As Trump seizes on Arizona ballot audit, election officials fear partisan vote counts could be the norm in future elections | Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey/The Washington Post

More than five months after the 2020 presidential election, and after numerous failed attempts to overturn the results, former president Donald Trump has seized on a new avenue to try to call the outcome into question: a hand recount of 2.1 million ballots cast in Arizona’s largest county. Several advisers said the former president has become fixated on the unorthodox process underway in Phoenix, where the GOP-led state Senate took ballots and voting equipment from Maricopa County and turned them over to Cyber Ninjas, a private contractor whose chief executive has echoed baseless claims that the election was fraudulent but has now promised a fair review of the November results. Ensconced at his private club in Florida, Trump asks aides for updates about the process multiple times a day, advisers said, expressing particular interest in the use of UV lights to scrutinize Maricopa’s ballots — a method that has bewildered election experts, who say it could damage the votes. “He talks about it constantly,” said one person who recently visited Mar-a-Lago and listened to Trump discuss the recount for about 45 minutes, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Trump’s embrace of the Arizona effort — which he and his allies claim will prove that the election was stolen — has come amid mounting anxiety among election officials that similar partisan vote counts could become the norm. “I’m very concerned this has ramifications for every state in the country,” Kim Wyman, a Republican who serves as secretary of state in Washington state, said in an interview. “This is politicizing an administrative process with no real structure or laws or rules in place to guide how it goes.”

Full Article: As Trump seizes on Arizona ballot audit, election officials fear partisan vote counts could be the norm in future elections – The Washington Post

The Republicans’ staggering effort to attack voting rights in Biden’s first 100 days | Sam Levine/The Guardian

The most urgent crisis facing the US during the first 100 days of Joe Biden’s presidency has been a ticking time bomb that has unfolded far from the White House and the halls of Congress.It’s an emergency that has unfolded in state capitols across America, where lawmakers have taken up an unprecedented effort to make it harder to vote. Even as attacks on voting rights have escalated in recent years, the Republican effort since January marks a new, more dangerous phase for American democracy, experts say. From the moment Biden was elected, Republicans have waged an unprecedented effort to undermine confidence in the results in the election, thrusting the foundation of American democracy to the center of American politics. An alarming peak in that effort came on 6 January, when Republican lies about the election fomented the attack on the US capitol and several GOP senators tried to block certification of the electoral college vote.

Full Article: The Republicans’ staggering effort to attack voting rights in Biden’s first 100 days | US news | The Guardian

National: Biden calls on Congress to pass voting, elections reform bills | Max Greenwood/The Hill

President Biden in his address to Congress on Tuesday called on lawmakers to pass a sweeping set of elections and voting reforms that hold the potential to reshape the U.S. political landscape, from how campaigns are financed to the laws governing the decennial redistricting process. In his remarks to a joint session of Congress, Biden boasted that the 2020 election had seen the highest turnout in modern history despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. But instead of being celebrated, he said, the right to vote “is being attacked.” “If we truly want to restore the soul of America, we need to protect the sacred right to vote,” Biden said. “More people voted in the last presidential election than any time in American history in the middle of the worst pandemic ever.” He called on Congress to quickly pass H.R. 1, a wide-reaching elections reform bill already approved by the House, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would strengthen or reinstate parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. “Congress should pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send them to my desk right away,” Biden said. “The country supports it, and Congress should act now.” H.R. 1 seeks a broad overhaul of the nation’s political systems. Among the proposals included in the measure is a mandate for states to use nonpartisan redistricting commissions to draw congressional lines, as well as new financial disclosure requirements for super PACs and political nonprofits, often dubbed “dark money groups.” The bill would also create a set of national standards for voter registration and mail-in balloting. One provision would require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, something that former President Donald Trump never did, despite decades of precedent.

