tv Battleground State Elections Discussion at UC Berkeley CSPAN April 8, 2021 12:08am-1:40am EDT
about the legislative agenda in congress returns next week. at 4:00 p.m., a discussion on potential changes to the federal court system from the american constitution society for law and policy. and on c-span two at 10:00 a.m. eastern, day nine of the trial of former minneapolis police officer derek chauvin, who is charged in the death of george floyd. >> former homeland security secretary janet napolitano talked with election officials from georgia, arizona and pennsylvania about how to better prepare for future elections. this runs 90 minutes. >> good afternoon, welcome, everyone. thanks for joining us today to the keynote panel of our free and fair elections symposium. president of the university of california and secretary of homeland security and governor of arizona.
i'm now proud to be a professor at the goldman school of public policy at berkeley, and we are establishing there a new center on security in politics. in coming to the university, this past year, i founded the center in order to connect the security studies that are being done by the amazing faculty at berkeley, with policy makers and elected officials who can ensure real-world change. today's symposium brings together those on the front line of the critical nexus between election issues and the conduct of our elections, which really goes to the fundamentals of our democracy. following the speakers, we will take questions, so submit those via facebook, or use the form on the website you used to register. this panel features election
officials in some of the key battleground states from the 2020 election -- pennsylvania, arizona, and michigan. we'll also be hearing from a leading official from the department of homeland security. last november, all eyes were focused on today's panelists and how the elections in their states were being conducted. these officials not only faced intense scrutiny, but had to confront a series of unsuccessful lawsuits, among other things. today, we'll take a look back at this incredibly turbulent time and look ahead to see how we can confront pending legislation in the states and across the nation that seeks to change the way we conduct elections and ultimately think forward to 2024. so it's my pleasure now to introduce our outstanding panel
of experts. jocelyn benson is michigan secretary of state, where she works to ensure that michigan elections are secure and accessible. jocelyn is the author of "state secretaries of state: guardians of the democratic process." the first major book on the role of the secretary of state in enforcing election and campaign finance laws. katie hobbs is the secretary of state from my home state of arizona. previously, katie served in the arizona house and in the senate as minority leader, and she now focuses on ensuring that arizona elections are secure and fair and efficient. josh shapiro was elected as pennsylvania's attorney general in 2016. josh previously served three terms in the pennsylvania state
house and was twice elected to county commissioner in montgomery county. and matt masterson is a non-resident policy fellow with the stanford internet observatory. he recently served as senior cybersecurity advisor at the department of homeland security, where he focused on election security issues, and he also served on the u.s. election assistance commission. so thank you all for sharing some time with us this afternoon. so let's harken back to last fall, when you were preparing for the 2020 elections, and i'd like to explore with you two things. one is, did you take any special actions in light of then president trump's contention
that the only way he could lose the election was if it were rigged, in order to make sure that you could prove the opposite, if that were the case. and the second thing i'd like to explore with you is, how you -- with you is how you dealt with covid and changes in your states on election procedures. so secretary benson, why don't we start with you in the great state of michigan? secretary benson: you want me to take both of those or just the first right now? janet: why don't you to take the first one? secretary benson: okay. so yeah, i mean, we saw early on that misinformation was really going to be the biggest threat to election security. and misinformation particularly perpetuated by those in our country with perhaps the largest platforms of anyone. so this question of how you protect voters' minds from being
infiltrated by lies in a way that would ensure that it's still be able to have -- it still be able to have confidence, rightly placed confidence in the security of the elections, one of the most significant things that we were planning to tackle throughout the year. of course, things changed a year ago today when we got our first cases of the coronavirus reported in michigan about two hours after the polls closed in our presidential primary, which was also a year ago today, but i'll talk about that later. with regards to the misinformation coming from the president at the time and the threats and the challenges, which we in michigan really experienced in multiple ways throughout the past two years, our focus was really on three things. number one, building the infrastructure to ensure that our elections were successful. making decisions to particularly post-covid, make sure our citizens knew their options to vote, that they had confidence in exercising those options, and that the infrastructure itself was secure, and the tabulation process as well was efficient and secure.
the second pillar was to make sure that we educated voters about that infrastructure so that they knew proactively what their options were to vote, and also that they could have faith and know everything we were doing to secure their vote. that enabled us to prepare for the third pillar, which was countering misinformation and overall securing the process. and in many cases leading up to the election, efforts to put robocalls, and robocalls to our voters and things like that didn't land in michigan, because we had already effectively educated so many voters about how to vote absentee, for example, or vote through the mail, the efforts to deter that were not really successful and that were quickly reported to us so that we could hold those bad actors accountable. but finally, the biggest challenge was really after the polls closed. and we knew from the moment the polls closed to the moment we had our unofficial results announced in michigan, that there would be a space for bad actors, particularly the then president, to sow seeds of doubt quite intensely about the
results of the election, or to question it or to declare victory. and so, we planned for that with transparency and with efficiency. we, throughout every step of the way, every moment from when the polls closed to when we had our unofficial results, which was actually only about 24 hours due to our work to increase the efficiencies of the tabulation process, we delivered content to the national and local media through social media to our voters about exactly what was happening, exactly what we were doing to tabulate and protect the vote. and so that we were able to also announce the results, the unofficial results, two days sooner than we had predicted and than everyone was anticipating. so that, at least, in michigan really stymied the efforts of bad actors to use that period to sow seeds of doubt. of course, we know after the fact that the full two months or three months remaining were used in very creative ways through a pr campaign and other ways to file lawsuits without any evidence to try to undermine,
again, the people's voices in the process, but the work throughout the year that we had done to really solidify the process, ensure it was secure, ensure people had faith in it and participated in it and then ensuring that this particular moment that we maintained control of the narrative and push the truth forward with regards to the security of the vote and the tabulation process, that enabled us to do it successfully. and really again, though, the months that followed, you know, from the time when people showed up outside my home to, you know, protest and all the rest, were quite challenging, but we always had the truth on our side. we always had the voters and their voices to protect, and that also helped carry me and others through that very challenging stormy moment in november and december, because of the work we had done, the truth was on our side, the votes had been counted securely, and we knew that ultimately democracy would prevail. janet: that's great.
