Was Election Denial Just a Passing Threat? Or is it here to stay? | Blake Hounshell/The New York Times

In the months before the midterm elections, a reporter for Time magazine asked Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for secretary of state in Arizona, why he was so convinced that Donald Trump had won the state in 2020 despite all evidence to the contrary. “It strains credibility,” Finchem responded. “Isn’t it interesting that I can’t find anyone who will admit that they voted for Joe Biden?” It was as succinct an explanation as any for why so many Americans believed the 2020 election had been stolen. Republicans, especially those living in deep-red areas, knew so few Democrats that it beggared their imagination that anyone, as Finchem put it, would vote for one. Now, two political scientists have put some rigor behind this idea. The more that voters were surrounded by other Republicans, Nicholas Clark and Rolfe Daus Peterson of Susquehanna University report in a forthcoming research paper, the more likely that they were to say that the 2020 election had been stolen, controlling for other factors.

Full Article: Was Election Denial Just a Passing Threat? – The New York Times

Pennsylvania: Inside the post-election review designed to give voters more confidence in the results | Carter Walker/Pennsylvania Capital-Star

A person approaches the table and picks up a 10-sided die. She rolls. Four. The next roller in line takes her turn. Seven. The unusual die, shaped like an elongated diamond, may seem a curiosity except to those who use it most: “board gamers and elections officials,” Jonathan Marks, Pennsylvania’s deputy secretary of state, said. But the rollers, employees of the Pennsylvania Department of State, are not casting their dice to determine their next move in Dungeons & Dragons. Instead, they are generating a long, random number that will determine the course of Pennsylvania’s 2022 risk-limiting audit. A risk-limiting audit is a type of post-election review designed to give statistical confidence that an election outcome was accurate. This year is the first when all 67 counties are required to participate in one of these audits before certifying their election results. The math used to conduct the audit is available to the public, though practitioners agree it is hard to understand. Elections officials who have used it said the audit took time to understand but they now have confidence in it, and they hope it will give the public more confidence as well that election outcomes are accurate.

Full Article: Inside the post-election review designed to give Pa. voters more confidence in the results – Pennsylvania Capital-Star

National: Midterms free of feared chaos as voting experts look to 2024 | Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press

Election Day, anxiety mounted over potential chaos at the polls. Election officials warned about poll watchers who had been steeped in conspiracy theories falsely claiming that then-President Donald Trump did not actually lose the 2020 election. Democrats and voting rights groups worried about the effects of new election laws, in some Republican-controlled states, that President Joe Biden decried as “Jim Crow 2.0.” Law enforcement agencies were monitoring possible threats at the polls. Yet Election Day, and the weeks of early voting before it, went fairly smoothly. There were some reports of unruly poll watchers disrupting voting, but they were scattered. Groups of armed vigilantes began watching over a handful of ballot drop boxes in Arizona until a judge ordered them to stay far away to ensure they would not intimidate voters. And while it might take months to figure out their full impact, GOP-backed voting laws enacted after the 2020 election did not appear to cause major disruptions the way they did during the March primary in Texas. “The entire ecosystem in a lot of ways has become more resilient in the aftermath of 2020,” said Amber McReynolds, a former Denver elections director who advises a number of voting rights organizations. “There’s been a lot of effort on ensuring things went well.”

Full Article: Midterms free of feared chaos as voting experts look to 2024 | AP News

National: Local Officials Across US Still Trying to Subvert 2022 Vote | Ryan Teague Beckwith and Sarah Holder/Bloomberg

Some local officials in the battleground states of Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania defied state elections laws as they pushed debunked claims about the November midterms, a disturbing trend that could spell trouble in 2024. The incidents, most of which were rebuffed or ended when the officials backed down, show that despite losses for dozens of candidates who worked to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory, GOP officials are still trying to toy with electoral defeats. “What we’re seeing now is the beginning of the same playbook that could be used in 2024,” said Matthew Seligman, a fellow at the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University. The Board of Supervisors in rural Cochise County, Arizona, refused to certify the November elections, leading the secretary of state and an advocacy group to sue. The Board of Elections in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, was initially deadlocked on whether to report their tallies to the state. Officials in Nye County, Nevada, repeatedly attempted to hand-count all ballots even as the state Supreme Court tried to stop them, only to give up and use the voting machines for their official count.

