Editorial: Before 2024, we had better fix the election law failings we saw last year | The Washington Post

Now that President Biden is in the Oval Office, it may be tempting to forget the election-law failings we saw in 2020. That would be a historic mistake; those weaknesses must be addressed before the next presidential race. Many Republicans, meanwhile, want to take the wrong lessons from 2020, making it harder to vote rather than easier and safer. This, too, would be a tragic error. The needed reckoning should be thoughtful, extensive and ambitious — and it will cost money. The National Task Force on Election Crises, a cross-ideological group of more than 50 experts on elections, security, public health and other relevant areas, released a report in January that offers a good starting point. The task force noted that, despite the lies that former president Donald Trump spun, the 2020 vote itself went remarkably well. Amid a pandemic, the nation smashed turnout records. Though some people faced massive lines, most did not. Voting machines were much more secure than in previous years. This success was in large part due to the nimble response of election officials who had months to prepare for a pandemic election. Expanding vote-by-mail and early-voting options was essential. Experimenting with drop boxes and curbside voting made casting a ballot easier than ever. Stepped-up recruitment of polling workers ensured adequate staffing in case some called in sick. These changes did not imperil election integrity; on the contrary, credible election observers deemed the vote free and fair. An overwhelming lesson of 2020 is to maintain and expand on these shifts.

Full Article: Opinion | Before 2024, we had better fix the election law failings we saw last year – The Washington Post

Georgia’s election certification avoided an even worse nightmare that’s just waiting to happen next time | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

Voters in Georgia polling places, 2020, used Ballot-Marking Devices (BMDs), touchscreen computers that print out paper ballots; then voters fed those ballots into Precinct-Count Optical Scan (PCOS) voting machines for tabulation. There were many allegations about hacking of Georgia’s Presidential election. Based on the statewide audit, we can know that the PCOS machines were not cheating (in any way that changed the outcome). But can we know that the touchscreen BMDs were not cheating? And what about next time? There’s a nightmare scenario waiting to happen if Georgia (or other states) continue to use touchscreen BMDs on a large scale. There were many allegations about hacking of Georgia’s voting-machine computers in the November 2020 election—accusations about who owned the company that made the voting machines, accusations about who might have hacked into the computers. An important principle of election integrity is “software independence,” which I’ll paraphrase as saying that we should be able to verify the outcome of the election without having to know who wrote the software in the voting machines.

Indeed, the State of Georgia did a manual audit of all the paper ballots in the November 2020 Presidential election. The audit agreed with the outcome claimed by the optical-scan voting machines. This means,

  • The software in Georgia’s PCOS scanners is now irrelevant to the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election in Georgia, which has been confirmed by the audit.
  • Georgia’s PCOS scanners were not cheating in the 2020 Presidential election (certainly not by enough to change the outcome), which we know because the hand-count audits closely agreed with the PCOS counts.
  • The audit gave election officials the opportunity to notice that several batches of ballots hadn’t even been counted the first time; properly counting those ballots changed the vote totals but not the outcome. I’ll discuss that in a future post.

Suppose the polling-place optical scanners had been hacked (enough to change the outcome). Then this would have been detected in the audit, and (in principle) Georgia would have been able to recover by doing a full recount. That’s what we mean when we say optical-scan voting machines have “strong software independence”—you can obtain a trustworthy result even if you’re not sure about the software in the machine on election day.

Full Article: Georgia’s election certification avoided an even worse nightmare that’s just waiting to happen next time

National: Key Takeaways From Trump’s Effort to Overturn the Election | Matthew Rosenberg and Jim Rutenberg/The New York Times

For 77 days between the election and the inauguration, President Donald J. Trump attempted to subvert American democracy with a lie about election fraud that he had been grooming for years. A New York Times examination of the events that unfolded after the election shows how the president — enabled by Republican leaders, advised by conspiracy-minded lawyers and bankrolled by a new class of Trump-era donors — waged an extralegal campaign that convinced tens of millions of Americans the election had been stolen and made the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol almost inevitable. Interviews with central players, along with documents, videos and previously unreported emails, tell the story of a campaign that was more coordinated than previously understood, even as it strayed farther from reality with each passing day.

