Wisconsin Republicans Push to Take Over the State’s Elections | Reid J. Epstein/The New York Times

Republicans in Wisconsin are engaged in an all-out assault on the state’s election infrastructure, building off their attempts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential race by pressing to give themselves full control over voting in the state. The Republican effort — broader and more forceful than that in any other state where allies of former President Donald J. Trump are trying to overhaul elections — takes direct aim at the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, an agency Republicans created half a decade ago that has been under attack since the chaotic aftermath of last year’s election. The firestorm picked up late last month after a long-awaited report on the 2020 results that was ordered by Republican state legislators found no evidence of fraud but made dozens of suggestions for the election commission and the G.O.P.-led Legislature, turbocharging Republican demands for more control of elections. Then the Trump-aligned sheriff of Racine County, the state’s fifth most populous county, recommended felony charges against five of the six members of the election commission for guidance they had given to municipal clerks early in the pandemic. The Republican majority leader of the State Senate later seemed to give a green light to that proposal, saying that “prosecutors around the state” should determine whether to bring charges. And last week, Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican, said that G.O.P. state lawmakers should unilaterally assert control of federal elections, claiming that they had the authority to do so even if Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, stood in their way — an extraordinary legal argument debunked by a 1932 Supreme Court decision and a 1964 ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His suggestion was nonetheless echoed by Michael Gableman, a conservative former State Supreme Court justice who is conducting the Legislature’s election inquiry.

Full Article: Wisconsin Republicans Push to Take Over the State’s Elections – The New York Times

California: San Francisco received $1.5 million to explore online voting. Critics think it’s a horrible idea | Jeff Elder/The San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco’s Department of Technology obtained a $1.5 million federal grant to explore online voting. That didn’t go over too well with voting experts. In a scathing letter delivered to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, a long list of election experts blasted The City’s Department of Technology on Tuesday, calling it illegal, a serious security risk and lacking in transparency. “We are writing to you today with grave concerns regarding an initiative of the San Francisco Department of Technology,” the letter reads, citing a pilot program for “an electronic ballot return system, which is not permitted under California law.” The letter is signed by the California Voter Foundation, National Voting Rights Task Force, Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford, along with Lowell Finley, a former California deputy secretary of state, among others. The project seeks an online program to verify the identities of disabled voters, who could then vote online. City paperwork from last April shows the San Francisco Department of Technology obtained a $1.5 million federal grant to pursue the online voting project on behalf of 11 other California counties. Elections Director John Arntz said at the Elections Commission meeting on Wednesday that the project was intended to explore voting solutions for citizens with accessibility issues who cannot easily vote in person, not to develop an online voting system. The experts express alarm at “the serious and unsolved security vulnerabilities” of online voting, a view shared by many other voting experts. Last year the federal government’s top election security agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, warned that “electronic ballot return is high risk” and “faces significant security risks to voted ballot integrity, voter privacy, and system availability.”

Full Article: SF received $1.5 million to explore online voting. Critics think it’s a horrible idea – The San Francisco Examiner

National: Senators urge funds to help election workers amid ‘unacceptable’ threats | Jason Szep/Reuters

The leaders of a Senate committee on Monday urged the Federal Election Assistance Commission to help election officials around the country tap federal money to strengthen security during a wave of threats and harassment following the 2020 U.S. election. “This onslaught of threats against election workers is unacceptable and raises serious concerns about the ability to recruit and retain election workers needed to administer future elections,” the Rules Committee’s Democratic chairwoman, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and top Republican, Senator Roy Blunt, said in a letter to the U.S. agency overseeing election administration. The senators asked the agency to provide state and local election officials with information on how to use federal election funds to improve security. They also asked it to provide guidance on other resources available “for identifying and responding to potential threats.” The letter follows a series of Reuters stories documenting a campaign of fear waged against frontline election administrators inspired by former President Donald Trump’s relentless false claims that the 2020 vote was “rigged” against him. Reuters has documented nearly 800 intimidating messages to election officials in 12 states, including more than 100 that could warrant prosecution, according to legal experts. “Reuters’ ongoing reporting on this issue has helped expose the extent and nature of threats against election workers and officials,” a Rules Committee staffer said.

Full Article: U.S. senators urge funds to help election workers amid ‘unacceptable’ threats | Reuters

National: Trump allies work to place supporters in key election posts across the country, spurring fears about future vote challenges | Amy Gardner, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey/The Washington Post

In Michigan, local GOP leaders have sought to reshape election canvassing boards by appointing members who expressed sympathy for former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 vote was rigged. In two Pennsylvania communities, candidates who embraced election fraud allegations won races this month to become local voting judges and inspectors. And in Colorado, 2020 doubters are urging their followers on conservative social media platforms to apply for jobs in election offices. A year after local and state election officials came under immense pressure from Trump to subvert the results of the 2020 White House race, he and his supporters are pushing an ambitious plan to place Trump loyalists in key positions across the administration of U.S. elections. The effort goes far beyond the former president’s public broadsides against well-known Republican state officials who certified President Biden’s victory, such as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Citing the need to make elections more secure, Trump allies are also seeking to replace officials across the nation, including volunteer poll watchers, paid precinct judges, elected county clerks and state attorneys general, according to state and local officials, as well as rally speeches, social media posts and campaign appearances by those seeking the positions. If they succeed, Trump and his allies could pull down some of the guardrails that prevented him from overturning Biden’s win by creating openings to challenge the results next time, election officials and watchdog groups say.

