Gov. Mike Parson signed five new measures into law Wednesday, including House bill 1878. The bill is focused on improving methods for Missourians to vote. Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, the bill requires the use of a paper ballot that is hand-marked by the voter or marked in another authorized manner. Any election authority with direct recording, electronic vote-counting machines may continue using such machines until Jan. 1, 2024. These electronic vote-counting machines were first introduced back in 2002 with the first wave of electronic voting. There are currently zero of these machines used in Boone County and only two machines of its kind being used in the state of Missouri due to updates in technology, according to Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon. The technology was updated in favor of ballot-marking devices. The ballot-marking devices require the voter to put a piece of paper into the ballot-marking device machine. The voter can then use the touchscreen for accessibility purposes to make their selections.
Republicans and other conservative groups are undertaking a huge effort to recruit election workers, a push that could install people with unfounded doubts about the 2020 election in key positions in voting precincts where they could exert considerable power over elections. At the forefront of this push is Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who was on Donald Trump’s legal team in 2020 and played a key role in his effort to overturn the election. Over the last few months, Mitchell has held “election integrity summits” in several battleground states, convening groups and citizens who continue to believe the 2020 election was stolen. The summits offer in-depth training on how to monitor election offices and how to work elections. At a mid-June summit in North Carolina, Mitchell mocked the term “election denier” and said “whether the outcome was correct, that’s all I deny”. Voter fraud is extremely rare and there was no evidence of widespread fraud in 2020. The effort, called the Election Integrity Network, underscores how Trump and allies are capitalizing on now deeply seeded Republican doubt about Joe Biden’s victory and are targeting key election offices and jobs that play a considerable role in determining how ballots are cast and counted. The summits are a project of the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a group with close ties to Trump’s political operation, and where Mitchell is a senior legal fellow. Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, is a senior partner at CPI.
Controversy over election outcomes is not new. Overall voter confidence that votes were properly counted was lower after presidential elections in 2012 and 2016 than it was in 2020. What is new is the level of overt hostility toward the people who administer elections, manifested in an ongoing pattern of threats to their personal safety. Recent congressional hearings have included emotional accounts from election officials at all levels, from threats to the family members of a senior official to the crippling fallout when an election worker was falsely accused of fraud, by name, by the former president and his attorney. Spurred on by misinformation, including continued assertions from campaigning politicians that a national election was somehow “stolen,” members of the public have not backed off from such harassment. A Brennan Center poll of election officials, conducted more than two years after the 2020 election, found that one in six had experienced threats. Almost 80 percent said that threats had increased in recent years, and 30 percent knew election workers who left their jobs because they felt unsafe. More than three-fourths felt the federal government should be doing more to support them, and one in three said the same about their local government. Members of the election and law enforcement communities have joined together to help fill this void, forming the nonpartisan Committee for Safe and Secure Elections (CSSE).
Full Article: Worries Grow About Election Safety and Security
National: How the Supreme Court could radically reshape elections for president and Congress | Hansi Lo Wang/NPR
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Thursday that it has agreed to hear a case next term that could upend election laws across the country with the potential endorsement of a fringe legal theory about how much power state legislatures have over the running of congressional and presidential elections. The case, called Moore v. Harper, is centered on newly drawn maps of voting districts for North Carolina’s 14 seats in the next U.S. House of Representatives. Republican state lawmakers want to resurrect a map that North Carolina’s state courts struck down, finding that the map approved by the GOP-controlled legislature violated multiple provisions in the state’s constitution by giving Republican candidates an unfair advantage through partisan gerrymandering. A court-drawn map has been put in place instead for this year’s midterm elections. In their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, however, the Republican lawmakers argue that the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause gives state legislatures the power to determine how congressional elections are conducted without any checks and balances from state constitutions or state courts.
National: Cyber Command urges private sector to share intelligence, aid defensive digital operations | Suzanne Smalley/CyberScoop
U.S. Cyber Command wants more tech companies and others on the front lines of the global fight to secure the internet to share more cybersecurity intelligence so that the organization can improve its defensive capabilities, Cyber Command Executive Director Dave Frederick said in an interview Monday. Frederick said Cyber Command regularly shares information it gleans during so-called “hunt forward” operations, defensive cyber missions carried out alongside partners, but needs more private companies to fully report cyber incidents so that Cyber Command can learn from them. Frederick, who was speaking during an industry webinar organized by Billington CyberSecurity, said the 27 hunt forward operations Cyber Command has conducted in the past two years have empowered partner countries to “immediately strengthen the defenses of their networks” and have given Cyber Command “unique insights into adversary malware which we then bring home.” Those insights inform not only Department of Defense cyber defense strategy, but also are shared with the private sector, he said. “We’re able to share the indicators of compromise, new samples of malware that we discover from hunt forward, with the broader cybersecurity community, and they’re able to then build signatures to detect that malware and basically disrupt adversary operations targeting the U.S. civil sector,” Frederick said. “It’s almost like giving an antidote to a virus, so it’s really turned out to be a great model.”