Full Article: Key Takeaways From Trump’s Effort to Overturn the Election – The New York Times

National: GOP lawmakers seek tougher voting rules after record turnout | Anthony Izaguirre and Acacia Coronado/Assocated Press

Republican lawmakers in statehouses across the country are moving swiftly to attack some of the voting methods that fueled the highest turnout for a presidential election in 50 years. Although most legislative sessions are just getting underway, the Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy institute, has already tallied more than 100 bills in 28 states meant to restrict voting access. More than a third of those proposals are aimed at limiting mail voting, while other bills seek to strengthen voter ID requirements and registration processes, as well as allow for more aggressive means to remove people from voter rolls. “Unfortunately, we are seeing some politicians who want to manipulate the rules of the game so that some people can participate and some can’t,” said Myrna Pérez, director of the voting rights and elections program at the Brennan Center. The proposals are advancing not only in Texas and other traditional red states but also in such places as Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania that supported Donald Trump four years ago, only to flip for Joe Biden in November. Many Republicans have said the new bills are meant to shore up public confidence after Trump and his GOP allies, without evidence, criticized the election as fraudulent. Those claims were turned away by dozens of courts and were made even as a group of election officials — including representatives of the federal government’s cybersecurity agency — deemed the 2020 presidential election the “the most secure in American history.” Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, also said he saw no evidence of widespread fraud that would have changed the election results.

Full Article: GOP lawmakers seek tougher voting rules after record turnout

National: Former cyber chief pushes for renewed focus on combating disinformation | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cyber chief Suzanne Spaulding, a key official involved in the response to Russian interference efforts in 2016, is pushing hard for more to be done to combat disinformation and promote civics education as the nation reels from the fallout of the recent election. “When I came out of DHS at noon on Jan. 20, 2017, I came off of a year in which I had spent a ton of time looking at election security,” Spaulding, the former director of the predecessor group to DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), told The Hill during a virtual interview last week. “While we had realized that we’ve done pretty well with respect to the security of our election infrastructure, at the end of the day, what we really were worried about was information operations.” Spaulding was the under secretary of the cyber-focused National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, which saw Russian agents launch a sweeping and sophisticated hacking and disinformation campaign designed to sway the election toward former President Trump. Following another heated election that also saw efforts by Russia and Iran to interfere, along with domestic disinformation and misinformation that caused many to lose faith in the outcome of the vote, Spaulding is calling for a renewed focus on democratic education. “Americans need to be reminded of the value of democracy, that it must be fought for because it is under attack, and that it’s worth fighting for not because it’s perfect, but because it is capable of change, but only if all of us take the responsibility for holding institutions accountable and learn how to be more effective agents of change using constitutional means,” she said.

Full Article: Former cyber chief pushes for renewed focus on combating disinformation | TheHill

National: Some ‘Stop the Steal’ protesters did not vote in 2020 election: analysis | Aris Folley/The Hill

A number of people who took part in the pro-Trump mob that overran the U.S. Capitol last month in opposition to the presidential election results did not vote in the race, a new analysis has found. According to CNN, which reviewed voting records from states where rioters were arrested or had a history of residence, eight of those facing charges in connection to the Jan. 6 insurrection did not cast a ballot in the November race. Former U.S. Marine Donovan Crowl was one of those people, according to CNN. Crowl is reportedly a member of the right-wing extremist group Oath Keepers. The group, which the network described as a “self-styled militia organization,” has a reputation for trying to recruit service members and veterans. Crowl’s mother told CNN that the veteran said “they were going to overtake the government if they … tried to take Trump’s presidency from him.” She also said Crowl was known to have expressed frustration during former President Obama’s time in office and confirmed he was a supporter of former President Trump. However, though Crowl was reportedly registered in the past to vote in Ohio, where he is from, a local election official told the network recently that he “never voted nor responded to any of our confirmation notices to keep him registered.”   