Full Article: Trump allies work to place supporters in key election posts across the country, spurring fears about future vote challenges – The Washington Post

National: Justice Department indicts two Iranian hackers over 2020 election disinformation campaign | Devlin Barrett/The Washington Post

Two Iranian men were indicted by the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday, accused of a brazen hacking and disinformation campaign that targeted American voters in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Seyyed Kazemi, 24, and Sajjad Kashian, 27, allegedly sent threatening emails to try to scare voters, attempted to break into several states’ voting-related websites and gained access to a U.S. media company’s computer network. Officials say the pair emailed thousands of voters in October, including many Democrats. They allegedly claimed to be Proud Boys and threatened the email recipients with physical attacks if they did not change party affiliation and vote for President Donald Trump. The emails seemed to target primarily voters in Florida and Alaska, officials said at the time. The same illicit effort also pushed a video through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that claimed to show someone hacking into voter websites to create falsified overseas and absentee ballots, according to the indictment. The court filing said that video also falsely claimed to be affiliated with the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of violence that largely embraced President Donald Trump. Unlike the threatening emails, officials said the phony video about fake ballots was pushed at Republicans.

Full Article: Seyyed Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian, alleged Iranian hackers, indicted over U.S. election efforts – The Washington Post

National: RNC chair contradicts Trump: ‘Biden won the election’ | Julia Manchester/The Hill

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Thursday acknowledged President Biden‘s electoral victory over former President Trump, marking the first time she has explicitly said Biden won the contest a year ago. “Painfully, Joe Biden won the election and it’s very painful to watch. He’s the president. We know that,” McDaniel told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington. The former president has continued to falsely claim that the 2020 contest was stolen from him, a claim that has been repeated by other Republicans, including many running in next year’s midterm elections. McDaniel said that there were “lots of problems” with last year’s presidential election. “We have to show our voters we are putting processes in place that will ensure the election is fair and transparent,” she said. The RNC created a “Committee on Election Integrity” in February. McDaniel also touted the importance of Trump to the party when it comes to getting voters to the ballot box.

Full Article: RNC chair contradicts Trump: ‘Biden won the election’ | TheHill

Editorial: With democracy under duress, a few — but too few — Republicans speak up | Scot Lehigh/The Boston Globe

For those who dwell in the rational world, one of the most disconcerting aspects of our current era is the extraordinary purchase falsity has gained in our nation’s politics. It’s not merely a foothold that has been secured, but a stronghold. The entire Republican Party, almost, if one counts not just those who propagate patently dishonest claims, but also those who enable those lies through their silence. I’m speaking here, obviously, about the enormous and corrosive falsehood that Donald Trump had a presidential election victory stolen from him last year. That’s evidence-free absurdity on stilts, which is why scores of Big Lie lawsuits failed in courts across the country. It’s why recounts and audits — including even the clownish Cyber Ninjas effort in Maricopa County, Ariz. — have confirmed Joe Biden’s victory. It’s why Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s reckless lawyer, was recently forced into the sheepish acknowledgment that he had culled some of his lurid voter fraud claims from social media posts (!) and sometimes hadn’t even made a cursory effort to investigate those allegations before spewing them out. Yet in the face of all that, the vast majority of congressional Republicans remain mute about the Big Lie, refusing either to reject it forcefully or to rebuke Trump for its telling. Discounting the occasional congressional kook, most obviously know better. Some stay silent to avoid Trump’s wrath. Others don’t have the fortitude to challenge a myth believed by 68 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of the Fox-washed faithful. Others are amoral accommodationists who believe the Republican Party’s best path back to party power is to keep Trump and his supporters on the GOP side of the political jungle.

Full Article: With democracy under duress, a few — but too few — Republicans speak up – The Boston Globe

Arizona: ‘You’ll get nothing out of this’: Partisans with limited experience stumble through gaffe-prone ‘audit’ | Ronald J. Hansen, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