katie? katie: you know, elections are very different from state to state, but i imagine a lot of our preparations look very similar, and secretary benson touched on a lot of the preparations they were doing in michigan, and we were doing the same things here in arizona. she also mentioned going into the election knowing that misinformation was our biggest threat to election security. we had the same focus in arizona. and so, it was really important that we were focused on what we were gonna do to combat that. we engaged very early with the national association of secretaries of states trustedinfo campaign to help make sure we were pointing voters and the public to those trusted sources of information, and that they knew where to get the accurate information. and we continued throughout the entire process, from our presidential preference election
all the way through beyond the election in november, continuing to put out information through social media and other avenues to give voters information, to explain the processes to show all the ways that we were transparent and that people could participate in the processes, a part of how we keep them fair. and then we created a series of resources after the election focused on what was happening to demystify the process, and really just continue to combat all of that misinformation, and quite frankly, we say misinformation, but it's lies. there were so many lies about the election, and that is still happening here in the state of arizona. and so, really putting together a robust public education campaign was one of the most important pieces of election preparation, particularly when
you put the covid pandemic on top of that, which i think really served to amplify the misinformation and the potential for voter confusion. janet: yeah, that's right. we'll circle back to covid in a minute. josh, you were the attorney general, what were you doing before the election to prepare and were you working with your fellow state attorneys general? was daga involved, or raga, can you tell us what was going on? josh: yeah, absolutely. well, first off, it really is just an honor to be here with everyone. i mean, we saw in this last election just how fragile our democracy can be, and apart from a handful of secretaries of state, judges, and attorneys general, and governors across this country, the results really
could have been catastrophic, and it really is just an honor to be with these great defenders of democracy. and i watched them enough on tv, it's really wonderful to now be with them for this conversation today. for us, you know, we were dealing with many challenges. secretary, you touched on these at the beginning, right? for us, the four big challenges were, of course, covid, which everyone was dealing with, trump and his enablers willing to just lie -- and katie's right to call it what it is, these are lies, not just disagreements or misinformation. and then we had another challenge in pennsylvania, in that we were dealing for the first time with a new law that allowed for vote by mail, other states were far more advanced than we were on that. and so, for us, you know, we recognized coming out of our primary, which was pushed back, it was in june, very late primary due to covid, that we needed to really get our house in order and get prepared for what i expected to be certainly an onslaught of lies, but also an onslaught of litigation
leading up to the election before any vote would be cast. and so, i took my team together -- both the folks who do affirmative litigation, our appellate folks, our criminal folks, as well as our civil folks, and we established three teams leading up to election day. and i called them, you know, team a was the team that would take us until 6:59 a.m. on election day. team b was our election day team to ensure that we had a safe and smooth election as primarily our criminal folks. and then team c was gonna be the folks who were gonna have to likely litigate the results. so first, we wanted to secure and protect every vote leading up to election day, ensure that people had a smooth day on election day, and then post-election day, make sure that all votes were counted. that team worked diligently, we communicated multiple times every single day. where needed, i relied on my
colleagues across the country, including the amazing dana nessel, from michigan, and many others who were dealing with some of the same legal challenges that we expected to be dealing with in pennsylvania, and ultimately did. we had 19 lawsuits from donald trump and his enablers before a single vote was counted, pardon me, cast, and then we had to deal with another 21 lawsuits once those votes were cast, including some lawsuits that took us all the way up to the united states supreme court. and at the end of the day, we had a safe and smooth election, at the end of the day, each and every legal vote was counted here in pennsylvania. but i think it's also a truth that at the end of the day, there's some real damage that was done to our democracy, and we've gotta do some truth telling here in pennsylvania and across this country to repair the damage that was done by
donald trump and his enablers, who are still working to not just undermine what happened in 2020, but make it harder for people to vote going forward, and i'm sure we'll get into all that, but, you know, that's how we prepared going forward with those three teams, and ultimately, we proved to be successful in making sure every single legal vote was secured, protected, and counted here in the commonwealth. janet: you know, we've been talking about the pre-election contentions by president trump and his enablers, but i think before the election, some thought, what were the russians gonna be doing? had they just gone away since 2016? matt, can you kind of bring us up to speed about what was going on in that score? matt: yeah, absolutely. and i want to echo what the attorney general said, this is such an honor for me to be on this panel with folks that i had the privilege to work so closely
with, like secretary hobbs and secretary benson. this election in many ways is a tribute to the incredible integrity of our election officials, both the secretaries of state, but the thousands of election officials at the state, county, township, city levels that knew their job, knew that it was up to them to uphold our democracy, and did so with courage, with bravery in the face of threats, lies, and everything else. and so, i hope, as we reflect on 2020, there's obviously the incredible negatives, but also the positives of the professionalism, integrity, and bravery of our election officials, including the two secretaries of state here, including secretary cegavske in nevada, or meagan wolfe in wisconsin, or tina barton in michigan, i mean, there's just so many that stood up and fought for the integrity of the process. to get to your question, it really is the perfect lead-in,
for three years, those of us at the department of homeland security, at cisa, worked closely with the secretaries of state, state election directors, local election officials to prepare for what we thought and anticipated would be foreign interference in the election, whether that's in the form of targeting election systems, right? trying to hack systems or disinfo or a hybrid of the two, right? claiming that they had access to things and spreading misinformation. and it turned out all of the communications channels, all of the preparation, the amount of red teaming and tabletop exercising that we did with the state and local election officials proved to be invaluable in our experience at cisa in combating the domestic disinformation that we ended up seeing around this election. the channels of communication we established, where we had, for instance, an information sharing and analysis center that could reach 3,000 plus election officials in virtually real-time with information about threats, risks, narratives that was
coming about proved to be critical for us, not just to secure the infrastructure as secretary hobbs talked about, but to share information about what were the growing narratives and to push facts about the process. so russia had an ongoing, continues to have an ongoing campaign to undermine our democracy. that's not going away, in fact, you know, it's more brazen in many ways because of what's happened in 2020, and the narratives that they can build off from this most recent election and the lies. we saw iran get involved in the lead up to the election, sending messages directly to voters, trying to discourage them from voting, purporting to be from the proud boys, and those are all things that we prepared for and talked about with state and local election officials. and i suppose secretary benson and secretary hobbs talked about the establishment of election officials as that trusted source of information, that trustedinfo2020 proved to be absolutely critical, not just in the lead up to the election, but afterwards to rebuff the lies, the misinformation that was being spread about the election.
and for those of us at the department of homeland security, really, our job was to raise up those voices, to support those state and local election officials, regardless of where the misinformation was coming from, and to push the facts. so for instance, in the aftermath of the election, we established at cisa something called rumor control, where we were really just publishing facts about the elections process based on emerging narratives that we saw. and the best example came from secretary hobbs' state with sharpiegate. the claim that sharpies that were handed out in maricopa county were intentionally being used to invalidate, in this case, republican ballots, when in fact sharpies were the preferred marking device to ensure that votes were counted, had no impact on the result, but we saw that narrative take off when blue check marks picked up on it and started pushing that narrative. and so, we put up on our rumor control the facts that your vote would be counted, that sharpies are an appropriate marking instrument, and that in fact the election officials across the country ensure that those votes
would be counted. and for us at cisa, that was our role, that was our job to support those election officials that for three years, we had been grinding away to build security, to build resilience, but more importantly, not just do the work, but talk to voters about it. and election officials over and over and over again in the lead up to the election talked about how the process may be different, but the integrity of the process remains, that the votes will be counted as cast and that you could have confidence in the results of the election. and i'm really proud of the work we did together, it wasn't necessarily the russians or the iranians in the end that we were pushing back against, but all that preparation and work was critical in being able to push back against the lies in this election. janet: that's really interesting. so you were using the tactics that you had designed for foreign interference for domestic interference, in a way. go ahead.
