Rhode Island: ExpressVote ballots to be reviewed by Board of Elections, Secretary of State’s office | Amy Russo/The Providence Journal

The state’s Board of Elections has adopted new protocols for checking ExpressVote machines ahead of the general election on Nov. 8. In a plan released on Wednesday, the board said 522 machines and 592 DS200 tabulators will be tested in preparation for early voting on Oct. 19 and the general election. According to the document, tests involve a “checklist to check hardware and software functionality.” That includes seeing whether the machines power on properly, verifying precinct numbers and addresses, and ensuring ballots can be marked accurately, among a host of other checks. The board said Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s office already started proofing English and Spanish ballots on Saturday, the latter of which showed errors during the primary elections. At the time, some of those ballots featured the incorrect list of candidates. Mayor Jorge Elorza appeared to place blame both on Gorbea’s office and the board, calling for the ExpressVote machines to be removed during the primary. However, as the request was made last-minute and there was no viable alternative for those ADA-compliant machines, that was not possible.

Full Article: ExpressVote ballots to be reviewed by BOE, Secretary of State’s office

Alaska: Mat-Su assembly bans voting machines for borough elections starting next year | Sean Maguire/Anchorage Daily News

In what is apparently a first for Alaska, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly passed an ordinance this week that will prohibit the use of voting tabulation machines for borough elections, starting next year. The new Mat-Su ordinance, approved Tuesday night, caps off a months-long effort from a group of residents determined to ban the use of voting machines spurred on by false claims of election fraud. Last month, the Assembly unanimously voted to use a hand-count to verify the results of the Nov. 8 borough election, but voting machines will still be used. Borough officials determined that it would be a “great risk” to stop using machines and mandate hand-counting for this year’s borough election because there would be inadequate time “to properly prepare for a change of this magnitude,” according to a memo filed with the legislation. Instead, those changes are set to be in place for next November’s municipal election. The new ordinance will require hand counting of ballots on election night at each of the borough’s 41 precincts, with election workers calling results in, instead of counting taking place at the borough office in Palmer. Some assembly members raised concerns that transporting ballots before they are counted could increase the risk of vote tampering and fraud. No other boroughs appear to have taken similar steps, according to the Alaska Municipal League and the Mat-Su borough clerk.

Full Article: Mat-Su assembly bans voting machines for borough elections starting next year

National: Hundreds of elections deniers running for office nationwide in 2022 pose ‘major threat’ to U.S. democracy | Phillip M. Bailey/USA Today

Republican Mark Finchem maintains that the 2020 presidential election wasn’t on the up-and-up in Arizona. During the 30-minute secretary of state debate against Democratic rival Adrian Fontes on Sept. 22, he continued to argue – without providing evidence – that some votes were “outside of the law.” But when asked by moderators if the state’s 2022 midterm primaries in August were also fair, the GOP nominee to be Arizona’s chief election officer was caught flat footed. “What changed? The candidates,” Finchem said. “I have no idea. We’ve not really dug into what happened with our processing of ballots. The machines were the same.” Yet Finchem isn’t the only candidate on the ballot this November who has peddled false claims about 2020 that election experts and pro-democracy groups warn could undermine the next presidential contest – and subvert American democracy.

Full Article: Hundreds of candidates who denied 2020 results running for office

National: Election Software Executive Arrested on Suspicion of Theft | Stuart A. Thompson/The New York Times

The top executive of an elections technology company that has been the focus of attention among election deniers was arrested by Los Angeles County officials in connection with an investigation into the possible theft of personal information about poll workers, the county said on Tuesday. Eugene Yu, the founder and chief executive of Konnech, the technology company, was taken into custody on suspicion of theft, the Los Angeles County district attorney, George Gascón, said in a statement. Konnech, which is based in Michigan, develops software to manage election logistics, like scheduling poll workers. Los Angeles County is among its customers. The company has been accused by groups challenging the validity of the 2020 presidential election with storing information about poll workers on servers in China. The company has repeatedly denied keeping data outside the United States, including in recent statements to The New York Times. Mr. Gascón’s office said its investigators had found data stored in China. Holding the data there would violate Konnech’s contract with the county.

