“County supervisors face intense public pressure to reject election results, but most certify anyway”

Jen Fifield for VoteBeat:

Lydia Abril placed a Bible on the podium, adjusted the microphone, and told the elected officials in front of her that she wanted to pass along a message from God.

“Justice? You high and mighty politicians don’t even know the meaning of the word,” Abril read aloud from Psalm 58. The crowd behind her raised their hands in praise, wiggling their fingers in support. “The godly shall rejoice in the triumph of right, they shall walk the bloodstained fields of slaughtered, wicked men.”

The Wickenburg resident’s grievance with the Maricopa County supervisors? Their insistence on voting Monday to certify the county’s midterm election, as required by state law.

All across Arizona on Monday morning, from here, in the state’s largest county, south to Cochise County, and north to Mohave and Yavapai counties, the counties’ supervisors — mostly Republicans — have faced pressure for weeks to reject the election results by the Monday deadline. Republicans lost most top offices, including an open U.S. Senate seat, governor, and secretary of state.  A GOP pressure campaign has targeted the supervisors in all corners of the state, demanding they rerun the election based on vague allegations of malfeasance and machine vulnerabilities. Crowds gathered in boardrooms, and speaker after speaker told supervisors across the state that they did not trust the election and wanted a new one.

In all counties but one, the supervisors followed state law and voted to certify their election. The exception was Cochise County. The two Republicans on the three-member board voted to discuss the certification again on Dec. 2 — Republican Supervisor Tom Crosby said they were not convinced the machines were properly certified, even though the secretary of state’s office has repeatedly sent emails to supervisors providing documentation. In response, the secretary of state’s office sued on Monday evening, asking a court to force the Cochise supervisors to certify.

The court will certainly do so, and will act before the secretary of state is required to certify the statewide election on Dec. 5, several election lawyers in the state told Votebeat last week.

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“Was Election Denial a Passing Threat? Or Is It Here to Stay?”

Blake Hounshell in the NYT:

In the months before the midterm elections, a reporter for Time magazine asked Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for secretary of state in Arizona, why he was so convinced that Donald Trump had won the state in 2020 despite all evidence to the contrary.

“It strains credibility,” Finchem responded. “Isn’t it interesting that I can’t find anyone who will admit that they voted for Joe Biden?”

It was as succinct an explanation as any for why so many Americans believed the 2020 election had been stolen. Republicans, especially those living in deep-red areas, knew so few Democrats that it beggared their imagination that anyone, as Finchem put it, would vote for one.

Now, two political scientists have put some rigor behind this idea. The more that voters were surrounded by other Republicans, Nicholas Clark and Rolfe Daus Peterson of Susquehanna University report in a forthcoming research paper, the more likely that they were to say that the 2020 election had been stolen, controlling for other factors….

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Ethan Herenstein: “Can State Legislatures Exercise Federal Legislative Power? A Flaw in the Defense of the Independent State Legislature Theory”

The following is a guest post from Ethan Herenstein of the Brennan Center:

In their reply brief defending the independent state legislature theory (ISLT), the petitioners in Moore v. Harper doubled down on the assertion that when state legislatures make rules for congressional elections, they are performing a “federal function”—i.e., exercising federal power delegated by the federal Constitution, rather than state power conferred by state constitutions. This particular argument—which the petitioners raised multiple times in their reply brief—has emerged as one of their principal points. But it’s fundamentally flawed.

In Moore, the petitioners contend that the North Carolina General Assembly could draw congressional maps that violate the state constitution because congressional map drawing is a “federal function assigned to them by the [Elections Clause of the federal Constitution (Article I, Section 4)]” and therefore subject only to “federal constitutional constraints.” They’re not the first to assert as much. Michael Morley, a leading academic expositor of the ISLT, has made a similar claim, insisting that the ISLT is “rooted in the fact that states lack inherent authority to regulate federal elections.” Instead, he continues, “their only power over such elections comes from the U.S. Constitution.”

