Arizona: Cochise County Recorder David Stevens stands to get more power after pursuing illegal hand count | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

David Stevens had never supervised a ballot count. He didn’t know how he would count nearly 50,000 ballots by hand, who would help, or where he would find enough space to do it. But that didn’t dissuade him. Less than a month before the November election, Stevens, the Cochise County recorder, told the county supervisors he would be happy to try. Arizona GOP leaders had spent two years promoting unfounded claims about compromised vote-counting machines, and were scouring the state for a county that would willingly hand-count ballots. They found it in Cochise County, where Stevens grasped onto the idea, devised a plan, and stoked the sentiment starting to take hold locally. The Republican recorder propelled the proposal to illegally hand count all midterm election ballots, thrusting a rural Arizona county known for historic mining towns and natural beauty into months of chaos, court hearings, and national headlines. Cochise’s two Republican supervisors bore the brunt of the backlash — threatened with jail time and, even now, facing a citizen-led recall effort. But the initial effort would have hit an abrupt stop without Stevens, who mostly remained behind the scenes.

Full Article: Cochise County Recorder David Stevens stands to get more power after pursuing illegal hand count – Votebeat Arizona – Nonpartisan local reporting on elections and voting

Nevada: “They don’t trust us”: Election Workers Still Face Pressure and Harassment | Alex Burness/Bolts

Election administration used to take up a fraction of Lacey Donaldson’s headspace. “An every-two-years kind of thing,” she said. But these days, Donaldson, the elected clerk and treasurer of Pershing County, Nevada, can hardly run an errand without being reminded of how much has changed since 2020 for elections professionals like her. “It’s not just people questioning you at work. It’s at the grocery store, or at your niece’s birthday party,” she said. Her county covers an area almost as big as New Jersey but has a population of just over 6,700 people. “I pretty much know everyone,” added Donaldson, a Democrat starting her fourth term in a county then-President Donald Trump won by 51 points in 2020. “They don’t trust us. We’re letting them watch the process, but you can’t really argue with those people that have believed misinformation. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve known you. They’ll say, we know you’re doing it the right way, but the county next door isn’t. Well, that doesn’t make you feel any better about your job.” This relatively new stressor is part of the long tail of election denialism that was kicked off by Trump during the 2020 presidential election. It remains as an animating belief among some on the right that entire electoral systems—and the people who run them—are irredeemably untrustworthy.

Full Article: “They don’t trust us”: Nevada Election Workers Still Face Pressure and Harassment | Bolts

National: Electronic pollbook security raises concerns going into 2024 | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

They were blamed for long lines in Los Angeles during California’s 2020 presidential primary, triggered check-in delays in Columbus, Ohio, a few months later and were at the center of former President Donald Trump’s call for supporters to protest in Detroit during last November’s midterms. High-profile problems involving electronic pollbooks have opened the door for those peddling election conspiracies and underscore the critical role the technology plays in whether voting runs smoothly. Russia and Iran already have demonstrated interest in accessing the systems. Despite their importance and potential vulnerabilities, national standards for the security and reliability of electronic pollbooks do not exist and efforts underway to develop them may not be ready or widely adopted in time for the 2024 presidential election. “We have a trust issue in elections. The more we can say there are standards that equipment must be tested to, the better,” said Larry Norden, an election security expert with the Brennan Center for Justice. “It’s like a seal of approval that really doesn’t exist right now.” Poll workers use electronic pollbooks to check in voters. They typically are a tablet or laptop computer that accesses an electronic list of registered voters with names, addresses and precinct information, with some doing so through an internet connection.

Full Article: Electronic pollbook security raises concerns going into 2024 | AP News

National: Election officials say democracy is still at risk in 2024: ‘The gun is still loaded’ | Jane C. Timm/NBC

The November midterms gave election officials and pro-democracy advocates their first sigh of relief in years: The election system they’d spent years defending and shoring up operated almost seamlessly, and most of the election deniers who threatened to disrupt it were defeated. … “The extreme rhetoric is not stopping,” said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who chairs the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, a group that led the charge in battleground states against election denialism. “It just led to a little girl having bullets shoot through her wall in New Mexico because someone was mad at her mom because they thought that she rigged an election, right? I really do not think we’re out of the woods.” Election experts, pro-democracy advocates and secretaries of state who defeated election deniers said in interviews that while democracy defenders have won a key battle, the existential threat to American democracy remains. “In some ways, it was just a dress rehearsal for the 2024 presidential election,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said. In November, he defeated Republican Kim Crockett, a Trump-endorsed candidate who said the 2020 election was rigged.