matt: yeah, certainly, i mean, the disinfo or misinfo, you know, lies are lies, right? and so, being able to push and really pre-bunk and the job that state and local election officials did just messaging over and over again about how the process worked, what changes took place, what steps they've put in place to secure the election were really critically important in pushing back against the narratives we saw emerge, regardless of where they were coming from, right? and so, you know, it was that proactive work by the election officials, the constant appearances and messaging to voters that proved to be really critical in the end. josh: if i can just jump in, is it okay to jump in? janet: yeah, go ahead josh, yeah. josh: i think it's a really important point matt brought up, and that was really important work, but i want to give you an example of what happened here in pennsylvania. not withstanding the good work that many of the folks who worked in the federal government were trying to do, we were
facing just a tremendous amount of misinformation coming from the white house officially and from the president. here's a concrete example. in luzerne county, which is in the northeastern part of our state, before we could figure out what was really going on, the former presidents, i guess, i don't know, she was called the press secretary or communications director, you know, acting in her official capacity in the white house, complained about how a dozen or so ballots that were cast for donald trump were thrown away in luzerne county. and immediately, we were facing this firestorm of, you know, what turned out to be misinformation, but while we were trying to get a handle on what it was that they could possibly be talking about. and they manipulated at the department of justice the process of communicating with the public about what was going on there. clearly, his spokeswoman manipulated what was happening,
the blue checks, as matt talked about, you know, we're working overtime. when, in fact, when my office was able to get involved, talked to the local district attorney's office, talked to the local united states attorney's office, it turned out that we had, you know, basically an overzealous volunteer who accidentally tossed out a ballot when they thought they were tossing out the application, and they were immediately instructed by these good workers in the county to leave all of the information right there in the receptacle until law enforcement could come and determine what actually happened and make sure that no votes were ultimately thrown out, which is what occurred. and so, that's the kind of misinformation that we were dealing with day in and day out that we had to have units, not just of lawyers, but of communications professionals pushing back on that so that we could make sure people had faith in the process, faith in our institutions, whether it was in luzerne county or through the secretary of state's office in harrisburg, pennsylvania.
and, you know, imagine going through that not dealing with foreign actors who wanted to try and undermine our system, but, you know, one of the key principles who was on the ballot trying to, you know, push forth this misinformation in order to sell a narrative of doubt in order to, you know try and enhance his electoral standing. janet: yeah, i remember hearing about the 12 ballots in pennsylvania. so in the midst of this kind of swirl of misinformation and preparation that you all were doing, covid hits, and i think it would be interesting to hear what impact that that had, did that change your dates for ballots? did it change your mail-in procedure? how did you handle covid?
starting with secretary benson, maybe. secretary benson: yeah, as i noted, one year ago today, we had our presidential primary in michigan, and one year ago at 10:00 p.m. eastern, about two hours after the polls closed, and we had a very successful election with high turnout and all the rest, the governor called and said she was about to announce the first two cases of covid that had come to michigan. and from then on, everything changed, and notably, we had three subsequent elections scheduled in michigan, local school board elections in may in about 10% of the state, a statewide primary in august, and then, of course, november. and so, we had to make two immediate decisions. one, really to adjust and adapt, but two, to not postpone knowing that everything we did was gonna set a precedent for how democracies reacted in times like these in times of crises. and so, importantly, i felt that
if we postponed an election or canceled it, as many called on me to do for those may elections, we would be creating a precedent that that's what you do in times of crisis, and i felt it was important at a time of great uncertainty, when so many things were changing, to be able to give voters the clarity and the certainty that their elections would proceed. and i did that, not only with an intention of may and making sure we also used may as an opportunity to learn how to success, to pilot things, it was a local election, we made a decision to instead pilot multiple ways of sending out ballots and returning ballots and tabulating ballots in a way that would adjust to this new life under the pandemic, but also to give voters the confidence, it gets back to the misinformation. thanks to the folks at cisa and the federal support, we were in a constant state of preparing for an influx of misinformation
to come to our state, and we anticipated the pandemic would just make that even more of a fertile ground. and so, i didn't want november to come and have people put out misinformation that the election was gonna be canceled or postponed, and for people to believe that because they hadn't experienced it in previous months, so that was really important. and then the second thing we did was just really double down on voter education, also in line with giving voters the confidence and certainty that they could vote without risking their health, providing ppe for all of our election workers, and beginning to acquire the resources to do that early on for all three elections that we had. educating voters about how to vote from home, which thanks to the voters actions in 2018, where they amended our state constitution to give themselves a right to vote absentee or vote from home without a reason, we just doubled down on our efforts to educate citizens about how to access that, right? because it was new. so i mailed every registered voter an application to vote
with information on how to request their ballot to be mailed to them. janet: was that controversial to raise them? secretary benson: well, interestingly, at the time, where we said let's just mail everyone an application because others were doing that in other states, but also because the data show that was the best way to educate someone about how to request to vote by mail or to vote absentee, we thought, well, what if they get this mailing and they don't know, they're not thinking about an election, they're not thinking about november, what if there's no context for it and it therefore just lands and doesn't really impact or educate. and thankfully, quote, unquote, the president at the time decided to tweet at me getting, you know, lots of national fervor about sending out these applications, and that actually worked to educate voters about their ability to vote, because it came with a lot of more misinformation that we've encountered. but notably, more people voted absentee in our november election than ever before, 3.3 million of the 5.5 million who
voted, and we have those who amplified that option through various means to thank for making sure voters knew how to vote from home safely, and also that if they chose to vote in person, because they had that option, that that'd be met with clerks and election workers with ppe to protect their health and safety if they voted in person. so we basically, you know, also in near constant conversation with other secretaries around the country, we have weekly calls with the other secretaries sharing best practices, sharing what we were learning as we were managing the elections, really put us all in a position to have a successful election in november, because we used every day, every month, every election as an opportunity to prepare and learn and really perfect, if you can say even that with an election, you know, really put us in the best position possible to succeed in november with all that we learned and really focused along the way. janet: so the former president gave you a hand? secretary benson: well, yeah. [laughter]
all i can say is that, you know, it was not without its challenges, i certainly didn't welcome that attention or those threats that really just escalated throughout the year in a way which was, you know, not enjoyable, but i try to always see the bright side, and so notably, it did amplify this right that citizens had in michigan to vote by mail and vote absentee, and really, i think, was part of what led so many people to ultimately decide to do so throughout the year. janet: yeah. yeah. katie, how about arizona? arizona's had vote by mail for many years, but did you make any changes in light of covid? katie: well, our top priority and the top priority of my administration has always been to increase voters' ability to participate in democracy. and so, that didn't change with covid, it became more pressing because on top of ensuring that we were expanding that access, we wanted to make sure that voters didn't have to choose
between that participation and their health and safety. and so, vote by mail was a key component of what we did in terms of the election and the pandemic and voter safety. so we've had no excuse absentee voting in arizona since the early 1990s, and voters in arizona can either request a one-time early ballot for whichever election they prefer, or they can sign up for our permanent early voting list. and about 75% of registered voters of both parties are on that permanent early voting list, so they're sent a ballot by mail for every election that they're eligible to vote in. and so, we asked the legislature early on, while they were still in session, to give us permission to basically implement universal vote by mail for the august primary and november elections, and the legislature wouldn't even entertain that conversation.