On the day in March that Ken Bennett joined the state Senate’s ballot review team, he wanted a Democrat to join him. Bennett, the Republican former state Senate president and secretary of state, was well known in conservative circles. But he wanted to add bipartisan credibility to a Republican-led effort cast as a forensic audit of Maricopa County’s election results. He called his friend, F. Ann Rodriguez, the recently retired Pima County recorder. Rodriguez, a Democrat, oversaw more than 280 elections over 28 years in office. She laughed. “Ken, you don’t have enough money to pay me to do that,” she remembered telling him on March 23. “There is a no-win situation in that one. No matter what comes out, we know in politics there’s a fall person. You’ll get nothing out of this, Ken. Absolutely nothing.” That same day, Helen Purcell, the former Republican Maricopa County recorder, told Bennett why she had turned down the job as liaison to the ballot review that he had just taken. “I just don’t think any good can come of this,” she told him. Three days later, Bennett contacted the Arizona Democratic Party, whose leaders were roundly skeptical the review would be fair or boost public confidence. They declined to participate. On March 28, Bennett began reaching out to Pete Rios, the former Democratic state senator from Pinal County, who is a former county supervisor there. “I need your help,” Rios remembered Bennett saying when they finally spoke on April 1. “You’re the first one I thought of.” Rios said he needed several days to consider the offer. In truth, he doubted he would do it; only his respect for Bennett kept him from turning it down flat. After consulting three fellow Democrats, all of whom warned against joining a “fiasco,” Rios told Bennett he couldn’t take the job. “Ken, my D’s will hang me if there is some question at the end of this audit that says that there was fraud when there really wasn’t,” Rios told Bennett in April.

Full Article: Arizona audit: Partisans stumble through gaffe-prone election review

Second Colorado county clerk joins Hanks lawsuit seeking 2020 election ‘audit’ | Colorado Newsline

A second Colorado county clerk signed on to a lawsuit filed by state Rep. Ron Hanks against Secretary of State Jena Griswold as part of an effort to conduct a third-party “audit” of the 2020 election in the state. Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder was added as a plaintiff in the lawsuit in an amended complaint entered a day after the initial complaint was filed in Denver District Court on Nov. 18. The lawsuit claims that election system software used in Colorado’s 64 counties in 2020 was improperly certified, that the secretary of state’s office illegally destroyed election records, and that Griswold exceeded her authority when in the summer she adopted emergency rules to prevent the kind of election audit then occurring in Arizona, which she deemed illegitimate. Also named as plaintiffs are Merlin Klotz, the Douglas County clerk and recorder; two of the three Rio Blanco County commissioners, Gary Moyer and Jeff Rector; and Park County Commissioner Amy Mitchell. Claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent or compromised have been debunked by expertscourts and election officials from both parties. When asked Monday about his motivation for joining the lawsuit, Schroeder said, “I’m not going to be speaking to the news media about that. We’ll have a website up shortly that will explain what’s going on.” Schroeder in August told Newsline that after the November 2020 election, he started fielding calls about election integrity from citizens, and to demonstrate that constituents could have confidence in the results his office conducted a hand recount of the vote in Elbert. The recount proved the results were correct.

Full Article: Second Colorado county clerk joins Hanks lawsuit seeking 2020 election ‘audit’ – Colorado Newsline

Editorial: Trump’s rage at Georgia Republicans should unsettle us all | Greg Sargent/The Washington Post

Earlier this year, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the most nationally scrutinized “election integrity” bill in the country. The Republican governor plainly hoped this would atone for the sin of being insufficiently corrupt on Donald Trump’s behalf, by insulating him from Trump’s attacks on his refusal to help overturn the 2020 election. In this apparent calculus, while Kemp wouldn’t destroy his reputation by engaging in full-blown corruption to help overturn U.S. democracy and keep Trump in power illegitimately, at least he’d be seen championing one of the worst voter suppression bills in memory. That would count for something, right? Oddly enough, this doesn’t appear to have had its desired effect. CNN reports that Kemp is now facing the prospect of a serious primary challenge from David Perdue, the businessman and former senator. He very well may have Trump’s backing, and Republicans in the state say Kemp could lose if it happens. In much of our discourse, Trump-backed GOP primary challenges to sitting Republicans tend to be cast mainly as retaliation for personal disloyalty to the former president. There’s something to that, but the full truth appears to be darker. What this really suggests is that large swaths of Republican voters appear to want to elect people to office who would have been willing to overturn the election on Trump’s behalf, and will be willing to overturn a loss in the future.

Full Article: Opinion | Trump’s rage at Gov. Brian Kemp over the 2020 election should unsettle us all – The Washington Post

Louisiana: Lingering election doubts undermine democracy. Will state replace machines with paper ballots? | Mark Ballard | ark Ballard/The Advocate

Two recent national surveys show that a year after Donald Trump was defeated at the polls about two-thirds of his supporters and Republicans still believe the election was stolen. More troubling is that the drumbeat to discredit the 2020 results – despite absolutely no credible evidence of widespread fraud – has lowered confidence in the integrity of U.S. elections to the point that “three in ten Americans now believe the nation’s system is fundamentally unsound,” according to a Monmouth University, of New Jersey, survey of 811 Americans conducted Nov. 4-8 with a margin of error of ±3.5 points. The Monmouth Poll found 73% of Republicans believe that President Joe Biden only won the 2020 election because of voting irregularities. “This constant onslaught of disinformation being targeted at Trump supporters and Republican voters is leading to the environment which we’re seeing right now,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that, along with GOP pollster Echelon Insights, of Virginia, surveyed 1,600 Americans Oct. 20-26 with a margin of error of ±3.5 points. That poll found 65% of Republicans surveyed still say the votes in 2020 weren’t counted fairly.