Full Article: Some ‘Stop the Steal’ protesters did not vote in 2020 election: analysis | TheHill

National: Trump Impeachment Lawyers Unlikely to Push Election Fraud Claims | Erik Larson and David Yaffe-Bellany/Bloomberg

The two lawyers Donald Trump hired at the last minute to defend him at his Feb. 9 Senate impeachment trial are no strangers to controversial cases but are generally regarded as straight-shooters who won’t push the former president’s wild election-fraud claims. David Schoen and Bruce Castor came on board Sunday after a previous legal team headed by South Carolina lawyer Butch Bowers quit after barely a week, reportedly over Trump’s insistence that they base his impeachment defense on arguments that the 2020 election was stolen. But Schoen told the Washington Post on Sunday he would not make fraud arguments, and a former colleague said he couldn’t see Castor touching Trump’s “preposterous” claims either. “He’s smart and he knows it’s bull,” said David Keightly, who worked with Castor in the district attorney’s office of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Though Schoen has disavowed claiming the election was stolen, he’s no stranger to politically charged arguments. It’s likely Trump turned to the Alabama solo practitioner based on his work last year on behalf of the former president’s longtime ally Roger Stone. Representing Stone in his appeal of his November 2019 conviction for witness tampering and lying to Congress during the probe into Russian election interference, Schoen quickly adopted Trump’s claim that the case was part of a massive “witch hunt” perpetrated by corrupt prosecutors.

Full Article: Trump Impeachment Lawyers Unlikely to Push Election Fraud Claims – Bloomberg

National: What to expect from NASS and NASED conferences | Eric Geller/Politico

The 2020 election may (finally) be over, but election security remains a top issue for state officials, and it’s one of several cyber topics that they plan to discuss at a pair of conferences this week. The National Association of State Election Directors is meeting all week, while the National Association of Secretaries of State meets Tuesday through Friday. To say that officials have their plates full would be an understatement, but scattered in between panels about online notarization, corporate transparency and pandemic emergency orders are sessions that will help shape states’ cybersecurity priorities for the next year and beyond. Secretaries of state will hear from the lawmakers whose committees oversee elections, including the Democrats pushing a sweeping election security and reform bill and the Republicans vehemently opposing it. House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and incoming Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are likely to receive a frosty reception as they discuss the For the People Act (H.R. 1 and S. 1), a Democratic bill that includes major election security provisions. State election officials have consistently opposed new federal rules covering voting technology and election administration. NASS will also hear from Brandon Wales, the acting director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which coordinates cybersecurity assistance to states on issues including ransomware and election security. And secretaries will meet behind closed doors to discuss the cybersecurity lessons from the 2020 election cycle. Over at NASED, two top CISA officials overseeing election security work will discuss lessons from 2020 and priorities for 2021. Other NASED sessions will cover information sharing, incident response, misinformation and pandemic disruptions. Speaking of misinformation, NASS will hold a session about strategies for correcting false election claims.

Source: What to expect from NASS and NASED conferences – POLITICO

National: 77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election | Jim Rutenberg, Jo Becker, Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Martin, Matthew Rosenberg and Michael S. Schmidt/The New York Times