but what we did was ensure that every single voter who wasn't already signed up for the permanent early voting list received communication either through our office or their county elections office getting that application to either sign up for the pevl, the permanent early voting list, or request their early ballot for the august and november elections. and so, every voter was getting that information as an option to vote by mail and vote safely. but we also coupled that with looking at other ways that we could expand early voting opportunities in our state. along with voting by mail, we also have early voting that starts 27 days before the election, and there's a lot of areas of arizona that are very underserved by the postal service, and so we knew that making early voting more accessible in those areas was gonna be really critical in order to not disenfranchise voters in those communities.
and so, we expanded the secure early ballot drop-off options, i think we purchased about 84 new boxes for the state, so that was on top of what counties already had in place. and then, as secretary benson mentioned, of course, we worked to secure all of the necessary protective supplies for voters and poll workers. and secretary benson also talked about, you know, learning the lessons from the one election and applying it to the subsequent elections so by the time we got to november, i think we were experts at conducting elections during a pandemic. we also had our presidential preference election almost a year ago, the 17th so a week -- almost a year ago, the 17th, so a week from now, a year ago, and had three elections in 2020. and i would say that the work
that we did with all of those preparations and ensuring that voters could vote safely was successful evidenced by the record turnout in all three of those elections. and none of those preparations would have mattered if we weren't able to continue to educate the public about what we were doing and how they could participate safely and just continue to push back against the misinformation because, as i said earlier, the pandemic really served to amplify the amount of misinformation that we were having to deal with. janet: yeah. josh, what was going on in pennsylvania? and i have a particular question now, wearing your attorney general hat, there is a legal dispute as to whether anybody other than the legislature can make changes to election procedures, and the conduct of
elections, and even in the circumstances that we had last year with the pandemic, am i wrong? did pennsylvania have a lawsuit that raised that issue? josh: yeah. and i'll give you a little bit of background on that, that's a great question. so first, i mean, the underlying issue of covid is directly related to the question you just raised. actually just stepping a half a step back, in 2019 prior to covid, our state legislature with more republican votes than democratic votes, passed act 77, our vote by mail statute, and so it allowed people to cast their ballots from home or wherever through the mail. fast forward a few months later, covid hits, our primary, which would normally have been in april, was pushed back until june, many people voted safely and securely by mail.
following that, we faced a couple more challenges. what happened was, we got notification from the united states postal service that they would not necessarily be able to deliver election mail on time within the framework that was required. upon hearing that, there was a legal action taken by the governors, appealing to our state supreme court asking to make sure that legal ballots that were postmarked by election day could be counted, so long as they were received by the friday after election day. and the pennsylvania state supreme court, relying on state law and dealing with the reality that the u.s. postal service had laid out for us, indicated that those ballots could be received
and could be counted, so long as they were postmarked by election day. that's the subject of some litigation that went up to the united states supreme court, where the justices refused to step in and overturn the state supreme court on multiple occasions. but it turned it into a talking point for donald trump and his enablers, back to the point matt was making before about you know, the disinformation allies campaign, and so they were able to spin that as a tale suggesting that somehow this was going to be the reason why the election should be overturned. from a pure mathematical perspective, there were more than 7 million votes cast. joe biden won the election here in pennsylvania by over 80,000 votes, and that batch of ballots that was postmarked by election day and received, you know, up to that friday afternoon. janet: during that three day
window, yeah. josh: during in that three day window, it was less than 10,000 votes. so even if all of those votes happened to be for former president trump, it would not have altered the outcome of the election. so that's what that, you know, that sort of manufactured controversy is all about. now, the legislature is obviously now re-looking at all of our election laws, i would argue, they're looking at it to make it harder for people to vote, but certainly, if they want to look at this issue and address it legislatively, they certainly can. but our state supreme court ruled, the united states supreme court refused to step in, those ballots were legal, but ultimately, they were not material in terms of the overall vote total, the vote difference between donald trump and joe biden. janet: yeah. yeah. we've been talking a bit about the amount of disinformation that was floating around, but i think it's fair to say that emotions were running higher and
higher, as we got to the election and in the immediate aftermath of the election. what was that like? were any of you ever the subject of potential violence, or threat of violence? jocelyn, i think they came to your house, didn't they? jocelyn: yeah, and it was actually secretary hobbs, i remember, was the first that i recall making a statement about the threats, and it was really something that we all experienced in varying ways, but of course, in michigan, it really began in the spring when we had armed protesters descend on our state capitol building with, you know, machine guns and the like, and ak-47s, you know,
in the legislative chamber. so we'd been in this heightened state of intense threats, and, of course, you know, in october though there had been death threats made against the attorney general, myself, the governor, the legislators, it really culminated in the kidnapping plot that emerged in october. so it was almost this odd normal in our state, despite all of our calls to the then president to really dampen down and really lead, in trying to turn down the heat, it kept getting turned up as we got closer and closer to november. and then, you know, two things happened after the polls closed. one, it became very clear, our estimates was that we'd have the election results by friday, that was what math told us. if you have 3.3 million absentee ballots and you have this many machines, that'll take 80 hours to tabulate them. we were able to increase
machines and people so that we could cut that time in half and have our results in 24 hours after the polls closed on wednesday. but notably, i think there had been plans in place for violence. people showed up outside the place where the ballots were being tabulated in detroit, they showed up in philly, they showed up in phoenix, as well, but we were done by that point, they just hadn't realized it yet. we had created some shifts and other things to make sure that the tabulation was done earlier than planned and earlier than announced to essentially curtail any efforts to use thursday or friday to try to interfere with the process. so that violence really was something that we had anticipated, the threats, i should say, or violence that occurred in detroit that we had really kind of tempered a little bit, but, of course, it then manifested in various other ways, including people showing up outside my home one saturday night in december.