Full Article: Lingering election doubts undermine democracy. Will Louisiana replace machines with paper ballots? | Mark Ballard | theadvocate.com

Michigan: Proposed ban on use of donated space as polling places is questioned | David Eggert/Associated Press

Clerks and other opponents of a ballot initiative that would toughen Michigan’s voting rules raised concerns Wednesday about its proposed ban on using donated spaces as polling places, saying churches and religious organizations account for 20% of them. Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group that compiled the information, said 664 of 3,355 polling places in the 2020 election were churches, places of worship or similar religious spaces. “There’s a growing panic about the implications,” said Mary Clark, president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks and the clerk in Delta Township, located near Lansing. “Whether they’re intended or unintended consequences is irrelevant. They’re consequences to voters. … The ban on any in-kind contribution would be devastating.” She said the township of 33,000 residents has 16 precincts. Twelve are located in 10 places of worship. Paying “going market rate, for me, adds up to a lot of money,” Clark said. “It’s quite unsettling.” Republicans launched the ballot drive in late August to sidestep Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who vetoed similar legislation two months later. The GOP-controlled Legislature is expected to pass the Secure MI Vote initiative if enough voter signatures are collected.

Full Article: Ban on use of donated space as polling places is questioned

Missouri: Secretasry of State touts integrity of 2020 election, but supports an audit | Jason Hancock/Missouri Independent

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is confident Missouri’s 2020 election was safe and secure. And while he has concerns about things that transpired in other states last year, he dismisses the idea that fraud cost Donald Trump the presidential election. “Under our Constitution, Joe Biden was duly elected by our presidential electors. End of story,” Ashcroft said, later adding: “I have tried to be very consistent in saying that laws were not followed in different states, but I have not seen evidence that shows that the winners were changed by that.” At the same time, Ashcroft is on board with the push for Missouri lawmakers to create a new system for post-election audits — a cause that has become the rallying cry for conspiracy theorists peddling the lie of a stolen 2020 election. Ashcroft doesn’t buy into the conspiracies, but says he supports the push for audits because they could bolster voter confidence. “When I say that I believe our election was run securely, I do,” Ashcroft said. “But I have not gone back through and done a massive audit to prove that it was done well. And that’s how you know.” He’s not ready to roll out any specific ideas, he said, but is eager to work with state lawmakers when they return to Jefferson City in January. Missouri’s chief election official throwing his support behind the push for election audits is causing heartburn for some local officials and advocates around the state who fear it may feed into the drumbeat of baseless allegations about election fraud from Trump and his allies.

Full Article: Jay Ashcroft touts integrity of Missouri’s 2020 election, but supports an audit • Missouri Independent

Nevada: Elko County to consider alternatives to Dominion voting machines | Timothy Burmeister/Elko Daily

Elko County Clerk Kris Jakeman said Wednesday that she is happy with the Dominion Voting Systems machines the county has been using, but she will investigate possible alternatives in response to a request from the Elko County commissioners. Lee Hoffman, chairman of the Elko County Republican Party, was at Wednesday’s county commission meeting to ask the county to look into replacing the Dominion machines. He read a resolution approved by the Elko County Republican Party. “Whereas there is evidence of vote count tampering in places where Dominion voting machines have been used, especially in metropolitan areas in swing states,” the resolution says, “the Elko County Republican Party … strongly urges the Elko County Board of Commissioners and the Elko County Clerk to investigate alternatives to the Dominion voting machines currently in use in Elko County and to cancel the contract with Dominion if necessary …” The resolution also says the Elko County Republican Party “recognizes that implementation of alternatives would have associated costs, but asserts that election integrity is worth finding the necessary funding …” Hoffman said this request does not question the quality of the elections in Elko County.

Full Article: County to consider alternatives to Dominion voting machines | Local | elkodaily.com

New Hampshire: Fraud narrative drives attempts to change election law | Rick Green/Concord Monitor

Major changes would be required in the way New Hampshire conducts elections under bills proposed by Republican state legislators, many of whom have questioned the integrity of the last statewide vote. Perhaps the biggest change would come under House Bill 1064, sponsored by Rep. Mark Alliegro, R-Campton, which would require every ballot to be counted by hand. A total of 814,000 votes were cast in last year’s election, and 80 percent of the ballots were tallied by optical scan machines. About one-third of the state’s municipalities count by hand. Other legislative proposals seek to strengthen enforcement of election law, alter existing residency requirements, change the voter ID process and seek election audits. Optical scan devices have been used by many states for decades and are judged reliable by the secretary of state’s office. In instances where voting machines are used, a voter marks the ballot and inserts it into the scanner. The paper ballot is retained in case of a recount. No widespread problems have been reported with these devices, but Alliegro said the electronic vote count was off by several percentage points in some towns. He declined to provide specifics. Ten New Hampshire legislators, all Republicans, are sponsoring the bill, which would prohibit the use of computers, scanners, or other electronic devices to count and tally ballots. No estimate has been made on how much more it would cost to count all votes by hand.

