National: Senate Panel Deadlocks on Voting Rights as Bill Faces Major Obstacles | Nicholas Fandos/The New York Times

A key Senate committee deadlocked on Tuesday over Democrats’ sweeping proposed elections overhaul, previewing a partisan showdown on the Senate floor in the coming months that could determine the future of voting rights and campaign rules across the country. The tie vote in the Senate Rules Committee — with nine Democrats in favor and nine Republicans opposed — does not prevent Democrats from moving forward with the 800-page legislation, known as the For the People Act. Proponents hailed the vote as an important step toward adopting far-reaching federal changes to blunt the restrictive new voting laws emerging in Republican-led battleground states like Georgia and Florida. But the action confronted Democrats with a set of thorny questions about how to push forward on a bill that they view as a civil rights imperative with sweeping implications for democracy and their party. The bill as written faces near-impossible odds in the evenly divided Senate, where Republicans are expected to block it using a filibuster and at least one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, remains opposed. With their control in Washington potentially fleeting and Republican states racing ahead with laws to curtail ballot access, Democrats must reach consensus among themselves on the measure, and decide whether to attempt to destroy or significantly alter the Senate’s filibuster rules — which set a 60-vote threshold to overcome any objection to advancing legislation — to salvage its chances of becoming law.

Full Article: Senate Panel Deadlocks on Voting Rights as Bill Faces Major Obstacles – The New York Times

National: ‘Do or die’: Democrats plan revisions to sweeping voting rights bill in Senate committee | Sahil Kapur/NBC

The Senate is headed for a showdown over Democrats’ sweeping voting rights and election overhaul bill as a key committee plans to mark up the legislation Tuesday. The bill, the For The People Act, goes before the Democratic-controlled Rules Committee when Congress returns from recess. Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and the lead sponsor, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., plan a “manager’s amendment” with a series of changes to the bill from the House-passed version. The Democrats’ revisions would mostly extend deadlines, ease some rules and add flexibility for states to implement parts of the bill. Democrats don’t expect Republican support for the final version, but they won’t need it to send the bill out of committee to the full Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has promised floor consideration of the bill, known on Capitol Hill as S.1, after it goes through committee. Democrats as well as Republicans are expected to offer other amendments, and aides are bracing for what could be days of markup. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has made it a priority to kill the bill, is expected to participate in the committee, an aide said. GOP-led states like TexasFlorida and Georgia have advanced voting restrictions that President Joe Biden and other Democrats have compared to Jim Crow laws that disenfranchised nonwhite Americans. The bill seeks to impose a national standard for voting rights, which Republicans decry as a partisan power grab to supersede state autonomy.

Full Article: ‘Do or die’: Democrats plan revisions to sweeping voting rights bill in Senate committee

National: Democrats tweak marquee voting bill as they seek path out of Senate | Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post

Congressional Democrats have tweaked their marquee voting-rights, campaign-finance and ethics bill ahead of a Senate committee vote next week, addressing concerns raised by elections administrators but forgoing a more radical rewrite of the legislation. The changes to the For the People Act come after the bill passed the House on a largely party-line vote in March and ahead of a critical vote Tuesday in the Senate Rules and Administration Committee that could advance the legislation to the floor. The legislation is meant to curtail state-level pushes to restrict voter access, such as the nationally controversial effort in Georgia, and President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have all called the bill one of the Democratic Party’s top legislative priorities. The For the People Act, however, presently has no viable route to enactment in the 50-50 Senate. The tweaks made Tuesday aren’t likely to change that. Republicans are uniformly opposed to the bill, meaning it will be unable to clear a Senate filibuster, which can be defeated only with a 60-vote supermajority. While many activists and some senators are eager to change the chamber’s rules to allow the bill to pass with a simple majority, multiple Democratic senators have expressed misgivings about doing so.