and that was particularly challenging, because it took the state police 40 minutes to show up, even though they knew at 8:00 p.m. that people were gonna show up at my house at 9:00 p.m. and they had intelligence warning us that, they still didn't show up until closer to 10:00, despite our calls. and it was really the attorney general who was most helpful in helping us get through that evening, as well, as the mayor of detroit and the chief of police in detroit. but it was really unnerving until i realized that these folks outside my home, these folks outside tcf center in detroit, they weren't protesting me, they were protesting democracy, they were protesting the results of an election they disagreed with. and so, immediately, i, especially in that moment in december, was emboldened to stand proudly in guard of our democracy, even if that meant increased attacks towards me as a person, because again it was
the people, the millions of people who voted in our state that i had to essentially protect against those angry individuals. and so, that kind of gave me a sense of fortitude to get through it, but of course, that didn't stop the escalation of the threats all the way up until what we saw happen in our capitol in january 6th. and i think the bottom line for me in all of that is that this can't become everything that happened after the election and in particular, all those shenanigans, i can sort of call them lots of things, but that's a lot of what it was. it can't become the norm in our democracy, we have to on both sides of the aisle define what happened is wrong, hold those accountable, who led those bad actions to fruition and really ensure that regardless of who wins an election that we can all come together and respect the will of the voters in the future. janet: yeah, and peaceful transfer of power, no doubt. you know, katie, what was going on in arizona? katie: well, a lot of the same
things that secretary benson mentioned. we had armed protestors show up at the tabulation center in maricopa county. and for a while, they were, you know, in the parking lot between the door and how staff members got to and from their vehicles. and because it was right after an election and we were tabulating ballots, and they were pretty much working there 24 hours so it was very disconcerting. we had national figures who were there inciting the crowd, very potentially inciting violence. and then when the tabulation wrapped up, they decided to, you know, show up at my house and do the same thing at my house. so again, very disconcerting, but i think jocelyn really articulated something that's been, you know, a really difficult piece of all this, is that these attacks on officials -- and it's not just those of us in high profile positions, but
it is all the way down to all the elections staff, the poll workers, the people that work in the offices, and it is, i think, a sad state of affairs where we live in a world that we have to be concerned about all of their safety, but what that is really about is the safety of our democracy. and i have always known that i stood on the right side of everything that happened in the election, that we did everything by the book, and i have no concerns about the conduct of the election. and that is also what emboldens me, that we did everything right and that it is our job to stand up for the truth of what we did. so while it has been very disconcerting, i have not let it deter me from the job that the people of arizona elected me to do. janet: yeah, for sure. for sure. you know, after the election, we
learned all about how ballots are certified, and the count is certified, and the electors are actually chosen. i was just wondering whether any of you think there's a better or more streamlined way to get to finality there, so that there aren't all of these opportunities to, you know, intervene, so to speak. matt: yeah, i'll jump in on that. you know, i've served as an elector now three times. twice for barack obama, and now once for joe biden, and i've
even been in the u.s. capitol for what used to be sort of the somewhat quaint and an interesting process of certifying the electors in this case on january the 6th. and, you know, one of the reasons why the system has worked in the past is because people of both parties have respected the norms in our constitution, and no longer is that the case. in this last cycle, it was donald trump, and who knows who it could be in the future, and who knows whether these problems will only attach to one party. i'd like to think that the party that i'm proud to be associated with, the democratic party, wouldn't engage with that. but what we have seen is that those norms are violated, and are willing to be violated and that the oath of office people take to the constitution is clearly not something that they are willing to honor when their job is on the line, or when their buddy's job is on the line. and so, i came to the
conclusion, not withstanding that long history i've had being an elector, and participating in this process, that we can no longer trust those processes that i think people sort of thought were quaint in the past. first off, they're a relic of an age where, at least, you know, three of us on this call vote wouldn't even count in the first place. -- on this calls' vote wouldn't even count in the first place. it's a relic of an age where the system was set up and designed to work for certain people and not to really include the voices of others. and so, i came out very forcefully, even after serving as an elector in this process, with abolishing the electoral college. and i recognize that is going to take time and it's not a realistic thing that would be in place in the short term, but i think it speaks to the broader issues, which gets to the heart of your question, which is we have to have a direct, you know, popular vote based on the certification by the secretaries of state in the various states
and say, that's the finale, that's the end of it. when michigan says this is what the vote is, and the secretary of state, and/or the governor depending upon the rules that state certified, that's it, and we shouldn't have all of these other steps where you can have abuse. i'd like to think that going forward, we won't have actors that will abuse the process, but it's clear that in this case, we did, and it's also clear that the guardrails just simply don't exist to prevent that from happening again in the future. janet: yeah. yeah. jocelyn or katie, you want to hop in on that? secretary benson: well, i would just say, i do agree with the attorney general on abolishing the electoral college, but i also want to say that our democracy withstood the challenges. so while i have concerns about the opportunities that there were for attack at the various steps along the way, we are
strong and we withstood those challenges, and i think we learned a lot of lessons that will prepare us in the future, should we face these challenges again, we know what to do in the face of them. janet: yeah. josh: secretary napolitano, really interesting points raised, but i think we have to deal with the fact that you have to get to certification by the states first, right? and you raised the time aspect secretary, which is totally fair, but dealing with the facts and this is probably always gonna be the case, but viewing this as a horse race rather than getting to the end of the process drives that urgency and anxiety about it, instead of understanding and opening up the
process to understand that those ballots the count wasn't delayed for instance, the counts in these states weren't delayed, they were going through the process to ensure that every valid vote was counted and counted correctly, right? and so, understanding that as we look at the process as a whole that states have a job to do in certifying the election that includes the necessary controls and checks to ensure the integrity, the access, and the security of the process that's needed to get to that certification, before we ever get to an electoral college or anything like that, and how much detail goes into it. if you look at michigan and what secretary benson and the local officials, over 1,000 local officials in michigan do, they check the township tape, then go up to the county and check the totals to the county, then check the totals all the way up to the state, and so, i think what we need to do as a profession, as election officials are now put in the position to have to rebuild trust, unfairly put in that position by the lies, we have to begin to look at what
can we do to build greater transparency and open up the process so that folks can see all of the controls that are in place? and i give a lot of credit, i had the pleasure of serving on secretary benson's security committee that looked at this, it can't just be a post-election audit like we saw in georgia, it needs to be full opening of chain of custody and understanding ballot processing and registration records, and how we maintain lists so that voters don't have to take anyone's word for it, but in fact can see the evidence, have the evidence to have confidence in the process, and that means more resourcing for election officials. it is untenable to ask them to go quickly, to do it effectively, efficiently and accurately and do it transparently without supporting them, investing in the infrastructure in a way that allows them to do that and they'll embrace that role. election officials have long said it's our job to convince the loser they lost, i think that's changed now, it's now the job to the voters of the
-- it is now the job to convince the voters of the accurate result even if the loser doesn't accept that they lost and that's a higher bar and a greater challenge that we need to accept, embrace and invest in. janet: right, so we've got some audience questions in. and one pivots right off of your comment, matt, which is even given all of these checks in the systems, and the accuracy and the confidence you had in the integrity of the count, a significant percentage of the population don't believe it, they think former president trump won the election. what ideas do you have for how we build trust and not have this kind of a situation which is
really counter to our democracy? matt: yeah, i'll go first just very briefly and then open it up. one of the large advantages we have is the fact that we run elections at the state and local level, and i think that's a real asset in this case, because voters can engage directly in the process, engage directly with those who run the process in order to understand, to have their questions answered, to gain transparency. the reality is, in all of these states represented here and all the states, there are opportunities for voters to get directly engaged, obviously the most productive way would be as a poll worker, but there's a number as poll watchers and pre-election testing is public, all of these things. and then, as election officials finding new and creative ways, which i think election officials did during covid, to open the process up so that voters can see exactly how each step is done, how there's reconciliations, the amount of
detail and minutia that goes in, election officials are detail-oriented professionals that have these controls. and so, whether it's a post-election audit and opening that up, or offering the types of evidence around chain of custody, ballot storage, ballot custody, we have to continue to engage with voters, and it's going to be a slog, and unfortunately, election officials have unfairly been put in that position to have to begin to do that, and it's gonna take a real-time investment and sort of just being in the water, just constantly providing that steady stream of information and evidence. but the other part of this that i think several brought up that's critical, there has to be accountability for the lies. the reality is, if those who were pushing the lies would just stand up and say, this election was fair, it was accurate, it had integrity, that would go an incredibly long way, but i don't think any of us anticipate that happening, and so, we've gotta deal with the reality that we have now.