By Thursday the 12th of November, President Donald J. Trump’s election lawyers were concluding that the reality he faced was the inverse of the narrative he was promoting in his comments and on Twitter. There was no substantial evidence of election fraud, and there were nowhere near enough “irregularities” to reverse the outcome in the courts. Mr. Trump did not, could not, win the election, not by “a lot” or even a little. His presidency would soon be over. Allegations of Democratic malfeasance had disintegrated in embarrassing fashion. A supposed suitcase of illegal ballots in Detroit proved to be a box of camera equipment. “Dead voters” were turning up alive in television and newspaper interviews. The week was coming to a particularly demoralizing close: In Arizona, the Trump lawyers were preparing to withdraw their main lawsuit as the state tally showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading by more than 10,000 votes, against the 191 ballots they had identified for challenge. As he met with colleagues to discuss strategy, the president’s deputy campaign manager, Justin Clark, was urgently summoned to the Oval Office. Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was on speaker phone, pressing the president to file a federal suit in Georgia and sharing a conspiracy theory gaining traction in conservative media — that Dominion Systems voting machines had transformed thousands of Trump votes into Biden votes.

Full Article: 77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election – The New York Times

Alaska: Security or suppression? Bill would change how Alaskans vote | Juneau Empire

A bill that would change how state and local elections are conducted generated controversy even before it was debated by lawmakers. Senate Bill 39 sponsored by Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, is not intended to make it more difficult to vote, he said at a State Affairs Committee hearing Thursday, but to bring trust back to Alaska’s elections. However, even before that meeting critics had said the bill would only make it hard for Alaskans to vote. The bill would implement changes in how ballots are handled by both the Division of Elections and local municipalities which run their own elections. Many of the changes are centered around the chain of custody in handling ballots. Shower’s chief of staff Terrance Shanigan said in testimony to the committee that Alaska’s statutes around the handling of ballots are vague, which led to inconsistent policies and procedures.

Full Article: Security or suppression? Bill would change how Alaskans vote | Juneau Empire

Arizona Rep. Shawnna Bolick says your vote for president shouldn’t count (but hers should) | Laurie Roberts/Arizona Republic

Republican legislators, still steamed about Joe Biden winning Arizona, have been furiously scheming various ways to make it more difficult for people to vote. There’s a bill that would allow only the most faithful party voters to automatically get early ballots and one that would require early voters to get their signatures notarized. There’s even a bill to all but eliminate early ballots, given the convenience they provide and their role in propelling Biden to victory. It’s all very confusing and time consuming to keep track of the assorted schemes by which our leaders hope to rein in who is voting (and thus who is winning). Now comes state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, R-Phoenix, who has figured out a way to cut through all the fog — basically by eliminating the need for presidential elections. House Bill 2720 would allow the Legislature to veto your vote. I am not kidding. Bolick is proposing that our leaders be allowed to override the state’s certification of election results and appoint presidential electors of their own choosing. “The Legislature retains its legislative authority regarding the office of presidential elector and by majority vote at any time before presidential inauguration may revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election,” the bill says. That “legislative authority,” of course, being the superpower some Republican legislators think is conferred upon them by the U.S. Constitution, giving them the right to hijack the presidential election.

Full Article: Presidential election could be up to lawmakers, not Arizona voters

Arizona: Maricopa County to start forensic election audit on Tuesday | Danny Shapiro/KTAR

Maricopa County will begin a forensic audit of its tabulation equipment on Tuesday, less than a week after voting to move forward with the process despite continued defense of the integrity of the 2020 election. The first of two independent firms will get underway with the audit at the Maricopa County Elections Department at 9 a.m., the department said in a press release. The audit plan calls for both firms to analyze the equipment’s hacking vulnerability, assure tabulators weren’t sending or receiving information over the internet and confirm that no vote switching occurred during the election. Audit work is expected to continue through February and March, according to the plan. 

