tv CNN Special Report CNN October 30, 2021 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
are you a christian author with a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! >> announcer: the following is a cnn special report. [ yelling ] a deadly insurrection trying to overturn a fair election. >> the 2020 election was the most secure in u.s. history. >> yet donald trump continues to lie. >> this is all about a rigged election. >> why are republicans changing the rules after a record turnout? >> my fellow republicans in
legislatures are trying to stop that participation. >> what might it mean for future elections? do you believe that the 2020 election here in georgia was free and fair? >> i believe that a lot of georgians have concerns that there were issues with it. >> trump is now even warning republicans won't vote until laws that protected against his election conspiracies are changed. >> our democracy is in danger. we are in peril right now. >> my fear is that 2020 was not the low point for democracy but a dress rehearsal for things to come. >> now a cnn special report. "stop the vote: the big lie's assault on democracy." conspiracies about voting in 2020 are not just a hangover from the last presidential election. the lies are being used by gop legislators and governors to justify voting changes for the
next election. across the country republicans are passing election laws that make it harder to vote. threatening election workers with criminal penalties and tearing down guardrails in key states that kept trump's big lie from succeeding. we'll tell you what these voting changes are broadly and specifically in three key states, the direct impact on the 2022 mid-term elections and ultimately how america is governed and by whom. >> record voter turnout this year with over 100 million ballots cast before voting even started this morning. >> look at turnout everywhere in america. this is a good thing, whether you're a democrat, republican, or independent. >> the 2020 election had the highest turnout in american history despite coming at the height of the pandemic. local governments came up with creative ways to make it easier to vote like expanding vote by
mail and adding drop boxes. >> the ballot drop boxes are filling up so quick, elections officials say they can't empty them out fast enough. >> and drive-through voting. >> the best part, she doesn't even have to get out of her car to cast her ballot. >> more access to voting meant more participation. in big cities, that tended to help democrats. republican election expert ben ginsburg says that's a big factor fueling new restrictive laws passing now, especially in gop-led states with increasing minority populations. >> a number of states where republicans fear being able to hold on to their majority are passing laws that are designed to stop groups that they think potentially vote against them from casting their ballots with quite the same ease that they did during the 2020 pandemic. >> gop legislators passing new
restrictive voting laws in key states use the same language. >> these are all bills that i've introduced to make sure that we reinforce election integrity. >> we need to protect the integrity of our elections so the rest of the world can look to us. >> this strengthens the integrity of our election system here in georgia. >> while clearly designed to appeal to the gop base, that message could also resonate with the broader public. a recent cnn poll showed nearly half of americans say the rules around voting are not strict enough to prevent illegal ballots from being cast. >> the republicans i talk to in all these states say, this is what you do after elections, you look at what went wrong, you look at what went right, and you pass laws to try to fix it for the next time. >> but here they're not fixing it. here they did the opposite.
they looked at what went right and they decided to ban what went right. >> the issue is that countless republican voters don't believe things went right in 2020. thanks to the big lie. >> frankly, we did win this election. >> you really can't blame these voters. they've been bamboozled into thinking fraud is a major problem so of course these legislators act. >> georgia's republican house speaker told me as much. >> you said a lot of people in georgia don't think that the election was free and fair. you didn't say you don't think the election was free and fair. >> well, uh, what i think sometimes is not altogether important. >> why not? >> well, we're a representative body here in the house. and i listen to my constituents. >> in texas, republican state representative travis clarty helped write a new restrictive voting law even though he admits there was no widespread fraud in
his state. >> we want to restore that confidence that we should all have in our elections. and i don't think it was lost in texas. i don't think it was in jeopardy of being lost in texas. >> why do you have to restore confidence in an election that you're saying went well, that you're saying was free and fair? the only reason you would do that is because people are being gaslit. >> i think we do need to acknowledge in the political zeitgeist that exists right now, that is hanging over like a cloud. >> it's a pure theft. >> a zeitgeist perpetrated by the former president and his allies. >> we had a rigged election. we had a stolen election. >> the bigger picture is beyond donald trump. it is the changing demographics of the country. >> and the only tactic that they