secretary benson: i think i'll add two things on that. one, i agree on the accountability point, and i'll talk about that in a second, but first, the issue actually is really quite heartbreaking. you have citizens who were lied to by people they trust, elected officials they supported, that they voted for, then turn around and lie to their supporters about their votes and the process in a way to further their own political agenda and their own partisan gains and their own egos. so i think, you know, citizens have the facts and the evidence that secretaries like myself and secretary hobbs and others have worked to provide and as the court cases actually did demonstrate attorney general shapiro can underscore. and so, the evidence is there to withstand any amount of scrutiny, the truth is available for anyone who chooses to see it. but i think first recognizing, i
think citizens need to recognize that these folks, these leaders lied to them about the election, it was actually the most secure and accurate and highly participated in election that we've seen in recent history. and that gets to the second point of accountability, because what we really need is for leaders to stop lying to their citizens, to voters about the truth of the elections, and the only way we get there is by, you know, making sure that they only -- they not only benefit by those by perpetuating those lies, but there actually is some accountability there. and so, in michigan, we've proposed an anti-deceptive practices act actually criminalizing the intentional spreading of misinformation and lies with the intents, and so, the knowing, spreading of that information with the intent to disenfranchise someone, and there's multiple ways you can narrowly tailor it so that it withstands any strict scrutiny under the constitution and doesn't infringe on -- janet: you got first amendment issue, yeah. secretary benson: right, but we
have to, i think, really dig deep and look into how to protect our voters just the way that we protect customers against false advertising, we can protect voters against those who would seek to lie to them about their rights intentionally, and that's the type of legislation that we've proposed and we hope other states do, as well. josh: i want to pick up on a few of the points there. josh: apologies jocelyn's point . i want to pick up on jocelyn's point and matt's and come back to something katie said a few minutes ago. i agree with the points that were made by jocelyn and the type of legislation that needs to be put forth and hopefully adopted. i also think it's critically important through our political process that the next nominees for republicans, forget president, but the elections that are gonna come up in a couple of years for senate and governor and secretaries of state and all these other offices that the republicans who , are nominated aren't rewarded
for perpetuating the lies. i think that there is a political component to this as well that really needs to still play out. but i want to come back to something katie said which, you know, i tend to be a glass-half-full guy, but i feel a little glass half empty. i listened to katie talking about how our democracy held , which it did, if you would sort of look at the bottom line, which is on donald trump walked january 20 out and joe biden walked in, right? but there was just such an extraordinary amount of damage that was done to our democracy. and furthermore, i fundamentally believe and this is one of the catalysts for me that led to me reaching the conclusion that we have to abolish the electoral college, i fundamentally believe that if kevin mccarthy where the speaker and nancy pelosi was not , when you combine that with mitch mcconnell at the time, who was the -- >> majority leader.
josh: majority leader. i have no doubt in my mind that they would have attempted to steal the election and not certify the votes from places like pennsylvania, wisconsin, michigan, and arizona and try and hand the presidency to donald trump. and i don't know if they would have been successful, but i sure as hell know they would've tried , given the fact that there were no guardrails for them anymore, that they were complete sycophants who were spineless when it came to donald trump. but for the fact that nancy pelosi was the speaker and had a majority and thus was able to run the floor and, you know, control the votes and the house, this could have been a very different outcome. i do not believe that there was enough control within the republican caucus in the house or the senate of the united states to prevent the type of stealing that i know they wanted to do, the guys like hawley and cruz and others attempted to do. so i think we have to come to
grips with that reality. we have to educate in our schools and through our politics. we have to carefully nominate certain people, and we have to make the kind of structural changes that jocelyn and others were talking about a moment ago. >> you know, yeah, well said. josh, after the election there was, you know, so much litigation, but one case that caught my attention was the case filed by the attorney general of texas. he had, i don't know how many republican attorneys general on the case. they wanted to throw out your ballots and jocelyn, your ballots. can you explain to me what possible issue they had and the role of the state attorney's generals?
i was a state attorney general 1999 to 2003, so it's a while ago, and there's an association called the national association of attorneys general, naag, not a great acronym but -- >> not the great name, yeah. janet: but while i was attorney general -- when i started, the idea was that the attorney general were somewhat politically neutral. we were law enforcement officers and prosecutors, but we weren't particularly partisan. during my term, the republican ags broke off into what has now become raga, and then a few years later the democrats had to do the same thing and we had a daga, so it kind of fundamentally changed the job of being an attorney general.
i was sad to see but not surprised to see, with the lead of the ag from texas, that the republican ags from across the country were trying to throw out other state ballots. could you explain what their theory was? josh: well, i can't explain their theory, but i can explain what happened. i don't think they had a particularly honest theory. look, this was one of the saddest days of my time as the attorney general of pennsylvania, a job i'm just honored to hold when that lawsuit was filed. in a nutshell, what the texas attorney general was saying was that the united states supreme court should step in and invalidate the votes here in the commonwealth of pennsylvania because he didn't agree with the choice that our citizens made, that was effectively what he was saying.
i'll tell you secretary napolitano, we reviewed their lawsuit over and over and over again to try to understand what the legal rationale was for what they were doing, and ultimately , we concluded there was nine. sometimes you are on opposite sides with someone in a lawsuit, -- you know this -- and you really disagree with them, but you understand their perspective and you understand the argument they're trying to make and you battle back and ideally, you know, you win. in this case, i just kept going back and forth with my team saying that i really thought this was an act of sedition, that they were really trying to undermine our representative democracy and end it as we know it, because if they were successful to take it to its logical conclusion any state , could invalidate the votes in any other state just because they didn't agree with their political choice.