Full Article: Local Officials Across US Still Trying to Subvert 2022 Vote – Bloomberg

National: Manchin and Klobuchar: Omnibus likely place for electoral count overhaul | Jim Saksa/Roll Call

Legislation to overhaul how Congress counts presidential electoral votes should hop on the must-pass spending omnibus on its way out of the Senate, Sens. Joe Manchin III and Amy Klobuchar said Wednesday. Speaking at a National Council on Election Integrity event, Manchin said the Electoral Count Reform Act was “ready.”“I would thin k the omnibus bill is the appropriate place to put it,” the West Virginia Democrat said. Speaking later, Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, said the National Defense Authorization Act was another option, but “the omnibus is ​​looking more and more promising.” “That’s coming out of the meeting at the White House,” the Minnesota Democrat added. She said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is “hopeful.” Manchin and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine hashed out the bipartisan bill over the summer in an ad hoc committee of senators before handing the bill over to Klobuchar’s committee in September. Collins told reporters Tuesday that she was worried about finding time in the lame duck to pass the legislation.

Full Article: Manchin and Klobuchar: Omnibus likely place for electoral count overhaul – Roll Call

National: Election security a success, but more improvements needed, experts say | Ines Kagubare/The Hill

Despite the myriad of threats that faced the nation during the 2022 midterms, experts say security for the election proved successful overall. They warned, however, that some improvements are still needed in certain areas. Experts praised election officials for being well-prepared and efficient at managing ongoing threats while communicating with voters on how to spot disinformation. “This was a remarkably smooth election given everything that we were facing as a country,” said Lawrence Norden, senior director of the Brennan Center’s elections and government program. In the months and weeks leading up to the election, government officials sent out regular alerts warning the public of threats that could impact the midterms, including cyberattacks, foreign interference, disinformation, insider threats and threats to election workers. Experts said that in the last couple years, the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and other agencies have been preparing for and responding to all kinds of threats that could jeopardize elections, including by conducting tabletop exercises, drills and workforce development for personnel involved in securing elections.

Full Article: Election security a success, but more improvements needed, experts say | The Hill

Arizona: Election in Cochise County is certified after judge’s order | Hansi Lo Wang/NPR

Under a court order, officials in Republican-controlled Cochise County, Ariz., finally certified their local midterm elections results after they missed the state’s legal deadline and put more than 47,000 people’s votes at risk. Ruling from the bench at a court hearing on Thursday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley ordered the county’s board of supervisors to meet and make the results official by 5 p.m. MT Thursday. Two members of the board — Ann English, a Democrat, and Peggy Judd, a Republican — then voted to certify, while the board’s third member — Tom Crosby, a Republican — did not attend the court-ordered meeting. The court order came three days after the board’s two Republicans voted Monday not to certify the results — despite finding no legitimate problems with the counts — turning a usually uneventful step in the election process into a closely watched controversy. The move prompted multiple lawsuits, including one by the state’s secretary of state, who has been waiting for the county’s results to proceed with the statewide certification that is legally required to take place next week.

Full Article: Election in Arizona’s Cochise County is certified after judge’s order : NPR

Colorado election worker pleads guilty in election equipment tampering case | CBS

A former elections manager who prosecutors say assisted in a security breach of voting equipment in a Colorado county pleaded guilty on Wednesday under a plea agreement that requires her to testify against her former boss. Sandra Brown is one of two employees accused of helping Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters allow a copy of a hard drive to be made during an update of election equipment last year in search of proof of the false conspiracy theories spun by former President Donald Trump. Brown, 45, pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public servant, a felony, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor, but will not be sentenced until right after she testifies at Peters’ trial next year so her performance on the witness stand can be considered. “There were things going on that I should have questioned and I didn’t,” Brown told Judge Matthew Barrett.