Full Article: Election Software Executive Arrested on Suspicion of Theft – The New York Times

National: Election officials brace for confrontational poll watchers | Hannah Schoenbaum and Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press

The situation with the poll watcher had gotten so bad that Anne Risku, the election director in North Carolina’s Wayne County, had to intervene via speakerphone. “You need to back off!” Risku recalled hollering after the woman wedged herself between a voter and the machine where the voter was trying to cast his ballot at a precinct about 60 miles southeast of Raleigh. The man eventually was able to vote, but the incident was one of several Risku cited from the May primary that made her worry about a wave of newly aggressive poll watchers. Many have spent the past two years steeped in lies about the accuracy of the 2020 election. Those fears led the North Carolina State Board of Elections in August to tighten rules governing poll watchers. But the state’s rules review board, appointed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, blocked the new poll watcher regulations in late September, leaving election officials such as Risku without additional tools to control behavior on Election Day, Nov. 8. “It becomes complete babysitting,” Risku said in an interview. “The back and forth for the precinct officials, having somebody constantly on you for every little thing that you do — not because you’re doing it wrong, but because they don’t agree with what you’re doing.”

Full Article: Election officials brace for confrontational poll watchers | AP News

National: Election officials confront a new problem: Whether they can trust their own poll workers | Zach Montellaro/Politico

Election officials are growing concerned about a new danger in November: that groups looking to undermine election results will try to install their supporters as poll workers. The frontline election workers do everything from checking people in at voting locations to helping process mail ballots — in other words, they are the face of American elections for most voters. And now, some prominent incidents involving poll workers have worried election officials that a bigger wave of trouble could be on the horizon. Michigan, in particular, has been a hotspot: a far-right candidate for governor, who lost the GOP primary, encouraged poll workers to unplug election equipment if they believed something was wrong. A Michigan county GOP organization encouraged poll workers to ignore rules barring cell phones in polling places and vote-counting centers. And just last week, the clerk of Kent County, Mich., announced that a witness allegedly saw a poll worker inserting a USB drive into an electronic poll book — the list of registered voters that shows who has cast ballots — during the August primary, leading to a pair of felony charges. The Kent County Clerk’s office declined to comment beyond a statement issued by Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons last week, stressing that the “incident had no impact on the election,” and that that specific poll book would no longer be used in future elections.

Full Article: Election officials confront a new problem: Whether they can trust their own poll workers – POLITICO

Nevada county’s plans to hand-count early ballots challenged | Gabe Stern/Associated Press

A rural county in Nevada where conspiracy theories about voting machines run deep is planning to start hand-counting its mail-in ballots two weeks before Election Day, a process that risks public release of early voting results. Several voting and civil rights groups said Monday they objected to the proposal and will consider legal action if Nye County pushes ahead with its plan. Nevada is one of 10 states that allow local election offices to begin tabulating ballots before Election Day, but the machines that typically do that are programmed not to release results. Nye County officials are planning a full hand-count in addition to a primary machine tabulation for the November election. The move was prompted by unfounded claims of fraud involving voting machines in the 2020 presidential election. Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf said hand-count teams will start tallying mail-in ballots on Oct. 26, just under two weeks ahead of Election Day. Hand-count tallies are done publicly for transparency, with observers in the room. That raises the possibility that someone keeping score could make early results from the count public before most voters have even cast their ballot, voting experts said.

Full Article: Nevada county’s plans to hand-count early ballots challenged | AP News

US faces election worker shortage ahead of midterms due to rise in threats | Ines Kagubare/The Hill

Officials warn the U.S. is facing a shortage of election workers ahead of the November midterms due to a rise in threats against those performing such jobs that experts link to false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In an interview last month, Kim Wyman, senior election security lead at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said because of those threats 1 in 3 elections officials and poll workers have quit their positions over fears for their safety, and state officials are having a hard time hiring for such positions. Experts attribute this problem to inflammatory rhetoric stemming from unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and elections officials were complicit. “Our elections have become very contentious,” said Jamil Jaffer, founder and executive director of the National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. Jaffer said the country is witnessing a situation where conflict between political parties is now affecting the work of election workers, many of whom are retirees volunteering their time to count votes. “Instead of respecting that civic duty, now people are taking out their frustrations and anger in politics on these election workers,” Jaffer said. “And that’s a real problem.”