Full Article: Election officials say democracy is still at risk in 2024

Arizona election ‘audit’ full of infighting, deceit, messages show | yan Randazzo/Arizona Republic

Thousands of new documents The Arizona Republic obtained from Cyber Ninjas, the obscure company state Senate Republicans hired to conduct a partisan “audit” of the 2020 election, show the endeavor was fraught with conflict and confusion. The contractors confided they didn’t know Arizona election law when they were hired, struggled to pay bills and raise money, fought over what to report to the Senate, got deeply sidetracked by a film about their effort, and consistently were in touch with people who tried to concoct ways to keep former President Trump in office after his election loss. Among the most revealing details in the new documents are that the lead contractor reached out to people close to Trump to ask for money to conduct the supposedly objective “audit,” and others involved communicated with the former president as well. The Republic and a left-leaning watchdog group called American Oversight sued the Senate and Cyber Ninjas for emails, texts and other communications from the project and have received batches of documents for more than a year. Doug Logan, the CEO at now-defunct Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, which former Senate President Karen Fann chose to direct the work, has continued to fight the release of all of his communications, which a judge said were subject to disclosure. But facing a $50,000-a-day fine imposed more than a year ago, he recently turned over thousands of texts and Signal messages.

Full Article: Arizona election ‘audit’ full of infighting, deceit, messages show

National: Election officials ready themselves for the next wave of Trump followers | Zach Montellaro/Politico

Hundreds of local election officials across the country are about to confront a political challenge putting their management skills and their campaign chops to the test: Administering the 2024 presidential vote while running for reelection themselves. Donald Trump acolytes galvanized by the former president’s false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from him piled into last year’s campaigns for state election officer positions. And although Democrats and mainstream Republicans defeated all of those candidates in key battleground states like Michigan, Arizona and elsewhere, far more races for local election positions there and in other states will be up for grabs next year. The slate of below-the-radar campaigns will test how much money and attention will be available for these critical roles in the midst of a presidential race. “The concerns about being primaried is absolutely on the mind of very dedicated and very middle-of-the-road, nonpartisan-functioning” election officials in Florida, said Mark Earley, the election supervisor in Leon County, Fla., a blue-leaning county in the state’s deep-red Panhandle.

Full Article: Election officials ready themselves for the next wave of Trump followers – POLITICO

National: Elections Stayed Secure in 2022, but Trouble Could Return in 2024 | Carl Smith/Governing

Brianna Lennon, the clerk for Boone County, Mo., works in a state where harassment and threats have not escalated to the point that local election officials fear for their safety. That doesn’t mean her office doesn’t get calls from voters who are angry about election results, just that they are likely to be upset about outcomes in other states. Lennon, who co-hosts a national podcast on election administration, is hearing more and more about security worries. “It’s really dominating the conversation amongst election officials,” she says. “It used to be that we just talked about cybersecurity, but now we talk about physical safety.” Midterm elections were free of the election-related violence some had feared. In part, this may have been a consequence of federal investigations in response to events on Jan. 6, which have resulted in charges against almost 1,000 individuals, including leaders of groups promoting violence.

Full Article: Elections Stayed Secure in 2022, but Trouble Could Return in 2024

National: Election-denying lawmakers hold key election oversight roles | Marc Levy and Jonathan Cooper/Associated Press

Republican lawmakers who have spread election conspiracy theories and falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential outcome was rigged are overseeing legislative committees charged with setting election policy in two major political battleground states. Divided government in Pennsylvania and Arizona means that any voting restrictions those GOP legislators propose is likely to fail. Even so, the high-profile appointments give the lawmakers a platform to cast further doubt on the integrity of elections in states that will be pivotal in selecting the next president in 2024. Awarding such plum positions to lawmakers who have repeated conspiracies and spread misinformation cuts against more than two years of evidence showing there were no widespread problems or fraud in the last presidential election. It also would appear to run counter to the message delivered in the November midterm elections, when voters rejected election-denying candidates running for top offices in presidential battleground states. At the same time, many mainstream Republicans are trying to move past the lies told by former President Donald Trump and his allies about his loss to President Joe Biden.

