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Midterms 2022: 4 experts on the effects of voter intimidation laws, widespread mail-in voting – and what makes a winner

Some election results will take days or longer to materialize – but on election night, a panel of scholars offer initial takeaways on mail-in voting,…



Voters cast their ballots in Madison, Wisc., on Nov. 8, 2022, as numerous close races draw to a close. Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

With control of Congress and statehouses at stake, voters across the nation headed to the polls on Election Day 2022. That was after more than 42 million people had already voted early or by mail. The Conversation asked four scholars to give us their initial observations on the voting, in an election whose outcome may be be determined by voters’ concerns about the economy and democracy – and whose full results will take days to know.

A middle aged white woman with long brown hair appears to pick up a white box that has yellow envelopes inside. Next to her sits a pile of more white boxes with yellow envelopes.
Becky White, a Mesa County election specialist, lifts a box of ballots cast during the midterm election on Nov. 8, 2022, in Grand Junction, Colo. Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images

What really influences an election

Jeffrey Lazarus, Georgia State University

When people talk about elections, they frequently focus on how issues and events, as well as candidates’ attributes, affect who wins and loses: “He’s such a wooden speaker!” “She’s soft on crime!” However, the most important factors influencing elections are mostly out of candidates’ control.

Political insiders and scholars call these “the fundamentals”: the state of the economy and the approval rating of the president. Together, they set the stage for everything else that happens in an election.

In 2022, the fundamentals have been running pretty strongly in Republicans’ favor. First, President Joe Biden is a Democrat and pretty unpopular, with approval ratings in the low 40s. Second, even though the economy is pretty healthy by some measures, with unemployment under 4%, most headlines are focused on high inflation. When you combine an unpopular president with a shaky economy, it’s a recipe for the president’s party – this year, the Democrats – to do poorly at the polls.

Even when two candidates of the same party run in the same state and one does better than the other, systematic factors, not their positions or campaign strategies, usually explain the difference. For example, in Georgia, where I live and teach political science at Georgia State University, Democrats Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock are running for governor and U.S. senator, respectively. The results aren’t in yet, but polls point to Warnock doing significantly better in his race than Abrams in hers. Assuming that bears out, what’s the reason behind the difference?

A middle aged Black man with glasses holds a black mask that says 'vote' in white. He stands next to a middle aged Black woman with a mask over her mouth that also says vote.
Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidate for Georgia’s Senate seat, and Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, together in November 2020. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

It’s not because Warnock ran a good campaign and Abrams didn’t. Rather, three factors are helping Warnock but not Abrams, and all three are out of their control.

First, Warnock is an incumbent, while Abrams is a challenger; incumbents fare better than challengers. Second, Warnock’s opponent, Herschel Walker, is beset by a number of high-profile scandals; Abrams’ opponent, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, has kept clear of any major financial or personal problems. Third, the fact that Abrams is a woman makes a difference; for a number of reasons, women face more difficult electoral environments. Factors like voter stereotypes and increased media scrutiny result in female candidates’ getting about 3 percentage points less than similar male candidates.

Most of the time, the story lines voters tend to focus on – the issues that are important to us or the candidates we love or hate – have much less influence over the outcomes of elections than many give them credit for.

A young Black woman holds a baby on her hip and votes at a shielded voting booth.
A voter casts her ballot on Nov. 8, 2022, in Atlanta. Tami Chappell/AFP via Getty Images

Mail-in voting remained secure, despite concerns

Mara Suttmann-Lea, Connecticut College; Thessalia Merivaki, Mississippi State University

A brown skinned young woman holds up a ballot and stands amid a crowd of people outside.
A voter displays a ballot when arriving at a voting center in Los Angeles on Nov. 8, 2022. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Days before this year’s midterm election, news broke of challenges to thousands of mail-in ballots in state races that may determine control of the U.S. Congress.

In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court ruled election officials should not count mail ballots missing a date on the outer envelope. And a judge blocked a request from the Republican nominee for secretary of state in Michigan, Kristina Karamo, that most absentee ballots be thrown out.

These challenges to mail-in voting are echoes of long-simmering election concerns that boiled over during the contentious, COVID-19-tinged 2020 presidential election. The 2022 election cycle featured a continuation of misinformation about the security of mail-in voting and the integrity of ballot counts that take several days.

It is true mail ballots are more likely to be rejected because the additional steps voters need to take to cast a ballot create more potential for mistakes. But that is the result of measures that protect against fraud, not evidence of it. Some states like California, Florida and Illinois allow for the “preprocessing” of ballots before Election Day to ready the ballot for counting, including verifying voter eligibility. But many states do not allow this process to begin until Election Day, which means counting may last a few days, including in states with key Senate races like Pennsylvania and Georgia.

At least in some states, voters whose mailed ballots are rejected have some time to “cure” or correct administrative errors in their submissions. This may mean the results of key races cannot be completely counted for some time after the election.

