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Wisconsin Lawmakers are moving to stop election workers across the state from fixing mistakes on absentee ballots.

The Assembly’s Committee on Campaigns and Elections on Wednesday advanced a plan, Assembly Bill 198, that would clarify that only voters or their witnesses can correct a mistake on an absentee ballot.

“Because [absentee voting] is a privilege, there’s got to be some responsibility that the voter has to exercise that privilege,” said Rep. Donna Rozar (R-Marshfield). “And I think that responsibility is to do it right and legally.”

Republican lawmakers say absentee ballot curing, the technical term for fixing mistakes on ballots, is one of the areas of concern from the November 2020 election.

Election workers cured many more ballots last fall than ever before. The Wisconsin Elections Commission confirmed this in its postelection report.

“The statewide absentee ballot rejection rate was exceptionally low in November — 0.2% statewide compared to 1.8% in April 2020,” the commission wrote in January.

The new proposal spells out that election clerks must contact the voter if they made a mistake, or the witness if they made a mistake in filling out their portion of the absentee ballot. Only the voter or the witness can correct those mistakes.

Democrats on the Elections Committee say the change will mean some legally cast ballots won’t be counted.

“I don’t care if absentee voting is a privilege,” said Rep. Lisa Subek (D-Madison). “That doesn’t mean you should have to pass a test, or make sure that you dot every I and cross every T. If someone makes an innocent, honest mistake, it is appalling that we’re not going to then let their ballot count.”

Elections Committee chief Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) said the tightening of the rules for who can fix mistakes on absentee ballots does not infringe on anyone’s right to vote.

“Election Day is a right, and early voting is still a privilege,” Brandtjen said.

The proposal now heads for a vote in the full Assembly, but also a likely veto from Gov. Tony Evers. The governor has said for months he will not sign any new laws that “make it tougher” for people to vote.

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Donald Trump

REPORT: James Murdoch spent $20 million Opposing Trump

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According to a new report from Newsmax “James Murdoch, an heir to the Fox News fortune, spent $20 million opposing Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection while funneling another $100 million through a nonprofit to support leftwing political groups, according to a new report.”

“James and his wife, Kathryn Murdoch, have largely backed Democrats or liberal, nonpartisan causes, according to CNBC, which found the large contribution while reviewing the 2019 tax return documents of Quadrivium, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit the couple control. Quadrivium was founded in 2014,” the report continues.

“It has been widely known that the young Murdochs backed President Joe Biden’s candidacy, but the $100 million for Democrats and other PACs was not well publicized, having been funneled through Quadrivium, CNBC reported.”

James’s wife, Kathryn backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 election “a vote for Trump is a vote for climate catastrophe.”

The night Trump defeated Hillary, she wrote “I can’t believe this is happening. I am so ashamed.”

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Donald Trump

Scenarios for an early Trump return to power: the feasible, the far-fetched and the fantasy

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The ever-churning rumor mill surrounding former President Donald Trump has, in recent days, produced a new genre — speculative scenarios that envision the 45th president making his way back to the White House sooner than expected.

Ever the showman — and never one to be upstaged by the media — Trump, who continues to maintain the election was stolen from him, has begun fueling these rumblings via a number of provocative comments.

For those confounded by the headlines and statements “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” — but also wondering if there’s any plausible basis for such scenarios — let’s review the options.

1. Reinstatement: According to the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman — and vouched for by National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke, among others — Donald Trump has been musing aloud within his inner circle about the possibility of being reinstated as commander-in-chief by August — yes, that means by August, 2021.

On June 1, Haberman tweeted: “Trump has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will be reinstated by August (no that isn’t how it works but simply sharing the information).”

Cooke confirmed Haberman’s claims, adding that, according to his reporting, Trump expects that former Sens. David Perdue of Georgia, and Martha McSally of Arizona, will be marched back into the upper chamber. 

Adding to the intrigue around Cooke and Haberman’s reporting is Trump himself, who recently appeared in a video for the National Republican Senatorial Committee saying: “We’re gonna take back the Senate, take back the House, we’re gonna take back the White House and sooner than you think.”

It is unclear just how Trump plans to effectuate an August return, but he has been closely monitoring the audit efforts underway in Maricopa County, Ariz., and Windham, N.H., as well as the developing audit efforts in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

From a legal standpoint, however, even those with close personal and professional ties to Trump doubt the Constitution leaves room to reinstate a president following the certification of his defeat by the Electoral College.

Regardless of the findings of any audit, “it is highly unlikely that any court will reverse the Electoral College votes,” said Jenna Ellis, former Trump campaign senior legal adviser. “The constitutional and legally viable judicial options at this point, are to hold accountable the administrators, public officials, and secretaries of state who disregarded state law.”

