Weekly Roundup: Michigan’s electors for Joe Biden are locked in

By Gabe Schneider

President Donald Trump continues to contest Michigan’s election results with false claims of fraud, but legal experts say the post-election fight is over.

 

Michigan’s 16 electors are now committed to formally cast their votes for Joe Biden when they meet on Dec. 14. Still: On Wednesday, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, asked activists to lobby Republican lawmakers to intervene. (More on that below).

 

Welcome to Votebeat’s new weekly newsletter. The 2020 election may be over, but in its aftermath, the news about voting rights and election integrity has become more important than ever. 

 

Votebeat’s journalists are still reporting on the flaws that we discovered in the local electoral systems in November and the conflicts that have followed the vote. Soon we will turn our focus to newly released voting data and election-reform bills emerging in the legislatures.

 

Our immediate attention this week has been on Michigan: 

 

Michigan

At that election fraud hearing featuring Giuliani, GOP state lawmakers failed to question activists who made unsubstantiated claims of fraud. “I just find it incredible that they would take on this topic and do absolutely no homework on the side that might say these people are not accurate,” said Chris Thomas, the state’s former elections director.

 

Even outside of Giuliani’s hearing, false fraud claims still persist weeks after Election Day, buoyed by GOP activists as well as President Trump and his allies. Votebeat and BridgeMichigan have spent weeks tracing and debunking 13 of the most prominent myths. Reporters Madeline Halpert, Jonathan Oosting, and Mansur Shaheen break down each claim. 

 

Michigan state Rep.-elect Abraham Aiyash, D-Detroit, said he received more than 1,000 racist and Islamophobic calls and messages after he vocally criticized Republicans on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers for initially refusing to certify the vote. Bisma Parvaz interviewed Aiyash for BridgeDetroit. 

 

Grassroots organizations and churches in Detroit found new ways to increase turnout on Election Day, delivering a conclusive win to President-elect Joe Biden. Here’s how they did it.

 

 

Pennsylvania

 

GOP legislators in Pennsylvania are asking the state’s congressional delegation to reject Pennsylvania’s electors for Joe Biden, reports Votebeat’s Marie Albiges and Cynthia Fernandez of Spotlight PA. More than 70 Republican leaders have signed a letter arguing that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Department of State have “undermined the lawful certification” of its Electoral College voters. The lawmakers are unlikely to garner the support they need among Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators to get their wish.

 

Before COVID-19 disrupted everyday life in Pennsylvania, the Legislature approved a new way of voting by mail. The law, despite being passed in a bipartisan way, has generated fierce criticism from Republicans this cycle, which has in turn revealed several of its deficiencies. Votebeat’s Marie Albiges reports for Spotlight PA. 

 

Trump has targeted Dominion, a voting machine company, falsely saying its machines were used to switch votes from him to Joe Biden. But the Pennsylvania counties that used them have reported no problems with Dominion voting machines, emphasizing the lengths Trump will go to in order to delegitimize the election. 

 

 

Georgia

Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, was in Georgia on Thursday to make false claims of widespread voter fraud at a legislative committee hearing. Votebeat’s Christopher Alston reports for WABE that “many of the claims made Thursday have been disproven or shot down in the courts of other battleground states, and some of the testimony was not even specific to Georgia.”

 

One of Georgia’s top elections officials, Gabriel Sterling, is criticizing Republicans and President Trump for not condemning not condemning violent threats after a young Georgia election worker has faced intimidation. “Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed,” Sterling said

 

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger criticized Fulton County election officials after the county struggled with ballot-scanning last weekend. Almost 50 other Georgia counties finished early with their recounts of the November election, but Fulton County was still going as of Tuesday.

 

A runoff to fill the remainder of John Lewis’ Congressional term is raising questions about Georgia’s election system: Namely, the winner of the race will only represent the seat for a few weeks, because of the state’s strange runoff system. Alston explains it all here

 

Georgians over age 65, members of the military, or those who are physically disabled can opt to  receive absentee ballots for an entire election cycle by submitting one application. Crucially, however, the so-called rollover ballots do not include special elections, and that’s where things get complicated. 

 

 

Texas

Crystal Mason was jailed for illegal voting after casting a provisional ballot in 2016 when she unknowingly was prohibited from doing so. Three years later, Mason wants her conviction overturned. Karen Brooks Harper, our Votebeat reporter at the Texas Tribune, talked to ACLU Texas, who is representing Mason, about the case.  

 

California

How did California move to change its voting systems to handle the COVID-19 pandemic? Many of the state’s 58 counties hastened their adoption of new technology and “vote centers,” with both changes turning out to be critical to helping voters participate in the election. Votebeat’s Michael Lozano assesses the state’s leap forward for CalMatters. 

 

Election officials struggled to push back against a deluge of false claims in California. For instance, a person in Santa Cruz falsely claimed that a dog was registered to vote using her microchip number. Votebeat’s Freddy Brewster and Kate Licari report.

 

North Carolina

In an extremely close race for state Supreme Court chief justice in North Carolina, Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley requested a hand-to-eye recount after all 100 counties finished a machine recount on Wednesday night. Votebeat’s Michael Falero reports on what that means. 

 

New Jersey

A routine audit of votes this year became an unprecedented one, after election workers had to check paper ballots by hand instead of using machines as in the past. New Jersey is one of the few states that mostly uses vintage voting machines with no paper trail. But because most of the election was conducted by hand-marked and mail-in ballots, there are tens of thousands of pieces of paper to count. Votebeat’s Jeff Pillets reports for NJ Spotlight News