Georgia voters 45 times likelier to have vote-by-mail applications rejected after new GOP law: report
On Friday, Mother Jones reported the results of data showing a massive impact by the controversial Republican election bill in Georgia that restricts voting access.
"The law enacted in March 2021 shortened the time people have to request and return mail ballots, prohibited election officials from sending such applications to all voters, added new ID requirements, and dramatically curtailed the use of ballot drop boxes, among other changes," reported Ryan Little and Ari Berman. "During municipal elections in November, Georgia voters were 45 times more likely to have their mail ballot applications rejected — and ultimately not vote as a result — than in 2020. If that same rejection rate were extrapolated to the 2020 race, more than 38,000 votes would not have been cast in a presidential contest decided by just over 11,000 votes."
"In November 2021, Georgians who successfully obtained mail ballots were also twice as likely to have those ballots rejected once they were submitted compared to the previous year," continued the report. "If that were the case in 2020, about 31,000 fewer votes would have been cast in the presidential election."
And the effect could actually be understating it, the report noted, because voters in municipal off-year elections tend to be "super voters" keenly tuned into politics and familiar with the process, whereas voters who only turn out in midterm and especially presidential elections may be more marginal.
Other states that have enacted similar rollbacks of access to mail-in voting, like Texas, have seen similar results. In Travis County, home to the state capital of Austin, roughly half of the 700 mail-in ballot applications for the March primaries were rejected as a result of S.B. 1, the new Republican-backed election law that several Democratic lawmakers tried to block by fleeing the state last year.
All of this flies in the face of repeated GOP denials that they are doing anything to restrict voting.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has defended his repeated obstruction of voting rights bills by arguing they're unnecessary, saying, "States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever." Even Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who pushed back against former President Donald Trump's conspiracy theories about the election being stolen, has fiercely defended Georgia's new restrictions as "positive, solid, measured election reforms" and called those comparing it to Jim Crow "unfortunate and distasteful."
In the wake of reports that say economic growth in 2021 reached its highest level in nearly four decades with an economy that created 6.4 million jobs last year, MSNBC's Steve Benen writes that Republicans are ignoring the strongest economic growth since 1984.
After the downturn in 2020, US GDP expanded by 5.7 percent last year, the Commerce Department said in its latest quarterly report. Benen was curious as to how the GOP would respond to the news, but all he found was silence.
"The RNC didn't bother to issue a statement. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell similarly acted as if the developments weren't worthy of acknowledgement," Benen wrote. "In other words, economic growth was so good in Biden's first year in the White House that Republicans literally found themselves at a loss for words."
Benen added that when discouraging economic news was making headlines last year, Republicans didn't hesitate to link the news to President Joe Biden's policies -- like when Mitch McConnell released a press statement that said the "disappointing jobs report" was confirmation that Biden's "tax-and-spend policies are bad for American workers, families, and small businesses."
Biden, whose signature social spending bill is stalled in Congress, cheered the report, highlighting "the fastest economic growth in nearly four decades, along with the greatest year of job growth in American history."
And, he said, "for the first time in 20 years, our economy grew faster than China's."
China's growth slowed to four percent in the fourth quarter, according to official data released last week.
"This is no accident," Biden said. "My economic strategy is creating good jobs for Americans, rebuilding our manufacturing, and strengthening our supply chains here at home to help make our companies more competitive."
"Republican leaders and Trump were quick to praise the economy at GDP growth of 3% or less, and even promised it would hit 4% and 5%. While they never could deliver that kind of growth, President Biden has," the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.
With additional reporting via AFP
Cyber Ninjas CEO says he won't turn over records from election 'audit' in 'contentious' deposition: report
On Friday, The Arizona Republic reported that Doug Logan, the CEO of the Florida-based security firm Cyber Ninjas, refused to turn over records from his company's GOP-backed partisan "audit" of ballots in Maricopa County during a deposition this week.
"Logan answered questions during a contentious deposition with attorneys for The Arizona Republic and American Oversight," reported Ryan Randazzo. "The news organization and the left-leaning nonprofit have battled in court for months for the release of texts, emails and other documents related to the ballot recount and related investigations of the 2020 election ordered by Republicans in the Arizona Senate."
Cyber Ninjas' election investigation, which was ordered by the GOP-controlled Arizona Senate and partially taxpayer funded, pursued a number of wild conspiracy theories, including searching for bamboo fibers in ballots to try to prove they were Asian forgeries, and demanded access to public equipment that police warned could compromise law enforcement. Even some Trump supporters, like local talk radio host Mike Broomhead, went on to pan the audit as a "clown show."
"Logan said Hannah's November order to the company to turn over records was the result of a 'biased judge,' according to [Arizona Republic attorney Craig] Hoffman," continued the report. "Logan went on 'long soliloquies' during the deposition on how he did not believe his company was obligated to turn over records because they should not be public, Hoffman said."
This comes as Cyber Ninjas announces it is shutting down and laying off all its workers — citing, in large part, the $50,000 a day contempt of court fine for refusing to turn over the documents at issue in the dispute.
"Logan's lawyer has said he is the 'former' CEO of Cyber Ninjas, but a document his lawyers sent the Senate this week still describes him as president of the board of the company," said the report. "Logan testified that money coming in from the sale of Cyber Ninjas’ assets has been used to pay its subcontractors, not set aside for paying for a review of its audit-related documents. Cyber Ninjas’ emails and Microsoft Teams messages are backed up on a server, and Logan said he is committed to pay to maintain that server even as Cyber Ninjas winds down, Hoffman said."
Ultimately, the audit did not come up with evidence to support former President Donald Trump's claims the election was stolen — and actually purported to find more ballots for President Joe Biden that had not been counted.