Full Article: Maricopa County to start forensic election audit on Tuesday

Florida civic groups settle lawsuit with counties to require ballots in Spanish | Bianca Padro Ocasio/Miami Herald

Latino civic engagement groups settled a 2018 class action lawsuit with 31 Florida counties on Monday that will require all Florida counties to make Spanish-language ballots, voting materials and a voter assistance hotline available in all elections for the next 10 years. The settlement, filed Monday, is the conclusion of a years-long legal fight from voting rights organizations who alleged some Florida counties were not complying with Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when they failed to provide Spanish-language ballots to voters who had moved to Florida from Puerto Rico and were not fluent in English. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that Florida counties that did not have Spanish-language materials were largely excluding Puerto Rican voters, who are U.S. citizens, thousands of whom relocated en masse to different parts of the Sunshine State after Hurricane Maria upended the lives of residents on the island in 2017. “Until we brought this lawsuit, vast parts of Florida still ran English-only elections,” said Stuart Naifeh, senior attorney for the policy research firm Demos, one of the groups that sued the group of Florida counties. “The right to vote is an empty right if you can’t vote in a language you understand and we’re very pleased with the settlement that was reached in the last week.” Among the other election requirements included in the settlement: Spanish-language vote-by-mail ballots and request forms, Spanish-language secrecy envelopes and instructions, translation of election supervisors’ official websites and Spanish-language signs at supervisors’ offices.

Full Article: Latino groups settle lawsuit on bilingual ballots in Florida | Miami Herald

Georgia GOP bills would end no-excuse absentee voting, automatic registration | Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Republican state senators introduced a package of bills Monday to ban automatic voter registration, ballot drop boxes and no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia. The proposals amount to an overhaul of Georgia’s election laws after record turnout resulted in wins for Democrats, including Joe Biden’s run for president and the bids by Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock for the U.S. Senate. One measure would prevent voters from being automatically registered to vote when they get their driver’s licenses. Another would ban drop boxes, requiring absentee ballots to be returned through the mail or at county election offices. In addition, a proposal would roll back a state law allowing registered voters to cast an absentee ballot for any reason. Absentee voting would be limited to those over 75 years old, voters with disabilities or anyone required to be absent from his or her precinct. “We’ve got to restore confidence in the ballot box. When people lose confidence in the ballot box they ultimately lose confidence in their government,” said Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, a Republican from Gainesville and co-sponsor of the bills. “Our goal is to be sure every vote is accounted for, accurate and legal.” Democrats said the bills mark a concerted effort to reduce voting access after Donald Trump lost his presidential reelection bid and his supporters made unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

Full Article: Voting: Georgia GOP senators propose limits on absentee voting and use of ballot drop boxes

Maine bill to change absentee voting law opposed by some Republicans | Scott Thistle/Portland Press Herald

A bill that would give Maine municipal clerks more time to process absentee ballots ran into opposition Monday from some Republican lawmakers who raised concerns about whether it would increase the risk of voter fraud. The processing time for absentee ballots was extended from four days to seven for the last election under an executive order issued by Gov. Janet Mills in response to high demand from residents who wanted to avoid voting in person to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. A bill to make the seven-day processing period permanent is among dozens of measures before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee that would affect elections and voting. The bill is supported by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and several nonprofits that support changing ballot-processing procedures. Bellows said early processing last year allowed Maine to compile unofficial results for most races by the end of election night, despite record voter turnout. But during a committee hearing Monday, Reps. Mary Anne Kinney and Josanne Dolloff questioned whether increasing the time for processing ballots would increase the risk of fraud. “Is it possible that the town clerk may not like one of the candidates on that ballot and as she opens them and uncreases them somehow they just don’t fit into that machine, because she finds one candidate is getting too many votes, is that a possibility?” asked Dolloff, of Rumford.

