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Voting & Elections 12.5.2022

Tallahassee Democrat/USA Today Network: Why did voter turnout drop in 2022 versus 2018? Strict voting laws, voter arrests, say voting rights advocates

“We know that registered voters with prior convictions and even people who are fully eligible to vote such as people who only have a misdemeanor are concerned or even scared about getting in trouble if they cast their ballots,” said Amy Keith, program director of Common Cause Florida.

Voting & Elections 12.4.2022

Associated Press: As Musk is learning, content moderation is a messy job

Jesse Littlewood, vice president for campaigns at Common Cause, said his group reached out to Twitter last week about a tweet from U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene that alleged election fraud in Arizona. Musk had reinstated Greene’s personal account after she was kicked off Twitter for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. This time, Twitter was quick to respond, telling Common Cause that the tweet didn’t violate any rules and would stay up — even though Twitter requires the labeling or removal of content that spreads false or misleading claims about election results. Twitter gave Littlewood no explanation for why it wasn’t following its own rules. “I find that pretty confounding,” Littlewood said.

Voting & Elections 12.3.2022

Inside Sources/Tribune News Service St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Op-Ed): A productive lame duck — the end of a historic Congress

The last two items are critically important for our freedoms and the health of our democracy. The January 6th Select Committee’s forthcoming report is expected to highlight the former president’s role in fomenting a deadly insurrection and provide recommendations to ensure we have peaceful transfers of power between administrations. The Electoral Count Act revisions are consequential because they would modernize a law passed in 1887. Updating this antiquated law could help prevent another insurrection and attempted coup. Especially now that the former president is running again and has continued to peddle the "big lie" about who won the 2020 election, it’s important to pass legislation that ensures the will of the voters will be respected and followed.

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.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service: Schmitt’s office did not keep travel records after 2020, raising transparency concerns

“When an elected official runs for another public office, it doesn’t, in any way, absolve them from complying with freedom of information requests or public information requests,” said Aaron Scherb, the legislative affairs director for Common Cause, a national nonpartisan group that advocates for government transparency. “Public officials work on the taxpayers’ dime. And it’s important that citizens can get the transparency and accountability that they deserve from their elected officials at all times.”

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.

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