Full Article: Worker pleads guilty in Colorado election equipment tampering case – CBS News

Georgia election audit shows similar results as machine ballot count | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An election audit completed Friday showed similar results between a hand count and machine tally of ballots in the secretary of state’s race, a result that Georgia election officials said confirmed the outcome. The audit examined a randomized sample of 231,000 ballots cast in the secretary of state’s race and found few discrepancies in Republican Brad Raffensperger’s reelection over Democrat Bee Nguyen. Across the state, the audit counted 21 more votes for Raffensperger and 18 fewer for Nguyen. “This audit shows that our system works and that our county election officials conducted a secure, accurate election,” Raffensperger said. Georgia law requires an audit of one race after each general election, and Raffensperger decided to check his own win, which had the largest margin of victory in any statewide race, at 9.3 percentage points.

Full Article: Georgia election audit shows similar results as machine ballot count

Michigan Board of State Canvassers approves 2022 election results | Clara Hendrickson/Detroit Free Press

During a chaotic meeting that lasted over four hours, the state’s bipartisan elections panel rebuffed calls Monday from losing candidates not to officially certify the recent midterm election in Michigan, and the panel unanimously accepted the results. The vote by the Board of State Canvassers − made up of two Democrats and two Republicans − marks the first certification of a general election since the otherwise routine process garnered national attention two years ago, when allies of former President Donald Trump pressured GOP members not to certify the results and raised the prospect the panel might deadlock along partisan lines. But the board that year certified the election in a 3-0 vote with one GOP canvasser abstaining. During a lengthy public comment period that followed the certification vote of the recent Nov. 8 midterm, some echoed those calls from 2020 not to certify the results, accused state canvassers of committing treason, pleaded for a so-called forensic audit and said that they would pray for members of the board. “I will take prayers from anywhere,” said Republican canvasser and board chair Tony Daunt, in response to one commenter. Daunt kicked off the meeting by asking those attending to conduct themselves appropriately, but at times, attendees interrupted the proceedings with loud jeers directed at the canvassers.

Full Article: Michigan Board of State Canvassers approves 2022 election results

New Jersey: Why the voting machines failed in Mercer County | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

On Election Day, November 8, 2022, every voting machine in every polling place in Mercer County, New Jersey failed to work.  Voters in each precinct filled in the ovals in their preprinted optical-scan paper ballots, but the voting machines couldn’t read them.  So voters were instructed to put their ballots into “slot 3” of the voting machines, that is, directly into the ballot box.  The Mercer County Board of Elections collected the ballots at the close of the polls on election night, using their usual chain-of-custody procedures.  Then they counted those ballots using the county’s central-count optical-scan voting machines, which are normally used for mail-in ballots.  This took two or three days.  All the votes got counted – but it’s still an embarrassing screw-up that deserves scrutiny. Between 2002 and 2018, Mercer County used paperless full-face touchscreen voting machines.  That was an untrustworthy technology–if the computer miscounted the votes because of hacking or malfunction, there were no paper ballots that could be recounted, and we’d never know.  So I was glad to see those machines go, and glad to see them replaced by hand-marked optical-scan paper ballots, counted by precinct-count optical scanners.  This is the most securable technology I know of.  And that method of vote-counting is robust, meaning even if the voting machines fail to operate, voters can deposit their ballots in a ballot box for counting later.  That’s how all the votes got counted in the November 22 election. Still, we don’t expect every voting machine in the whole county to fail at once!  So what happened exactly?

Full Article: Why the voting machines failed in Mercer County

New York: Oops. Green ink. Stray marks. Inside the largest hand recount in Onondaga County history / Chris Carlson/syracuse.com

The largest hand recount in the history of Onondaga County elections began on Tuesday in an atmosphere resembling a standardized test. Officials, volunteers and lawyers began the painstaking process of counting more than 93,000 ballots by hand in a non-descript room in the Onondaga County Board of Elections. Over the next week, they will spend nearly eight hours a day counting the votes that will eventually determine whether Democrat John Mannion or Republican Rebecca Shiroff becomes the senator representing New York’s 50th District. With Mannion, the incumbent, leading by just 51 votes, the race is so close that it triggered a state law requiring a hand count of each ballot. The scene that played out in Onondaga County Tuesday is expected to be repeated each work day until the results are known sometime next week.