have left is to try to shrink the electorate and make it harder for black, brown, and young voters to participate. >> there's no question in your mind that that's what they're doing right now? >> i don't think there's any question in their mind. they're not hiding the fact that this is what they're doing. they're pretty out in the open, shouting the quiet part out loud. >> an attorney representing the arizona republican party told the united states supreme court it was all about politics. >> what's the interest of the arizona rnc here in keeping, say, the out of precinct voter ballot disqualification rules on the books? >> because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to democrats. politics is a zero sum game. >> to be sure, the democratic party of the jim crow south had its own legacy of voter suppression. doing whatever they could to stop black citizens from voting, like implementing poll taxes that required everyone to pay a fee for the right to vote. >> coming out of reconstruction,
you've got massive sharecropping. you've got endemic covert in the black community. and so a lot of jim crow legislation was written that way, not racially defined but racially targeted. >> it's exactly the same strategy we're seeing today with targeting methods of voting and the election administration of counties where large populations of minority voters reside. >> it's designed not to catch fraud. but it is designed to deter and dissuade particularly minorities and poor people and young people from voting. >> so a system that the former president called rigged is being changed in a way that you say actually is rigged. >> oh, absolutely. >> now, new laws in key states are not only impacting access to the ballot, but also what happens after the voting. power is being taken away from
career election officials and given to more partisan actors. >> the real danger is the danger of election subversion. this is something we really haven't seen in modern american history, this idea that we're going to mess with who counts the votes, how votes are counted. and this itself is a threat to the very basis of democracy, which is that we all have to accept election results as legitimate. >> more on who will be in charge of the next elections later in the program. up next. >> had you not been able to drive up here and vote, would you have voted in 2020? >> i would not have voted in 2020. >> safe, successful, but no longer an option. a deep dive in texas.
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so the this is the stadium and this is what you had to do to cast a vote in the last election. >> yes, i just came over. >> you didn't have to get out of your car. >> i didn't have to get closer than six feet to anyone. >> in november 2020, brittany was seven months' pregnant. she used one of ten drive-through voting sites set up in houston, part of harris county, texas. had you not been able to drive up here and vote, would you have
voted in 2020? >> i would not have voted in 2020. we were very careful during the pandemic, because jackson, who was 4 at the time, and the unborn baby, we didn't want to put them at risk. so this was the safest option. >> a safe option that she and nearly 127,000 lone star voters took advantage of. and it spurred record turnout in texas' largest county, where joe biden won big despite losing the state to donald trump. houston's democratic mayor says the big turnout scared republicans. >> legislators are recognizing that the state of texas is changing. people saw people voting. but they didn't like who they were voting for. so if you voted for my person, everything is fine. but if you didn't vote for my person, then there must be some voter fraud. >> election fraud takes place. i have no doubt that it took place here in the state of texas. >> our secretary of state has said that the election was safe,
secure, and successful. in fact you have twice as much of a chance to be hit by lightning in the state of texas than you have to find a case of voter fraud. >> you're more likely to be hit by lightning than you are to have a case of voter fraud? well, the difference is i can't do anything to stop somebody from getting hit by lightning. but i think you're obligated to do something in the state to keep fraud from occurring. >> despite what even many texas republicans admit was a safe and secure election, the gop-controlled legislature proposed a new voting bill under the banner of election integrity. >> we're making it easier to vote but also making it harder to cheat. >> the new law bans drive-through voting and 24-hour voting. another 2020 change in houston's harris county, which gave shift workers more flexibility in voting. if you want to make it easier for people to vote, why not take that experiment in harris county, 24-hour voting, drive-in voting, and do it across the
state? >> great question. probably for the same reason there's no other state in the union that has 24-hour voting. >> gop texas representative travis clardy argues his party wanted uniform voting across texas. >> i spent a lot of time talking to election administrators and county clerks who run elections and the feedback on that was, it is not feasible, you have to have trained election workers, people to man the polls. >> but they had the people there. during the pandemic, people were willing to do it. >> but in harris county, with those people. but you also can create opportunities for mischief. >> again, there is no evidence that happened with 24-hour voting or drive-through voting or anywhere in the state of texas. >> republicans who are backing these new laws in texas say it's not about targeting harris county, it's about enacting uniform laws. >> i think that's a convenient