National: Violent Threats to Election Workers Are Common. Prosecutions are Not. | Michael Wines and Eliza Fawcett/The New York Times
“Do you feel safe? You shouldn’t.” In August, 42-year-old Travis Ford of Lincoln, Neb., posted those words on the personal Instagram page of Jena Griswold, the secretary of state and chief election official of Colorado. In a post 10 days later, Mr. Ford told Ms. Griswold that her security detail was unable to protect her, then added: “This world is unpredictable these days … anything can happen to anyone.” Mr. Ford paid dearly for those words. Last week, in U.S. District Court in Lincoln, he pleaded guilty to making a threat with a telecommunications device, a felony that can carry up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But a year after Attorney General Merrick B. Garland established the federal Election Threats Task Force, almost no one else has faced punishment. Two other cases are being prosecuted, but Mr. Ford’s guilty plea is the only case the task force has successfully concluded out of more than 1,000 it has evaluated. Public reports of prosecutions by state and local officials are equally sparse, despite an explosion of intimidating and even violent threats against election workers, largely since former President Donald J. Trump began spreading the lie that fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election. Colorado alone has forwarded at least 500 threats against election workers to the task force, Ms. Griswold said.
National: The People v. Donald Trump – The evidence for a possible criminal case against the former president is piling up | David French/The Atlantic
From the moment the attack on the Capitol began, on January 6, 2021, Donald Trump’s moral culpability was clear. That mob would never have assembled on the National Mall but for Trump’s decision to relentlessly lie about the results of the 2020 election. His legal culpability, however, was more ambiguous. We did not possess any evidence that he directly coordinated with the rioters prior to the invasion of the Capitol, and although his speech to the mob on January 6 itself admonished his followers to “fight like hell” and warned them that “you will never take back our country with weakness,” it also contained an explicit statement that they should march to the Capitol to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard. Also hovering over the legal analysis was a prudential calculation. Former presidents shouldn’t be prosecuted under novel legal theories. If the government is going to prosecute, it should bring a case that’s easy to justify under existing precedent. Otherwise, the prosecution itself could be dangerous, further fracturing and destabilizing an already fragile American political culture. Those considerations are precisely why Trump’s conduct in the case of Georgia had seemed more obviously to involve potential criminal liability than his actions on January 6. In Georgia’s case, Trump was recorded telling Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” and then explicitly threatening Raffensperger with criminal sanctions if he didn’t accede to the president’s demand.
Full Article: The People v. Donald Trump – The Atlantic
Alaska rejected more than 7,500 ballots in the US House special primary. Here’s why. | Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media
More than 7,500 ballots were rejected in the special primary election to fill the remainder of the late Congressman Don Young’s term, according to the final vote tally. That’s a statewide rejection rate of 4.55%, double the rejection rate from the 2020 primary. The final ballot rejection rate in rural Alaska communities was even higher, with about 1 in 8 ballots not being counted. The primary was Alaska’s first statewide by-mail election. According to a report from the Division of Elections, the biggest reason for rejections was a lack of a witness signature, accounting for more than a third of rejected ballots. Roughly 25% of ballots were rejected because they were postmarked or handed in after the deadline, while a fifth weren’t counted because the ballot didn’t have a numerical identifier, like a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a voter’s social security number. State Division of Elections spokeswoman Tiffany Montemayor says while officials are concerned any time they have to reject a ballot, they’re bound by state law. “If there is not a voter signature, a voter identifier, a witness signature and a postmark on or before Election Day the ballot cannot count,” Montemayor said. “These provisions have been in place for decades.” Generally, rural Alaska — communities off the road system with populations that tend to be majority Alaska Native — had the highest rejection rates at around 13.74%. More than half of those rejections were because of a lack of witness signature.
Arizona: GOP poll watcher training casts unfounded suspicion on Arizona elections | Jen Fifield/AZ Mirror
The Republican National Committee is telling potential Arizona polling place observers that there are “festering problems” in how elections are run, such as security issues with vote-counting machines and problems with voter rolls, as it trains them for the state’s upcoming primary election. The RNC training delivers the message that the “2020 election had serious problems,” worrying experienced former election officials and lawyers who have trained observers in the past and who say the point of training should be simply to encourage observers to watch for violations of law at the polls without disturbing the peace. Republican Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates, who as an attorney led Republican observer training in the 2000s, said the messaging concerns him because his focus was always on providing a straightforward picture of what was legal and what was not at the polls. “It’s not about kind of ginning people up, which is what that sounds like,” Gates said. “That’s the narrative, though.” Votebeat watched an RNC Zoom training at the invitation of an attendee, and separately received information about an in-person training from an attendee, after an RNC spokesperson said that reporters were not allowed to attend.