Full Article: US faces election worker shortage ahead of midterms due to rise in threats | The Hill

How a Tiny Elections Company Became a Conspiracy Theory Target | Stuart A. Thompson/The New York Times

At an invitation-only conference in August at a secret location southeast of Phoenix, a group of election deniers unspooled a new conspiracy theory about the 2020 presidential outcome. Using threadbare evidence, or none at all, the group suggested that a small American election software company, Konnech, had secret ties to the Chinese Communist Party and had given the Chinese government backdoor access to personal data about two million poll workers in the United States, according to online accounts from several people at the conference. In the ensuing weeks, the conspiracy theory grew as it shot around the internet. To believers, the claims showed how China had gained near complete control of America’s elections. Some shared LinkedIn pages for Konnech employees who have Chinese backgrounds and sent threatening emails to the company and its chief executive, who was born in China. “Might want to book flights back to Wuhan before we hang you until dead!” one person wrote in an email to the company. In the two years since former President Donald J. Trump lost his re-election bid, conspiracy theorists have subjected election officials and private companies that play a major role in elections to a barrage of outlandish voter fraud claims. But the attacks on Konnech demonstrate how far-right election deniers are also giving more attention to new and more secondary companies and groups. Their claims often find a receptive online audience, which then uses the assertions to raise doubts about the integrity of American elections.

Full Article: How a Tiny Elections Company Became a Conspiracy Theory Target – The New York Times

Election workers train for battle against conspiracy theories | Arit John/Los Angeles Times

From his perch in an elementary school gym during last month’s Michigan primary, Grand Rapids City Clerk Joel Hondorp oversaw the electronic book of eligible voters, while first-time election workers Kimberly and Shayne Becher helped check people in and explain how to fill out ballots. Kimberly, a 59-year-old counselor from Greenville, said she and her husband wanted to get involved “to learn how this all works,” since neither is convinced that the 2020 presidential election hadn’t been stolen. “You just go to a Trump rally or go to a Biden rally, that will tell you … who won,” said Shayne, a 53-year-old carpenter. Hondorp hopes that the Bechers and others trained by his office, with a successful election behind them, will change their minds about the process. “Hopefully, they’re going to go back and talk to their friends and family … and say: ‘Hey, this is what we observed,’” Hondorp said. Across the country, election clerks have spent the last two years waging an information and public relations battle to restore faith in elections. They’re doing more TV interviews, giving more office tours and retooling their social media presences. They’re keeping up with legislation to overhaul elections and conspiracy theories spreading online. And they’re redoubling their efforts to explain the exhaustive steps they take to prevent fraud and run secure elections.

Full Article: Election workers train for battle against conspiracy theories – Los Angeles Times

Georgia to replace voting machines in Coffee County after alleged security breach | Amy Gardner, Emma Brown and Jon Swaine/The Washington Post

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Friday that he intends to replace some election equipment in a south Georgia county where forensics experts working last year for pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell copied virtually every component of the voting system. Raffensperger (R) said his office will replace machines in Coffee County “to allay the fears being stoked by perennial election deniers and conspiracy theorists.” He added that anyone who broke the law in connection with unauthorized access to Coffee County’s machines should be punished, “but the current election officials in Coffee County have to move forward with the 2022 election, and they should be able to do so without this distraction.” Some election-security experts have voiced concerns that the copying of the Coffee County software — used statewide in Georgia — risks exposing the entire state to hackers, who could use the copied software as a road map to find and exploit vulnerabilities. Raffensperger’s office has said that security protocols would make it virtually impossible for votes to be manipulated without detection. The move comes after Raffensperger’s office spent months voicing skepticism that such a security breach ever occurred in Coffee County. “There’s no evidence of any of that. It didn’t happen,” Gabe Sterling, Raffensperger’s chief operations officer, said at a public event in April.