response. harris county has a population greater than 25 states. a small rural county with only a couple of hundred people is not going to need to employ all the same strategies that a harris county or dallas or austin are going to have to use to make sure that all of their residents have access to the ballot. >> the new law also makes it a felony punishable by jail for a public official to send someone an application, just an application, for a mail-in ballot they did not request. >> these efforts are a direct outgrowth of the big lie that donald trump somehow really won the last election that we all know he lost. >> in may, at the end of the texas legislative session, house democrats walked out of the texas state capitol to break forum and prevent the legislature from voting on the bill. more than 50 texas democrats fled again, many to washington. ♪ we shall overcome some day ♪
>> that you have a concerted effort by a major political party to make it more difficult for american citizens to cast a ballot is insidious. and it's reprehensible. and it is a direct assault on our very foundations of democracy. >> they were outnumbered and delaying the inevitable. but they made a show of it to draw attention to the soon to be new texas law. we boarded a bus with texas democrats as they headed to a press conference. the republicans who say what you're doing here in washington, dc, walking out of the session in texas, is a stunt. >> i call it civil rights. protecting the rights of my citizens to vote. >> state representative thompson is the longest serving woman and african-american in texas history. what would be the thing that would make you comfortable with
the way that the texas voting law is? >> if they would eliminate giving unfetterred control of poll watchers. i've been in a polling place where they have walked behind me and tried to make me fearful and afraid. they didn't know who i was. i demanded they get away from me, and they did. >> the new law empowers partisan poll watchers to have, quote, free movement around voting facilities except to watch the ballot cast. election officials, who reject poll watchers, can be charged with a misdemeanor crime. >> poll watchers have been in these precincts for decades. >> james white is the only black republican in the texas legislature and supported the new voting law. >> poll watchers are already there. >> they have a lot more leeway now. >> poll watchers are already there. >> is it fair they have more leeway? do you agree with that? >> no, i don't. >> you can look voters in texas,
particularly voters of color, in the eye and promise them that this new law that you voted for -- >> yes. >> -- will not suppress their vote, will not make it harder for them to vote? >> absolutely. i can look them in the eye, i can make that case. >> houston's mayor told us with texas flair, he doesn't buy it. >> don't tt on my leg and tell me it's raining. don't tell me you're not engaged in voter suppression. i'm concerned people have not fully -- they don't fully understand the dynamics they are putting in place. >> repeated but unsubstantiated claims of fraud have been in texas since 2020. >> i really regret some of the stories and the conspiracy theories. >> texas republican travis clardy admits joe biden was freely and fairly elected parking lot. but, as he defended changing election laws, he kept coming back to the perception among gop
voters that biden wasn't. >> it was, again, put out in the political arena for consumption -- >> that's by definition a straw man, though. >> -- a never-ending lose cycle. >> that's by definition a straw man. as leaders you're supposed to say, that's not real, we're going to do what needs to be done, not what you think needs to be done because you're believing conspiracy theories. >> so was it a surprise when we had the big snowmageddon in texas and the electric grid nearly collapsed and we got that back up, but was it a surprise we came back in and the issue we took up was fixing the power grid and restructuring the puc in texas? >> but the 2020 election was not stolen, and the electrical grid really did go down.
people really didn't have energy. >> we didn't have energy, but that's what was on our minds. coming into the session in january was right at the conclusion of that election cycle and then the attack on our capitol. so elections were on our mind. and so it's not unusual for us to take those things that are topical, that are hot at the moment, that people are focused on, and, okay, is there policy we need to review? >> the texas election bill became law in september when the governor called a second special session. >> election integrity is now law in the state of texas. >> there's no question that this bill will make it harder to vote in a state that is already among the hardest to vote in the country. and that's why we're always in the lowest quintile in voter participation. the texas legislature has repeatedly shown they care more about partisan advantage than they do about voting rights and they're willing to do whatever they can to stay in power.