Full Article: Bill to change absentee voting law opposed by some Republicans – Portland Press Herald

Michigan election officials ordered to turn over communications with tech giants | Dus Burns/MLive.com

Michigan election officials were ordered to turn over a wide variety of records related to the 2020 election cycle, including any communications with Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple as part of a recent lawsuit. Antrim County Circuit Judge Kevin A. Elsenheimer also ordered Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and her Bureau of Elections to turn over election-related communications between the offices and Antrim Township, Antrim County, state and federal legislators, as well as Dominion Voting System and Election Source, companies that supply voting machines and software used in Antrim County and much of Michigan. The records were requested by Portage-based Attorney Matthew S. DePerno on behalf of his client, William Bailey, an Antrim County voter who sued Antrim County over claims the election results were fraudulent and voting machines rigged. A short-lived, nearly 6,000-vote error in Michigan’s Republican-dominated Antrim County initially benefited President-Elect Joe Biden following the Nov. 3 election. The error was quickly identified and corrected, determined to be a human error caused by the county clerk’s failure to properly update some software in the counting machines, not due to any inherent flaws with the voting machine or software. Nevertheless, the incident gave rise to much broader conspiracies related to Dominion voting machines that are used heavily in Michigan and other states across the nation.

Full Article: Michigan election officials ordered to turn over communications with tech giants – mlive.com

Mississippi debates quicker purge of voter rolls | Emily Wagster Pettus/Associated Press

Mississippi residents who skip some elections would risk being purged from voter rolls, under bills being considered at the state Capitol. Critics say the proposals would endanger constitutional rights in a state where some older Black residents still remember facing violence or economic repercussions for registering to vote. Supporters of House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 2588 say keeping voter rolls up to date can be difficult, and poorly kept rolls can make it challenging for courts to find enough people for jury duty. Under current Mississippi law, county election commissioners may remove a person’s name from a voter roll if that person has died, moved away, been judged mentally incompetent or been convicted of a disenfranchising crime. The bills say commissioners also would be required to remove the name of a person who fails to vote at least once during a four-year period and fails to respond to certified mail from the election commission that seeks to confirm the person still lives at the address where he or she is registered. Voters’ names could not be purged from the rolls within 90 days of an election, and the county would have to maintain records for at least four years showing a purged name and the reason the name was removed from the rolls. Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said he supports the bills, which are based on an Ohio law that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling in 2018. Hosemann served 12 years as secretary of state, Mississippi’s top election official. He told reporters Thursday that having a system to keep accurate voter rolls is important.

Full Article: Analysis: Mississippi debates quicker purge of voter rolls

Nevada: Automatic voter registration system adds thousands of new voters, despite security concerns from critics | Sean Golonka/Nevada Independent

More than 140,000 people registered as new voters through Nevada’s automatic voter registration (AVR) system since it took effect in January last year, according to a new report. After a majority of Nevada voters approved the system in 2018, AVR took effect in 2020, allowing individuals who complete certain DMV transactions such as driver’s license renewals to register to vote or have registration information updated unless they manually opt out. The report, which was submitted to the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee by the secretary of state’s office, combined with data from the secretary of state’s office showed that AVR created 142,484 new Nevada voters last year. Those new registrations, along with updates to approximately 300,000 existing voter registrations, came by way of more than 580,000 DMV transactions that offered a voter registration opportunity.

Full Article: Automatic voter registration system adds thousands of new voters, despite security concerns from critics

New York: Republican Tenney leads in last undecided US House race | Marina Villeneuve/Associated Press

Former U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney appeared on the verge of recapturing her old seat in Congress as election officials finished counting ballots Monday in the nation’s last undecided U.S. House race. Tenney, a central New York Republican, began the day with a 122-vote lead over U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, according to unofficial vote totals from both campaigns. Brindisi was the Democrat who ousted Tenney from office in 2018. A last round of ballot counting done before a state judge Monday only involved 54 ballots — not enough to shake Tenney’s small lead. Still, the final, official tally may yet be days away. Brindisi still has legal challenges pending with a state appeals court. By Monday evening, the judge had paused the certification of results in one county, Oneida, a step initially planned for Tuesday. Oswego County Supreme Court Judge Scott DelConte said he wanted to to give lawyers for the campaigns more time to weigh in on what would happen if Tenney were declared the winner and sworn in, only to have an appeals court reverse the results later. The order followed an hourslong court session in which elections officials and campaign lawyers huddled around a square table in the Oswego County Courthouse as 54 ballots were counted. Mask-wearing lawyers for the candidates peered at the ballots and took notes as an official opened up ballots and held them up for all to see.