Full Article: Georgia to replace voting machines in Coffee County after alleged security breach – The Washington Post

National: After victory in Nevada, election deniers increase calls to eliminate voting machines across the country | Soo Rin Kim and Laura Romero/ABC

Last month, an effort led by a rural county in Nevada handed election deniers a major victory: In November, several jurisdictions in the state will be hand-counting votes. The Nevada Secretary of State approved a proposal allowing jurisdictions to hand-count votes starting as soon as this fall’s midterm election, after Nye County, based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, decided earlier this year to abandon the Dominion voting machines it had relied on for years. “Everyone said, ‘It’s not you, it’s not the officials,'” said Sandra “Sam” Merlino, who resigned her position as county clerk after the county in March this year decided to use a hand-count instead of voting machines. “But what people don’t understand is, I put my trust in those machines and how the process works.” Last week, Merlino’s successor, Mark Kampf — who himself has been echoing unsubstantiated claims of 2020 election fraud — took a step back and announced a plan to use both hand counting and the Dominion machines for the upcoming elections as a way to cross-check results between the two methods.

Full Article: After victory in Nevada, election deniers increase calls to eliminate voting machines across the country – ABC News

National: Congress’ latest House-Senate wrangle: Preventing the next Jan. 6 | Nicholas Wu, Marianne Levine, Jordain Carney and Kyle Cheney/Politico

Efforts to reform an obscure 135-year-old election law, which Donald Trump tried to utilize to subvert the 2020 election, are reviving a classic congressional rivalry: the House vs. the Senate. After signaling for months that they wanted to go further than the Senate’s proposed adjustments to the law, House members could vote as early as Wednesday on legislation to update the Electoral Count Act, the 1887 statute that Trump and his allies distorted in an attempt to seize a second term he didn’t win. Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), members of the Jan. 6 select committee, on Monday outlined a proposal aimed at preventing rogue state officials and members of Congress from any future attempt at subversion of the transfer of presidential power. That plan is likely to set up an intense period of wrangling with the Senate, which in July teed up a competing bill that boasts bipartisan support, including the 10 GOP co-sponsors necessary to overcome a filibuster. Their proposal reforms the 19th-century law, which sets out deadlines for states to certify their own presidential contests and a process to deliver electors to Washington. The Electoral Count Act then sets out a process for the vice president — acting as president of the Senate — to preside over the count, and outlines a procedure for lawmakers to challenge any electors they deem invalid. The House version is substantially similar to the Senate bill, though it proposes slight variations and lays out certain processes in more detail. House members’ insistence on releasing their own bill is the latest episode in the simmering tensions between the two chambers as they enter their final stretch of legislating in this Congress, with lower-chamber Democrats hoping to go from bill text to passage within a week and the Senate moving more slowly, expecting to hold a markup of their legislation — while retaining GOP support — next week.

Full Article: Congress’ latest House-Senate wrangle: Preventing the next Jan. 6 – POLITICO

National: Meadows texts reveal direct White House communications with pro-Trump operative behind plans to seize voting machines | Zachary Cohen/CNN

As allies of then-President Donald Trump made a final push to overturn the election in late-December 2020, one of the key operatives behind the effort briefed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about his attempts to gain access to voting systems in key battleground states, starting with Arizona and Georgia, according to text messages obtained by CNN. Phil Waldron, an early proponent of various election-related conspiracy theories, texted Meadows on December 23 that an Arizona judge had dismissed a lawsuit filed by friendly GOP lawmakers there. The suit demanded state election officials hand over voting machines and other election equipment, as part of the hunt for evidence to support Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. In relaying the news to Meadows, Waldron said the decision would allow opponents to engage in “delay tactics” preventing Waldron and his associates from immediately accessing machines. Waldron also characterized Arizona as “our lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade,” referring to similar efforts in other states like Georgia. “Pathetic,” Meadows responded. The messages, which have not been previously reported, shed new light on how Waldron’s reach extended into the highest levels of the White House and the extent to which Meadows was kept abreast of plans for accessing voting machines, a topic sources tell CNN, and court documents suggest, is of particular interest to state and federal prosecutors probing efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Full Article: Meadows texts reveal direct White House communications with pro-Trump operative behind plans to seize voting machines | CNN Politics