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night 2020 and joe biden was doing well in dekalb, georgia's fourth largest county, a republican election board member found himself fending off trump supporters' false claims of voter fraud. as joe biden's numbers were going up, what kind of pressure were you feeling from republican leaders? >> that's right. >> well, a number of folks wanted my counterpart and me to, as members of the board to bring forth certain challenges from obviously very frustrated republicans within dekalb county. >> there was no widespread fraud in dekalb county or in the state of georgia. but refusing to back his fellow republicans cost vu his seat after 12 years on the board. >> after i refused to entertain their desire for these challenges to go through, then
they were looking for someone to replace me. >> georgia, one of the critical battleground states that president trump needed to win to stay in office, turned blue. and trump, desperate for a different result, got personally involved, including this infamous call to georgia's republican secretary of state brad raffensperger. >> look, all i want to do is this. i want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state. >> it didn't work. >> the facts are the facts. those are the accurate results of that election in november. >> in march, the republican-controlled georgia legislature passed a new law for future elections. a big component, removing the secretary of state from his role as chair of the state election board, stripping much of his power.
>> he was removed, no question, because he stood up to trump and refused to find 11,780 votes in trump's attempt to flip the results in georgia. >> i think the republican party of georgia believes he is insufficiently committed to their cause. >> the republican majority in the legislature transferred the power to decide who chairs the state election board to themselves. >> they want to make sure that the people administering the elections in georgia in 2022 and 2024 are going to be of their political liking. >> you understand how it looks from the outside in, that the secretary of state, who prevented president trump from meddling here, is now losing the power that he used to do just that. >> his relationship with the president did not factor into my approach to this bill. >> do you believe the 2020
election here in georgia was free and fair? >> i believe that a lot of georgians have concerns that there were issues with it. umm, and i believe that we as a legislature have a duty to respond to those people that had concerns. >> the new law also allows the state board to take over county election offices and remove local officials if it believes they are running their elections poorly over two consecutive elections. >> we have seen this before in the era of jim crow. when there were counties that had sizable black populations, you had the state legislature then come in and say we will control that county election board and install our own people in there. >> i find it incredibly offensive when i hear it labeled as jim crow 2.0. >> so why is it not?
>> because it expands voting. it makes voting, uh, more accessible here. >> there are some ways georgia's law expands access to voting, like requiring each county to have at least one dropbox for absentee ballots, which may help rural counties that lean republican. but the law also adds several new restrictions for those drop boxes and says each county cannot have more than one dropbox per early voting site or per 100,000 active registered voters, whichever number is smaller. i understand adding those to small counties. but what's the benefit of taking them away in more populous areas? >> i'm concerned, if you've got 'em in, you know, 30, 40, 50, 60 locations, then the security in those declines, diminishes as you spread 'em out. >> fulton county will go from 38 dropboxes in 2020 to eight in future elections. what's the intent of that change?
>> it's to make it harder for people to vote, to put it simply. with less dropboxes, that gives people less options to return their mail ballots. >> and in august, the state election board announced a review of election management in fulton county, which includes most of atlanta, an area where biden won big. while fulton has a history of issues with long lines and slow reporting, a state monitor found no evidence of dishonesty or fraud in 2020. i spoke to speaker ralston who says that the reason they are looking into fulton county is because fulton county is always full of problems. long lines, big issues. >> fulton county was not alone in having issues on election day. but fulton county is being targeted as the only county that is being investigated for election issues. >> so why do you think that is? >> fulton county has a number of
black and brown voters who show up in large numbers to vote for democrats. this is all a partisan attempt to come in and try and take over the local board of elections so that they can overturn election results when they want. >> the new state election board will get to choose election officials. >> mm-hmm. >> how is that not written to give republicans influence over the outcome in georgia? >> i think the legislature having some appointed authority is perfectly legitimate because we represent the people of georgia. and we're closer to the people of georgia in theory at least, and we should be in practice, than the secretary of state, than the governor. >> what will this new law mean for the protection of what people call election integrity? >> it basically takes it apart. it destroys it. it blows it up.
