A nationwide effort by Democrats is underway in at least 16 states to overturn restrictions on mail-in voting and third-party ballot harvesting. States where suits have been filed include the swing states of Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
The effort is being backed by the National Redistricting Foundation, a Democratic group headed by the Obama administration’s Attorney General Eric Holder. The suits appear to be funded by Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC. A Wall Street Journal headline from April read, “Biden Campaign Indicates Priorities USA Is Preferred Super PAC — Nod from the presumptive Democratic nominee sends a message to top donors on where to focus contributions.”
For example, the Pennsylvania lawsuit, funded by Priorities USA, seeks to mandate mail-in ballots, require the counting of votes received by mail after election day, and strike down Pennsylvania prohibitions on ballot harvesting, meaning the third-party mass collection of absentee and mail-in ballots.
The efforts in other states are similar. Democrat lawsuits in Minnesota take a similar, if less direct, path. A suit filed in Minnesota earlier this year by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee seeks to strike down a law prohibiting ballot harvesting.
Last week, conveniently just after Minnesota Democrats failed to get mail-in voting through the state legislature, another suit was filed by the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund, the local chapter of D.C.-based political action group Alliance for Retired Americans, a prominent left-wing and union-linked group that supports Democratic causes across the United States. The plaintiffs claim that requiring voters to have a notary public or registered voter witness and sign their absentee ballot is a threat to safety.
Another plaintiff in the same suit is a 24-year-old Yale Law School student, who complains that he cast his Minnesota absentee ballot too late in 2018, which disallowed it from being counted.
Getting rid of Minnesota’s rule requiring a witness when casting an absentee ballot and requiring that ballots be received by election day would turn Minnesota’s absentee voting system into a de facto mail-in balloting system. Critics allege Minnesota’s absentee voting system is already subject to abuse. For example, more than 25,000 Minnesota voters in 2018 had a challenged voter-registration status, meaning something in the state’s systems flagged them as ineligible to vote. Nevertheless, these voters are allowed to vote absentee and “self-certify” that they are eligible.
In the 2008 election between former Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Al Franken, D-Minn., election judges controversially rejected about 12,000 absentee ballots, and more than 1,000 ineligible felons were still allowed to cast votes in that election. After Coleman initially won by about 700 votes, a recount declared Franken the winner by a mere 312 votes.
Unfortunately, the corporate media has grossly mischaracterized these lawsuits, couching their aims in humanitarian terms. Minnesota’s Star Tribune ran a headline titled “Older Minnesota voters file suit to change absentee voting rules.” The corporate media has conveniently ignored that Democrats are using the coronavirus pandemic to accomplish their longtime goal of overturning much of American election law.
Even more stunning, all 16 lawsuits are being run by Perkins Coie attorney Marc Elias. Elias was chief counsel to both the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in the 2016 presidential election, and was one of the key figures in the Russiagate conspiracy to remove President Donald Trump from office.
Elias and another Perkins Coie partner, Michael Sussmann, hired the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS to try to create ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. This led to Fusion GPS paying money to former British spy Christopher Steele, who paid money to anonymous Russian sources via a British national named Edward Baumgartner, who had ties to Russia.
These Russian sources, working with Steele and Fusion GPS, came up with the allegations in the so-called Steele dossier, which circulated throughout the highest levels of the Obama administration during the 2016 election. This occurred despite no part of the dossier being anything close to verified. The intelligence agencies had good reason to doubt the dossier’s author, and knew it was politically motivated.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration’s intelligence agencies used them to spy on the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team. In one specific instance, Democratic lawyers Elias and Sussmann directly worked to plant now-debunked stories in the media about a server in Trump tower communicating with Russia’s Alfa Bank. Elias has faced no repercussions to date for his role in the Russiagate matter.
In total, Democrats plan to spend tens of millions of dollars on the lawsuits run by Perkins Coie and Elias. The Trump campaign and Republican groups are planning to spend at least $10-$20 million to counter the Democrats’ efforts.