i was sad that they did this because, frankly, i worked in a really bipartisan manner with my colleagues, especially on the opioid litigation and so many other things that we've been dealing with over the last number of years. but i was especially sad when 17 of my colleagues signed onto that lawsuit demonstrating their , lack of respect for the rule of law. i have spoken to them privately about that and been very direct and pointed with them in terms of how i feel, the idea that they would go through with that was very sad. i'll tell you, i was a little bit concerned given the makeup of the new united states supreme court that somehow they might entertain it. but i just kept saying to myself there's just no legal rationale for this, they can't possibly take this up. and at the end of the day, notwithstanding the new look of the u.s. supreme court, they still adhered to the rule of law and they threw the texas suit out fairly quickly. i will just tell you from an kind of an insider perspective,
it's really poisoned the well amongst the attorneys general. it's very, very hard to work with a colleague that believes that the residents of your state don't count and that they somehow know better than in my case, the 7 million pennsylvanians who cast votes for donald trump and some for joe biden. and i thought it was seditious, i thought it was unethical what they did, and i think they simply are not fit to serve as the attorneys general anymore given the role that they play in -- played in trying to undermine our democracy. janet: yeah. yeah. it may also have been -- the way i looked at it is -- it was more for the press attention than the legal validity. josh: yeah, but even in those cases, i mean, we all recognize the power of the media to amplify our point of view, but i
think we all recognize, i mean, there's certain lines you don't cross. one of those basic lines you don't cross is you don't violate the oath you take to the constitution and in this case, the texas attorney general did and encouraged others to join him. he is absolutely unfit to serve, and certainly violated his oath in the attempt to suck up to the president. janet: yeah. well, thanks for that. and while we're talking law, katie, we've got a question from the audience. if the supreme court upholds the arizona voting statute at issue in brnovich versus dnc, how will that affect future elections? are there ways of improving voter access even if those statutes are upheld? secretary hobbs: that is a great
question. let me tell you, my concern about this case is not necessarily the impact on these laws in arizona. this lawsuit is old. it was brought in 2016 so these are laws that have been on the books in arizona. i would like to see them go away and would be happy with a ruling that did that. i am hopeful that is going to happen. but what is more concerning, and just a little more background, the oral arguments, it is dnc vs brnovich and the oral arguments were last tuesday in front of the supreme court. but in the context of all of the legislation we're seeing across the country in unprecedented numbers, arizona leading the way in that, that would restrict voter access and roll back voting rights that the arguments that were made to try to
convince the supreme court to weaken section two of the voting rights act will impact across the country, people's ability to bring court challenges in the future on discriminatory voting laws, and that is, to me, what is more concerning about the court case, because that impacts obviously as far beyond arizona. now, i think that the court could decide to rule narrowly and just uphold the arizona laws and not tackle the attacks on the voting rights act, but i don't know what they will do. and so, that should be concerning to everyone in terms of future ability to use the courts to challenge discriminatory voting laws, because we are seeing them being proposed in unprecedented numbers right now. janet: yeah. well, we'll find out when the court hands down it's own
opinion. here's another question, this is for you, jocelyn. in michigan, were any devices in antrim county hardwired to the internet or otherwise connected to the internet? secretary benson: no, and what happened in antrim county in michigan was actually the result of a clerk not updating the software actually for this particular technology. but, you know, knowing that it was then utilized to spread this sort of false information and call into question the results of the entire election not just in michigan, but nationwide, we actually did a full audit of every ballot, every paper ballot , and our citizens vote on paper ballots in michigan just like , the majority of citizens in the country. and so, what that then enables
is for an audit to happen of the paper ballots to affirm that they were accurately tabulated by the voting machines, and indeed that's exactly what the audit showed. it is interesting. i think once all is said and , done, that sort of case study emerging out of antrim county will be very illustrative of just how much bad actors can try to leverage different pieces of misinformation to really create an entire conspiracy theory about an entire election. but we simply just responded to all of that with, again, the truth. that is why verified paper ballots, which we have in michigan, are so important to protect. cisa's former leader, chris krebs and many others says you can't hack paper and through those paper ballots we were able to verify the results the accurate results of the antrim county elections. i am sure matt may have
additional things you may want to add on this whole saga, but it was really illustrative of how really innocent administrative errors can be falsely and wrongly extrapolated and used in a way that just furthers and feeds false information and conspiracy theories, and really is wrongly used to undermine people's faith in the process. janet: right. matt, you want to add anything there? matt: yeah, secretary benson is exactly right and it's sort of fascinating slash depressing to look at how these conspiracies spread. the one related to dominion voting systems was really the combination of three or four conspiracies that quite frankly , in my experience since being in elections since 2005, have sort of been around the fringes for a while. this idea behind hugo chavez and venezuela being involved in voting systems. that has been around since 2005, 2006. the theories around scytl and
results reporting in barcelona , and the relationship between president obama and that company and george soros has been around since 2008, 2010, all completely false. all completely wrong. all not based in fact. but what we saw in this election was incidents like secretary benson described in antrim county, incidents in georgia that happen in every election, by the way, where humans are involved and mistakes are made and quickly rectified. antrim county quickly rectified once it identified to them what the issue was, had the auditable records right there, could correct the answer, but we saw this combination into this broader conspiracy that included , at times, the cia, included d.h.s. voting isotopic watermarks on ballots to be able to track them to look for the fraud. to me, perhaps the most disturbing part, these took hold and spread very very quickly as the attorney general talked
about, and despite the best efforts of all the election officials, the loudest voices -- i know i am not supposed to push a report from stanford on a cal broadcast, but a recent report from the election information project which includes stanford, washington, graphika and some other partners shows that really , 20 to 25 major influencers just jumped on this misinformation, pushed it broadly. and the result was death threats, threats to election officials, and then eventually january 6. to me, the loss of a peaceful transfer of power. and that is a loss of the very core of who we are as americans. and we're now gonna have to come to grips with the fact that we didn't have a peaceful transfer of power, and what does that mean for us moving forward to begin to deal with that? all based on just insane theories. you know, every good piece of
disinfo or effective starts with a little nugget of fact. did antrim county have a problem? yes, antrim county had a problem. but none of the rest of the facts around that were correct. we had the paper ballots. i mean, the easiest example i can give you, 5 million plus ballots in georgia have been counted then hand-recounted, by hand without any machines and then recounted again, all coming to the same result. and we still have people saying that the result in georgia was incorrect. and we've gotta come to grips with that and begin to really ask ourselves some challenging questions, both about our information ecosystem, our election ecosystem, and what evidence we can continue to provide and how to hold people chuck a little grenade in the accountable. and i will just middle where the , previous conversation about the courts. we got to come to terms with the fact that the courts were used for disinfo as well and the way that the courts were used on how we can begin to respond and recognize the use of the courts in that way as well.
