Red States Nope Out Of Data Sharing To Catch Double Voters, Because That Is Like Every Person In Florida
But more importantly, they also don't want to have to offer to register people to vote.
Yesterday Republican secretaries of state in Florida, Missouri, and West Virginia demonstrated their deep and abiding concern for the integrity of elections by pulling out of the interstate organization that helps maintain voter rolls. Citing vague concerns about partisanship, the three states withdrew from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), the non-profit partnership that helps states maintain their voter rolls by pooling information about voters who have died or moved, allowing deletion of duplicate registrations.
As NPR notes, the Florida Secretary of State claimed in January to have "used data provided by ERIC to identify approximately 1,177 voters who appear to have voted in Florida and in one of the other member states, in the same election" during DeSantis's performative crackdown on supposedly ineligible voters. And yet the state pulled out yesterday, mumbling about an "obligation to protect the personal information of Florida’s citizens, which the ERIC agreement requires us to share." But of course the compact has always required data-sharing — that's kind of the point. So perhaps the the real reason lies in vague insinuations about "limiting the power of ex-officio partisan members of the ERIC board."
As Politico notes, this is a reference to David Becker, a former leader in the Voting Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, who was instrumental in getting ERIC off the ground and remains an ex-officio member of its board. Becker went on to found the Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR), which distributed hundreds of millions of dollars from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan's family foundation to register voters and ensure ballot access. CEIR features prominently in rightwing conspiracy theories about a stolen election, because apparently it is cheating to register voters in the park in urban areas or subsidize new voting machines in places where brown people might use them. So between his association with CEIR and his vocal pushback against claims that the election was stolen in 2020 and 2022, Becker was always going to wind up crosswise with the MAGA faithful.
But then Gateway Pundit got involved in January of 2022, and things got totally out of hand. Just days after the Stupidest Man on the Internet starting babbling inanities about ERIC and CEIR, Louisiana's secretary of state pulled out, noting "concerns raised by citizens, government watchdog organizations and media reports." And while former Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill noted that ERIC is the only way for states to identify duplicate registrations, his successor promised to and indeed did withdraw from the compact immediately upon taking office.
But could there be some other reason besides Becker for Republican states to want out of the program? Might there actually be some policy dispute aside from ranting by Jim Hoft and his merry band of glue sniffers?
Indeed there would! And leave it to Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to say the quiet part out loud.
"ERIC focuses on adding names to voter rolls by requiring a solicitation to individuals who already had an opportunity to register to vote and made the conscious decision not to be registered," he huffed in the letter announcing his state's exit from the partnership. As Politico notes, this is a reference to the requirement that member states contact eligible but unregistered voters every two years to invite them to register. And civic participation is very much not Republicans' bag, baby. Because if you get minorities and young people voting, they can overwhelm almost every GOP gerrymander. And we can't have that now, can we?
Naturally Florida just used the ERIC database and refused to contact the eligible voters — YOLO. But no more, since Peepaw Knockoff Tweets told them it's not allowed now.
All Republican Governors should immediately pull out of ERIC, the terrible Voter Registration System that “pumps the rolls” for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up. It is a fools game for Republicans….And while these Governors are at it, GO TO SAME DAY VOTING, ALL PAPER BALLOTS, AND VOTER I.D. (VOTER IDENTIFICATION). Mail-In Voting ONLY for FAR AWAY MILITARY and those that are VERY SICK! PROBLEMS ON ELECTION’S SOLVED!
Trump routinely votes absentee, of course. But his edict has the force of law in the GOP, so look for a stampede to the exits by Republican secretaries of state as they flee the one organization that helped them prevent the very fraud and illegal double voting they are sure is allowing Democrats to steal elections.
MAGA! MAGA! MAGA!
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And now there'll be no more GOP mischief ever again. Right?
Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mark Rozzi (D) stepped down this morning, clearing the way for the Democrats to elect Rep. Joanna McClinton the body's new speaker shortly after. The election of McClinton brings to an end nearly two months of needless chaos in the state House. Hooray for an end to clusterfuckery!
As you may recall, Democrats flipped a dozen seats to win control of the state House in the fall midterms, resulting in a narrow lead of 102 seats to the Republicans' 101 seats, but there were complications: One of the winning Dems, Rep. Tony DeLuca, died shortly before the election (he won anyway), and new Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro appointed two other members to jobs in his administration.
Rather than accepting the results of the November elections, Republicans decided that since they had more actual butts in seats, they wouldn't recognize the Democratic majority, no sir. After some maneuvering, a few moderate Republicans joined all the Democrats to elect Rozzi, a Democrat, as a kind of caretaker speaker until special elections could be held to fill the three empty seats. Rozzi pledged to act as a nonpartisan leader but didn't change his party affiliation, and some Republicans even whined about that.