Full Article: Fraud narrative drives attempts to change NH election law

North Carolina Elections Board to review results of new election audit tests | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

The N.C. State Board of Elections will consider the results of testing a new kind of post-election audit in North Carolina this week. The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday to certify the results of November’s municipal elections. As part of that process, the board reviews data and reports from the county and state election officials to make sure they ran they elections fairly and accurately. This time, the board has an extra tool for reviewing results from the 17 counties that test-ran “risk-limiting audits,” or RLAs, last week. RLAs are “tabulation audits,” or the kind of post-election check using statistical analysis to make sure the machines that read ballots and count votes did so accurately. The counties participating in the pilot are Beaufort, Brunswick, Buncombe, Carteret, Cleveland, Granville, Harnett, Henderson, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Scotland, Stokes, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wayne and Wilkes. State and county election officials are looking to RLAs to increase public confidence in elections and to improve the efficiency of election administration, though county election officials told Carolina Public Press more work remains before RLAs are likely to achieve either goal in North Carolina. The state board ran the audit pilots to find ways it can improve the process before moving forward, according to spokesperson Pat Gannon. North Carolina follows in the footsteps of Colorado, Virginia and Rhode Island, which require RLAs after elections. Another dozen states are piloting RLAs or have made them an option. The audits are recommended by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and a bevy of other state, federal and good-governance organizations. Depending on the RLA report state election staff presents on Tuesday, the board could decide to run another round of pilots in more — or all — counties in the spring primary elections, Gannon said. Alternatively, the board could decide to take no further action.

Full Article: NC Elections Board to review results of new election audit tests – Carolina Public Press

Ohio: Attempted breach of Lake County election network draws FBI and state scrutiny | Amy Gardner, Emma Brown and Devlin Barrett/The Washington Post

Federal and state investigators are examining an attempt to breach an Ohio county’s election network that bears striking similarities to an incident in Colorado earlier this year, when government officials helped an outsider gain access to the county voting system in an effort to find fraud. Data obtained in both instances were distributed at an August “cyber symposium” on election fraud hosted by MyPillow executive Mike Lindell, an ally of former president Donald Trump who has spent millions of dollars promoting false claims that the 2020 election was rigged. The attempted breach in Ohio occurred on May 4 inside the county office of John Hamercheck (R), chairman of the Lake County Board of Commissioners, according to two individuals with knowledge of the incident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigations. State and county officials said no sensitive data were obtained, but they determined that a private laptop was plugged into the county network in Hamercheck’s office, and that the routine network traffic captured by the computer was circulated at the same Lindell conference as the data from the Colorado breach. Together, the incidents in Ohio and Colorado point to an escalation in attacks on the nation’s voting systems by those who have embraced Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was riddled with fraud. Now, some Trump loyalists pushing for legal challenges and partisan audits are also targeting local officials in a bid to gain access to election systems — moves that themselves could undermine election security. An FBI spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that the bureau is investigating the incident in Lake County but declined to comment further. Investigators are trying to determine whether someone on the fifth floor of the Lake County government building improperly accessed the computer network and whether any laws were violated.

Full Article: Attempted breach of Ohio county election network draws FBI and state scrutiny – The Washington Post

Pennsylvania: Questions remain about GOP’s election ‘investigation’ | Marc Levy/Associated Press

Many questions remain unanswered Tuesday as to what Republicans in Pennsylvania’s Senate can accomplish from what they call a “forensic investigation” into last year’s presidential election now that they have hired a contractor that has not pointed to any experience in elections. Senate Republicans last week hired the Iowa-based Envoy Sage onto a $270,000 contract to help carry out the undertaking, fueled by pressure from former President Donald Trump and his allies in a search for fraud across battleground states to back up their baseless allegations that the election was stolen. In a brief conference call with reporters Tuesday, Steve Lahr, Envoy Sage’s president, said the company could hire people or subcontractors with expertise, if necessary. … Mark Lindeman, a political scientist who has written on and consulted on post-election audits, said many people have experience in working closely with various kinds of election records and equipment, such as paper ballots, vote totals and registration and voting records. “Experience matters because novices can misinterpret the routine quirks of elections as anomalies or evidence of fraud,” said Lindeman, who works for Verified Voting, which advocates for election integrity and the responsible use of election technology. For instance, Lindeman said, Republicans’ widely discredited election “audit” carried out in Arizona’s Maricopa County was riddled with unfounded allegations based on basic misunderstandings. “Inexperienced, partisan consultants tend to leap to invidious conclusions,” Lindeman said. “They shouldn’t lead serious investigations.”