janet: yeah. josh, do you agree with that? do you think the courts were used as a disinformation device? josh: i think that the courts were used by attorneys who were willing to act in an unethical manner as a way to spread their disinformation. i'm pleased to see, you know, jocelyn's colleague in michigan and my good friend and colleague dana nessel, you know, seek sanctions against some of the attorneys who were involved in those cases and we're certainly looking at that as well in pennsylvania. the good news that at least from our perspective, is, both the state and the federal courts, all the way up to the u.s. supreme court and our state supreme court did hold, i mean, they saw through that misinformation and they sided with the let that become a norm truth. but we can't let that become a
norm where the courts are used , as a way to spread this misinformation the way actors like giuliani and some of those, the other nut balls that were associated with him did, you know, when it came to the, you know, the federal and state courts. janet: yeah. it was amazing to watch, as a lawyer, i must say, it was embarrassing, actually to see fellow members of the bar do that. josh: and by the way, i think there are serious questions not just about those lawyers who are acting on behalf of the president, but some of the attorneys general. we talked about this before when it came to the ag of texas, but, you know, at what point does the sort of the line that the ags are on, they probably have a little bit more latitude than a private attorney, but at what point do they go too far and can
they be sanctioned or disbarred. and i know that there are some in texas seeking to disbar general paxton. i would encourage them to continue to move forward with that process. but, you know, that's another issue, these government actors including some who were working , at doj and trying to work directly with the former president to overturn the election. at what were they held point accountable as well? so not just the private attorneys, some of the government attorneys as well. sorry to interrupt you. janet: yeah. no, really a good point. and i'm going back to an audience question and it's somewhat related. one of the panelists on our first panel this morning one of the panelists on our first panel -- brought up that in other countries, those who are responsible for conducting the
election are not themselves partisans, they're, i gather, civil servant types. if we had that sort of system in the united states, do you think it would increase the perception of fairness of our election systems? secretary hobbs: i think two things. i wrote a whole book on this, where it really looked at the secretaries of state as guardians of the democratic process, local election administrators as well. secretary benson: and also whether someone should be appointed or elected, in pennsylvania you have an appointment of secretary of state, in arizona and many other states like michigan you have an election a partisan one and the less local level clerks are elected in michigan to administer elections. what my experience really underscore is that this is all about the person. we have a political ecosystem where there are pressures. but at the same time, i know for myself as an attorney, and as someone who has been a voting
rights and election law attorney throughout my entire career, my allegiance is to the constitution and to the voters and that's why i ran for this office. and i think i intentionally, you know, don't endorse candidates in any election. i don't even endorse appointed people seeking appointments because they're asking elected officials to appoint them and that also creates a potential conflict. i think when voters demand that elected secretaries of state or election administrators in particular act in a non-partial, , impartial manner when they elect those who seek to do so and don't elect those who use their office to put their thumb on the scale, and there are some that do, then we'll see, you know, be in the best position possible. but islamic infrastructure that can lead to a place where you have a nonpartisan election
administrators. you simply have to put them in place and elect them. now, -- and i have talked to folks about having a code of ethics for election administrators, secretaries of state, much like we have a code of ethics for judges that they must abide by, or perhaps lose their ability to perform that job. i think it is important that those administering elections do so as referees not as members of a particular team that's on the ballot. but again, it all gets back to voters selecting and electing good people in those positions and advocating and supporting them. and those good people can be democrat or republican, they simply have to be beholden to voters first, country above party. janet: yeah, well said. well said. anybody else want to chime in on that? matt: just to drive home, i agree. in my experience at the state and local level working in , election administration is as soon as you become an election
administrator, you stop caring about the results and you you just care about the integrity of the process. local election administrators don't want to see themselves in the news, and want to know that they carried out their job with integrity and fairness. we need look no further than this last election. you had secretary raffensperger in georgia, a republican. you had secretary cegavske in nevada, a republican. you had tina barton in michigan, standing up republicans, taking accountability and owning the process because that was their , job, that was the oath that they took. and that's consistent with my experience in elections over now 15 plus years, i'm getting old, in working with these folks. as soon as they take that oath, their commitment is to the process, to our democracy. and we saw that play in this election. that doesn't mean we shouldn't have checks, we shouldn't recognize that a bad actor might not end up in that position and that's why the process has checks, balances and ways to hold people accountable. but in the end, i think we saw in this election that the goodness of election officials was critical to us having a successful election.
janet: yeah, jocelyn or katie, were you in touch with some of your republican colleagues in the aftermath of the election? >> yeah, we talk weekly, we have weekly meetings every week. but in addition to that, particularly myself, secretary hobbs, secretary cegavske and secretary raffensperger we're in close and sometimes nearly daily contact each other, as well as secretary boockvar, the then secretary of state in pennsylvania, where we talked often about our unique challenges, supported each other and several of our colleagues did as well. i mean katie, i know, you know, [laughs] you and i shared a lot of experiences throughout the whole process. janet: well, we're almost out of time. this has been a terrific discussion. i'm gonna do a last lightning round, as it were.
based on your experience and what you saw last november, what would be the number one change to improve our election system you would recommend? matt, we'll start with you. we'll start with the feds. [laughter] matt: well, not having the feds tell the states -- no. without question, having full auditability of votes, this election had 94, 95% of ballots cast were on auditable paper records. we need to ensure that 100% of those cast in the upcoming election have that, and not only that, that we are doing good, efficient, transparent auditing of those results so that voters can interact and understand, look at the evidence then have confidence. and then the second one i'd say is elevating election officials voices. we need platforms like the
social media platforms and googled to ensure that the trusted in from election officials is pushed. if i do a google search about michigan elections, i should get secretary benson's websites and the facts, not some of the conspiracy theories. so those are the two that i'd start with. janet: katie? secretary hobbs: i think matt brought up some great points. i would love the ability to just make voters listen to what i had to say and to listen to the truth. in the absence of that, i think, investing robustly in public education campaigns, giving election officials the ability to communicate directly with the people that need the information. janet: good. josh? secretary shapiro: i would note for the record, you've asked all of us for one thing and matt gave at least two or three. [laughter] so i am not going to be bound by the one. i agree with the comments of my colleagues. i think above all else leaders need to speak and act with moral
clarity, and we lost that for quite a bit of time. and that is not about your perspective on one issue or the other, it is about speaking with more clarity in adhering to our constitution. i would say that is above all else the most important thing. there are certainly some changes to our election laws here in pennsylvania that we need to make, but overall, i think we need to get back to, you know, a common set of facts and actors who are willing to act with moral clarity. secretary benson: yeah, i couldn't agree more and, of course, i agree with everything that's said. to me, it also underscores the need for sustainable funding and resources to invest in our elections whether it's about , educating voters, countering misinformation, or just supporting and building the infrastructure of a secure and accessible democracy. it is to me ridiculous that the most important thing we do as a country, hold elections to ensure and select who has power to make every other decision on our behalf, is so severely
underfunded. and so many of the challenges, from educating voters to auditing the election and everything in between that we encountered this year could have been significantly avoided or eliminated with appropriate funding. and we asked for it from the federal government. we have asked for it from our states, but i do think every single leader who has a stake in ensuring our democracies are accessible, fair and secure, must put resources behind that and really invest in our local and state election administrations, so that we can do the job we have been elected or selected to do, of educating citizens about their rights, making sure they have the tools and resources to exercise their vote and then supporting and investing in our election administrators as they tabulate and secure the process. janet: very good. this was excellent. i will just close by saying, on behalf of glad you were in your a grateful nation, i am so glad you were in your roles during this turbulent period.
you were really needed, and you stepped up to the plate beautifully. and i am grateful. i know lots of other folks who are very grateful. thank you for joining the panel today. and i hope our paths cross again. >> c-span's washington journal. every day we take your calls live on the air on the news of the day and discussed policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, we talk about the latest gallup survey showing more americans identifying as democrats than republicans, a margin that has not been seen in a decade, with senior editor jeffrey johns. then a preview of president biden's executive actions to curb gun violence, and on the
podcast, and ken cuccinelli, current chair of the election transparency initiative discusses the debate over voting rights and other news of the day . c-span's washington journal, live at seven can't eastern thursday morning. he sure to join the discussion with the phone calls, facebook comments, text messages, and tweets. >> coming up last thursday, the international monetary fund hosts a debate on the global economy with federal reserve chair jerome powell and the imf managing chair. that's live at noon eastern on c-span. then at 2:00 p.m., house speaker nancy pelosi speaks to reporters about the legislative agenda when congress returns next week. at 4:00 p.m., discussion of potential changes to the court
system from the american constitution society for law and policy. and on c-span2 at 10:00 a.m. easter, day nine of the trial of former minneapolis police officer derek chauvin who is charged in the death of george floyd. >> newsweek opinion editor josh hammer spoke about the future of conservatism after the trump presidency. at a virtual event hosted by the notre dame young republicans. it runs one hour. >> thank you for coming tonight's event. we are honored to host josh hammer, for constitutional attorney and published legal scholar. he is editor of newsweek, a research fellow with the edmund burke foundation, and a syndicated columnist, and outspoken conservative serving on constitutional and legal issues in the intersection of law