american democracy is under enormous duress. and every time that we lose an election, we go out and we change the laws based on the whims of our constituents, that is unhealthy. >> is there any question in your mind that the changes to election law in georgia happened because the democrats won? >> no doubt in my mind, dana. >> if we're suppressing the vote in georgia, we're not very good at it. in 2020 we had the highest turnout in the history of this state for a presidential election. >> the criticism is, it's because of that high turnout that republicans here in the state are changing the law to make sure that the people who voted, especially for democrats, can't vote as easily. >> i have been in the general assembly here now for 20 plus years. i cannot remember a session that followed a governor's election
or a presidential election where we didn't come back in the next session and tweak our election law. >> if this law had been in place in georgia before the 2020 election, would president biden have won georgia? >> i think there would have been people who would have caved and found the 11,000 whatever exact number donald trump was looking for. they would have found him those votes and overturned the will of the people. coming up -- >> and with the changes in the law here in arizona, is that sowing confusion? >> we have four pages, four pages of new election laws. and we don't know what it is.
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>> for just the second time in more than 70 years, a democrat would win the state. arizona was no longer reliably red. and republicans, still in charge of the legislature, went to work, proposing new ways to change the state's election laws. like one that said any time before the presidential inauguration, the legislature, quote, may revoke the secretary of state's issuance or certification of a presidential elector's certificate of election. in english, allow the legislature to overturn the election. that bill, which did not become law, was proposed by a republican now running to be arizona's next secretary of state. one of her opponents in that race, republican state senator michelle rita, also sponsored election legislation which did become law. >> and i'm proud to sign this bill into law. >> that has to do with mail-in voting. before we explain the changes, a little context. mail-in voting was big in 2020.
but it's been huge in arizona for years. >> even before the pandemic, more than 70% of arizona voters were voting by mail. >> going forward, under the new arizona law, if you do not use your early ballot, returning it by mail or dropbox at least once in two consecutive election cycles, even if you do vote in person during that time, county officials will send a notice stating that within 90 days, you must confirm in writing your desire to remain on the early voting list. otherwise you will no longer automatically receive early ballots unless you reregister. some experts who we've talked to say removing occasional mail-in voters from the list could affect as many as 150,000 arizonans. >> they're not voting. these are nonvoters. these are non-mail-in voters. these people have not, umm, shown an interest in voting by
mail. >> has there been evidence of fraud with the permanent mail-in voting list? >> there's been evidence of fraud. but there's also just common sense. look, you want to make sure that you have important safeguards. that's why we, you know, have i.d. laws and that's why the vast majority of the public supports i.d. laws. >> how much fraud has there been? you say there was evidence. >> yeah. well, talk to the ag's office. i mean, when you're doing election law, it's important to have safeguards so people have confidence in the outcome. >> i asked arizona's current top election officer, now a democratic candidate for governor. the evidence of fraud here in arizona is -- >> there's a few cases here and there but not the kind of widespread fraud that folks are alleging that would change the outcome of the election. the permanent early voter list was put in place by a republican majority legislature and has enjoyed widespread bipartisan
support for years in our state. >> how worried are you about voter confusion with the changes in election laws? >> i certainly think that's a huge problem that we're going to see. and that will impact voter turnout. >> do you vote in every election? >> yes. ever since i turned 18, i've been, you know, going to the election poll. >> percy deal has lived his entire life on the navajo reservation. he's gotten used to voting by mail. >> i have to drive down to the post office which is about 30 miles away to pick up my ballot. last year, i participated in making sure that people were registered to vote. >> and with the changes in the law here in arizona, is that sowing confusion? >> you know, i got this thing. i assume this is coming from the
governor's office. it says protecting arizona voters. and it talks about arizona election law. and there's this page, there's more, and there's more. and finally, we have four pages full, full pages, of new election laws. and we don't know what it is. >> he believes recent changes in the state's election laws target arizona's native american population because they helped joe biden win the state and the white house. >> they're trying to make it extremely difficult for particularly the navajo to go to elections and cast their ballot. >> how many people really pay attention in their state to every nit and jot of change of election laws? how many dropboxes you can have, what the hours are of operation, whether or not a county that last year sent you an application this year can't send
you an application for a mail ballot? so the effect is going to be that fewer people are going to be able to vote. fewer people will vote. more ballots won't count. and when you look at the totality of that, here is a prediction for you that i am certain is true. it's going to disproportionately affect voters of color and young voters. coming up, a carnival, a cyber ninja, and a sham audit.