Full Article: Democrats change voting bill, HR1 – The Washington Post

National: Lawmakers want greater resources, authorities for CISA to protect critical infrastructure | Tonya Riley/The Washington Post

Leading voices in Congress say the nation’s top cybersecurity agency needs better resources to handle growing threats to critical services like water and power. One step: centralizing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s authority to track vulnerabilities in industrial control systems that power the nation’s critical infrastructure, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) said yesterday. The top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee touted legislation he helped introduce earlier this year that would grant CISA leadership the authority to coordinate federal response to such vulnerabilities. Concerns about cybersecurity threats to the systems powering America’s critical infrastructure have escalated after a cybercriminal attempted to poison a water plant on Oldsmar, Florida earlier this year. A series of foreign attacks on popular software used by critical systems, including SolarWinds and Microsoft exchange, have also underscored the need for better protective efforts.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Lawmakers want greater resources, authorities for CISA to protect critical infrastructure – The Washington Post

National: Fox News made me do it: Capitol attack suspect pulls ‘Foxitis’ defense | Luke O’Neil/The Guardian

The lawyer for a Delaware man charged over the Capitol attack in January is floating a unique defense: Fox News made him do it. Anthony Antonio, who is facing five charges including violent entry, disorderly conduct and impeding law enforcement during civil disorder, fell prey to the persistent lies about the so-called “stolen election” being spread daily by Donald Trump and the rightwing network that served him, his attorney Joseph Hurley said during a video hearing on Thursday. Antonio spent the six months before the riots mainlining Fox News while unemployed, Hurley said, likening the side effects of such a steady diet of misinformation to a mental health syndrome. “Fox television played constantly,” he said. “He became hooked with what I call ‘Foxitis’ or ‘Foxmania’, and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what was being fed to him.” Antonio’s segment was somehow only the second most notable part of the hearing. Another defendant shouted obscenities, sending the proceedings into near chaos at one point.

Full Article: Fox News made me do it: Capitol attack suspect pulls ‘Foxitis’ defense | US Capitol breach | The Guardian

National: Despite GOP rhetoric, there have been fewer than two dozen charged cases of voter fraud since the election | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

On Election Day last year, a man named Ralph Thurman allegedly walked into Sugartown Elementary School in Malvern, Pa., to cast his vote. He allegedly asked whether he needed to produce identification and was told he didn’t. He then allegedly asked if he could vote for his son and was told he couldn’t. He left. Forty-five minutes later, Thurman (again, allegedly) returned, wearing sunglasses. He claimed to be his son and asked for a ballot. Somehow, the people at the polling place saw through his scheme. Thurman faces felony fraud charges. Before 2020, this is how President Donald Trump claimed voter fraud worked: People would vote, leave, come back in a hat and vote again. There was never evidence that this happened with any regularity, particularly given the challenge of pulling it off (as Mr. Thurman can attest). There was even less evidence that there was somehow a secret cabal orchestrating widespread fraud that could swing a federal election, something Trump suggested had been responsible for his 2016 popular-vote loss. With the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic last year, Trump switched his focus. Out were the multiple-hatted fraudsters; in were vague allegations of fraud committed through absentee ballots. Out, too, was a casual, hand-wavey allegation of rampant fraud, replaced by a concerted, hyperactive insistence on it. That accelerated after Trump lost his reelection bid and continues even now, six months later: The 2020 election, he and his party claim, was riddled with illegal votes. Yet for all of those claims and even with the Republican Party’s concentrated focus on the idea during the past six months, there remains no credible evidence that any significant fraud occurred. There’s lots of putative evidence, sure, random affidavits in which nonexperts allege weirdness or claims about ballot nefariousness that is quickly debunked. But even after months and months and months of formal and informal scrutiny, there have been no demonstrated examples of systemic efforts to commit voter fraud.

Full Article: Despite GOP rhetoric, there have been fewer than two dozen charged cases of voter fraud since the election – The Washington Post

National: Sidney Powell Can’t Be Let Off the Hook for Lies, Dominion Says | Erik Larson/Bloomberg

Dominion Voting Systems Inc. blasted former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell for telling a judge that her claims about a vast election-fraud conspiracy were merely opinions in order to dodge the company’s $1.3 billion defamation suit. Powell repeatedly and falsely claimed in public that she had proof Dominion rigged the 2020 election against Donald Trump, saying she could “hardly wait to put forth all the evidence” and that “you would have to be a damn fool” not to believe it, Dominion said in a filing late Monday against Powell’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. “Powell did not even attempt to couch her accusations as opinions,” Dominion said in the filing in Washington federal court. “She leveled the falsehoods as deadly serious assertions of fact backed by evidence that she claimed would prove that Dominion had in fact stolen the 2020 election.” Powell’s conspiracy theory and other disinformation preceded a deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 by a mob of Trump supporters, and Trump continues to claim the election was stolen, even though his own attorney general said he hadn’t found evidence of fraud that would have affected the result. Letting Powell off the hook for her statements now would effectively create a “propaganda exception” for defamation liability, the company said. Powell didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Full Article: Sidney Powell Can’t Be Let Off the Hook for Lies, Dominion Says – Bloomberg