Full Article: Oops. Green ink. Stray marks. Inside the largest hand recount in Onondaga County history – syracuse.com

North Carolina dispute over congressional districts tees up major elections case at Supreme Court | Lawrence Hurley/NBC

When the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the Republican-drawn congressional district maps in February, Rep. Tim Moore, the Republican speaker of the state’s House of Representatives, reached for some potent ammunition. In appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, he and his allies embraced a hitherto obscure legal argument called the “independent state legislature” theory, which critics say could upend election law if the justices embrace it in a case being argued Wednesday. Moore said in an interview that he backed the theory because it is the only way to challenge a state court ruling that he believes was not based on law or precedent. “This ruling by the North Carolina Supreme Court was one more ruling that many of us believed just went beyond the pale of anything we had seen a state court do and really was just a political ruling,” he said, citing other rulings with which he had disagreed. The case, which could have a broad impact on an array of election issues, is being closely watched for its potential impact on the 2024 presidential election.

Full Article: Dispute over North Carolina congressional districts tees up major elections case at Supreme Court

What New Hampshire Can Tell Us About Restoring Faith in Elections | Farah Stockman/The New York Times

Brad Winslow is a genial 67-year-old who hugs people he just met. But when it comes to elections, his trust evaporates. A self-described computer geek who has spent much of his career programming machines, Mr. Winslow has long suspected that vote-counting tabulators could be rigged to advantage one politician over another. “I have zero faith in the voting process,” he told me. Mr. Winslow has felt this way for decades, long before the Big Lie. But an error in the vote count in the 2020 election in Windham, the town where he lived, deepened his doubt. He joined a citizens group that searches for evidence of fraud and says he purchased an AccuVote vote-counting machine on eBay — the same ancient model that New Hampshire still uses — to see if he could prove his suspicions. It’s tempting to dismiss him as a conspiracy theorist. Plenty of people do. One voting rights activist in New Hampshire warned me: “Those people can’t be placated.” But the line between a fanatic and a dogged citizen investigator can be difficult to parse. Mr. Winslow has spent countless hours researching the mechanics of elections. Wasn’t that a good thing? Doesn’t democracy depend on citizens who ask questions and demand answers? I decided to listen to him, to see if there was anything that could restore his faith — or shake my own. Eventually, I came to see that rather than dismissing skeptical voters like him, we might better see how they force us to stay vigilant about our elections. Long before Donald Trump hijacked the rhetoric of election security, experts warned that America’s decentralized elections are at risk from human error, software bugs and hackers.

Full Article: Opinion | What New Hampshire Can Tell Us About Restoring Faith in Elections – The New York Times

Pennsylvania judge backs penalties against county in voting machine case | Mark Scolforo/Associated Press

A Pennsylvania judge has recommended the state’s high court impose civil contempt penalties against a Republican-majority county government that this summer secretly allowed a third party to copy data from voting machines used in the 2020 election lost by former President Donald Trump. Commonwealth Court President Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer’s 77-page report issued late Friday said the July inspection and copying of computer data from machines rented by Fulton County was a willful violation of a court order designed to prevent evidence from being spoiled. She recommended that the justices find that the county, based on the actions of Republican Commissioners Stuart Ulsh and Randy Bunch, “engaged in vexatious, obdurate, and bad faith conduct” in their lawsuit against the Department of State over whether a 2021 inspection by another outside group meant the machines could no longer be used. Cohn Jubelirer, an elected Republican, recommended that the county be ordered to pay some of the state’s legal fees and that the Dominion Voting Systems Inc. machines in question be turned over to a third party for safekeeping at the county’s expense.

Full Article: Judge backs penalties against county in voting machine case | AP News

Rhode Island: Will security concerns slow down speedy vote count? | Patrick Anderson/The Providence Journal

A mere hour after polls closed on Election Day, while many states were kicking off days of ballot counting, Rhode Islanders watching closely knew who would win all of the key statewide and federal races, including the ultra-competitive 2nd Congressional District battle. News organizations were able to call races (and meet deadlines) at hours that a few years ago would have been considered unthinkably early and get a head start formulating their post-vote takeaways. It hasn’t always been so fast. Rhode Island’s rapid election reporting is partly a consequence of its ultra-compact geography and the centralization of its elections bureaucracy compared to larger states where counties play a big role. And it’s partly because of decisions Rhode Island officials made a few years ago that turned it into the only state in the country where 100% of voting machines transmit results wirelessly.