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buzzing. the sights and sounds of the crazy times carnival. that's outside. but inside the fairgrounds coliseum, more than 2 million 22020 ballots. it was for a sham audit. they already completed their standard post election wheel audit successfully. but the gop-led senate demanded something else. >> everything we saw had the
appearance of something legitimate. but then if you look just a little harder, everything was a show. none of it was real. there were the circle tables that were set up with lazy susans that were divided by primary colors. it looked like my mom's favorite chinese restaurant meets my kids' elementary classroom. that's exactly what it looked like. a process run by cyber ninjas. the ceo, doug logan. a tech executive with a pen shapt for pushing conspiracy theories on line. >> almost none of them had any experience, but what they did have is a partisan beef with the person who won maricopa county in the 2020 election, joe biden.
they wanted donald trump to be president. >> it's not really an acut the. it's people trying to say we diabetes get the result that we wanted from this election. >> for nearly 30 years, helen pur purcell, a life long republican, helped oversee elections in maricopa county. >> as somebody who spent so long working to make sure that voters in maricopa county had a role in the election process. how does it make you feel to see what's going on? >> it made me sick, it really did. >> gop legislators aren't the only one. former president trump demanded a partisan review in texas. he won the state but lost its wig big cities. governor greb greg abbott bowing
to demands. we must take these steps and ensure public filibuster our system. >> they also pushed for sham audits in other critical swing states trump lost like pennsylvania and georgia. >> my fear is it's going to be used to just further create this division, keeping some people uncertain about whether they can trust the process or not. >> election experts are screaming from the rooftops about fear for the bed rock of american democracy. >> what's the voter out there going to say when he looks back at this when he thinks of the next election, should i even vote, how can i trust the system that i'm going to use. so what's the answer? >> there is one i think very
clear and simple solution to all of these problems, and that is federal intervention. >> the federal government stepped in during the civil rights era with the 1965 voting rights act. >> among other things, it prohibited states from denying a person the right to vote based on race or color. yet in 2013 the supreme court up ended a major part of that law. >> it eviscerated one of its key components, which was key clearance. the thing about preclearance is that it's before they could implement a new law dealing with voting or a new policy dealing with voting, it had to be okayed first by the u.s. department of justice or by the federal court. >> from passing restrictive voting laws.
democrats are proposing voting bills broad in scope. many see restating reclearance as the bare minimum to addressing voting rights. one bill is called the lon lewis voting rights act. >> i gave blood on this bridge. >> you gave a lot on blood on this bridge. >> i walked with him across the edmund pettus bridge, where he was beaten almost to death in a march demanding voting rights. >> why is it so important to keep coming back every year? >> it is on us to come back. this is the place that gave us the voting rights act, made it possible for thousands and millions of people to be able to participate in the democratic process. >> wie taken action on climate change --
>> congresswoman williams represents john loose's district. >> we have to have a standard way to access our democracy and right now we have seen state by state chip away at access to the ballot. >> voting rights daegtings used to pass congress with big bipartisan majorities. now most republicans oppose federal standards. >> this bill is yet another attempt at federal takeover of state and federal elections. >> this is a power grab. it's cynical, and it's wrong. >> if it wasn't for the federal government, i wouldn't have the rights to vote in this country as a black woman. i wouldn't be sevening in the united states congress. we have an obligation on the federal level to step in and make sure that there are standards to our democracy in this country. there's a lot of the president's plate. there's a lot on congress's
plate. rank voting rights with the other agenda items. >> voting rights is number one. it impacts every other issue that we could possibly care about in this country. >> democracy's next big test is the 2022 midterm election and watching how these restrictive new applause play out across the country is more critical than ever.all week long. ♪ shop walmart's black friday deals for days. ♪
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tucci: i have driven in italy quite a bit. but i did say to one guy when i was doing a movie, i said, "it's very interesting, people don't really stop at stop lights that much." and he goes, "no, no, no. the stop light is just a suggestion." there's nowhere on earth quite like tuscany. the land is idyllic, the art is divine and the food is out of this world. >> tucci: oh my god. it just melts in your mouth. [laughs] i'm stanley tucci, i'm fascinated by my italian
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