In special elections on February 7, all three of the vacant seats — in safe D districts anyway — went to Democrats, and so today Rozzi stepped down and McClinton was elected Pennsylvania's first woman speaker of the House. She's only the second Black speaker of the House; K. Leroy Irvis was the first, in 1977.
In her acceptance speech today, McClinton addressed the weirdness of the past couple months, saying it was time to actually get to work. "We don’t have to disparage each other,” she said. “We can replace our short-sighted political game." Unlike your radical commie Democrats' usual practice, she chose not to declare this Year Zero and has no plans to erase the history books. Heck, she even said she won't even silence Republicans, but also made clear that she won't stand for any attempts to do culture wars, either:
“Today is a fresh start,” McClinton said. “We’re going to stand against every form of discrimination. We’re going to have rules that protect women, people of color, LGBTQIA+.”
“While we didn’t have the opportunities to pass those types of reforms before, today’s a fresh start,” McClinton added.
Rozzi used his brief time as speaker to pass a pair of bills that would give survivors of child sexual assault a two-year window to sue their abusers and institutions that protected them (i.e., Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania), even though the statute of limiitations has expired; he's a victim himself and has tried several times to get action on the bills. They finally passed last Friday, and Rozzi announced he was resigning this morning at the beginning of the session.
The Philadelphia Inquirer also notes that Rozzi spent his first month as speaker meeting with a group of three Democratic and three Republican House members to reform House rules so that a majority of House members "should be able to carry the day" without procedural trickery or even interference from House leadership. As he stepped down as speaker — he'll keep his House seat — Rozzi offered his endorsement to McClinton as the next speaker, saying she is "one of the most intelligent and compassionate women I have met in politics."
McClinton has served in the House since 2015, and is a native of Philadelphia. She graduated from LaSalle University and Villanova Law School, and has served as an attorney for the state Senate, and as a public defender, and Crom knows we need more former public defenders in government.
Good luck Madam Speaker. Keep an eye on those Republicans; your state grows 'em pretty weird.
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It is a mystery wrapped in a conundrum.
As yet another regular reminder that you should never trust Republicans when their lips are moving (or at any other time), the Washington Post reports (free gift linky) that former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich ordered his staff to do a comprehensive investigation back in 2021 of claims of fraud and irregularities and shenanigans and HOOPLA in Arizona's administration of the 2020 election. So how did that turn out, exactly?
Investigators prepared a report in March 2022 stating that virtually all claims of error and malfeasance were unfounded, according to internal documents reviewed by The Washington Post. Brnovich, a Republican, kept it private.
Instead of releasing the full report that debunked the Big Lie many Arizona Republicans fervently believed in, and ran on in the midterms, Brnovich issued a bogus "Interim Report" that just plain lied about the investigation, claiming it turned up "serious vulnerabilities" in Arizona's election processes.
Oh, yes, it gets worse, too: not only did that "interim" report leave out "edits from his own investigators refuting his assertions," Brnovich then sat on a second report from his investigators in September last year, an "Election Review Summary" that once again "systematically refuted accusations of widespread fraud and made clear that none of the complaining parties -- from state lawmakers to self-styled 'election integrity' groups -- had presented any evidence to support their claims."
Brnovich never released it. It only came to light after Arizona voters elected Democrat Kris Mayes to replace Brnovich. Mayes released the documents to the Post this week in response to a request from the paper. The Post notes that Mayes "said she considered the taxpayer-funded investigation closed[.]" Hooray for sunshine!
The story also says Mayes has let leaders in Maricopa County know the state is no longer investigating the county's election processes. Wingnut World has focused much of its rage on Maricopa, since it's the state's most populous, and is where all those liberal RINO city slickers who think they're better than you obviously rigged the election for Biden. How could a large, diverse metro area possibly have voted blue without cheating?
Trump-endorsed dipshit Kari Lake has also accused Maricopa County officials of cheating her out of a win in the governor's race last fall, either by incompetence or outright theft.
The Post explains that Brnovich advanced bullshit claims about the 2020 vote in Maricopa "that his own staff considered inaccurate." As the story puts it as delicately as possible, the documents also "suggest" that Brnovich and his team "privately disregarded fact checks provided by state investigators while publicly promoting incomplete accounts of the office’s work."