In many states, however, voters are not given the opportunity to correct errors. That’s true in Wisconsin, where Republicans recently won a court ruling preventing some mail ballots from being counted when the witness address is not complete. And in other states, like Pennsylvania, the legal process for fixing errors is unclear.

Our research shows that many problems with mail ballots can be mitigated ahead of time if election officials communicate effectively with their constituents about voting by mail. Voters whose election officials make more efforts to teach people the proper procedure make fewer mistakes that lead to ballot rejection.

Black and Latino voters undeterred by anticipated Election Day threats

Bertrall Ross, University of Virginia

For many Black and Latino voters, the 2022 midterm elections have been remarkable for what did not happen. Threats of voter intimidation appeared overblown, and attempts to suppress Black and Latino turnout didn’t seem to work – at least not that we know of as polls closed on Election Day.

Misinformation that targets minority voters is nothing new. But a rash of new state election laws triggered widespread anxiety among civil rights advocates over the potential consequences for showing up at the polls.

Yet, as in every other election since the adoption of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Black and Latino voters overcame real and perceived efforts to suppress their increasing ability to affect the results of local, state and federal elections.

Two rows of five Black women sit at long tables, sorting through papers that are in yellow boxes.
Poll workers process ballots at an elections warehouse outside of Philadelphia on Nov. 8, 2022. Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

In important ways, the 2022 election season has deviated from historic, often violent discrimination against minority voters exercising their citizenship rights guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Instead of the white supremacists of the past striking fear among minority voters, the fear during this 2022 midterms was the possible chaos dozens of new state election laws could create for minority voters. Those new laws were passed as a result of former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories that he lost the 2020 election because of widespread fraud. Trump’s widely disproved theories led several states to enact new election laws that many civil rights activists and Democrats argued were attempts to suppress the minority vote.

The problem with the 2020 presidential election was not widespread fraud, but rather the way some people reacted to widespread voting by Black and brown Americans for Joe Biden. It was more than coincidental that GOP challenges in 2020 were made in cities with significant numbers of Black and Latino voters, such as Detroit and Philadelphia.

Although it is too early to estimate actual voting turnout numbers, Black and Latino voters have cast their ballots regardless of perceived voter suppression laws or intimidation.

In an election in which the threats appeared different from those of the past and the prospects of democratic backsliding greater than ever, Black and Latino voters proved their resilience, with turnout numbers expected to match or exceed that of the last midterm election.

Thessalia (Lia) Merivaki is a member of the Carter Center's U.S. Elections Expert Study Team. She has received funding from the MIT Election Data and Science Lab (MEDSL) and the Scholars Strategy Network (SSN). She is also affiliated with the Election Community Network (ECN).

Mara Suttmann-Lea receives funding from the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, and is also affiliated with the Election Community Network (ECN).

Bertrall Ross and Jeffrey Lazarus do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Family Of College Student Who Died From COVID-19 Vaccine Sues Biden Administration

Family Of College Student Who Died From COVID-19 Vaccine Sues Biden Administration

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis…



Family Of College Student Who Died From COVID-19 Vaccine Sues Biden Administration

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The family of a college student who died from heart inflammation caused by Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has sued President Joe Biden’s administration, alleging officials engaged in “willful misconduct.”

George Watts Jr. in a file image. (Courtesy of the Watts family)

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) officials wrongly promoted COVID-19 vaccination by repeatedly claiming the available vaccines were “safe and effective,” relatives of George Watts Jr., the college student, said in the new lawsuit.

That promotion “duped millions of Americans, including Mr. Watts, into being DOD’s human subjects in its medical experiment, the largest in modern history,” the suit states.

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act allows lawsuits against certain people if they have engaged in “willful misconduct” and if that misconduct caused death or serious injury.

COVID-19 vaccines are covered by the act due to a declaration entered during the Trump administration in 2020 after COVID-19 began circulating.

DOD’s conduct and the harm caused as alleged within the four corners of the lawsuit speaks for itself,” Ray Flores, a lawyer representing the Watts family, told The Epoch Times via email. “I have no further comment other than to say: My only duty is to advocate for my client. If the DOD conveys a settlement offer, I will see that it’s considered.”

The suit was filed in U.S. court in Washington.

The Pentagon and the Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment.

Watts Suddenly Died

Watts was a student at Corning Community College when the school mandated COVID-19 vaccination for in-person classes in 2021. He received one Pfizer dose on Aug. 27, 2021, and a second dose approximately three weeks later.

Watts soon began experiencing a range of symptoms, including tingling in the feet, pain in the heels, numbness in the hands and fingers, blood in his sperm and urine, and sinus pressure, according to family members and health records.

