Court considers limiting judicial scrutiny in U.S. elections.”
Joan Biskupic at CNN has an article, “How Bush v. Gore led to the new monumental challenge to presidential election rules.”
Over at Politico, “How the ‘independent legislature’ case before SCOTUS could upend elections.”
At Roll Call, “Supreme Court to weigh state power over federal elections.”
Steve Calabresi (who filed a brief in support of respondents with Akhil Amar and Vik Amar) has this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Can the Supreme Court Define a State’s ‘Legislature’?”
Over at Heritage, David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman (who filed a brief in support of petitioners for the “Lawyers Democracy Fund and State Legislators”), joined by Richard Raile, have an extensive examination of the instances when states courts have reviewed that the state legislatures have done in federal elections.
This Friday, December 9 at noon (ET), Election Law at Ohio State is hosting a roundtable of election law experts, as we have previously. This time is to reflect on the 2022 midterms and consider key issues confronting our election systems in the months and years ahead. Panelists include Rebecca Green, Lisa Manheim, Derek Muller, Nate Persily, and Charles Stewart. My colleague Steve Huefner will moderate, and I look forward to participating.
For more information about the webinar and to register, click here.
Recent pieces by John Tures at The Conversation and Kerwin Swint at RealClearPolitics each point out that Georgia’s expensive run-off election could be avoided if the state adopted ranked choice voting (or, maybe more appropriately for a run-off election, instant run-off voting).
It’s worth noting that military and overseas voters have the option to use IRV in this year’s election, as a result of the Georgia legislature moving up the timeline for a run-off and recognizing the challenge of enfranchising UOCAVA voters in such a short turnaround.