3/8 Ex-Wives for Democracy Protection

Today, the U.S Supreme Court rejected the final challenge brought by former President Donald Trump in his quest to overturn  the 2020 election results. Lies, like those used to justify the lawsuit rejected today, incited the rioters who attacked our Capitol on January 6 and were recently rebuked by one of the ex-president’s top allies, Senator Lindsey Graham. The FBI continues to meticulously track down suspected participants in the deadly insurrection, sometimes with help from their former spouses, and has already arrested 300.

Yesterday, on the 56th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to expand voting access and ensure that every vote is counted. The order comes on the heels of the House’s passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1), a bill that protects voters’ rights and enhances election security, and in the face of more than 250 bills in state legislatures throughout the country aiming to restrict voting access. This year’s commemoration of the violent attack by Alabama state troopers on peaceful civil rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge is the first time the annual event took place without the late Rep. John Lewis, who was among the leaders of the march and who suffered a brutal beating there at the hands of police.

Here is today’s update:

National Update

SCOTUS Rejects Trump (Again): Former President Donald Trump’s appeal of lower court rulings that upheld Wisconsin’s handling of mail-in ballots was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court today. This was not an unexpected result, but significant nonetheless, as it represents the end of legal efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Trump lost nearly every one of his dangerous attempts to  nullify the will of the voters through litigation.

Voting Executive Order: President Joe Biden’s Executive Order signed on Sunday directs federal agencies to expand access to voter registration and election information. The order includes directing heads of all federal agencies to submit a “strategic plan” to the White House within 200 days on how their departments can promote voter registration and participation. The order also requires the federal chief information officer to coordinate across federal agencies to “improve or modernize” federal websites and digital services like Vote.gov that provide election and voting information. A senior administration official said the executive order was meant to show that the President was doing what he could to support expanding access to the ballot box.

“Bloody Sunday” in Memory of Hero: It was 56 years ago that Rep. John Lewis, then 25 years old, had his skull cracked by Alabama state troopers for peacefully marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  It was a month earlier, in 1965, that “a white state trooper shot and killed Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young voting rights activist, in Marion, Ala. His murder sparked protesters to organize the Selma-to-Alabama marches.” This weekend was the first commemoration of the annual event since Rep. Lewis’s death and comes as leaders in Washington are working toward re-introducing H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, later this year.

No Evidence: In response to former President Trump’s speech last week at CPAC, in which he falsely claimed that there was widespread voting fraud in the November elections, Senator Lindsey Graham spoke out against those lies. Senator Graham stated it clearly: “I haven’t seen evidence of a bunch of dead people voting. I haven’t seen evidence of people under 18 voting in Georgia, like was claimed.”

Ex-Wives Join FBI Hunt: The FBI has made nearly 300 arrests of suspected participants in the January 6 insurrection; it expects that up to 500 rioters remain at large. Mobilizing across 55 of its 56 field offices in the effort, the agency has also expanded its “wanted” gallery of more than 200 suspects. Aiding in the search is Forrest Rogers, who runs the twitter handle @1600PennPoochRogers said it makes their search easier that many of the rioters “didn’t wear masks.” Once a potential identification is made and contact information found, Rogers swiftly passes them along to the FBI. One of the types of people who has been most helpful to Rogers: “ex-wives.”

Misinformation Campaign Targets Latinos: On issues ranging from voting to COVID, Latino Americans were the targets of a broad “largely undetected movement to depress turnout and spread disinformation about Democrat Joe Biden,” conducted on social media, often through automated accounts.  The effort is particularly hard to spot because “misinformation originally promoted in English is translated in Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua and elsewhere, then reaches Hispanic voters in the U.S. via communications from their relatives in those countries” and is “often shared via private WhatsApp and Facebook chats and text chains.” Although social media platforms have cracked down on misinformation more recently, this disinformation campaign appears to be continuing on a range of additional topics.

State Updates

Arizona: In the wake of Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason’s ruling last month to allow the Senate access to Maricopa County election equipment and the county’s 2.1 million ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election, the State Senate is still working to find a place to store the subpoenaed ballots. Last Wednesday, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers told Senate President Karen Fann in a letter “that the ballots had been loaded onto trucks and were ready to go, even including a photo of one truck filled with ballots.”

A national report compiled by Rep. Zoe Lofgren “lists public social media posts from Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were sworn-in to office in January 2021 and who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election,” including a state-by-state breakdown. Out of the nearly 2,000 page report, Arizona’s portion of the report  is the longest at 257 pages, including 177 pages from Rep. Paul Gosar, which seemed to be the longest of any individual covered in the document. Reps. Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko were also prominently featured.

Georgia: The Georgia Senate approved a sweeping election bill, SB 241,  today that would constrain who may vote with an absentee ballot. The bill, which passed the Senate in a 29-20 vote, requires voters to be 65 years old or older, absent from their precinct, observing a religious holiday, providing constant care for someone with a physical disability, working “for the protection of the health, life, or safety of the public during the entire time the polls are open,” or be an overseas or military voter to qualify for an absentee ballot.  The bill aims to undo a 2005 law allowing no-excuse absentee voting. It heads next to the Georgia House.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law released a new resource that details how legislative efforts to restrict access to voting will disproportionately impact Georgia’s Black voters. In its in-depth report, the Center concludes: “The state is considering restricting mail voting in response to a shift in the racial demographics of the voters who use it, but wants to keep mail voting available for older, whiter mail voters. The same is true for early in-person voting: Republicans in the Peach State want to end Sunday voting, a day disproportionately popular among Black voters.”

Attorney John Floyd, the Georgia prosecutor enlisted by District Attorney Fani Willis to help with the probe exploring former President Donald Trump, is a top expert on racketeering with a national profile. This is seen as a sign that “racketeering could feature prominently in the investigation.”

Wisconsin: Last week, some leaders in the State Senate “started circulating a package of ten bills that would, among other requested changes: stiffen the criteria to vote as indefinitely confined. Under current law, people who self-elect that they cannot get to the polls because of age, illness, infirmity or disability do not have to provide a photo ID to vote absentee.” Yesterday, Senator Melissa Agard and Senator Duey Stroebel discussed some of the proposed changes to the state’s laws governing access to voting on the local television station WBAY-TV.

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