Newsletter: The Anti-Democratic Push to Allow Officials to Refuse to Certify Elections

The election denial movement is deploying a variety of tactics aimed at undermining our democracy in advance of this year’s election. One such tactic can be seen in the sprawling effort to allow election officials to refuse to certify results.

Last month, a Fulton County, Ga., election board member filed a lawsuitbacked by the Trump-aligned America First Policy Institute — that argues county election board members should be allowed to reject the certification of elections at their own discretion.

  • The GOP-appointed member, Julie Adams, abstained from voting on the certification of the county’s May 21 election, with the other four board members certifying the results
  • Adams alleges in the suit that she was denied access to records she claims she needed to certify the vote, including digital images of ballots, information about voting machine companies, and lists of returned absentee ballots.
  • Adams, as reported last week by the Guardian, is a member of the Election Integrity Network, an voter-fraud activist network founded by prominent election denier and Trump ally Cleta Mitchell.

The situation in Fulton County is one of many such efforts aimed at using the power of local election officials to undermine results. Experts have pointed out the danger of these methods being used to subvert elections that don’t go the way those officials — or those influencing them — want.

American Oversight has been investigating the network of activists and groups pushing false theories of election fraud to foster mistrust in the democratic process.

Other stories we noted this week include the following:

  • The city council of Amarillo, Texas, rejected an abortion travel ban after residents, backed by anti-abortion rights activist Mark Lee Dickson, petitioned for the council to reconsider the proposal. Read our article on the issue of abortion travel bans and the documents we’ve obtained in our investigation.
  • Jim Troupis, an attorney who represented former President Trump in 2020 election lawsuits in Wisconsin, was suspended from a state judicial advisory panel following charges against him for his role in the post-2020 election fake electors scheme. Read our newsletter from last week to learn more about the charges that were filed by the Wisconsin attorney general against Troupis and two other Trump allies, Kenneth Chesebro and Mike Roman.

On the Records

A Far-Right Legal Group’s Ties to the Texas AG’s Office
America First Legal — a group run by Trump administration alumni Stephen Miller and Gene Hamilton — is providing legal assistance to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for free, per a contract obtained by Law Dork

  • We obtained a similar contract between America First Legal and Paxton’s office from 2021. AFL agreed to represent Texas for cases related to the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Public Health Service Act of 1944, and the Administrative Procedures Act.
  • We also obtained a pro bono agreement from 2021 in which AFL agreed to represent the Louisiana Department of Justice for litigation related to federal immigration policies and “other matters as determined by the Attorney General.”

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • Shasta County election lawsuit goes to court ― with a twist (Redding Record Searchlight)
  • Mesa County is still reeling from election-denying county clerk Tina Peters (Talking Points Memo)
  • Election denier behind ‘Pence Card’ theory says he’s coordinating with far-right sheriffs group to get ‘a little bit of retribution’ (Media Matters)
  • Top Wisconsin lawmaker has new plan to find non-citizens on voter rolls (Wisconsin Examiner)
  • Trump’s former deputy press secretary calls for a clean up of Michigan voter rolls (Michigan Advance)
  • New Hampshire Republicans try to require proof of citizenship to register to vote (Bolts)
Voting Rights
  • Republicans sue to purge at least 500,000 people from Arizona’s voter rolls (Arizona Mirror)
  • Gov. Youngkin signs executive order regarding voter list maintenance (WSET)
  • Millions of US voters lack access to documents to prove citizenship (Guardian)
  • Electronic voting worries security experts. Nevada touts safeguards as it expands it to tribes (Associated Press)
  • Voter advocacy groups ask DOJ to step in after Texas allowed some voters’ ballots to be identified (Votebeat)
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court issues partial stay in case over Racine in-person absentee voting (Wisconsin Examiner)
  • After 2022 errors, primary election will be Pinal County’s big test (Votebeat)
In the States
  • ‘War on white America’: Influential Texas group hosting pro-Christian nationalism conference (Texas Tribune)
  • After HR probe, Richmond officials suggest ‘restructuring’ of election office (Virginia Mercury)
  • In some states that say they elect judges, governors choose them instead (MPR News)
  • ‘Challenges our authority’: School board in Florida bans book about book bans (Tallahassee Democrat)
  • Virginia joins request to American Bar Association to drop its DEI standards (Virginia Mercury)
  • Racial criteria removed by University of Missouri system from millions of dollars in student aid (Missouri Independent)
National News
  • Harlan Crow provided Clarence Thomas at least 3 previously undisclosed private jet trips, Senate probe finds (ProPublica)
  • Justice Alito caught on tape discussing how battle for America ‘can’t be compromised’ (Rolling Stone)
  • Hundreds of police have sexually abused kids. How do they avoid prison time? (Washington Post)
LGBTQ Rights
  • Judge strikes down Florida’s ban on transgender care for minors (New York Times)
  • Republican states urge appeals court to reverse gender-affirming care coverage rule (The Hill)
  • Republicans are ‘running out of states’ to pass new transgender restrictions (New York Times)
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
  • Supreme Court upholds broad access to key abortion pill mifepristone (Washington Post)
  • Indiana Department of Health denied first-choice attorneys by AG in abortion records lawsuit (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
  • ‘No protection’: Missouri advocates sound alarm after IVF safeguards stymied in legislature (Missouri Independent)
  • Trump says he’ll work ‘side by side’ with group that wants abortion ‘eradicated’ (Missouri Independent)
  • Publication of abortion amendment canvasser list is intimidation, ballot question committee says (Arkansas Advocate)
  • As Florida abortion ban disrupts care, activists push ballot initiative (Axios)
  • ‘They want us to be scared’: Protesters target organizers for abortion ballot measure in Arkansas (19th News)
Government Transparency and Public Records Law
  • Idaho journalists launch nonprofit to promote government transparency (Idaho Capital Sun)
  • Legal advocates seek public access to court records about abuse at California women’s prison (Associated Press)
  • President Joe Biden faces first lawsuit over new asylum crackdown at the border (Associated Press)
  • DeSantis spends millions on Florida Keys base preparing for migrant surge that hasn’t come (Miami Herald)
  • New Georgia law on immigration enforcement leaves local immigrants confused and anxious (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Trump Accountability
  • Trump supporters try to dox jurors and post violent threats after his conviction (NBC News)
  • Trump loyalist pushes ‘post-Constitutional’ vision for second term (Washington Post)