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Voting & Elections 08.3.2022

Associated Press: Election skeptics rise in GOP races to run state elections

Although secretaries of state are important positions, they do not have unlimited power, said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for expanded voter access. “Even in states where the secretary of state has an enormous amount of power, a secretary of state cannot — by themselves — overturn a democratic election,” Albert said. “Even where these individuals may want to take actions to undermine the ability for voters to vote and have a ballot count, they are still limited by the law and checks and balances in place.”

Voting & Elections 08.2.2022

Voice of America: Justice Department Investigating More Than 100 Cases of Threats Against Election Workers

The 1,000-plus harassing and hostile contacts made to election officials covered the period from June 2021 to June 2022. The trend continued in July, the task force told the election officials, according to Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for Common Cause, who attended the briefing. ... In total, 89% of the contacts made to election officials were deemed protected speech and could not be investigated. “A lot of the questions were aimed at ‘Wait. Really? You can only investigate 11% of cases?’ And them saying, ‘Yes, I'm sorry but we can only investigate things not protected by First Amendment,’” Albert said.

Voting & Elections 08.1.2022

PolitiFact/Poynter: How will social media platforms respond to election misinformation? It isn’t clear

This decision may have consequences for voters in 2022, said Yosef Getachew, media and democracy program director at Common Cause, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest group. (Common Cause supports PolitiFact's Spanish fact-checking in 2022.) Many people still believe the 2020 election was stolen, and candidates have been sharing that message. "By not combating this, they're helping fuel the narrative that this big lie was accurate, when it's not," said Getachew. Emma Steiner, a disinformation researcher at Common Cause, said she still sees unmarked tweets falsely claiming that mail ballot drop boxes aren’t safe. (Drop boxes are secure boxes, often placed outside polling sites or government buildings, into which voters can drop completed ballots received by mail. The boxes often have more security features than standard mailboxes and have been used in some jurisdictions for decades).  Platforms don’t share data proactively, Steiner said, so it’s hard to gauge exactly how many posts with election-related falsehoods get sent around. It took PolitiFact about 30 seconds in the Twitter search tool — trying terms like "ballot mules" and "dead voters" — to find multiple false claims about elections.

Media & Democracy 07.31.2022

Newsweek: Donald Trump Slams 'Political' Decision to Drop 'Amazing' One America News

Verizon's move means OAN "will be left without a major carrier to spread its often harmful and dangerous disinformation and baseless conspiracy theories," said Yosef Getachew, the media and democracy program director at Common Cause, a government watchdog group. "This is a welcome change but long overdue." Getachew added: "We hope those remaining small pay-tv providers and streaming services still carrying OAN will follow suit and deprive the outlet of any platform to spread harmful conspiracy theories that have done real world harm. No company should profit from spreading content that endangers our democracy."

Media & Democracy 07.27.2022

Insider: Verizon inks multi-year agreement with Newsmax, the conservative network that continuously broadcasts conspiracy theories about the January 6 insurrection

Yosef Getachew, Media & Democracy program director at the watchdog group Common Cause, criticized that content-neutral approach, citing Newsmax's pattern of sharing false claims — not just from guests, but employees — about fraud in the 2020 election, which a judge recently concluded the network knew "were probably false" at the time they aired. "Newsmax has amplified and aired content about the Big Lie, mischaracterized the January 6th insurrection, and is continuing to fuel election disinformation, which is damaging our democracy," Getachew told Insider. "And it's Verizon that profits off that."

Voting & Elections 07.27.2022

TIME: Backers of the 'Big Lie' Are Trying to Run Local Elections. Democrats Are Finally

Running for local office isn’t easy. But whenever the going gets tough for Amanda Gonzalez, a Democratic candidate for Jefferson County (Colo.) Clerk and Recorder, she remembers the plot to overturn the 2020 election. “When I’m downtrodden, when something isn’t going the way I thought it would, that is a huge part of my everyday thought,” says Gonzalez, 37. “There is a set of people who will actively try to undermine or destroy our democracy.” As the executive director of Colorado Common Cause, Gonzalez has spent much of her career focused on state voting-rights policy. Much of that work involved crafting reforms that local election clerks would implement, including major nonpartisan election-protection efforts in 2018 and 2020. When the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder—the official in charge of elections in the county—decided not to run again, Gonzalez decided to run for the post herself. “If it’s not me, it’s bad actors,” she says.

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