Editorial: Republicans aren’t just making it harder to vote. They’re going after election officials, too. | Joshua A. Douglas/The Washington Post

The right to vote is under attack, as are the people who protect that right. Multiple states have passed or are considering new restrictive voting rules in response to the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen. There is, of course, no evidence of massive voter fraud in 2020 — and President Biden legitimately won the election — but that has not stopped unscrupulous politicians in states such as Arizona, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Iowa from considering new strict rules on absentee balloting, the ability to use a drop box, and even providing food or water to voters waiting in line. These attacks on our democracy have received much attention. Far less noticed, however, have been provisions in these laws that penalize local election officials who administer our elections. Iowa, in addition to limiting voter access by cutting early voting days and forbidding local election officials from mailing out absentee ballot request forms without a specific request from a voter, will now make it a crime if election workers violate the new rules. Florida has enacted a rule that limits ballot drop box availability to only during early voting hours, and provides that, “If any drop box at an early voting site is left accessible for the return of ballots outside of early voting hours, the supervisor is subject to a civil penalty of $25,000.” A Texas proposed bill would subject a local registrar to fines if the registrar fails to mail out notices demanding proof of citizenship to individuals otherwise deemed ineligible to vote. It would also criminalize election workers who “distance or obstruct the view of a [poll] watcher in a way that makes observation reasonably ineffective.” Arizona legislators want to make it a felony for an election worker to mail an early ballot to a voter who has not requested one.

Full Article: Opinion | Republicans aren’t just making it harder to vote. They’re going after election officials, too. – The Washington Post

In Arizona, a Troubled Voting Review Plods On as Questions Mount | Michael Wines/The New York Times

Directly outside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum near downtown Phoenix, the Crazy Times Carnival wraps up an 11-day run on Sunday, a spectacle of thrill rides, games and food stands that headlines the Arizona State Fair this year. Inside the coliseum, a Republican-ordered exhumation and review of 2.1 million votes in the state’s November election is heading into its third week, an exercise that has risen to become the lodestar of rigged-vote theorists — and shows no sign of ending soon. Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs noted the carnival’s presence outside the coliseum when she challenged the competence and objectivity of the review last week, expressing concern about the security of the ballots inside in an apparent dig at what has become a spectacle of a very different sort. There is no evidence that former President Donald J. Trump’s narrow loss in Arizona’s presidential election in the fall was fraudulent. Nonetheless, 16 Republicans in the State Senate voted to subpoena ballots in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and two-thirds of the state’s vote in November, for an audit to show Trump die-hards that their fraud concerns were taken seriously. As recently as a week ago, officials said the review would be completed by May 14. But with that deadline a week away, only about 250,000 of the county’s 2.1 million ballots have been processed in the hand recount that is a central part of the review, Ken Bennett, a liaison between those conducting the review and the senators, said on Saturday. At that rate, the hand recount would not be finished until August.

Source: Arizona Voting Review Faces More Questions – The New York Times

Arizona’s Republican-run election audit is looking for bamboo-laced “China ballots.” | Jeremy Stahl/Slate

On Wednesday, a member of the Arizona election audit team that has been heavily touted by former President Donald Trump revealed that its examination of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County will include a “forensic” analysis of ballots to determine if the paper is made of bamboo—in order to determine whether or not China delivered tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots to tip the state to Joe Biden. If that sounds much too crazy for an audit that was initiated by the Republican-led Arizona Legislature and whose communications are being spearheaded by the Republican former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, it very much is not. On Wednesday, audit liaison John Brakey told a reporter from the local CBS affiliate in Phoenix that the audit team was checking to see if 40,000 Biden ballots were smuggled into Arizona from Asia by checking the paper’s fiber to try to detect bamboo. “There’s accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown in and stuffed into the box and it came from the southeast part of the world, Asia. And what they’re doing is to find out if there’s bamboo in the paper,” Brakey told Dennis Welch of CBS5 News. Welch asked Brakey a series of follow-ups, such as “Why do you check for bamboo?” and “This is part of what you’re looking for?” and he answered that others were searching for the bamboo ballots because “people in Southeast Asia … use bamboo in their paper processing” and “this is part of the mystery that we want to un-gaslight people about.”