Colorado: Pueblo County voting machine allegedly tampered with, election officials say | Anna Lynn Winfrey/Pueblo Chieftain
A Pueblo voter is accused of tampering with an in-person ballot machine during the Pueblo County primary election Tuesday, according to a spokesperson with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. The incident did not affect any votes cast in the election, the spokesperson said. It took place at the Pueblo County Elections Department on 720 N. Main St., and the Secretary of State was alerted Tuesday evening. Signs of tampering were discovered when one of the department’s election judges — who are tasked with cleaning voting machines between each use — went to clean the machine and saw an error message, the spokesperson said. Election workers removed the machine from use. The voting machines are not connected to each other. … Voting on ballot machines is rare in Colorado because ballots are mailed to all eligible voters. In this year’s primary election, approximately 1.3% of Colorado voters cast their ballots in-person.
Georgia: Subpoenas seek info on attempt to copy election data in Coffee County | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Subpoenas sent this month are seeking evidence of whether election conspiracy theorists gained unauthorized access to Georgia voting equipment and copied sensitive files in Coffee County after the 2020 election. The subpoenas demand documents including ballot images, election data, computer software and the identities of who funded the endeavor. The subpoenas, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, were issued by plaintiffs in an ongoing election security lawsuit against Georgia. In addition, the secretary of state’s office recently opened a separate investigation into allegations of a breach in Coffee County, located about 200 miles south of Atlanta. The Georgia allegation is the latest example of attempts to gain access to voting computers after Republican Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, similar to incidents in Colorado, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump supporters claimed there was fraud and blamed elections equipment manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems. Recounts, court cases and investigations have repeatedly upheld the election, which Democrat Joe Biden won by less than 12,000 votes in Georgia. Dominion has sued over the unfounded allegations. A year and a half after the presidential election, it remains unclear whether Coffee County election computers were compromised by individuals pursuing evidence of fraud. Flight records provided by FlightAware.com show a plane from Atlanta visited the county on Jan. 7, 2021 — the day after the Capitol riot in Washington.
Louisiana elections officials get first hands-on experience with potential new voting machines | Mark Ballard/The Advocate
Elections officials Monday got their first hands-on experience with different types of devices voters will soon be using to cast ballots in the future instead of the 10,000 or so antiquated and hard to repair voting machines now used in Louisiana. Nine different vendors briefed Voting Commission members, clerks or court and registrars of voters. Some allowed them to hand mark ballots. Others had touch-screen computers that printed out the results on special paper. Both systems fed the paper ballots into scanners that counted the votes and kept the paper ballots in a secured vault. Both systems left a paper trail to allow elections commissioners in each parish to hand count ballots cast at the precincts on election day, if requested by the candidate or by a court, something can’t be done now, said Steve Raborn, the Registrar of Voters in East Baton Rouge Parish. The demonstrations will be open to the public Tuesday at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge. On Wednesday the Voting System Commission will vote on what attributes they want to see on the machines.
Michigan: Sheriff’s investigators used ‘scare tactics’ to grill county clerks on 2020 election | Craig Mauger/The Detroit News
A deputy and a private investigator working with Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf made unannounced visits last year to local election officials’ offices to question them about the 2020 presidential vote. Multiple clerks in Barry County said Leaf’s department used what they viewed as “scare tactics” as it examined and advanced unproven claims of fraud in the last presidential election. State authorities, including the Michigan State Police, are currently investigating whether those working with Leaf, a Republican, gained improper access to vote-counting machines that could have violated the law and compromised voting equipment in the battleground state. Some election clerks in Barry County said they believe their conversations with Leaf’s investigators — one of whom identified himself as a forensic auditor — were secretly recorded and said they were told not to inform other clerks about the probe, according to a series of interviews with officials in the county and emails obtained by The Detroit News through an open records request. “I asked if they were investigating all of the township & city clerks & was told yes, and I am to be questioned last,” Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer emailed a lawyer in June 2021. “They have purposely asked the clerks to not say anything to each other or myself because they want the element of surprise.”
Missouri enacts new voter rules, including a photo ID requirement, and nixes presidential primaries for caucuses | Neil Vigdor/The New York Times
Missouri overhauled its election rules on Wednesday, enacting a voter identification law similar to one the state’s highest court blocked two years ago and doing away with its presidential primary in favor of a caucus system. The new law, which Gov. Michael L. Parson signed at the State Capitol in Jefferson City, requires voters to present a photo ID when casting a regular or absentee ballot. Those without such documentation will be required to fill out a provisional ballot that would be segregated until they provide photo identification or their signature is matched to the one kept on file by election officials. The voter identification rule was the latest instituted in a Republican-controlled state, and reflected the party’s continued mistrust of common voting practices, including the use of voting machines. It requires the use of hand-marked paper ballots statewide starting in 2023, with limited exceptions for certain touch-screen systems until the end of next year. Among the other changes is a prohibition against the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots — a practice that many Republicans criticized during the 2020 presidential election — and replacing Missouri’s presidential primary, held in recent years in March, with a series of caucuses.
