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Hawaii Attorney General joins coalition asking William Barr to reverse decision that ‘erodes public confidence in elections’

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors today called on U.S. Attorney General William Barr to reverse his abrupt change to a long-standing U.S. Department of Justice policy that prevents political interference — and the appearance of political interference — in state-run elections.

Connors joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general from across the U.S. in a letter to Barr, voicing their “strong objection” to this policy reversal, which they said “will erode the public’s confidence in the election.”

“The new policy reverses long-standing recognition by the federal government that the states ensure the legitimacy of elections,” said Connors in a news release. “The Department of Justice’s action only serves to undermine confidence in our democratic system by introducing the specter of politics.”

The attorneys general said that the 2020 election is over, and that the American people have decisively chosen a new president. Until now, they said, the Department of Justice has recognized that the principal responsibility for overseeing elections lies with states and has “taken care to avoid affecting the outcome of elections or even the perception of political intrusion in the electoral process.”

Despite this, Barr earlier this week issued a directive to U.S. attorneys, allowing them to pursue allegations of voter fraud without adhering to these long-established guardrails.

“This reversal of departmental policy will erode the public’s confidence in the election,” the attorneys general said. “While we are confident any such investigations will not succeed in overturning the election’s outcome, we believe that using the Department of Justice to stoke these efforts will come at the terrible cost of undermining trust in the democratic institutions on which this country depends. The people of the United States have spoken. The U.S. Department of Justice should not interfere with their choice, nor should it undermine confidence in the electoral process. We ask that you respect the will of the people and reverse your decision promptly.”

Connors previously served as a Department of Justice trial attorney, and then as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Hawaii.

Joining Connors in signing the letter are Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Minnesota Attorney General Ellison, who co-led the letter, and the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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