Full Article: Arizona’s Republican-run election audit is looking for bamboo-laced “China ballots.”

Arizona: Department of Justice asks state Senate to respond to concerns about election audit | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is asking Arizona Senate President Karen Fann to respond to concerns the department has about the security of ballots and potential voter intimidation as the Senate’s contractors perform an audit of November’s presidential election in Maricopa County. In a letter sent to Fann on Wednesday, Pamela S. Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the division, asked for Fann’s response to its concerns with an explanation of “the steps that the Arizona Senate will take to ensure that violations of federal law do not occur” during the audit. The department’s concerns may have been prompted in part by a letter it received Thursday from three organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, asking the department to dispatch federal monitors to oversee the audit. That letter raised the same concerns that the department said it has, regarding the security of ballots and potential voter intimidation. The Arizona Senate got the county’s 2.1 million ballots, voting machines and private and public voter information last month after issuing subpoenas to the county that a court ultimately upheld. The Senate then handed over the ballots, machines and information to private contractors to perform the audit, which began at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 23 and is ongoing.

Full Article: Justice Department asks Senate to respond to election audit concerns

Arizona: Observers report ballots and laptop computers have been left unattended in recount, according to secretary of state | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

Ballots have been left unattended on counting tables. Laptop computers sit abandoned, at times — open, unlocked and unmonitored. Procedures are constantly shifting, with untrained workers using different rules to count ballots. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) on Wednesday sent a letter outlining a string of problems that she said observers from her office have witnessed at a Republican-led recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona’s largest county. In the six-page letter, Hobbs wrote that elections are “governed by a complex framework of laws and procedures designed to ensure accuracy, security, and transparency” but that the procedures governing the ongoing recount in Phoenix “ensure none of those things.” Former Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett (R), who is acting as a spokesman for the audit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the audit’s Twitter account, @ArizonaAudit, tweeted  that Hobbs’s allegations were “baseless claimes [sic].” “The audit continues!” read the tweet. On Wednesday, a top official in the Justice Department’s civil rights division wrote in a letter to the state Senate president that information reviewed by the department “raises concerns,” asking that the Arizona Senate provide information to ensure federal laws were not being violated. She wrote that reports suggested that ballots were “not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed.”

Full Article: Observers report ballots and laptop computers have been left unattended in Arizona recount, according to secretary of state – The Washington Post

Arizona: Maricopa Co. Sheriff says election audit risks law enforcement | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone called the Arizona Senate’s demands for its audit of Maricopa County’s presidential election “mind-numbingly reckless and irresponsible.” Penzone said the law enforcement agency would be at risk if the county turned over the state Senate’s intensified demand for certain routers, or digital copies of the routers. The Senate also is demanding certain administrative passwords to voting machines that county officials say they do not have. Providing the routers could compromise confidential, sensitive and highly classified law enforcement data and equipment, he said in a statement on Friday. “The Senate Republican Caucus’ audit of the Maricopa County votes from last November’s election has no stopping point. Now, its most recent demands jeopardize the entire mission of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office,” Penzone’s statement said. The county has provided all 2.1 million voter general election ballots, voter information and election equipment in response to state Senate subpoenas. The Senate gave the election materials to private contractors, which allowed the audit and recount to get underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 23. But the county did not deliver certain routers that the state Senate sought in its original subpoenas, according to Senate liaison Ken Bennett,

Full Article: Maricopa Co. Sheriff says Arizona election audit risks law enforcement

Florida’s Governor signs new voting restrictions into law as Republicans rush to align with Trump’s false claims of fraud | Amy Gardner and Lori Rozsa/The Washington Post