Full Article: Election-denying lawmakers hold key election oversight roles | AP News

National: GOP report shows plan to ramp up focus on disproven election fraud claims | Amy Gardner and Isaac Arnsdorf/The Washington Post

A new internal report prepared by the Republican National Committee proposes creating a permanent infrastructure in every state to ramp up “election integrity” activities in response to perceptions within GOP ranks of widespread fraud and abuse in the way the country selects its leaders. The report, prepared by the RNC’s “National Election Integrity Team” and obtained by The Washington Post, reveals the degree to which Republicans continue to trade on former president Donald Trump’s false claims that Democrats and their allies rigged his defeat in 2020. The report suggests building a massive new party organization involving state-level “election integrity officers” and intensive new training models for poll workers and observers — all based on unsubstantiated claims that Democrats have implemented election procedures that allow for rigged votes. Yet the report also acknowledges that the GOP’s obsession with election fraud has cost the party, most notably in 2021, when mistrust in elections contributed to a drop in Republican turnout in two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia, costing the party its Senate majority.

Full Article: GOP report shows plan to ramp up focus on disproven election fraud claims – The Washington Post

Arizona Republicans try again to force ‘impossible’ hand counts of elections and a return to precinct voting | Caitlin Sievers/AZ Mirror

Arizona Republicans have taken another step in their attempt to completely overhaul elections in the Grand Canyon State, with a proposed bill that would force hand counts in the state’s elections, a practice that elections experts say would be logistically impossible. The measure to ban votes from being counted with electronic tabulators — equipment used in every Arizona city and county, and in virtually every election office across the nation — stems from a demand from constituents requiring hand counts of election results because of their general mistrust of voting machines, said Rep. Cory McGarr, R-Marana. A false belief that electronic ballot tabulators are designed to change votes so Republican candidates lose has become increasingly popular since President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. Believers in the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump began demanding hand counts following that election, and this isn’t the first time such a bill has been proposed in the Arizona legislature. Jen Marson, a lobbyist for the Arizona Association of Counties, had a laundry list of questions for McGarr about his House Bill 2307, since it does not include any specifics about how the hand counts would work. McGarr said he didn’t have any suggestions for how to handle the hand count but was sure that the counties could “figure that out.” “This is impossible,” Marson told the committee.

Full Article: Republicans try again to force ‘impossible’ hand counts of elections and a return to precinct voting

Colorado’s clerks hope they’ve turned a corner on election disinformation: ‘The temperature has gone down a little bit’ | Bente Birkeland/Colorado Public Radio

The last few years have been tough ones for the officials who run Colorado’s elections; in the wake of the 2020 election they’ve endured threats and hostility, had to push back against misinformation and disinformation, and been left always wondering — what comes next? This week, with the 2022 midterm election in the rearview, county clerks met for their winter conference in Colorado Springs and many said they’re breathing a bit of a sigh of relief that election deniers lost momentum electorally and no outside disruptions impacted a smooth, fair and accurate election process. “I wasn’t feeling hopeful, but then after the election, I do feel like we’ve made progress,” said Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, a Democrat from Salida, about fighting disinformation. “I thought it would happen at some point, but maybe not this quickly. I do feel that the temperature has gone down a little bit.”

Full Article: ‘The temperature has gone down a little bit’: Colorado’s clerks hope they’ve turned a corner on election disinformation | Colorado Public Radio

Georgia: Judge considers whether voter challenges are intimidation | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge questioned Wednesday whether sweeping challenges to the eligibility of hundreds of thousands of Georgia voters amounted to voter intimidation by Texas-based True the Vote, a conservative organization that has promoted unproven claims of election fraud.But an attorney for True the Vote responded that Georgia laws allow residents to cast doubt on individuals who might have moved away, and the group didn’t confront or discourage anyone from casting a ballot.U.S. District Judge Steve Jones is considering whether True the Vote’s effort to challenge 364,000 voters before Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs in early 2021 went too far. He didn’t immediately rule following a court hearing in Gainesville. County election officials threw out almost all the challenges, but the lawsuit alleges that mass challenges amounted to a violation of the Voting Rights Act’s protections against voter intimidation and coercion. The case was brought by several voters and Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams. True the Vote had said it recruited former Navy SEALS to monitor polling places, and the group offered a $1 million bounty to defend fraud whistleblowers if they were sued.