The story paints Brnovich as a wishy-washy mainstreamish Republican who immediately after the election said Trump lost, and even stood up to Trump's attempts to get the vote thrown out. But in the run-up to last year's GOP primary for US Senate, which he lost to eventual nominee Blake Masters, Brnovich tried playing in the MAGA sandbox.
On wingnut radio, Brnovich promoted his bullshit "interim report" — the one prepared after the real report found no evidence of fraud — and hinted that "It’s frustrating for all of us, because I think we all know what happened in 2020."
That interim report was red meat to election deniers, who were certain it was proof of rampant cheating. Delivering it to then-state Senate President Karen Fann (R), Brnovich wrote in a cover letter that investigators had found "problematic system-wide issues that relate to early ballot handling and verification."
No they hadn't. They wrote on a draft of the letter that "We did not uncover any criminality or fraud having been committed in this area during the 2020 general election."
For some dark depressing larffs, see the full draft of the "interim report" (no paywall) with portions of Brnovich's text highlighted in yellow and the investigators' NO WE DID NOT, FUCKSTICK replies in blue. For instance, Brnovich suggests maybe Maricopa County didn't do a very good job of verifying signatures on mail-in ballots. There's a note politely pointing out that the county hired a handwriting expert to train staff, and that they had a process to escalate iffy cases for further review. Brnovich claimed Maricopa County didn't always reply to requests for records. The staff said YEAH THEY DID, YOU PUKE (a loose paraphrase).
Surprise, surprise: hardly any of their notes made it into the revision.
In September last year, a bit more than a month after Brnovich lost the Senate primary to Masters, Brnovich's investigators wrote up an eight-page memo titled "Election Review Summary" that explained they received 638 complaints about the 2020 election, of which 430 were worth investigating. (The memo doesn't say what sort of complaints they rejected; we'll just speculate that any claims Maricopa County was infested with communists, demons, and pedophiles weren't given too much credence. But there we go making up excuses for the cover-up.)
Out of the 430 investigations, just 22 cases went to prosecutors, and a whopping two cases of felons who voted illegally ended in convictions. The investigators also noted that "high profile allegations" of widespread fraud by groups like Cyber Ninjas, True the Vote, and from various politicians didn't amount to a hill of beans. Cyber Ninjas, the outfit that did the months-long fraudit of Maricopa ballots, claimed to have turned up a long list of allegedly dead voters whose votes were counted, but "no one on the list of dead voters was dead, nor had they voted."
And so on.
Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed election denier who lost his bid for secretary of state, claimed an unnamed "source" tipped him off to 30,000 fake votes in Pima County, home to Tucson, but he curiously didn't tell the investigators this, "specifically stating he did not have any evidence of fraud and he did not wish to take up our time." Finchem did provide four absentee ballots that had been sent to people who had moved from the addresses where they were sent, but the memo notes that the Postal Service doesn't forward ballots, the envelopes weren't opened, and Maricopa County hadn't received any change of address information from the voters who'd moved. Fraud!
Again, Brnovich never made public any of these findings, even though the real report was ready in plenty of time for the midterms, in which virtually all the statewide Republican candidates promoted lies about massive fraud in 2020. Might have been useful information for voters, as Mayes, the new AG, pointed out:
“The people of Arizona had a right to know this information before the 2022 election,” Mayes said in an interview. “Maricopa County election officials had a right to know that they were cleared of wrongdoing. And every American had a right to know that the 2020 election in Arizona, which in part decided the presidency, was conducted accurately and fairly.”
Mayes has pledged to refocus the AG office's "election integrity" task force. Under Brnovich, it had been sent to look for election fraud, and found practically none. Mayes thinks it would be a much better use of taxpayer funds for her office to ensure people are all able to vote, so the task force will now be weeding out illegal barriers to voting.
God damn, we love a happy ending.
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Dems Have Awesome Special Election Night. Please, Republicans, Talk More About Hunter Biden's Peenerwanger.
Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
There were a bunch of special elections yesterday (that's what we in the business call a real "grabber" of a lede), and a bunch of Democratic candidates won by larger margins than Joe Biden's presidential results in 2020. Also, yesterday's Wisconsin Supreme Court primary set up the chance to flip that court to Democratic control for the first time in forever. So huzzay!
Let's hop right in!
Virginia: Meet Rep.-Elect Jennifer McClellan!
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan will be headed to Congress after winning the special election for Virginia's Fourth Congressional District. She'll take the seat previously held by Rep. Donald McEachin, who won re-election to the House last November but died of cancer later that month.
McClellan was expected to win, what with the Fourth being a safe Democratic district by registration. But she didn't just win against her Republican opponent, Leon Benjamin, she stomped him. With 95 percent of the vote in, McClellan won with 74.1 percent of the vote to Benjamin's 25.9 percent. (The margin was 68-32 when the AP called the race last night.)