“The states allowed those certifications for the Electoral College delegates to be given to Congress, and the Electoral College is how we select a president in the United States,” Ellis continued. “The Republican-led state legislatures who were too spineless to exercise their constitutional responsibility to ensure the correct slate of delegates were sent to Congress must now provide the American people with confidence that this lawlessness will never happen again and put reasonable election integrity safeguards in place, as President Trump outlined this weekend in his North Carolina speech.”

Of course, there are alternatives to the court-ordered reinstatement fantasy …

2. Rep. Donald J. Trump: Trump parachutes into the midterm campaign cycle, running to become a member of the House of Representatives. His official Florida residence would allow him to run in a Republican-friendly district. Republicans take back the House and Senate — by what would have to be significant margins. Trump is elected Speaker of the House. Congressional Republicans successfully impeach both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Trump is once again the president of the United States.

Conservative radio host Wayne Allyn Root floated this idea last week during an interview with Trump, to which the former president responded, “That’s so — that’s so interesting.” He went on to call it a good idea. 

3. The no-election speakership: For the Congressional rules buffs out there, Ari Fleischer has the early-return scenario for you. 

“If you want to engage in conspiracy theories and wild dreams, here’s the ultimate scenario,” the former press secretary under President George W. Bush said on “Just the News AM” Monday. “You don’t need to be a member of the House of Representatives to be elected speaker. So, Republicans take back control of Congress in 2022, and when it comes time to vote for speaker, they can name [Trump] speaker. Then, if Republicans took two-thirds of the Senate, they can impeach Joe Biden, impeach Kamala Harris, and voila — Speaker Donald Trump becomes president.”

“Anything else and everything else is a fantasy,” said Fleischer. “There is no reinstatement clause, it’s not part of American government.”

4. The long game: And finally, the likeliest — and most conventional — of the Trump-return scenarios: The ex-president waits it out until 2024, when he will be afforded the legally uncontroversial option of again running for the highest office in the land and possibly winning — this time potentially with a mandate stemming from the results of the ongoing 2020 swing-state audits.

In the last month or so, speculation that the former president will run again in 2024 has jumped from being pure speculation to something Trump is remarking upon daily. Over the weekend, he answered questions on Fox News about his next potential running mate. Following Facebook’s decision last Friday to maintain the ban on Trump’s account until at least January 2023, those subscribed to the Save America PAC email list received a brief note from Trump: “Next time I’m in the White House there will be no more dinners, at his request, with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. It will be all business!

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Ariz. Senate Considering Recount of Maricopa County Election Audit Again

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The Arizona Senate is contemplating a recount of the 2020 election audit taking place in Maricopa County, reports NPR.

Arizona Senators are considering hiring a California-based nonprofit to analyze ballot images and create a third set of numbers to compare with the recount from Dominion Voting Systems machines and the hand recount being conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based firm in charge of the current audit.

The firm being considered is nonprofit Citizens’ Oversight, which was brought to the Senate’s attention by John Brakey, a Democrat who works for Audit USA and is working as Bennett’s assistant during the audit.

“I would say absolutely this is a grand test,” Lutz told the Arizona Republic this week. “I think it is certainly a big test for me because I have put a lot of work on it for the last year and a half or so. We have enhanced it to the point now where I believe we can do a lot to provide information about how well (this election) went.”

Lutz uses as an audit engine, or a set of computers, to tabulate the results from each ballot for all contests before comparing the numbers it generates with the official records. The review produces a discrepancy report.

The nonprofit has analyzed ballot images in various counties before but doesn’t appear to have been officially contracted to do so. In one recent case, Lutz’s team analyzed ballot images from three counties in Florida, reports the Epoch Times.

The hand recount is focusing on only two races: the presidential election and the U.S. Senate race. Citizens’ Oversight would be using its technology to audit all the races that were on the ballot.

While Bennett said the ballot image analysis would be finished before the hand count is done, Lutz wasn’t certain that would be the case. He said it would depend on a number of factors, including the condition of the ballot images.

Bennett and Brakey told reporters at the arena on May 27 that more than 800,000 ballots have been counted. They said the process will be completed by June 30.

The current audit started on April 23 and resumed last week after a break. It involves recounting the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in last year’s election. Workers are also examining election machines including 385 tabulators.

Democrats have largely opposed the audit, including Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. She recently warned Maricopa County against using any of the audited machines in upcoming elections, citing security concerns about losing the chain of custody over the equipment when it was handed over to the auditors.

For months, Arizona Senate Republicans battled with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in court over access to ballots that were cast in the 2020 election and other material for a supposed audit. That audit finally got going in late April, generating national headlines, reported the Phoenix New Times.

The audit is still pending.

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