Full Article: Judge considers whether Georgia voter challenges are intimidation

Indiana agrees to provide voting tool to Hoosiers with print disabilities | Dan Carden/The Times of Northwest Indiana

Hoosier adults with print disabilities no longer will be obligated to obtain assistance to cast an absentee ballot for at least the next two years. Indiana Disability Rights announced Wednesday the settlement of its lawsuit against a variety of state election officials, which enables qualifying voters to obtain a remote accessible ballot marking tool for all elections between May 2023 and May 2025. Previously, voters with print disabilities — such as people unable to independently mark a paper ballot or ballot card due to blindness, low vision or a physical disability limiting manual dexterity — generally were required to fill out their mail-in ballot in front of a “traveling board” of election judges. According to the settlement agreement, the remote accessible ballot marking tool will instead allow voters with print disabilities to sign all ballots and forms electronically without the assistance of another person, and those voters will have the option of returning their ballot via email.

Full Article: Indiana agrees to provide voting tool to Hoosiers with print disabilities

Nevada: Nye County Clerk lerk says hand count was ‘more accurate’ than voting machines | Robin Hebrock/Pahrump Valley Times

Nye County’s decision to switch to paper ballots and utilize a hand count in the 2022 election cycle captured the country’s attention, grabbing national headlines and even prompting legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union in an attempt to stop the move. Despite the pushback and a two-week delay caused by the ACLU lawsuit, Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf said the new process devised for 2022 was a successful one and his office will now be analyzing its options for the 2024 election. “Just as a reminder to those who don’t believe it, the tabulation was the primary method of determining our election results. Let me repeat that. We used the Dominion tabulators to calculate our election results, no different than we have in the past,” Kampf explained for the public at the Nye County Commission’s Jan. 18 meeting. The big difference when it came to calculating results for 2022, Kampf said, was the inclusion of a hand count. In addition to counting the ballots with electronic equipment, a force of more than 200 volunteers offered their time and energy to tally all of the votes marked on the paper ballots by hand, the results of which were then balanced against those derived from the Dominion tabulation. In the end, Kampf remarked, it appeared that the hand count was marginally more accurate.

Full Article: Nye clerk says hand count was ‘more accurate’ than voting machines | Pahrump Valley Times

New Jersey Judge orders recount in Monmouth County after some 2022 votes were double-counted | David Wildstein/New Jersey Globe

A Superior Court judge today ordered a recount of some voting machines in four Monmouth County municipalities after errors with the installation of voting machine software from Election Systems and Software (ES&S) caused some votes to be double counted in the November 2022 general election. That could change the outcome of a school board race in Ocean Township, where Steve Clayton unseated incumbent Jeff Weinstein by 20 votes and was sworn in last month; unofficial tallies now put Weinstein ahead by just one vote. Election officials said that the recount will be held on February 8. In his decision, Judge David Bauman relied on a New Jersey Supreme Court decision that election laws should be interpreted liberally as a reason for recounting and rechecking voting machines in Ocean Township, Belmar, Fair Haven, and Tinton Falls even though the deadline had passed. “The public interest in (the) finality of counting votes and election outcomes, in this instance, has not been shown to be strong enough to warrant strict enforcement of the provisions of (the statutes) … where, as here, the counting error appears to have been derived from a unique confluence of mechanical and human error, and no one on this record opposes the prayers for relief,” Bauman wrote in his ruling.

Full Article: Judge orders recount in Monmouth County after some 2022 votes were double-counted – New Jersey Globe

Pennsylvania: After years of troubleshooting, Philadelphia will use electronic poll books in this year’s primary election | Brian A. Saunders/PhillyVoice

This year, Philadelphia voters will choose a new mayor. When they head to the polls in May’s primary election, they’ll see something else new: updated technology at their polling places. After almost four years of troubleshooting, city commissioners say poll workers will begin using electronic poll books, eliminating the paper stacks of information workers have long used to check in voters. Many states have implemented electronic poll books to provide checks and balances for human error and speed up the check-in process for voters. Over 20 states currently use the software in some capacity, and six use them statewide, Pew reports. “I just think that the electronic poll books are going to revolutionize the way Philadelphians vote in person,” City Commissioner Lisa Deeley told KYW Newsradio. “It’ll streamline the process, it will be more efficient and it’ll be a much better day for the board workers.”