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday enthusiastically embraced former president Donald Trump’s demand for tougher election laws, signing into law a slew of new voting restrictions in a staged live broadcast despite previously touting how smoothly his state’s elections ran last fall. DeSantis (R) hailed the measure as necessary to shore up public faith in elections, but critics accused him of trying to make it harder to vote, particularly for people of color. His signing of the bill, which he delivered live on the Fox News morning program “Fox & Friends,” makes Florida the latest GOP-controlled state to impose new voting hurdles, following Georgia, Montana and Iowa. The Texas House took up a similar measure later Thursday, and other states including Arizona, Michigan and Ohio are considering their own bills. DeSantis offered a string of justifications for the law, claiming it would prevent ballot “harvesting” and the stuffing of ballots into unmonitored drop boxes — though such practices were already prohibited in the state and there is no evidence they occurred last year. “We’re not going to let political operatives go and get satchels of votes and dump them in some drop box,” the governor said. DeSantis’s vigorous support for the new law, which he arranged to showcase exclusively on Fox News’s signature morning show, is the latest example of the GOP’s rush to align with Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was marred by fraud. Even as some Republicans have privately lamented Trump’s false statements that Joe Biden did not win the election, few have been willing to say so publicly — and those who have are facing swift blowback.

Full Article: Florida voting restrictions: Gov. DeSantis signs new restrictions into law – The Washington Post

Michigan: Antrim County election lawsuit is one of the last in the nation | Mardi Link/Traverse City Record-Eagle

A Monday hearing will determine the fate of one of the last active lawsuits challenging the validity of the 2020 election. A 13th Circuit Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments on a defense request to dismiss an Antrim County election-related lawsuit —a move opposed by the plaintiff who, court records show, is instead seeking to expand the case. Throughout the U.S., hundreds of lawsuits challenging balloting issues, election equipment or the results of the 2020 election have been filed in local, state and federal courts, information from the American Bar Association shows. The case in Antrim County is among the few yet to be adjudicated, records show. A judge in Arizona ruled the Republican-led Senate could hire a third-party contractor — Doug Logan of Florida-based Cyber Ninjas — to conduct an audit of the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in the 2020 election, which is ongoing. Cyber Ninjas, listed in court documents as an expert witness for the plaintiff in the Antrim County lawsuit, was also referenced in a letter sent Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Justice to an Arizona official. “This description of the proposed work of the audit raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters,” Pamela S. Karlan, of the Civil Rights division of the DOJ, wrote to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann. A spokesperson with the Michigan Attorney General’s office said the AG had no comment on whether there was an effort to conflate the two cases.

Full Article: Antrim County election lawsuit is one of the last in the nation | News |

In a small New Hampshire town, the 2020 election still rages | Michael Casey/Associated Press

Windham Board of Selectmen are usually as sleepy as they sound — a handful of residents from the New Hampshire town, a discussion of ambulance fees, maybe a drainage study. So when a crowd of about 500 people showed up last week, some waving American flags, carrying bullhorns and lifting signs questioning the presidential election, Bruce Breton knew things were about to change. “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Breton, who has served on the board for 18 years. “The groundswell from the public is unbelievable.” The crowd at the Monday meeting had been fired up by conservative media, which in recent weeks has seized on the town’s election results for four seats in the state House as suspect. The attention, fanned by a Donald Trump adviser who happens to be a Windham resident, has helped a routine recount spiral, ultimately engulfing the town in a false theory that the national election was stolen from Trump. It doesn’t seem to matter that Republicans won all four state House seats in question. The dust-up shows just how far Trump’s election lies — and the search for evidence to support them — have burrowed into American politics, even the most local. Like House Republicans in Washington fighting over what some call the “Big Lie” and lawmakers in Arizona conducting a partisan “recount,” this bedroom community is still wrestling with the aftermath of 2020. The trouble started when Kristi St. Laurent, a Democratic candidate for the state House, requested a recount after falling 24 votes short in the November election. Instead of gaining a few votes in her House race as she expected, the 53-year-old physical therapist learned that the recount showed that four of the Republicans each received an additional 300 votes. Laurent lost 99 votes.

Full Article: In a small New Hampshire town, the 2020 election still rages

New Hampshire: Third member named to Windham audit panel; members ask the public to observe the process, then draw conclusions | Josie Albertson-Grove/New Hampshire Union Leader

A statistics professor has been named as the third and final member of a panel facing a May 27 deadline to audit the November 2020 state representative election in Windham. “We will do our work in such a way that nobody will have to trust any of us,” Philip Stark of the University of California, Berkeley, said Wednesday. “They can look at what was done, rather than who did it.” A hand recount about three weeks after election night determined that the four Windham Republicans running for House seats each received about 300 more votes than were reported from automatic AccuVote counting machines. Gov. Chris Sununu last month signed the legislation that mandates the forensic audit. Stark was chosen by the two other members of the audit team — computer scientist Harri Hursti of Nordic Innovation Labs and Mark Lindeman of election technology policy group Verified Voting. All three have participated in election audits around the country, going back more than a decade. The attorney general and secretary of state chose Hursti together, and Windham’s Board of Selectman picked Lindeman. Hursti and Lindeman chose Stark to round out their team’s areas of expertise. Windham’s choice for the audit team has drawn attention from national conservative media personalities, including former Trump advisor Steve Bannon. On Monday night, about 500 people attended a selectmen’s meeting in Windham to protest the board’s 3-1 vote for Lindeman last month.