National: False claims, threats fuel poll worker sign-ups for midterms | Sudhin Thanawala/Associated Press

Outraged by false allegations of fraud against a Georgia elections employee in 2020, Amanda Rouser made a vow as she listened to the woman testify before Congress in June about the racist threats and harassment she faced.“I said that day to myself, ‘I’m going to go work in the polls, and I’m going to see what they’re going to do to me,’” Rouser, who like the targeted employee is Black, recalled after stopping by a recruiting station for poll workers at Atlanta City Hall on a recent afternoon. “Try me, because I’m not scared of people.”About 40 miles north a day later, claims of fraud also brought Carolyn Barnes to a recruiting event for prospective poll workers, but with a different motivation.“I believe that we had a fraudulent election in 2020 because of the mail-in ballots, the advanced voting,” Barnes, 52, said after applying to work the polls for the first time in Forsyth County. “I truly believe that the more we flood the system with honest people who are trying to help out, it will straighten it out.”Barnes, who declined to give her party affiliation, said she wants to use her position as a poll worker to share her observations about “the gaps” in election security and “where stuff could happen afterwards.”

Full Article: False claims, threats fuel poll worker sign-ups for midterms | AP News

National: Top State Judges Make a Rare Plea in a Momentous Supreme Court Election Case | Adam Liptak/The New York Times

“It’s the biggest federalism issue in a long time,” Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court said on the phone the other day. “Maybe ever.” He was explaining why the Conference of Chief Justices, a group representing the top state judicial officers in the nation, had decided to file a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a politically charged election-law case. The brief urged the court to reject a legal theory pressed by Republicans that would give state legislatures extraordinary power. Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a law professor at Harvard, said the brief underscored how momentous the decision in the case could be. “It’s highly unusual for the Conference of Chief Justices to file an amicus brief in the Supreme Court,” he said. “It’s even rarer for the conference to do so in a controversial, ideologically charged case.” If the Supreme Court adopts the theory, it will radically reshape how federal elections are conducted by giving state lawmakers independent authority, not subject to review by state courts, to set election rules in conflict with state constitutions.

Full Article: Top State Judges Make a Rare Plea in a Momentous Supreme Court Election Case – The New York Times

Editorial: The 3 Types of Election-Denying Republicans Running for Secretary of State | Chris Geidner/The New York Times

Around a dozen election-denying Republican candidates secured their party’s nomination for secretary of state this fall. This is the reality, two years on, that Donald Trump’s election lies have created. There are three types of election-denying candidates, and each one poses distinct problems for civic integrity. There are the swing-state candidates getting lots of justified attention, running in places like Arizona and Michigan, because their elections could have pivotal, clear national implications in the 2024 presidential campaign. There are candidates like Chuck Gray in Wyoming, who is all but certain to take office in January, as Democrats didn’t field an opponent. Election-denying candidates in very red states aren’t getting as much attention now, but they likely will come January, when they are officeholders. They will help set policies in their states — many of which will also have Republican-led legislatures and governors — where extremist ideas could become law. And there are people like Dominic Rapini, Connecticut’s Republican secretary of state nominee, who are running in blue states and unlikely to win. Their campaigns, though, will have critical fallout effects. By virtue of their statewide platforms, even losing candidates can further damage the discourse — in their states and nationally — and increase the risks to our democracy. Election deniers in blue states can uniquely exacerbate Mr. Trump’s undermining of faith in our elections, and they, like their winning counterparts in red states, can set the stage for local election-denying candidates to win now or in the future.