Full Article: Republican Tenney leads in last undecided US House race

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to resign over missed constitutional amendment requirement | Angela Couloumbis/Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania’s top election official will resign after her agency made a mistake that will delay a statewide vote on whether survivors of decades-old sexual abuse should be able to sue the perpetrators and institutions that covered up the crimes. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who oversaw a tense and difficult presidential election in the battleground state, will resign Feb. 5, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday. The resignation follows the discovery that the Department of State did not advertise, as required under state law, a long-sought amendment to the state constitution that would open a two-year window for litigation by survivors of child sexual abuse who have aged out of the statute of limitations. Advocates hoped to see the referendum on the ballot as soon as this spring. But the error means that Pennsylvanians won’t be able to vote on such a change until spring 2023 at the earliest — a blow to survivors who have fought for a window for nearly two decades. “This change at the Department of State has nothing to do with the administration of the 2020 election, which was fair and accurate,” Wolf said. “The delay caused by this human error will be heartbreaking for thousands of survivors of childhood sexual assault, advocates, and legislators, and I join the Department of State in apologizing to you. I share your anger and frustration that this happened, and I stand with you in your fight for justice.”

Full Article: Kathy Boockvar, Pa. Secretary of State, to resign over missed constitutional amendment requirement

Virginia Democrats push to preserve pandemic voting access measures | Amy Friedenberger/The Roanoke Times

After the November election, legislators knew changes to Virginia’s election laws were in order. Democrats and Republicans had differing views of what those changes should be. Encouraged by a presidential election with high voter turnout, Democrats are working to codify many of the changes the state put into place for the pandemic that broadened ballot access. At the same time, they are chastising Republicans who want to roll back those changes on the basis of restoring “election integrity,” saying they shouldn’t cast doubt on voting measures that don’t contribute to widespread fraud. The Democrat-controlled General Assembly is considering several bills, such as repealing the requirement that a witness must sign an absentee ballot a voter sends in the mail, prepaid postage sent out with absentee ballots, and allowing people the opportunity to fix technical errors with their absentee ballots so they aren’t invalidated. The legislation follows significant changes Democrats made to expanding voting access last year, including expanding early voting and repealing the requirement someone must show a form of identification with a photo to vote. “Those changes marked a pretty big shift in how we do election law,” said Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Henrico, who is carrying bills this year to make some temporary pandemic-specific changes permanent.

Full Article: Democrats push to preserve pandemic voting access measures | Local News | roanoke.com

Wisconsin: More than 37,000 absentee ballots tied to elections commission mailing | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

More than 37,000 absentee ballots were counted from Wisconsin voters who returned an application form ahead of the November presidential election, a mailing that was a compromise by the politically divided state elections commission. Democrats wanted to send the mailing to all registered voters, whether they had requested an absentee ballot or not. Republicans on the commission ultimately prevailed in sending the mailing only to 2.6 million people who did not already have an absentee ballot application on file. It’s impossible to know whether the 37,481 people who returned the application form and later cast an absentee ballot would have done so had they not received the mailing. Wisconsin voters do not register by party, so it’s also impossible to know how many of those voters were Republicans or Democrats. However, Democrats were more aggressive in promoting absentee voting for Joe Biden while former President Donald Trump and his allies argued against absentee voting, saying before the election that voting by mail was rife with fraud. Biden won Wisconsin by fewer than 21,000 votes. After Trump’s loss, he argued unsuccessfully for tossing more than 238,000 absentee ballots that he said were illegally cast in Milwaukee and Dane counties in a failed attempt to overturn Biden’s win. Trump’s arguments were rejected by the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump did not single out absentee ballots returned using the application form sent by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Full Article: More than 37,000 Wisconsin absentee ballots tied to mailing