Full Article: Questions remain about GOP’s election ‘investigation’ | AP News

Tennessee Secretary of State backs future election audits | Sam Stockard/Tennessee Lookout

Secretary of State Tre Hargett confirmed this week he is supporting a move to audit Tennessee’s elections, but maybe not for the 2020 count, which has been much-maligned by Republicans nationally. In an abbreviated interview Wednesday with the Tennessee Lookout, Hargett said an audit bill will be forthcoming in the 2022 legislative session. Hargett referred to comments made by State Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins at an October meeting when a Williamson County group clashed with the State Election Commission over the need for a forensic audit to stop voter fraud in Tennessee. “There’s going to be legislation next time regarding post-election audits,” Hargett said as he left a meeting of the State Funding Board at the Cordell Hull Building. Hargett didn’t provide many details, such as potential cost. He isn’t so sure, either, about legislation by Sen. Janice Bowling, which would require a forensic audit of the 2020 election. Hargett said he would have to read the legislation and noted if the Legislature tells his office to conduct one, or the governor signs it into law, then he would “do what we need to do.”

Full Article: Stockard on the Stump: Secretary of State backs future election audits – Tennessee Lookout

Wisconsin: University experts dissect Audit Bureau’s election report on GOP-led 2020 election investigation | Maggie Degnan/The Badger Herald

The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau’s report about the Wisconsin 2020 presidential election headed by state Republicans claims to have found issues with the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s administration of the election. The audit found inconsistencies in the administration of the 2020 election but no widespread fraud. The results of the audit are centered around first of two investigative reports Republican lawmakers have requested. Findings in the audit found four people may have voted twice out of over three million ballots total. Eleven people died before Nov. 3 and eight people with ongoing felony sentences may have voted. Test of voting machines found that 59 of 60 machines tested accurately counted ballots, though the one out of 60 was docked because of insufficient information about whether the machine worked or not. According to the audit, the Wisconsin Elections Commission gave guidance to election officials that were not compliant with state law. The audit cites examples such as WEC deciding election officials could adjourn for the night without counting all ballots and moved polling places not getting signatures from the Department of Transportation for people who voted online.

Full Article: UW experts dissect Audit Bureau’s election report on GOP-led 2020 election investigation · The Badger Herald

‘Terrifying for American democracy’: is Trump planning for a 2024 coup? | Ed Pilkington/The Guardian

At 1.35pm on 6 January, the top Republican in the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, stood before his party and delivered a dire warning. If they overruled the will of 81 million voters by blocking Joe Biden’s certification as president in a bid to snatch re-election for the defeated candidate, Donald Trump, “it would damage our Republic forever”. Five minutes before he started speaking, hundreds of Trump supporters incited by the then president’s false claim that the 2020 election had been stolen broke through Capitol police lines and were storming the building. McConnell’s next remark has been forgotten in the catastrophe that followed – the inner sanctums of America’s democracy defiled, five people dead, and 138 police officers injured. He said: “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We’d never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost.” Eleven months on, McConnell’s words sound eerily portentous. What could be construed as an anti-democratic scramble for power at any cost is taking place right now in jurisdictions across the country. Republican leaders loyal to Trump are vying to control election administrations in key states in ways that could drastically distort the outcome of the presidential race in 2024. With the former president hinting strongly that he may stand again, his followers are busily manoeuvring themselves into critical positions of control across the US – from which they could launch a far more sophisticated attempt at an electoral coup than Trump’s effort to hang on to power in 2020.

Full Article: Terrifying for American democracy’: is Trump planning for a 2024 coup? | Donald Trump | The Guardian

Menace Enters the Republican Mainstream | Lisa Lerer and Astead W. Herndon/The New York Times

At a conservative rally in western Idaho last month, a young man stepped up to a microphone to ask when he could start killing Democrats. “When do we get to use the guns?” he said as the audience applauded. “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?” The local state representative, a Republican, later called it a “fair” question. In Ohio, the leading candidate in the Republican primary for Senate blasted out a video urging Republicans to resist the “tyranny” of a federal government that pushed them to wear masks and take F.D.A.-authorized vaccines. “When the Gestapo show up at your front door,” the candidate, Josh Mandel, a grandson of Holocaust survivors, said in the video in September, “you know what to do.” And in Congress, violent threats against lawmakers are on track to double this year. Republicans who break party ranks and defy former President Donald J. Trump have come to expect insults, invective and death threats — often stoked by their own colleagues and conservative activists, who have denounced them as traitors. From congressional offices to community meeting rooms, threats of violence are becoming commonplace among a significant segment of the Republican Party. Ten months after rioters attacked the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, and after four years of a president who often spoke in violent terms about his adversaries, right-wing Republicans are talking more openly and frequently about the use of force as justifiable in opposition to those who dislodged him from power.

