National: Nearly 80 officials overseeing elections in 7 swing states doubt 2020 results | Madeleine May and Caitlin Huey-Burns/CBS

A new CBS News investigation found there are nearly 80 officials working in election oversight positions across seven battleground states, including Nevada, who don’t believe the 2020 election results, refused to certify the election, publicly supported the actions taken on Jan. 6, 2021 in the U.S. Capitol riots or have pushed election conspiracies.  Washoe County, Nevada, is a battleground county in a critical battleground state and may hold the keys to congressional contests, and potentially the presidency. But in this cycle, one of the most consequential races in the state is that of county commissioner. That commissioner would wield the swing vote on a panel that — among other responsibilities — oversees elections in Washoe. Members appoint the county’s top election official, set the budget for elections and ultimately certify statewide election results. Read Article

National: Physical threats are biggest risk facing the 2024 election | Derek B. Johnson/CyberScoop

2024 could turn out to be the year in which artificial intelligence upends the U.S. election, but at America’s largest cybersecurity conference, federal officials charged with protecting the vote said they are most concerned with a far more analog threat: physical violence directed at election administrators.  While many election officials are concerned about issues of disinformation — both AI-generated and not — physical security threats on or around Election Day to polling places, ballot counting centers and locations where equipment is stored are top of mind. “That’s where we’ve concentrated a lot of our efforts this year,” Brandon Wales, executive director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told reporters at the RSA Conference. U.S. election officials are already facing a tsunami of physical threats, harassment, doxing and swatting attacks — in which police are called to a person’s residence on phony pretenses — and the risk of violence is only exacerbated by persistent and false online narratives that American elections are in one way or another rigged, experts caution. Read Article

National: These federal grants can help ease multiplying election threats | Chris Teale/Route Fifty

A ransomware attack on Coffee County, Georgia’s voter registration system highlighted the vulnerabilities faced by election offices ahead of the presidential election. Although the Georgia Registered Voter Information System remains uncompromised, the incident underscores the need for robust cybersecurity measures, especially as threats target more than just voting infrastructure. Reports from cybersecurity firms, such as Mandiant, stress the importance of hardening systems against attacks despite the chronic underfunding of election services. While some federal funds and grants are available, the high turnover of election officials hampers awareness and access to these resources. To address these challenges, election offices must be strategic in securing funding and support to enhance their cybersecurity and physical security capabilities. Read Article

National: Justice Department to seek tougher sentences for AI-fueled election crimes | Sean Lyngaas/CNN

Federal prosecutors will pursue tougher sentences in cases in which artificial intelligence is used to commit an election-related crime, including threatening violence against election workers and voter suppression, Deputy US Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Monday. The Justice Department policy change is an effort to keep pace with a chaotic information environment ahead of the 2024 presidential election, as AI tools have made it much easier to mimic politicians’ voices and likenesses to spread false information. The new policy applies to cases in which AI makes the election-related crime “more dangerous and more impactful,” Monaco said. Read Article

National: Lawmakers fret over who will report foreign election interference  | Derek B. Johnson/CyberScoop

When the U.S. government has credible evidence of a foreign nation interfering in an American election, who is responsible for sounding the alarm and what processes are in place to ensure it’s done in a responsible, nonpartisan manner? That question was top of mind for Senators on both sides of the aisle at a Wednesday hearing, when they sharply questioned Biden administration officials about their plans for notifying the public about a foreign power meddling in U.S. politics. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, noted that when a hurricane is headed toward the United States, the National Hurricane Center takes the lead to issue warnings “and people — Republicans, Democrats no matter who you’re going to vote for — are going to take the appropriate steps.” How that notification process works for foreign interference efforts is less clear, and the potential for political blowback in the heat of a national election is vast. Read Article

National: Lawmakers want EAC to develop guidance on AI’s risk to elections | Edward Graham/Nextgov/FCW

Bipartisan legislation introduced by a quartet of House lawmakers would push the nation’s top election administration agency to develop voluntary guidelines that address the potential impact of artificial intelligence technologies on the voting process. The bill would require that the Election Assistance Commission release public recommendations around the use of AI tools on the administration of elections. According to the proposal, the EAC’s voluntary guidelines should address “the risks and benefits” of AI on election administration; the cybersecurity risks of these technologies; how AI-generated and shared content can affect the sharing of accurate election information; and how AI-generated disinformation can undermine trust in the voting process. Read Article

National: Now armed with AI, America’s adversaries will try to influence election, security officials warn | David Klepper and Eric Tucker/Associated Press

