Preserve 2020 election records past 22-month minimum as potential legal evidence, watchdog urges

Preserving the records beyond the federal requirement could be important for the defense of election integrity watchdogs who are being prosecuted, said Amistad Project Director Phill Kline.

Updated: August 17, 2022 - 11:39pm

Records of the 2020 presidential election should be preserved beyond the 22-month federal requirement in order to preserve evidence for potential civil or criminal trials, said Phill Kline, director of election integrity nonprofit the Amistad Project.

Under federal law, states and localities must preserve federal election records for 22 months after the election.

Preserving the 2020 presidential election records is important not only for investigating potential election misdeeds, but also because they "are relevant to innocence or prosecution" of election integrity watchdogs and whistleblowers, said Kline.

J. Christian Adams, president of Public Interest Legal Foundation, told Just the News that election records related to any litigation would be subject to a litigation hold, and therefore preserved in those cases.

Investigations of suspected election irregularities in swing states critical to Joe Biden's victory have been launched in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. These cases include:

  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is investigating allegations of illegal ballot harvesting in the state from the 2020 presidential election brought forward by election integrity group True the Vote.

  • In Michigan, three women were charged in connection with voter fraud schemes, including efforts to cast ballots on behalf of non-consenting nursing home residents.

  • A lawsuit in Delaware County, Pa., brought by 2020 Republican state House candidate Ruth Moton and others against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and 2020 election voting machine warehouse supervisor James Savage alleging election fraud and evidence destruction was dismissed in July. The judge determined that the case was moot because the complaint "challenges the administration of an election that occurred in 2020 and the prevailing candidates in that election have been inaugurated."
  • In Arizona, Guillermina Fuentes, a former Democratic mayor of San Luis and board member for the the Gadsden Elementary School District, pled guilty in June to ballot harvesting during the August 2020 primary election. Fuentes was part of a ballot-harvesting scheme in Yuma County in which early ballots were collected from voters and dropped off at a ballot box on primary election day. Both Fuentes and another woman, Alma Juarez, who also pled guilty to ballot harvesting, will be sentenced in September, with prosecutors seeking a one-year prison sentence.
  • In Wisconsin, former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman was aggressively pursuing allegations of 2020 election malfeasance until GOP state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos fired him last week from his position as special counsel. Vos closed the special counsel's office after claiming victory in the GOP primary against challenger Adam Steen, who was backed by both former President Donald Trump and Gableman.

Citing "the unprecedented infusion of private money, and unprecedented, intentional violation of laws by certain election officials" and "the unwillingness of states to assist in understanding the impact" of the private funds, the 2020 presidential election records should be preserved until such issues are investigated and understood, Kline told Just the News.

There hasn't been "any meaningful review" of the 2020 presidential election, as the audits that have been conducted weren't "designed to address uniqueness of the 2020 election," the former Kansas attorney general explained. The audits, he said, were conducted "on an election that didn't happen" because they were designed to audit an election where the laws were followed.

Observing that he's "never known anyone who broke the law that kept evidence," Kline said the election records shouldn't be destroyed upon the expiration of the 22-month retention requirement, even though, per federal law, they could be.

In addition to the pending investigations of election irregularities underway in critical swing states, several lawyers and election integrity watchdogs have been shut down, sanctioned or threatened with legal consequences in recent months for investigating the 2020 presidential election. Cases of legal threats and retaliation against watchdogs include:

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