National: Election Officials Get Access to Microsoft Security Tools | Phil Goldstein/StateTech Magazine

Although the primary election season calendar has been thrown off-kilter, election cybersecurity concerns are still top of mind, and election security trainings have moved online. The threat landscape has not become any less complex for state and local election officials. In fact, one could argue the attention paid to countering the coronavirus pandemic is taking awareness and resources away from election security, making it even more important they be refocused on the ballot box. “Potential changes to the primary schedules of certain states, and the exploration of further mobile and mail voting options in the midst of coronavirus, has only piqued interest on the topic of election cybersecurity, and we look forward to continuing a bipartisan dialogue, state-by-state,” Justin Griffin, managing director of the University of Southern California’s Election Cybersecurity Initiative, tells Politico.

National: Vote safely by mail in November? Not so fast, say Republicans | Sam Levine/The Guardian

An explosive fight is emerging over whether Americans will be able to vote in November without risking their lives. It’s unclear how safe it will be to gather at the polls during the presidential election, but Donald Trump and other top Republicans have made it clear that they will oppose efforts to make it easier to vote by mail as an alternative. Both Republicans and Democrats have long utilized mail-in voting, and voters on both ends of the political spectrum overwhelmingly favor making it easier to do so in the election. But Trump’s opposition appears based on a thinly veiled political calculus: the fewer Americans who vote, the better the political prospects for the Republican party. “They had things, levels of voting, that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” the president said in March, dismissing Democratic efforts to expand mail-in voting. That Republican estimation has been at the center of many of the hotly contested fights over voting rules in recent years. The party has generally favored restrictions on voting, such as voter ID, while Democrats have pushed to make it easier to cast a ballot.

Arkansas: Counties to get help for election; state to apply federal funds of $4.7M for ballots, machines | Michael R. Wickline/Northwest Arkansas Newspapers

Secretary of State John Thurston said Wednesday that his office is working on a plan to help counties by using $4.7 million in federal funds to help mitigate coronavirus concerns during the Nov. 3 general election. “We are looking at helping counties with maybe larger venues, where they may spread their machines out a little more,” by possibly renting out larger places for polling sites and also purchasing sanitizing products, the East End Republican told the state Board of Election Commissioners that he chairs. “Obviously, absentee voting, we believe, will increase, and we just want to help the counties with those federal dollars and helping purchase all the things that they will need for that,” Thurston said. He said his office hasn’t “totally ironed out all the details” on spending the federal grant obtained through the U.S. Election Assistance Commission under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.

California: As Los Angeles County expands vote by mail due to pandemic, NAACP and CAP warn against eliminating polling places | Kristen Farrah Naee/The Signal Tribune

With many counties across the nation, including Los Angeles County, expanding vote-by-mail options for constituents in order to support voter participation and safety during the coronavirus pandemic, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Center for American Progress (CAP) have released a joint publication stating that an increase in vote by mail registration should not be used as a reason to eliminate or decrease in person polling places. A proposal to mail ballots to every registered voter in Los Angeles County passed unanimously by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 28. Beginning with the General Election in November, all county residents will receive vote-by-mail ballots. The accepted motion also includes instructions to send a five-signature letter to the Los Angeles County State Legislative Delegation asking for emergency state funds to be allocated for the accelerated expansion of vote by mail procedures.

Connecticut: Calls for mail-in voting as city halls remain closed, registrars of voters work remotely amid pandemic | Tina Detelj/WTNH

With city and town hall employees working remotely, and most residents self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, the calls are getting louder for everybody to be able to mail in their votes during the next election or primary if they want to.  The days of long lines at polling places may soon be a thing of the past, at least for now. In New London, city hall remains closed to the public, as registrars of voters across the state continue to work remotely and this pandemic continues to concern many. This could mean more absentee ballots and changes to state law to allow more people to be able to do this. And it could also mean more work for local registrars of voters. A group of forty organizations is calling on Governor Ned Lamont to issue an executive order which would make it easier for anyone to vote through the mail instead of in-person during this pandemic. “People should not have to put their lives on the line in order to be able to vote,” said Tom Swan, Executive Director, CCAG, CT Citizen Action Group.

Florida: Court Hands Blow to Democrats Who Sued Over Florida Ballot Order | Bobby Caina Calvan/NBC 6

The state of Florida does not have to come up with a new way to list candidates on the ballot, a federal appellate court ruled Wednesday, dealing a blow to Democrats who argued that Republicans have an unfair advantage because the current system automatically lists their candidates first. The high-stakes jockeying over name order on Florida’s ballot is hardly inconsequential as Republicans and Democrats grapple for every advantage they can get in elections that are often too close to call on election night. Tossing out a lower court’s ruling, the appellate court found that the lawsuit filed by three Florida voters and several Democratic groups had wrongly targeted the state’s chief elections officer, who the court said isn’t responsible for printing ballots and setting the order in which names appear. In a statement, the groups said they would weigh their options. They also took issue with the court’s finding that Democrats were not harmed. Under Florida law, President Donald Trump would automatically appear at the top of the ballot in November — ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee.