America’s foreign adversaries will again seek to influence the upcoming U.S. elections, top security officials warned members of the Senate Wednesday, harnessing the latest innovations in artificial intelligence to spread online disinformation, mislead voters and undermine trust in democracy. But the U.S. has greatly improved its ability to safeguard election security and identify and combat foreign disinformation campaigns since 2016, when Russia sought to influence the election, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Read Article

Arizona judge says new voting rulebook meets state law, dismisses suit from national Republicans | Sasha Hupka Mary Jo Pitzl/Arizona Republic

A judge has ruled against the Republican National Committee in a lawsuit that challenged Arizona’s new voting rulebook and alleged it would allow election fraud. The suit, filed in February, is one of several from Republicans questioning the state’s new Elections Procedures Manual. That document serves as a guide to election management for county officials statewide and is produced every election cycle by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office. Read Article

Arkansas Supreme Court overturns ruling challenging state election laws  Antoinette Grajeda/Arkansas Advocate

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday reversed a lower court’s ruling and dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of four election-related laws approved by the state Legislature in 2021.  The laws require voters who cast a provisional ballot to provide a photo ID by the Monday following an election for their vote to be counted, prohibit people from standing within 100 feet of a polling location, require county clerks to verify the voter’s signature on an absentee ballot application with the voter’s registration application, and shorten the deadline for in-person absentee ballot delivery. Read Article

Colorado Lawmakers Send Bills on AI, Deepfakes to Governor | Government Technology

During a busy legislative session, Colorado lawmakers are addressing various technological issues, including deepfakes, facial recognition, and consumer protection from AI. Senate Bill 24-205, which has cleared the legislature, regulates “high-risk AI systems” impacting critical infrastructure, mandating risk management policies and impact assessments to prevent discrimination. House Bill 24-1147, targeting deepfakes in political communications, criminalizes deceptive portrayals of presidential candidates and imposes civil penalties for misusing deepfake technology. Read Article

Georgia Elections Board Won’t Investigate Hall Booth Smith Lawyer in Voting Machine Breach Claims | Thomas Spigolon/

Georgia’s elections board won’t be investigating two groups’ allegation that a Hall Booth Smith lawyer’s private text message in 2020 suggests he may have withheld information about an alleged voting machine breach similar to a high-profile breach in a neighboring county. Additionally, the election supervisor for Ware County, Georgia, said the alleged breach in December 2020 never happened and that he was not familiar with the text message found during discovery in a long-standing lawsuit seeking to end the use of computer-based voting machines in Georgia. Leaders of the two voter advocacy groups, Free Speech for People and Coalition for Good Governance, asked Georgia’s State Election Board in an April letter to investigate the actions of Anthony Rowell, a Hall Booth partner who represents Ware County government, after a text message was found during discovery in the federal lawsuit Curling v. Raffensperger. Read Article

Michigan House panel weighs bills reforming election recounts | Katie O’Brien Kelley/Michigan Advance

The Michigan House Elections Committee heard testimony on Tuesday about Senate Bills 603 and 604, which would modify the recount process, filing fees for recounting and sentencing guidelines for certain Michigan election law violations that deal with recounts. Senate Bill 603 would allow recounts of precincts that have a mismatch between the number of ballots and the ballots issued to voters recorded in a polling place’s log or the ballots that were tabulated. “Under this bill, in cases where the number of ballots issued as shown in the poll book, the number of ballots tabulated as shown on the tabulator tape, or the number of ballots cast as shown by the county canvas are out of balance — but are out of balance at the same or fewer at the time of the recount — under my bill, the precincts can now be recounted as long as there is a satisfactory explanation and a sworn affidavit in a form prescribed by the Secretary of State,” said state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), sponsor of the bill. Read Article

Nevada Supreme Court denies appeal of conservative activist seeking to oust county election official | Associated Press

A conservative activist who embraced unproven election fraud claims has lost an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court in his bid to oust a top county election official and others. The high court on Wednesday upheld a lower-court judge’s earlier dismissal of Robert Beadles’ lawsuit, which claimed that Washoe County’s registrar of voters, the county manager and a county commissioner violated the state constitution by failing to respond to his complaints of fraud. “Taking all the factual allegations in the complaint as true and drawing every inference in favor of Beadles, he can prove no set facts that would entitle him to relief as pleaded,” the Supreme Court ruled. Read Article