Full Article: Philadelphia will use electronic poll books in upcoming primary election | PhillyVoice

Texas: Dallas County Republicans question voting machines, lobby for paper ballots | Josephine Peterson/The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas County Republican Party says its top legislative priority this session is lobbying for the return of the paper ballot. Local Republicans say that the electronic voting system currently being used may have counted more votes than were actually cast in the 2022 election, despite the Dallas County Elections Department’s saying that is not the case. The GOP points to those votes that rolled in after polls closed and to 188 “phantom voter” errors the state found in the 2020 election as proof that the county’s electronic voting system can’t be trusted. “Any voting equipment or election process that is not fully transparent and trustworthy simply has to go,” the local party said in a Jan. 20 blog post laying out their position. Dallas County Republican Party Chair Jennifer Stoddard-Hajdu told The Dallas Morning News that she is concerned about voting machines in local elections that are connected to a server through Wi-Fi, pointing to a surge in tallied votes that occurred after the polls closed during the last election. She also cited a state audit that reported the “phantom voter” incidents. “I’m not saying that there was any fraud or that the election was stolen or votes were ma that she is concerned about voting machines in local elections that are connected to a server through Wi-Fi, pointing to a surge in tallied voters that occurred after the polls closed during the last election. She also cited a state audit that reported the “phantom voter” incidents. The state, county, the voting machine company, and Dallas County Democratic Party have approved or defended Dallas’ current voting system.

Full Article: Dallas County Republicans Want Switch to Paper Ballots

Utah Lawmakers want to audit elections, but not to examine whether the results are accurate | Bryan Schott/The Salt Lake Tribune

The House Government Operations Committee unanimously approved HB269 on Tuesday afternoon, which mandates a performance audit of Utah’s elections in even-numbered years. Legislative auditors are tasked to review almost every aspect of the primary and general elections, from candidate selection to counting ballots. The bill from House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, springboards from a year-long probe of Utah’s elections instigated by Schultz in late 2021. He explained he was motivated not by unfounded fraud claims but by a desire to build confidence in Utah’s elections. … Absent from the bill is a mechanism for verifying the accuracy of election results. State law requires county clerks to conduct a post-election audit to determine whether vote-counting machines are operating correctly. Legislative auditors recommended a pilot program to audit a certain percentage of ballots after the election to help ensure the results are accurate.

Full Article: Lawmakers want to audit Utah’s elections, but not to examine whether the results are accurate

Wisconsin statewide audit shows no voting machine errors during 2022 election | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Voting machines counted ballots accurately during the November 2022 general election, results of a new statewide audit show. About 222,000 ballots, or 8.4% of the total number cast during the Nov. 8 election, were audited by county and municipal clerks in the weeks following the midterm election. The survey, the largest of its kind was released this week by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. It found six human-forced errors and no problems with the functioning of ballot tabulating machines. The results, part of a routine audit, come after years of baseless allegations of widespread instances of inaccurate voting machine tallies during the 2020 election launched by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. President Joe Biden beat Trump by about 21,000 votes in Wisconsin in 2020. Trump sought recounts in liberal-leaning Dane and Milwaukee counties, which confirmed Biden’s win. Trump sued and the state Supreme Court upheld the results on a 4-3 vote on Dec. 14, 2020. Bob Spindell, a Republican commissioner, called the result “remarkable” in a commission meeting Thursday. “(The audit) should give confidence to the people of Wisconsin that the machines worked properly,” he said.

Full Article: There were no voting machine errors during 2022 election in Wisconsin

Wyoming Lawmakers Vote To Reduce Early Voting Window, Require Post-Election Audits | Leo Wolfson/Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming elections would be subject to post-election audits and early voting windows would be shortened under a bill advanced by a legislative committee Tuesday. Senate File 153, titled “Election Security,” would reduce early voting to 28 days from the current 45 for domestic applicants. Overseas applicants and military would still have 45 days to vote early or with an absentee ballot. On post-election audits, state law doesn’t require them, but there’s an outstanding directive to require them by former Secretary of State Ed Buchanan. Pressure to require audits has increased in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, which former President Donald Trump and his supporters have maintained was tainted by widespread fraud. If SF 153 passes, Wyoming would still have the 12th longest early voting period in the country. Mary Lankford, a representative from the Wyoming County Clerks Association, said the average length of early voting offered by U.S. states is 23 days. It passed unanimously out of the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

Full Article: Wyoming Lawmakers Vote To Reduce Early Voting Window, Require Post-Election Audits – Cowboy State Daily