New Mexico’s top elections regulator says she received threats to her safety via an email and telephone calls to her offices and that the FBI has been notified. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Tuesday told The Associated Press that there have been three instances of threats against her within the last two weeks and that federal investigators have been alerted. Two threats were made indirectly in phone calls to the office of the secretary of state. The FBI in Albuquerque did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Toulouse Oliver previously went into hiding in response to online threats by leaving her home for several weeks in December 2020 and January 2021. Investigators linked those threats on a website against multiple election officials to Iran. “I went a nice, long period with anything” threatening, Toulouse Oliver said. “My election security officer has referred them over to the FBI. They’re looking into it obviously.” Toulouse Oliver said the threatening email touched upon social media and video commentary by a conservative filmmaker in defense of his widely debunked documentary “2000 Mules” that alleges widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Nevada: Gilbert says video proves fraud; election official says it proves security | essica Hill/Las Vegas Sun
A video that Reno attorney Joey Gilbert says proves fraud in last month’s primary election actually shows a Washoe County election official doing his job, a county official says. Gilbert is refusing to concede his loss in a 12-way primary election for the Republican nomination for governor, despite coming up about 26,000 votes short of the declared winner, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. On Tuesday, Gilbert shared a two-minute, 27-second video on his Facebook page of a portion of a livestream of the Washoe County ballot room. The video shows a man walking down an aisle and stopping at different machines. Gilbert’s accompanying comments included “talk about guilty as sin” and “CORRUPT as hell.” He suggested the man was entering and uploading something into the computers. Bethany Drysdale, media and communications manager for Washoe County, said the man in the video is the county’s department systems specialist, who was closing down an imprinter at the end of the work day, as required by Nevada state law. The specialist was also verifying that office laptops were shut down for the day and that the spreadsheets on them were complete. The laptops have Excel spreadsheets that track the groups of mail-in ballots and what bins they are in, so that when a risk-limiting audit is performed, the election officials know what bin a certain group of ballots is in, Drysdale said. There is no tallying of votes on those computers, she added.
A county judge in Williamsport has to decide whether to force officials to provide voter-by-voter electronic election records after the state Office of Open Records ruled Pennsylvania law makes them confidential. Heather Honey, who heads the Lebanon, Pennsylvania-based firm Haystack Investigations, sought in October a digital copy of Lycoming County’s “cast vote record” for the 2020 General Election in which Democratic challenger Joe Biden unseated Republican President Donald Trump. Lycoming told Honey no, saying Honey was essentially asking for the contents of ballot boxes and voting machines, information that the state Election Code declares off-limits for public inspection. In a January decision, Office of Open Records appeals officer Erin Burlew agreed with the county elections director that the cast vote record “is the digital equivalent of the contents of ballot boxes.” Honey challenged that decision in county court in February, likening the cast vote record to a spreadsheet and describing it as “merely a digital report tallying the results of ballots scanned into a tabulator. The CVR is a report that is prepared after an election from a desktop computer that is not and never was the contents of a ballot box.”
Virginia lawmakers punt on bills aimed at limiting partisan election oversight | Graham Moomaw/Virginia Mercury
Despite getting several extra months to negotiate, Virginia lawmakers went home for the summer without a deal on proposals to limit partisan influence in the state’s election bureaucracy. Legislation that would have removed the governor’s power to appoint the state elections commissioner and given the two major parties equal representation on the State Board of Elections effectively died for lack of a final vote. The General Assemly didn’t take up two pending bills on the topic when lawmakers met in Richmond this month to finish work on the state budget, which was supposed to be done in March. All the bills left unfinished are technically still alive because the General Assembly adjourned its special session to Sept. 7, a move explained as a way to take action later on an unfilled seat on the State Corporation Commission. But anything not approved at this point is effectively dead, said Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House of Delegates Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah. “The remaining conference reports, while they are still technically viable until the session adjourns sine die, are unlikely to move forward,” Shipley said. It’s unclear exactly what caused the talks to fail, but the state elections board flipped to Republican control during the negotiations due to the resignation of a Democratic member who had been appointed to a judgeship. While the bills were pending, Gov. Glenn Youngkin swapped out the state’s former elections commissioner, Chris Piper, for his own appointee, Susan Beals, a former Republican member of the Chesterfield County Electoral Board.