Benjamin also lost to McEachin in November, although by a slightly closer 30-point margin, 64.9 percent to 34.9 percent.
With her win, McClellan becomes Virginia's first Black woman in Congress, which seems like a first that should no longer be remarkable until I remember that I live in friggin' Idaho, which will likely elect its first Black member of Congress sometime around the time Idaho also has state-run socialized medicine. McClellan also becomes the 150th woman in the House, and the 28th Black woman, both of which are also records. And for you stats nerds, once she's sworn in, she'll finally bring the House to its full 435 members, at least until June 1, when David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) resigns to lead the Rhode Island Foundation.
McClellan is a veteran state lawmaker, having served 10 years in the House of Delegates (Virginia is so cute) before succeeding McEachin in the state Senate in 2016, when he was elected to Congress. She raised far more money than Benjamin did, and campaigned on her record of support for abortion rights, voting rights, and addressing climate change.
Benjamin, on the other hand, seems not to have benefited in either of his recent elections from a September fundamentalist event in Idaho where he blew a shofar to cast out all the demons in the Pacific Northwest and North America:
There’s about to be an anointing, there’s about to be a breakthrough, there’s going to be a binding of demons, a binding of witches and warlocks. You’re about to see the power of God released through the trumpet. [...]
Your shout is going to shift America into winning elections that they thought they could steal. They’re trying to steal [it] again, but the trumpet is going to confuse the electoral process, it’s going to confuse the thieves, it’s going to confuse the Dominion machines; they’re gonna break up, fire is going to hit them, and people who they thought were gonna lose are going to win!
Either God is actually pretty bad at confounding election thieves, or there weren't any to confound in the first place. OK, maybe there's no God either, but let's not get carried away here.
After winning the primary in December, McClellan said she didn't mind that if she won, she'd be coming to Congress as part of the minority party:
I spent 14 years in the minority party in the Virginia Legislature and still was able to get over 300 bills passed. [...] I think it’s a natural progression of the work that I have been doing already.”
And in fact at her victory party last night, McClellan pointed out that she had passed another two bills in the state Senate on Election Day. We like the cut of her jib!
Kentucky: Is A Dem Winning 77 Percent Of The Vote Good?
In Kentucky, Democrat Cassie Chambers Armstrong won a seat in the state Senate, with 77 percent of the vote, filling a seat that had previously been held by Democrat Morgan McGarvey, who won election to Congress in November. McGarvey had served for a decade in the state Senate.
Armstong was a member of the Louisville Metro Council before running for the state Senate. She beat Republican Misty Glin, who also lost a November bid for a seat on the Jefferson County School Board. Armstrong's election won't affect the balance of power in Kentucky's Senate, where Republicans will still hold a 30 seat to 7 seat majority once she's sworn in.
Armstrong promised in a statement to do all she could to rein in GOP shenanigans in the state Lege:
Every day we see headlines about the majority in the General Assembly attacking LGBTQ youth, continuing to starve our public schools and the children that rely on them, and writing laws that put women’s lives at risk. There is an urgent need for change in Frankfort, and I’m grateful that the voters of the 19th Senate District have given me the chance to fight for them.
Armstrong, who is a law prof at University of Louisville, will represent a heavily Democratic district. Her victory margin yesterday was actually higher than its 60 percent voter registration, and than the district's 66 percent vote for Joe Biden in 2020. Her victory is not expected to help at all in my chronic habit of confusing Kentucky and Tennessee.
New Hampshire: Chuck Grassie Re-elected To State House, Will Not Tweet Inscrutable Nonsense
In a run-off special election, incumbent Democratic New Hampshire state Rep. Chuck Grassie, with an i-e,won re-election in a rematch with Republican David Walker. The re-do election was necessary because the two had actually tied with 970 votes each in November's general election. New Hampshire is the one with the crazy 400 House members, and during the early counting in November, it looked as if the Grassie-Walker race might decide control of the state House. But now that things have settled down, Republicans will still hold a narrow majority of 201 seats to Democrats' 199, including Grassie.
"My first priority tonight is to relax," Grassie said at the end of a campaign that was extended three months after the tie in November. "I will be going to Concord tomorrow morning to meet with my fellow Democrats that I will be working with. Then, I plan on getting to work, getting caught up on what I have missed and looking forward."
Despite the similarity of his name to the Republican US Senator from Iowa, there's no evidence that Rep. Grassie has ever hit a deer with his car and assumed it was dead.
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