Full Article: Opinion | The Dangers of Election-Denying Secretary of State Campaigns – The New York Times

Arizona election integrity unit found little fraud, exacerbated suspicions | Beth Reinhard and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez/The Washington Post

Republicans across the country have embraced an aggressive tactic this year as they seek to tout baseless claims that voter fraud is a serious threat: arming state agencies with more power and resources to investigate election crimes. Virginia’s Republican attorney general earlier this month announced a new election integrity unit staffed with more than 20 attorneys and investigators “to increase transparency and strengthen confidence in our state elections.” Georgia legislators recently empowered the statewide police agency to launch election probes. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last month described the arrests of 20 people for alleged illegal voting as the “opening salvo” of a new elections police force. But a Washington Post examination of an earlier endeavor in Arizona to systematically ferret out voter fraud found it has turned up few cases — and that rather than bolster confidence in elections, the absence of massive fraud has just fueled more bogus theories and distrust. After investigating thousands of complaints in the past three years, a special unit in the Arizona attorney general’s office created to crack down on illegal voting and other election-related crimes has prosecuted just 20 cases in a state of more than 4 million voters. The total represents a slight increase from the 16 cases brought by the office in a previous six-year period, according to court filings and hundreds of pages of public records.

Full Article: Arizona election integrity unit found little fraud, exacerbated suspicions – The Washington Post

California county warns of ‘very aggressive’ people impersonating elections officials | Eric Ting/San Francisco Chronicle

“Very aggressive” individuals impersonating elections officials have reportedly been knocking on Shasta County residents’ doors and questioning their voter registration status, Shasta County’s elections office warned residents this week. “They’re wearing very distinctive neon vests and some kind of ID badge that says ‘voter task force,'” County Clerk Cathy Darling Allen told SFGATE. “We are being told that these people are being very aggressive and intimating that they work in this office when they do not. We want voters to know this isn’t an official effort; we have a whole host of tools we use to verify info. Door knocking is not something we would ever do.” Allen said it is probably a safe assumption that members of the fake “voter task force” are individuals who believe, incorrectly, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. In the time since that election, her office has become a “dumping ground for frustrations” and has had to deal with things ranging from frivolous copy-pasted public records requests to demands that the office preserve records it is required to destroy by California state law. “What we’ve heard is these people aren’t going door-to-door,” Allen said. “People who contacted us said, ‘My house is the only one on the street they went to.'”

Source: NorCal county warns of ‘very aggressive’ voter intimidation

Colorado: Election deniers inundate Jefferson County clerks with unprecedented number of information requests; One clerk calls it ‘morale killer’ | Brian Maass/CBS

As Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder George Stern’s staff is gearing up for the Nov. 8 midterm election, he says his office is being hamstrung by dozens of new open records act requests seeking detailed information about the 2020 election, nearly two years ago. “It’s a huge distraction and morale killer eight weeks before a very important election,” Stern said. “He says he is obligated to respond and fulfill the Colorado Open Records Act requests but calls it frustrating that some are consuming valuable staff time, trying to litigate the 2020 election, which he says was free and fair. Of 380,000 votes cast in El Paso County in the 2020 election, Stern says he is aware of one potential case of attempted fraud. “We’ve received CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) requests — about 15 — in a matter of a few days, all copy and pasted. This is a coordinated effort by somebody,” Stern said. The requests typically ask for a dozen or more obscure pieces of 2020 election, information such as undervotes, overvotes, mark density and cast vote records. Some of the requests demand Stern’s office preserve 2020 election records as the requestor indicates they may sue his office over unspecified 2020 election fraud. “Staff members are exhausted from all this,” Stern explained. “It’s a drain.” Stern, a Democrat, continued, saying, ” We’re seeing this all over the state in big counties, small counties, counties that are left and counties that are right. All clerks are facing it.”

Full Article: Election deniers inundate Colorado county clerks with unprecedented number of information requests; One clerk calls it ‘morale killer’ – CBS Colorado