Georgia: Voters Ask Judge to Postpone Primary to Implement COVID-19 Safety Plan | R. Robin McDonald / Daily Report

An organization dedicated to election integrity and five women voters have asked a federal judge to delay Georgia’s primary for three weeks to implement a detailed COVID-19 safety plan. Plaintiffs lawyers asked District Judge Timothy Batten in a motion filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for an injunction postponing the primary, which also includes nonpartisan elections for the state’s judges, until June 30 in order to implement a comprehensive 18-point plan designed by the plaintiffs. The state already twice postponed the primary, which was originally scheduled for March 24. The pandemic safety plan proposed by the plaintiffs would allow in-person voting with significant safety requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and would correct a number of problems associated with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s push for a robust use of absentee ballots. But it would also largely replace statewide use of a new computer voting system that includes both a touchscreen and a paper ballot component exclusively with paper ballots. U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten has given the secretary of state until May 12 to respond.

Nevada: Federal court rejects group’s claim that voter fraud would effect Nevada mail-in primary | J. Edward Moreno/The Hill

A federal court has rejected a claim by the Texas-based voter’s rights group True the Vote that said voter fraud would run rampant in the state’s all-mail Republican primary on June 9. The Texas-based group dedicated to the prevention of voter fraud filed a lawsuit against the state on April 21 after the state moved to have an all-mail primary due to fears of the coronavirus. U.S. District Court Judge Mirandu Du, an Obama appointee, said the plaintiff’s arguments were “difficult to track and ail to even minimally meet the first standing prong,” and “their claim of voter fraud is without any factual basis.” Du wrote that the argument that an all-mail election is more susceptible to voter fraud “seems unlikely” given that the steps taken by the Nevada Secretary of State’s office “maintain the material safeguards to preserve election integrity.” She also dismissed claims by members of True to Vote, who alleged that the all-mail election violated state law.

Pennsylvania: Pitt report says Congress needs to step up funding to Pennsylvania for election costs amid pandemic | Julian Routh/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Congress has provided less than a fifth of the funding that Pennsylvania needs to prepare its 2020 elections for the impacts of COVID-19, according to a new report co-authored by the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security. The collaborative report, based on cost analysis and interviews with state and local elections officials in five states, estimated that Pennsylvania will need between $79.1 million and $90.1 million to hold safe, secure and fair elections this year, warning that that the $14.2 million allocated so far by the federal government is nowhere near enough to “ensure a system that is sufficiently resilient against pandemics or other emergencies.” Estimates showed that the cost to prepare for elections in the five states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri and Ohio — already exceeds the $400 million Congress allocated across the entire country in its third stimulus package in March. “What’s clear to me and what’s clear to others is that state and local officials really need more money, and Congress ought to be the one stepping in to do that,” said Christopher Deluzio, policy director for Pitt’s institute.

South Carolina: South Carolina GOP wants to weigh in on coronavirus voting lawsuit | John Munk and Emma Dumain/The State

The South Carolina Republican Party is trying to intervene in a potentially historic legal action in the S.C. Supreme Court where Democrats are seeking a high court ruling to expand absentee voting this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The SC GOP simply wants a seat at the table to ensure all stakeholders have a voice in this matter of public interest and importance,” the Republican Party lawyers said in their motion. The Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will hear the case — a move called original jurisdiction —without sending it to a lower court first. Last week, the South Carolina Democratic Party joined the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and two S.C. Democratic candidates in filing a legal action against the State Election Commission in the Supreme Court asking for a ruling that would — because of the “unprecedented” threat posed by the highly communicable and sometimes deadly coronavirus — in effect greatly expand the number of people able to vote by absentee ballot.

Wisconsin: Officials say at least 40 people who voted or worked in Wisconsin elections have coronavirus | Rebecca Klar/The Hill

At least 40 people who voted in person or worked at polls in Wisconsin’s elections earlier this month have tested positive for coronavirus, the state’s health department confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday. “So far, 40 people who tested COVID-19 positive after April 9 have reported that they voted in person or worked the polls on election day,” Elizabeth Goodsitt, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said in an email. It’s unclear if the people got the coronavirus through taking part in the primary, however, as several reported additional possible exposures, she said. Politico reported earlier Tuesday that the department confirmed at least 36 people who voted in person or worked at the polls had tested positive.