Full Article: Menace Enters the Republican Mainstream – The New York Times

National: It’s been one year since Trump fired the CISA director | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency never reversed its position that the 2020 election was the most secure in history. Nor did it take down a rumor control page that had drawn the president’s ire because it knocked back many of the phony election conspiracy theories he’d embraced. And one year later, the agency has grown immensely in stature and importance, guiding the government through a string of cyber crises, including a wave of ransomware attacks that have threatened the economy and national security. CISA has strong support from both parties. There’s even a bipartisan bill aimed at shielding the agency from similar political interventions by giving the director a five-year term. Krebs’s firing was undoubtedly traumatic for CISA employees who had to soldier on without their leader and amid fear of political retribution from the White House. After Krebs’s high-profile ouster, several CISA political appointees were terminated more quietly in the succeeding days. But in the following months it became a galvanizing event, agency insiders and observers say. “It steeled our resolve. We saw what happened to Chris. We doubled down on the work and supporting election officials,” Matt Masterson, who was CISA’s senior adviser for election security at the time, told me. “It was something people could point to and say ‘we did a great job under tremendous pressure and this agency stood up for what was right,” Phil Reitinger, a former DHS cybersecurity official during the Obama administration, told me. Reitinger, who now leads the Global Cyber Alliance, compared it to the Saturday Night Massacre in which a series of Justice Department officials resigned rather than fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, thus paving the way for President Richard Nixon’s resignation. The events have become a symbol of pride for the agency for resisting political interference in its work.


Full Article: It’s been one year since Trump fired the CISA director – The Washington Post

National: New book says Trump allies pushed Defense Department to overturn election | Jordan Williams/The Hill

A newly released book claims that allies of former President Trump tried to push a top Defense Department official into overturning the 2020 election. According to the journalist Jonathan Karl’s book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” which was published Tuesday, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell both made calls to Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was then acting as under secretary of Defense for intelligence and security, while Cohen-Watnick was traveling in the Middle East, ABC News reported. Flynn and Powell were among Trump’s most vocal allies as the former president sought to overturn the 2020 election based on unproven claims of voter fraud. Powell has since been hit with multi-billion dollar lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic over her election claims. Flynn, who was previously Cohen-Watnick’s boss at the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Council, told the Pentagon official that he needed to immediately return to the United States because “there were big things about to happen,” per the book.

Full Article: New book says Trump allies pushed DoD to overturn election | TheHill

National: Trump adviser appointed to panel on US elections | Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has appointed to a federal election advisory board a prominent Republican attorney who assisted former President Donald Trump in his failed effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Cleta Mitchell was named to the Board of Advisors for the federal Election Assistance Commission. The advisory board does not have the ability to directly make policy but can recommend voluntary guidelines to the EAC. The EAC certifies voting systems and advises local election offices on compliance with federal election regulations. Mitchell was nominated by the Republican-appointed members on the commission and approved by a majority vote. Mitchell is a prominent Republican lawyer who joined Trump on a Jan. 2 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. On the call, Trump implored Raffensperger to “find” him enough votes for him to be declared the winner in the battleground state, which was won by President Joe Biden. Mitchell claimed she had found possible examples of fraud in the state, but the secretary of state’s office told her that her data was incorrect. Mitchell’s involvement in the call caused an outcry in the legal community that led to her departure from her longtime job at the law firm Foley & Lardner. She has since taken major roles with conservative groups pushing to tighten voting laws, directing an election initiative at the small government group FreedomWorks and serving as a fellow at the Conservative Partnership Institute, where she helps coordinate advocacy on voting issues.

Full Article: Trump adviser appointed to panel on US elections

National: Renewed urgency surrounds statewide campaigns as candidates cast doubts on elections | Alisa Wiersema and Meg Cunningham/ABC

More than a year after Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine election results were rebuffed at the state and national levels, a wave of Republican candidates across battleground states have made election administration and “integrity” central campaign messages – with more than a dozen still voicing doubt about the results of last year’s general election. An ABC News analysis of 12 high-profile battleground states reveals a trend: Republican candidates for state offices are either questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election or casting significant doubt on how elections are conducted and votes are counted in their home states. The states examined include Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Florida. Across these states – five of which Trump won, and seven of which Joe Biden won – at least 15 Republican candidates running for statewide offices – governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general – have refused to acknowledge Biden’s win or made other comments directly challenging the validity of the 2020 election, according to an ABC News review of public statements, interviews and campaign websites. At least 18 GOP candidates in those politically critical states have alleged broader fraud related to 2020 election results. Across these states, at least 12 are using “election integrity” as a campaign issue, and in some cases, these candidates are also casting doubt on the administration of last year’s election. Furthermore, at least two candidates are attempting to align the concept of “election integrity” with election-related conspiracy theories.


Source: Renewed urgency surrounds statewide campaigns as candidates cast doubts on elections – ABC News

National: No, Constitutional Scholars Are Not “50/50” in Agreement With Donald Trump About Jan. 6 | Matthew A. Seligman/Slate