Ohio: Why Biden isn’t on the November ballot — yet | Caroline Vakil/The Hill

Ohio state legislators are scrambling to get President Biden on the November ballot after members failed to break a legislative impasse this week.  State law says presidential candidates need to be certified with the state 90 days before the November election; this year, that date is Aug. 7. But Democrats are on track to miss that goal, given Biden is set to be formally nominated during the Democratic National Convention, which begins Aug. 19. Legislators in the state Senate and state House worked on competing proposals, but efforts to pass them through the state Capitol have stalled — raising questions around what steps members will take next to make sure Biden gets onto the ballot in the coming months. Read Article

Oregon elections officials meet with USPS after delays reported in some ballot returns | Dirk VanderHart/OPB

Oregon elections officials met with representatives from the United States Postal Service on Thursday morning, after concerns emerged that some post offices across the state were delaying delivery of completed ballots sent by mail. “In no uncertain terms, they have said, ‘We will fix this. This should not be happening,’” said Molly Woon, the state’s elections director. “We continue to have complete faith in the vote-by-mail system.” While Woon acknowledged that filled-out ballots have been delayed in reaching elections offices in Lincoln, Douglas and possibly other counties, she said those delays will not impact timeliness of results in the May 21 primary election if postal officials follow through on their promise. Read Article

Pennsylvania counties finish second audit of primary results before state certification | Jordan Wilkie/WITF

Pennsylvania’s primary results are still unofficial. To be approved, counties go through several processes to make sure everything worked well. A big step is auditing votes to make sure they were counted correctly on primary night. Counties finished the process today, the last major hurdle before Monday’s certification deadline. Results go through two checks. The first is a 2% audit. The second is a newer method called a risk-limiting audit. Commonly called an RLA, it is considered the gold standard tabulation audit recommended by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Mark Lindeman, policy director with the election technology and security nonprofit Verified Voting, helped the state design its RLA system. … “The math is complicated, but the idea is simple,” Lindeman said. “If you check vote counts from all over the state and they all can come back fine, you have pretty strong assurance that the vote counts are good.” Read Article

Pennsylvania: ACLU lawsuit targets mail ballot ‘notice and cure’ policy | Carter Walker/Votebeat

The ACLU of Pennsylvania is suing one county, and may file more cases, in an effort to challenge a policy that it says disenfranchises voters who make an error when casting ballots by mail. The case against Butler County, filed after the April primary, appears to be the start of a broader statewide effort by the group targeting the “notice and cure” process, a major gray area in state law that leads to uneven rules for voters across Pennsylvania. Along with that lawsuit, the organization has signaled it is considering another lawsuit, and has been filing public records requests to identify more counties that don’t allow voters to correct flawed mail ballots or provide notice to voters that their ballot will be rejected. Such records requests are often a precursor to a lawsuit. Read Article

Texas: Gillespie County election costs balloon after switch to hand count | Natalia Contreras/The Texas Trinue

The hand count of thousands of Republican primary election ballots in Gillespie County is on track to cost taxpayers more than double the wage costs of the 2020 Republican primary, according to records obtained by Votebeat. Public records show Republicans employed 350 people to hand count, who collectively reported working more than 2,300 hours the day of the election at a rate of $12 per hour. That means more than $27,000 in wages. Those numbers aren’t final, and they’re likely to grow. The tally does not include hourly wages for election clerks who worked at each of the county’s 13 precincts on election day checking in voters and performing duties other than counting. In addition, Gillespie Republicans will also hand-count ballots in a runoff election at the end of the month, which will add to the costs. Read Article

Wisconsin town under federal review after eliminating voting machines | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The decision by a small board in the Town of Thornapple, Wisconsin, to eliminate electronic voting machines has drawn scrutiny from federal investigators, prompting questions about accessibility for voters with disabilities. The move to rely solely on hand-counted paper ballots, made in June 2023, has raised concerns about potential violations of federal laws mandating accessible voting options. The decision, which has roots in former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election, has led to a federal investigation and legal challenges. Despite assertions from town officials that assistance is available for voters with disabilities, advocacy groups argue that the removal of electronic machines restricts the ability of some voters to cast their ballots independently and privately. Read Article

Wisconsin Supreme Court to revisit ruling that banned most ballot drop boxes | Adam Edelman/NBC

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Monday in a pivotal case that will determine the future of absentee ballot drop boxes in the battleground state’s elections. The case will give the court’s liberal majority the opportunity to reverse a ruling the court made less than two years ago — when conservatives held the majority — that significantly reduced the number of absentee ballot drop boxes in the state. If the court’s current 4-3 liberal majority overturns that ruling, it could result in a return of the widespread use of absentee ballot drop boxes for the upcoming presidential election. Read Article