Watts went to the Robert Packer Hospital emergency room on Oct. 12, 2021, due to the symptoms. X-rays showed clear lungs and a normal heart outline.

Watts was sent home with suggestions to follow up with specialists but returned to the emergency room on Oct. 19, 2021, with worsening symptoms despite a week of the antibiotic Augmentin. He was diagnosed with sinusitis and bronchitis.

While speaking to his mother at home on Oct. 27, 2021, Watts suddenly collapsed. Emergency medical personnel rushed to the home but found him unresponsive. He was rushed to the same hospital in an ambulance. He was pronounced deceased at age 24.

According to a doctor at the hospital, citing hospital records and family members, Watts had no past medical history on file that would explain his sudden death, with no known history of substance abuse or obvious signs of substance abuse. His mother described her son as a “healthy young male.”

Dr. Robert Stoppacher, a pathologist who performed an autopsy on the body, said that the death was due to “COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis.” The death certificate listed no other causes. A COVID-19 test returned negative. Dr. Sanjay Verma, based in California, reviewed the documents in the Watts case and said that he believed the death was caused by the COVID-19 vaccination.

Pfizer did not respond to a request for comment.

Watts Took Vaccine Under Pressure

The community college mandate included a 35-day grace period following approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were given emergency use authorization early in the pandemic. The FDA approved the Pfizer shot on Aug. 23, 2021. It was the first COVID-19 vaccine approval. But doses of the approved version of the shot, branded Comirnaty, were not available for months after the approval.

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Tyler Durden Fri, 06/02/2023 - 23:00

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US Sent Billions in Funding to China, Russia For Cat Experiments, Wuhan Lab Research: Ernst

US Sent Billions in Funding to China, Russia For Cat Experiments, Wuhan Lab Research: Ernst

Authored by Mark Tapscott via The Epoch Times…



US Sent Billions in Funding to China, Russia For Cat Experiments, Wuhan Lab Research: Ernst

Authored by Mark Tapscott via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars went to recipients in China and Russia in recent years without being properly tracked by the federal government, including a grant that enabled a state-run Russian lab to test cats on treadmills, according to Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) speaks at a Senate Republican news conference in the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ernst and her staff investigators, working with auditors at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Research Service, as well as two nonprofit Washington watchdogs—Open The Books (OTB) and the White Coat Waste Project (WCWP)—discovered dozens of other grants that weren’t counted on the federal government’s internet database.

While the total value of the uncounted grants found by the Ernst team is $1.3 billion, that amount is just the tip of the iceberg, the GAO reported.

Among the newly discovered grants is $4.2 million to China’s infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) “to conduct dangerous experiments on bat coronaviruses and transgenic mice,” according to a May 31 Ernst statement provided to The Epoch Times.

The $4.2 million exposed by Ernst is in addition to previously reported funding to the WIV for extensive gain-of-function research by Chinese scientists, much of it funded in whole or part prior to the COVID-19 pandemic by National Institutes for Health (NIH) grants channeled through the EcoHealth Alliance medical research nonprofit.

The NIH has awarded seven grants totaling more than $4.1 million to EcoHealth to study various aspects of SARS, MERS, and other coronavirus diseases.

Buying Chinese Puppy Parts

As part of another U.S.-funded grant, hearts and other organs from 425 dogs in China were purchased for medical research.

These countryside dogs in China are part of the farmer’s household; they were mainly used for guarding. Their diet includes boiled rice, discarded raw food animal tissues, and whatever dogs can forage. These dogs were sold for food,” an NIH study uncovered by the Ernst researchers reads.

Other previously unreported grants exposed by the Ernst team include $1.6 million to Chinese companies from the federal government’s National School Lunch Program and $4.7 million for health insurance from a Russian company that was sanctioned by the United States in 2022 as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s gravely concerning that Washington’s reckless spending has reached the point where nobody really knows where all tax dollars are going,” Ernst separately told The Epoch Times. “But I have the receipts, and I’m shining a light on this, so bureaucrats can no longer cover up their tracks, and taxpayers can know exactly what their hard-earned dollars are funding.”

The problem is that federal officials don’t rigorously track sub-awards made by initial grant recipients, according to the Iowa Republican. Such sub-awards are covered by a multitude of federal regulations that stipulate many conditions to ensure that the tax dollars are appropriately spent.

The GAO said in an April report that “limitations in sub-award data is a government-wide issue and not unique to U.S. funding to entities in China.”

GAO is currently examining the state of federal government-wide sub-award data as part of a separate review,” the report reads.

Peter Daszak, right, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, is seen in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The Eco-Health sub-awards to WIV illustrate the problem.

“Despite being required by law to make these receipts available to the public on the website, EcoHealth tried to cover its tracks by intentionally not disclosing the amounts of taxpayer money being paid to WIV, which went unnoticed for years,” Ernst said in the statement.

