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Media & Democracy 11.29.2022

HuffPost: Elon Musk Is Rolling Out Twitter's Red Carpet For The Far Right

Emma Steiner, a disinformation analyst at the watchdog group Common Cause, said she knew of new accounts being created on Twitter that were focused on the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, supporters of which call for the mass arrest or execution of public figures they accuse of being satanic pedophiles. Some accounts, Steiner said, are trying to “censorship check” Twitter by seeing what kind of material earns a response from the company ― what she called “a lot of boundary-pushing.” Steiner noted one recent high-stakes test Twitter faced: when Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, tweeted incorrect advice to voters on Election Day. Voters in Maricopa County were experiencing long lines and printer problems in several polling places across the county, which is home to Phoenix and most of the state’s voters. Arizonans can participate at any polling place in a given county — if they’ve signed in to one, they only need to be “checked out” to go to another — but Lake urged voters not to switch polling locations at all. Steiner contacted Twitter, urging the site to append a fact check to Lake’s tweets. Knowledgeable reporters, she noted, had pointed out that Lake was giving false information to her supporters. The tweets could potentially suppress the participation of Lake’s own supporters in the election, a violation of Twitter’s rules. “It was completely inaccurate,” Steiner said. “You just have to talk to a poll worker to be checked out, and then you can go to another location.” Twitter “declined” to act on the false Lake tweet, Steiner said. Since then, Lake has repeatedly cited long lines on Election Day as part of her refusal to concede the election, despite trailing the winner, Democrat Katie Hobbs, by more than 17,000 votes. Twitter’s refusal to address the false information from Lake is part of a pattern: The previous Friday, Common Cause had flagged multiple inaccurate tweets about vote-rigging and election fraud, some from accounts with more than 1 million followers, to Twitter only to hear the day before Election Day ― an unusually long response time ― that Twitter would not take action. “It made us wonder if content moderation was still happening at the platform,” Steiner said. To the extent Musk is following any plan at all, it’s one of opposition to his perceived philosophical enemies, Steiner said. “It does seem to be kind of an ‘owning the libs’ strategy.”

Common Cause, SCSJ Hold Media Briefing on SCOTUS Case

The major voting rights case is scheduled for oral arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 7.

The News & Observer: Supreme Court’s ‘independent state legislature’ case: How we got here, and what’s next

Kathay Feng, who leads anti-gerrymandering efforts for the national group Common Cause, calls it “the case of the century” — and not out of admiration. “It is a case that asserts a bizarre and fabricated reading of the United States Constitution ... to create a situation where elections are already rigged from the start,” she said.

Voting & Elections 11.25.2022

Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Tribune News Service: Georgians encouraged to vote in-person rather than by mail in runoff

“When you’re with your family and friends this Thanksgiving, remind everyone to make a plan of how they’ll cast a ballot in the U.S. Senate race,” said Aunna Dennis, executive director for Common Cause Georgia. “These close races come down to 1% margins, and you could be the 1% that moves Georgia forward.”

The New Yorker: How to Fix Our Remaining Election Vulnerabilities

Good-government groups such as Common Cause have been going after gerrymanders in both Democratic and Republican states for some time. The Supreme Court, in a 2019 case, held that federal courts can’t hear claims of partisan gerrymandering. The Court said that there’s just no standard to apply, and so federal courts are closed—there are other ways of dealing with these problems. Some states have created redistricting commissions; others have state courts that have policed partisan gerrymandering. That’s what happened in Moore v. Harper. After Common Cause lost in the U.S. Supreme Court, the group argued before the state Supreme Court in North Carolina that partisan gerrymandering violates the state constitution, and they won on that claim. The state Supreme Court ordered North Carolina to redraw its districts, to make them a little fairer in a state that is pretty evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

Voting & Elections 11.18.2022

Center for Public Integrity: What voter turnout shows, and hides, about elections

Generally, turnout considers “the number of registered voters who actually get to the polls or send in their mail-in ballots,” said Khalif Ali of Common Cause Pennsylvania. ... The delays happen, in part, because Pennsylvania is one of nine states that forbids election workers from processing ballots before Election Day. The state’s Democratic governor and Republican-controlled legislature haven’t been able to agree on a bill to change that. Most other U.S. states, including Florida, New Jersey and Wyoming, do allow ballots to be processed pre-election. “Since we don't have that, then what is required of us is patience,” said Common Cause’s Ali. “I'm more concerned about an accurate count than I am a quick count.”

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