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Voting & Elections 11.16.2022

Austin American-Statesman: Fight goes on over election confusion; 3,000 complaints, most on 'mundane' matters

The bulk of the nearly 3,000 complaints that voters filed this election season with Common Cause Texas, a nonpartisan voter advocacy group, reflected procedural problems. People having difficulty figuring out where to vote, or whether they were eligible, or how they could correct a problem with their mail-in ballot. People not being told what to do with the printed ballot containing their selections. Or people, particularly in Harris County, arriving at a precinct that had run out of the paper used to print ballots. Any problem that interferes with a voter casting a ballot is an important one, of course. But it wasn't lost on Common Cause Texas Executive Director Anthony Gutierrez that most of the problems that voters faced had nothing to do with wild conspiracy theories. "We are short on Republicans who will speak out against the election deniers," Gutierrez said. Still, he wondered about the ability to find GOP figures in Texas who would sign on. Indeed, two-thirds of Texas Republicans still do not believe President Joe Biden was legitimately elected. Election deniers made strong runs for office around the country, and the massive layoffs at Twitter and at Facebook's parent company could allow even more disinformation to pour across social media platforms, potentially triggering political violence. Jesse Littlewood, vice president for campaigns at Common Cause, said many of us are like the proverbial frog in the pot of water, growing acclimated to rising heat instead of sensing the danger. "We are now in a pot of boiling water," he said, "and we haven't realized it."

Voting & Elections 11.15.2022

PolitiFact: How days of vote counting became go-to ‘evidence’ for false election fraud claims

"There was a major backlash to election officials and party leaders like President (Joe) Biden saying that it would take time to count votes," said Emma Steiner, disinformation analyst at Common Cause, a voting rights group. "We saw a lot of conspiratorial narratives arise saying they were ‘announcing their plan’" to steal the election. Conspiracy theorists seemed more likely to anticipate that results would take longer in 2022 — and to "just automatically view it as suspicious," Steiner said. In 2022, election deniers made a strategy of preemptively working to discredit any results that came in after Election Day, Steiner said.  ... "Mainstream platforms have been a breeding ground for conspiracies about elections," Steiner said. But more specific strategies linked to this narrative — such as the push to vote in person after 3 p.m. on Election Day — originated on less widely used alt-tech platforms like Telegram and Truth Social.  "There’s a definite tendency for these types of conspiratorial narratives to find fertile ground on (alternative) platforms and then cross over into mainstream platforms," Steiner said. "Then, eventually, you have elected officials and high profile influencers repeating it." 

Voting & Elections 11.11.2022

Texas Tribune: Texas avoided election violence. Advocates say voters still need more protection.

“It was a little bit better than I thought, but I also had very low expectations,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of the voting rights group Common Cause Texas. “We were really concerned about violence at the polls, and most of that was pretty limited.” Citing thousands of voter complaints received throughout the midterm cycle, Common Cause and other voter advocacy groups want the Texas Legislature to bolster voter protection and education measures and revisit recently passed laws that empowered partisan poll watchers. The complaints ranged from long lines, malfunctioning machines and delayed poll site openings to harassment, intimidation, threats and misinformation. Common Cause recorded at least 3,000 such complaints on a tipline it monitors, Gutierrez said, and most of the harassment, misinformation and intimidation allegations came from voters of color, sparking fears that there were targeted efforts to quell election turnout in 2022 and future contests. While Texas avoided widespread chaos this year, Gutierrez agreed that there’s still much room for improvement — particularly ahead of a 2024 presidential election that many expect to be contentious. “Most of what we saw this year were pretty common problems in Texas,” he said. “But it’s worth remembering that a lot of the problems we have in Texas are because Texas does not invest in infrastructure or education.”

Voting & Elections 11.10.2022

New York Times: Misinformation Flowed During Election, but Less Seemed to Stick

In a briefing on Wednesday, leaders of Common Cause, the nonpartisan government accountability group, said the election had gone more smoothly than many had feared despite “small administrative issues” in some polling stations that were being framed online as evidence of conspiracies. The big turnout of voters was evidence that they had rejected “election denialism based on falsehoods,” said Khalif Ali, the director of Common Cause Pennsylvania.

Voting & Elections 11.10.2022

Associated Press: Candidates who backed overturning Trump loss are rebuffed

“We’re seeing a bit of a scramble for the right message” among election deniers online, said Emma Steiner, who monitors disinformation for Common Cause. She said concessions from candidates including Dixon in Michigan and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania make “it a little more difficult for election deniers to continue.”

Voting & Elections 11.9.2022

Washington Post: Trump called a protest. No one showed. Why GOP efforts to cry foul fizzled this time.

“Sometimes, with tactics like this, the story is the intimidation,” Suzanne Almeida, director of state operations for the watchdog group Common Cause. “It’s about making a movement seem bigger than it is … making a fringe idea feel very mainstream, and like it’s everywhere.”

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