“I was able to determine that more than $490 million of taxpayer money was paid to organizations in China [in] the last five years. That’s ten times more than GAO’s estimate! Over $870 million was paid to entities in Russia during the same period!

Together that adds up to more than $1.3 billion paid to our adversaries. But again, these numbers still do not represent the total dollar amounts paid to institutions in China or Russia since those numbers are not tracked and the information that is being collected is incomplete.”

Adam Andrzejewski, founder and chairman of OTB, told The Epoch Times, “When following the money at the state and local level, the real corruption exists in the subcontractor payments. At the federal level, the existing system doesn’t even track many of those recipients.

“Without better reporting, agencies and appropriators don’t truly understand how tax dollars were used. We now know that taxpayer dollars are traded further downstream than originally realized with third- and fourth-tier recipients. These transactions need scrutiny. Requiring recipients to account for where and how they actually spend each dollar creates a record far better than agencies are capable of generating.”

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Tyler Durden Fri, 06/02/2023 - 19:40

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OraSure Technologies’ CFO Makes Bold Insider Purchase, Reigniting Investor Confidence

Executive Kenneth McGrath’s $500,000 buy read as promising signal about future for diagnostic test developer OraSure Technologies (NASDAQ:OSUR) saw…




Executive Kenneth McGrath’s $500,000 buy read as promising signal about future for diagnostic test developer

OraSure Technologies (NASDAQ:OSUR) saw a stock price re-rate on Thursday, climbing 11% after investors became aware of its CFO Kenneth McGrath buying shares in the diagnostic test developer.  This latest rally in OSUR stock, gives traders and investors hope that the strong momentum from the beginning of 2023 might return.

OSUR shares had mounted an impressive 54% rally for 2023 through to May 10, when the first-quarter results update spooked investors. 

The CFO’s trade was initially spotted on Fintel’s Insider Trading Tracker following the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Big Holdings Boost

In the Form 4 filing, McGrath, who assumed CFO duties in August 2022, disclosed buying 100,000 shares on May 30 in the approved trading window that was open post results.

McGrath on average paid $4.93 per share, giving the total transaction a value just shy of $500,000 and boosted his total share count ownership to 285,512 shares.

The chart below from the insider trading and analysis report for OSUR shows the share price performance and profit made from company officers in previous transactions:

OraSure Technologies

Prior to joining OraSure, McGrath had an impressive eight-year tenure at Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX), where he rose to the position of VP of Finance before departing. This is the first time that the CFO has bought stock in the company since August 2022. It is also worth noting that the purchase followed strong Q1 financial results, which exceeded Street forecasts.

Revenue Doubles

In its recently published Q1 update, OraSure Technologies told investors that it generated a whopping 129% increase in revenue to $155 million, surpassing analyst expectations of around $123 million. 

Notably, the revenue growth was driven primarily by the success of OraSure’s COVID-19 products, which accounted for $118.4 million in revenue for the quarter and grew 282% over the previous year.

The surge in revenue for this product was largely driven by the federal government’s school testing program, which led to record test volumes. However, it is important to note that demand for InteliSwab is expected to decline in Q2 2023, prompting OraSure to scale down its COVID-19 production operations. As part of its broader strategy to consolidate manufacturing, the company plans to close an overseas production facility.

While the COVID-19 products division has been instrumental in OraSure’s recent success, its core business delivered stable flat sales of $36.6 million during the quarter. 

In terms of net income, OraSure achieved an impressive result of $27.2 million, or $0.37 per share, in Q1, marking a significant improvement compared to the loss of $19.9 million, or a loss of $0.28 per share, in the same period last year. This result exceeded consensus forecasts of $0.16 per share. As of the end of the quarter, the company held $112.4 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Looking ahead to Q2, OraSure has provided revenue guidance in the range of $62 to $67 million, reflecting the lower order activity from the US government with $25 to $30 million expected sales for InteliSwab. The declining Covid related sales have been a core driver of the share price weakness in recent weeks.

While sales are likely to fall in the coming quarters, one positive for the company is its low debt balance during this period of rising cash rates. The chart below from Fintels financial metrics and ratios page for OSUR shows the cash flow performance of the business over the last five years.

OraSure Technologies

Analyst Opinions

Stephen’s analyst Jacob Johnson thinks that outside of Covid, OSUR continues to execute on several cost and partnership initiatives which he believes appears to be bearing fruit. Johnson pointed out that three partnerships were signed during the quarter.

The analyst thinks that the ex-Covid growth story will be the new focus for investors from now on. The brokerage maintained its ‘equal-weight’ recommendation and $6.50 target price on the stock, matching Fintel’s consensus target price, suggesting OSUR stock could rise a further 29% in the next 12 months. 

The post OraSure Technologies’ CFO Makes Bold Insider Purchase, Reigniting Investor Confidence appeared first on Fintel.

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