Donald J. Trump, constitutional scholar, has entered the chat. In a remarkable interview with Jon Karl published by Axios on Friday, Trump defended the Jan. 6 rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” on the grounds that “it’s common sense” that Pence should have overturned the Electoral College count.* Beneath the horrifying justification of political violence—the attempted assassination of the sitting vice president—there is a rotten foundation of truly terrible legal analysis. As I’ve explained in Slate and in scholarship, the vice president has no constitutional authority to reject electoral votes he doesn’t like. In the interview, Trump claimed that “50/50, it’s right down the middle for the top constitutional scholars when I speak to them” on the vice president’s authority to unilaterally throw out election results. He’s wrong—at least if “constitutional scholars” means people who have read and understand the Constitution. Donald J. Trump, constitutional scholar, has entered the chat. In a remarkable interview with Jon Karl published by Axios on Friday, Trump defended the Jan. 6 rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” on the grounds that “it’s common sense” that Pence should have overturned the Electoral College count.* Beneath the horrifying justification of political violence—the attempted assassination of the sitting vice president—there is a rotten foundation of truly terrible legal analysis. As I’ve explained in Slate and in scholarship, the vice president has no constitutional authority to reject electoral votes he doesn’t like. In the interview, Trump claimed that “50/50, it’s right down the middle for the top constitutional scholars when I speak to them” on the vice president’s authority to unilaterally throw out election results. He’s wrong—at least if “constitutional scholars” means people who have read and understand the Constitution. Who are these “constitutional scholars” feeding Trump this radical view? Johnny McEntee, a 31-year-old former college football player with no legal training, sent a “memo” by text message to Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, claiming that “Jefferson Used His Position as VP to Win” the presidency by manipulating the electoral count and so Pence could as well.* (As I’ve explained, Jefferson did no such thing.) Rudy Giuliani, whose law license has been suspended to “protect the public,” falsely told Trump that there “is no question, none at all, that the VP can do this. That’s a fact. The Constitution gives him the authority not to certify. It goes back to the state legislatures.” And of course John Eastman, whose memo baldly asserted that “the fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter.”

Full Article: Constitutional scholars are not “50/50” in agreement with Donald Trump about Jan. 6.

California: Legal Experts Reignite Call for John Eastman Ethics Investigation | Erin Snodgrass/Business Insider

A nonpartisan election security nonprofit urged the California Bar Association to investigate John Eastman, a conservative attorney who counseled President Donald Trump. In a letter addressed to the Office of Chief Trial Counsel earlier this week, legal experts with the States United Democracy Center called for the probe into Eastman, who penned a memo arguing how then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election results during the January 6 election certification process. Six weeks after filing an initial complaint in October, the States United Democracy Center followed up on Eastman’s “potential legal ethics violations” with a new letter on Tuesday citing “a great deal” of new evidence that “strongly confirms the allegations of ethical conduct” in its initial complaint. A two-page memo first published by CNN in September and obtained by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa for their book “Peril,” detailed Eastman’s proposed argument for how the Trump administration could maintain the White House despite losing the 2020 presidential election.  Insider later acquired a six-page version of Eastman’s memo, which suggested Pence toss out the results from seven states and then redirect the election to the House of Representatives. The memo prompted scrutiny surrounding Eastman, a former clerk for Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, for his advisory to Trump during the final year of his presidency.

Full Article: Legal Experts Reignite Call for John Eastman Ethics Investigation

National: Conspiracy theories are an election security threat, new report says | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Conspiracy theories and phony fraud claims are one of the biggest threats to secure elections whose results are accepted by the American people, a report out this morning argues. The report from the Aspen Institute think tank’s Commission on Information Disorder urges a surge in federal funding to combat the sort of conspiracy theories promoted by former president Donald Trump and his allies. Given the new attacks on democracy, election officials need to be given more resources and more communication capabilities, Chris Krebs, one of the co-chairs of the commission, told me. “Even if elections are 100 percent bulletproof, there’s still plenty of opportunity for the bad guys to stoke fear and doubt,” Krebs said. During the 2020 election, Krebs led the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which was the lead government agency working on election security. Trump fired him by tweet partly for disputing baseless claims that the election was rigged. Other co-chairs of the commission are longtime TV journalist Katie Couric and Rashad Robinson, president of the advocacy group Color of Change. The election security recommendations are part of a broad report that covers disinformation related to public health, climate change and a slew of other topics.

Full Article: Conspiracy theories are an election security threat, new report says – The Washington Post

Colorado: FBI Raids Home of Election Official Accused of QAnon Leak | Tom Porter/Business Insider

The FBI on Tuesday raided the home of a Colorado elections official accused of leaking election machine data that later appeared on a site linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory movement. Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials were involved in searching the home of Tina Peters, the former Mesa County Clerk, as well as the homes of three of her associates, the Mesa County District Attorney’s office told local media. “We executed four federally court-authorized operations today to gather evidence in connection with the investigation into the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office,” District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told Colorado Politics. “We did so with assistance from the DA’s office from the 21st Judicial District, the Attorney General’s Office and the FBI.” When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the FBI’s Denver field office told Insider that its agents had conducted “authorized law enforcement actions’ on Tuesday in relation to an ongoing investigation. A judge last month banned Peters from overseeing elections in the state after Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, accused her in a lawsuit of involvement in leaking sensitive elections data, Colorado’s CPR News outlet reported. According to Griswold’s lawsuit, the data was taken when Peters invited an unauthorized person to attend a meeting between representatives from the election machine company and county election officials last year.

Full Article: FBI Raids Home of Colorado Election Official Accused of QAnon Leak