Nel's New Day

July 17, 2021

Democracy at Risk in Voting Supression

[Updates for COVID: Trying to stop all vaccinations, the state of Tennessee fired the top vaccine official, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, after she included a state law in a public memo last spring: teens in Tennessee have permission to receive medical care without parental consent. A Tennessee Supreme court case made that ruling 34 years ago. Only 38 percent of people in Tennessee are vaccinated, ten percent under the U.S. average. The firing came a week after Fiscus received an anonymous package containing a dog muzzle. 

Unvaccinated people have caused COVID cases in the U.S. to rise almost 70 percent in the past week. Hospitalizations increased 36 percent from two weeks ago, and deaths rose 26 percent for a weekly average. Center for Countering Digital Hate reports that 65 percent of the anti-vax disinformation on social media platforms comes from only a small group of people called the “Disinformation Dozen.” The government can do something about these falsehoods without violating free speech because algorithms can legally be regulated.]

The Cyber Ninjas, starting their fake ballot count on April 23, are still in Arizona to communicate more disinformation about the 2020 election and reinforce QAnon conspiracy theories. Last week, a Maricopa County judge permitted a lawsuit by the watchdog American Oversight to obtain documents related to this thus-far 12-week attempt to find votes for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The judge also dismissed the GOP attempt to combine the American Oversight lawsuit with one from the Arizona Republic’s request for public records.

The fake process was to have been completed within two weeks, but the Ninja’s conspiracy theory leader, Doug Logan, has continued to stall. Now he’s demanding the county’s computer network routers and time to send workers door to door, asking voters if they participated in the election. In addition, he wants images of mail-in ballot envelopes, security keys for administrator-level access to voting machines, a diagram of the county’s router network, and a copy of the county’s voter-registration database. 

Releasing the routers and their passwords would cause significant security risks, according to Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who wrote about risks to “critical evidence,” “private information,” and other “sensitive, confidential data belonging to Maricopa County’s citizens—including social security numbers and protected health information.” GOP supervisors listed problems that would “cripple County operations.”

In early May, the DOJ had told the Arizona Senate their plans to canvass voters by going to their homes could violate federal law. At that time, Fann had put this plan “on hold.” Keeping the ballots in private custody may also violate the law, according to the DOJ although Fann claimed strong security to ensure no ballots or other voting documents were destroyed. Observers have noted serious security problems, and everything the Senate gave the Ninjas has been moved at least four times.

Arizona GOP senators and their president Karen Fann are still insistent on giving Logan what he wants for his “review” of the 3,387,336 ballots already recounted and audited by experienced professionals. At last week’s Judiciary Committee “hearing” about Logan’s requests, only two Republican senators could question Logan and others working on the audit; Democrats could only sit in the audience. Soon after the meeting, the committee GOP vice chair, Wendy Rogers, tweeted, “DECERTIFY THE ELECTION.” Jeremy Stahl gave a complete report on the event in Salon, and Logan and Ben Cotton, head of the data forensics firm CyFIR, presented disinformation throughout the hearing. 

GOP senators want to block the use of Sharpies to mark ballots for the purpose of “election integrity.” People at the fairgrounds a few miles from the capitol are still counting thousands of ballots, but machines for paper counting and stacking paper are giving them trouble as well as not counting as fast as they wanted. 

Logan may want to continue for a variety of reasons: he wants Arizona’s notoriety and money until more states get suckered in, DDT is coming to Arizona on July 24 for a rally and needs a backdrop, and—perhaps most important—the audit appears to have found nothing wrong when it finished its contracted responsibilities three weeks ago. After the Maricopa County supervisors and state Secretary of State Katie Hobbs gave Logan everything he wanted, he resorted to whining about lack of cooperation. With a new set of demands, Logan avows no report until his demands are met. 

After an “examination” of over three million ballots from the 2020 election, workers confused by 182 cases turned them over for review. Four reviews led to charges of voter fraud but none from people trying to vote more than once. Two cases were about Democrats, and the other two about Republicans. Only one potential voter fraud case about a person who might have been registered to vote in another state was found in the 2.1 million votes from Maricopa County, the source of the audit. Several eliminated cases were people stopped from voting more than once. Even if all 182 cases were fraudulent, which they weren’t, and by Democrats, which they weren’t, DDT would still have lost the state by 10,218 votes. Yet DDT claimed that these 182 review cases were “hundreds of thousands of votes or, many times what is necessary for us to have won.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to investigate the Cyber Ninja company with concerns about the “highly unusual effort to undermine faith in the nation’s election system.” Independent election observers allege the pretend “audit” has violated basic audit standards, including breaking basic ballot security protocols and compromising electronic voting machines costing over $2.1 million to replace. The committee will request such documents from the company as past business deals and the current business arrangement with Arizona state Senate Republicans as well as post-election communications with DDT, his administration and campaign officials, and members of his legal teams including Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Michael Flynn. Another part of the request is evidence regarding the “fraud” supposedly unearthed or suspected, including bamboo paper ballots and CIA agents involved in any fraud scheme.

Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has asked the state AG Mark Brnovich to investigate election interference by DDT and his allies while ballots were being tallied last fall. Texts and voicemails from the White House, DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and the state GOP chair Kelli Ward attempted to exert political pressure on the Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors’ GOP members to find a majority of votes for DDT in the state. Brnovich supported the state’s new anti-voting bill on the basis of “election integrity,” the purpose of the proposed investigation. Hobbs asked him to refer the investigation to another law enforcement agency if his ethnical duties are in the way of his probing the issue.

On two occasions after the election, DDT tried to contact GOP Supervisor Clint Hickman; Giuliani also made attempts to contact Hickman, hoping to “get this thing fixed up.” Ward told supervisors “to stop the counting,” to delay certifying the results, and to look into whether voting software added votes for Democrats. When they didn’t obey, she called them “unAmerican” and stated they were playing for the “WRONG team.”

The Arizona “fraudit” has a new tactic: change state law for 2022. Voters may legally fix early ballots within five days after Election Day, but the assistant AG Drew Ensign asked a federal appeals to refuse ones that voters forgot to sign and didn’t fix by the night of the election for the 2022 election.

DDT’s “big lie” about a “stolen election” is still working its way through Georgia’s Fulton County where plaintiffs are running out of options to examine 147,000 ballots. 

DDT’s ally, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano has contacted “several counties” for his probe into their ballots that he describes a “forensic investigation” with sweeping requests—all ballots cast in the 2020 election with “all ballot production, processing, and tabulation equipment” along with various “forensic images” of computer equipment and logs of databases. He also wants information on grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life—a nonprofit receiving an influx of cash from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to provide money to cash-strapped local elections offices across the country. Letters threatened subpoenas if counties failed to comply. Mastriano is considering being a gubernatorial candidate. Democratic State AG Josh Shapiro, also considering a run for governor, said his office will defend counties that choose not to comply.

According to John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate candidate, all the state’s voter fraud, under ten cases, was by Republicans who had their dead relatives vote for DDT.

In Oklahoma, where Biden received under one-third of the vote, legislators tried for a “forensic audit” of ballots, but the state’s chief elections official refused, indicating state law does not permit this process by an outside group. In 2020, DDT won every one of 77 counties in the state, and no state or federal candidate has asked for a recount.

North Carolina’s State Board of Elections also rejected the request from the state’s House Freedom Caucus to inspect “randomly selected voting systems for security issues. A major concern is decertification of voting machines that states will not reimburse.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of John Lewis. People who want democracy to continue in the United States are fortunate that the brave are causing “good trouble”—nonviolent protest, activism and left-leaning politics—to protect our land from fascism and dictatorships.

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