Full Article: Will security concerns slow down Rhode Island’s speedy vote count?

Wisconsin’s midterm election results are certified with no fanfare after 2 years of histrionics over the 2020 vote | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin election officials for two years have taken fire from former President Donald Trump and supporters who believe Trump’s false claim that the Badger State should reverse the 2020 presidential election and question whether the state’s elections commission should keep its role in certifying vote tallies. But on Wednesday, in just about one minute and with no fanfare, the Wisconsin Elections Commission chairman certified the results of the first major election since the firestorm began. Chairman Don Millis’ certification of the reelections of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and the other election outcomes from the Nov. 8 midterm election marked at least a ceasefire in the two-year battle over how elections should be run and who should oversee them. Wisconsin’s quiet and orderly election certification creates a notable contrast with the state’s battleground counterparts in the Southwest and East, where some county officials in Arizona and Pennsylvania are refusing to certify election results after Democrats prevailed in races for governor and U.S. Senate. The smooth election outcome in Wisconsin also comes under increased scrutiny from a number of new poll observers recruited by political parties amid the false claims pushed by Trump over the security of the state’s elections.

Full Article: Wisconsin’s midterm election results are certified with no fanfare

Wyoming Attorney General Says Park County Cannot Count Ballots By Hand | Leo Wolfson/Cowboy State Daily

An effort to trigger a hand count audit of 2020 election ballots in Park County has been, for the most part, exhausted and rejected. The Wyoming Attorney General’s office has determined that Park County doesn’t have a right to allow a group of citizens to inspect and count ballots by hand. Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric had submitted to the Attorney General’s office three questions related to the matter. … With those questions answered, the Park County commissioners have indicated they’re shutting the door on any future consideration to hand count ballots. In two of the three questions, the AG’s office cited state law that covers the way ballots are counted in Wyoming. The law states that ballots designed to be counted by machine must be counted by said voting equipment and not determined subjectively by human tabulation, except in the case of damaged ballots. The secretary of state can set rules for the counting of ballots.

Full Article: Wyoming Attorney General Says Park County Cannot Count Ballots By Hand | Cowboy State Daily

‘We are clerks; we make it work’: The increasingly stressful duties of local election officials | Grace Bannasch/New Hampshire Public Radio

During the first week of mail-in voting, my office received nine misdirected ballots from Northampton voters for every one we received from Shutesbury. Either I drove 45 minutes across the Connecticut River to deliver these wandering ballots the day they arrived, or someone from the Northampton city clerk’s office made the same journey in the opposite direction. No matter what, these ballots got where they needed to be, so they could be counted. As my colleagues like to say, “We are clerks; we make it work.” But I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t exhausted, burned out and beaten down. I was appointed assistant town clerk in my hometown in 2019, and elected to the office of town clerk in 2020. In my short three years of clerkdom, I’ve witnessed — and had to adapt to — a fundamental transformation in how Massachusetts elections operate. Everything from voter registration to vote-by-mail has been changed by the pandemic.

Full Article: ‘We are clerks; we make it work’: The increasingly stressful duties of local election officials | New Hampshire Public Radio

Georgia election audit begins with dice roll to review random ballots | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With the roll of 20 colorful dice in the Georgia Capitol, election officials launched an audit of a random sample of ballots Wednesday that will be reviewed by hand across the state this week. The audit will check whether machine counts of ballots match hand tallies, showing whether the outcome was accurate. Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the secretary of state’s office, said he hopes the ballot review will prove to voters that they can trust the results of elections. “This audit is an important part of keeping that faith alive,” Sterling said. “Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, we want people to understand the state of Georgia is one of the best states, if not the best state, for fair and accessible elections.” State law requires an audit of one race every two years, and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger decided to check his own win over Democrat Bee Nguyen. It was the largest margin of victory in any statewide race, at 9.3 percentage points.

Full Article: Election audit in Georgia launches a manual review of paper ballots