This argument is inconsistent with Article I’s Legislative Vesting Clause (Article I, Section 1). That clause provides, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Simply put, if the federal Constitution vests “all legislative powers” in Article I in Congress, then the Elections Clause—which is part of Article I—cannot vest any legislative power in state legislatures. (The amicus brief of Charles Plambeck and Joni Walser makes a similar point.) Instead, when state legislatures regulate federal elections under the Elections Clause, they exercise state legislative power, vested by their state constitution, in service of the federal Constitution.

Continue reading Ethan Herenstein: “Can State Legislatures Exercise Federal Legislative Power? A Flaw in the Defense of the Independent State Legislature Theory”
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“State Dept says Salvadorans’ attempts to ‘directly influence’ a U.S. congressional election are ‘unacceptable'”

NBC News:

After winning re-election to her seat in the U.S. House, Norma Torres, a Democrat from California, issued a press release making a startling accusation: El Salvador President Nayib Bukele participated in “foreign election interference” in her race.

Bukele, whose government has said it’s Torres who’s been interfering in that country’s matters, had urged residents of California’s 35th District to vote against Torres in a 2021 tweet. In the months leading to this year’s midterm elections, legislators from Bukele’s party openly supported her opponent on social media.

“Let’s say no to Norma Torres because she has caused so much harm to El Salvador,” one of the many tweets read.

Torres told NBC News that members of Bukele’s government openly supported her opponent in rallies and social media posts, and she said she was harassed in person and online with hateful and racist messages.

The State Department considers this an attempt to influence the elections.

“Throughout our last electoral process, we noted with alarm increasingly direct attempts by some Salvadorans to directly influence certain electoral outcomes in the United States,” a State Department spokesperson said in an email. “As we have repeatedly made clear, this is unacceptable, and we have repeatedly communicated this directly to the Government of El Salvador through official diplomatic channels.”

“The integrity of our elections is a vital part of our democratic processes; the will of the people must not be undermined by foreign influence,” the spokesperson said….

Richard Hasen, an expert in election law and a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said there is a difference between a foreign person trying to influence the outcome of an election versus breaking American law, which requires spending money.

“There’s a technical difference. You can say someone is interfering with the election, you can call it election interference. I think that’s a fair thing to say,” he said. “But calling something election interference doesn’t mean it’s illegal election activity, which would require making campaign contributions or spending money to promote or oppose a candidate for federal office.”

The Justice Department declined to comment on whether any election laws were broken.

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“Cochise County Board of Supervisors votes to delay certification of election results”

That’s the lede from the Arizona Republic. On the heels of the failed Otero County, New Mexico effort to block certification last summer, which resulted in a mandamus action followed by swift obedience, this effort in Arizona seems doomed to fail. Like many states, Arizona has a state-law equivalent of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 70, which would allows a court to order another party “to perform any other specific act” if the Cochise County Board of Supervises refuses to comply with the court order. And the Arizona Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over mandamus actions, which means a case could be quickly filed and resolved there without need for layers of appeal. (Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is likely to file a mandamus action shortly.) And there’s no secret trick to throwing out the county’s votes. If the secretary of state fails to receive a county’s results in a timely fashion, final certification is simply postponed under state law. That allows adequate time for judicial resolution.

Jen Fifield has more at Votebeat.

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“Election deniers performed especially poorly in races to oversee voting in key states”

NPR:

Over nearly two years, the political future of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had looked somewhere between uncertain and untenable.

In 2020, sitting President Donald Trump called him an “enemy of the people” after Trump lost Georgia and the election. Then Raffensperger, who refused Trump’s request to find votes, faced a primary challenge this year from a Republican congressman who voted not to certify election results on Jan. 6, 2021.

But in this month’s midterms, Raffensperger got the last laugh.

He won his reelection bid by 9 percentage points in a closely divided state, while election deniers running for the same position in ArizonaNevada and Michigan all were defeated.

“I think what Americans are looking for, Georgians are looking for, they’re looking for people of character,” Raffensperger told NPR the day after voting ended. “I think people want to see the country move forward.”

What they don’t want, according to a new NPR analysis of voting data, is state election officials who deny the 2020 results.

Election deniers running in competitive states for secretary of state — which in most places oversees the voting process — generally underperformed fellow Republicans on the ballot for three other statewide positions: U.S. Senate, governor, attorney general.

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