Full Article: Third member named to Windham audit panel; members ask the public to observe the process, then draw conclusions | Voters First |

Ohio bill to overhaul voting laws would only allow ballot drop boxes at county boards of elections | Laura Hancock/Cleveland Plain Dealer

A newly introduced voting overhaul bill in the Ohio House would put into law that absentee ballot drop boxes are only allowed at one place in each county and for a shorter length of time than in November’s election. Up to three boxes would be allowed at each county board of elections under House Bill 294, sponsored by Republican Reps. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati and Sharon Ray of Wadsworth, and introduced Thursday. Drop boxes were widely used for the first time in Ohio for last year’s presidential election and have been a flashpoint in voting politics, even ending up in the courts. HB 294 also changes how people can register to vote, request absentee ballots, among other issues. The bill comes after a wave of election law changes in Republican-controlled states. Many Republicans falsely believe that widespread fraud in the 2020 election led to the loss of former President Donald Trump.

Full Article: Ohio bill to overhaul voting laws would only allow ballot drop boxes at county boards of elections –

Texas lawmakers advance restrictive election bill despite Democrats’ all-night fight | Jane C. Timm/NBC

Texas lawmakers advanced a restrictive election bill early Friday as Republicans overcame Democratic efforts to derail the legislation. Democrats had vowed to wage an all-night fight against the bill, which they argue would suppress voting and disenfranchise voters of color. Republicans led by Rep. Briscoe Cain, the chair of the Elections Committee, say the House bill would ensure ballot integrity and protect voters from coercion and fraud. The key vote at 3 a.m. in the Texas House followed hours of debate as Democrats, who had little means of stopping the bill in the GOP-controlled state Capitol, deployed technical challenges and hours of questioning that Rep. Cain appeared unprepared at times to answer. Finally, an agreement was reached between Republicans and Democrats leaving the bill with 20 amendments that significantly watered down some of what advocates called the most problematic aspects of the bill as it passed the key vote 81-64. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has urged legislators to pass election legislation, which he made a priority for the session ending May 31. The bill was originally proposed as House Bill 6, but Republican lawmakers used a legislative maneuver to ensure that it would advance quickly. Last week, Republicans replaced the text of a different bill, SB 7, a Senate elections bill, with HB 6. A second vote is still required to advance SB 7 out of the House, after which the Senate and House bills are expected to end up in a conference committee, where they would be reconciled by legislators and then sent to Gov. Abbott to sign. The Texas vote came after Florida became the latest U.S. state to enact restrictive voting laws, with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signing the legislation live on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” It enacts restrictions on voting by mail and at drop boxes, which Democrats and activists warn could suppress voter turnout.

Full Article: Texas lawmakers advance restrictive election bill despite Democrats’ all-night fight

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman blasts Trump-inspired Arizona election audit | Jim Brunner/The Seattle Times

Kim Wyman has been overseeing elections for three decades, as an election manager for Thurston County and Washington secretary of state since 2013. She’s never seen anything like what’s going on in Arizona. Republican lawmakers there have handed over 2.1 million ballots in the state’s largest county to a company called Cyber Ninjas, for an unofficial recount of the long-certified 2020 presidential election results. Wyman, a Republican, says the ongoing spectacle — inspired by baseless claims of widespread election fraud by ex-President Donald Trump — sets a dangerous precedent and will only further undermine confidence in elections. “I can’t get to calling this an audit, or even a recount, because you’re not doing it with any kind of established ground rules or policies or procedures. It’s an exercise at best. It’s political theater at worst,” Wyman said in an interview Friday. Wyman has joined other election experts in publicly criticizing the unprecedented handover of ballots and voting machines in Maricopa County. In an appearance on CNN this week she said the partisan effort should “alarm every American.”

Source: Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman blasts Trump-inspired Arizona election audit | The Seattle Times