Full Article: Biden calls on Congress to pass voting, elections reform bills | TheHill

National: What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About Mail-In Ballots and Early Voting in 2020 | Ryan Teague Beckwith/Bloomberg

What happened in the 2020 U.S. election? Here’s a quick summary that may sound familiar. Spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, states expanded early voting and voting by mail, leading to historic turnout that helped Joe Biden win. The problem: Almost everything about that summary is likely wrong. Recent studies have confirmed that changes to voting in 2020 had little or no effect on turnout, and even though Democrats took more advantage of mail voting, there’s no evidence that those voters wouldn’t have shown up anyway. And if there was a partisan benefit from expanding voting by mail, it probably helped Republicans, not Democrats. These misconceptions aren’t just a matter of historical interest. Along with other urban legends about how elections work, they appear to be driving legislation at the state and federal level that would change how elections are run in the future. State lawmakers across the country have filed more than 1,200 bills seeking to change voting laws, with Republicans looking to roll back early and absentee voting and Democrats seeking to make voter registration easier. In Congress, House Democrats have passed a bill, H.R. 1, that would require states to offer early voting and expand access to voting by mail, but it remains stalled in the Senate because of Republican opposition.

Full Article: What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About Mail-In Ballots and Early Voting in 2020 – Bloomberg

National: Biden allies launch voting rights initiative | Rebecca Shabad/NBC

An outside political group formed by allies of President Joe Biden is launching a voting rights initiative focused on strengthening pro-voter policies and protecting against suppression efforts. The nonprofit Building Back Together announced the project Wednesday, saying in a release that the group “will work to counter proposed changes to those laws that impede access, particularly for voters of color and historically disadvantaged and densely populated communities.” The group will focus first on a slew of battleground states, some of which have implemented laws that voting rights advocates say seek to prevent people from casting ballots. The states include Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, recently signed a highly restrictive voting measure into law that has prompted lawsuits and threats to boycott of businesses that haven’t voiced opposition to the legislation.

Full Article: Biden allies launch voting rights initiative

National: Veterans group shifts focus from military voting to bigger election reforms | Leo Shane III/Military Times

A group of high-profile veterans and defense leaders who last fall lobbied for military voters’ access to the polls is now shifting their campaign to ensuring free and fair elections for all Americans. Operation Protect Democracy, which grew out of the Count Every Hero Campaign founded last year, is calling for veterans to take a key role in election reform across the country and ensuring that all eligible voters have access to ballots in federal, state and local elections. Organizers said they were inspired to shift the message in part because of widespread misinformation about the 2020 presidential election results, and the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. “The fact that veterans participated in that was troubling for us,” said retired Marine Corps Gen. Tony Zinni, chairman of the group. “And of late, legislation seems to be proliferating to try to restrict eligible voters in many ways and make it more difficult to vote.

Full Article: Veterans group shifts focus from military voting to bigger election reforms

Arizona: Elections experts call on Justice Department to send monitors to Arizona audit | Max Greenwood/The Hill

A group of election security and administration experts are asking the Justice Department to send federal monitors to Arizona as the Republican-led state Senate carries out an audit of 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in the state’s 2020 presidential election. In a letter to the top official at the Justice Department’s voting section, five elections experts from the Brennan Center for Justice, Protect Democracy and The Leadership Conference expressed deep concerns about how the audit is being conducted, warning that it has put ballots “in danger of being stolen, defaced, or irretrievably damaged.” “They failed to ensure the physical security of ballots by keeping doors unlocked and allowing unauthorized persons to access the ballot storage facility,” the letter reads. “They also risk compromising the integrity of the ballots themselves, using materials and technologies that will cause the ballot paper and marks to deteriorate, such as holding ballots to ultra-violet light without gloves. “And, by restricting access to the audit by nonpartisan observers, election administrators and voting machine experts, they are failing to ensure that the audit is transparent.” The letter also expresses concern that the state Senate and the firm it has hired to run the audit — a Florida-based company called Cyber Ninjas — “are preparing to engage in conduct that will constitute unlawful voter intimidation in violation of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws.” At issue, they wrote, is a plan to “physically canvass” voters in Maricopa County as part of the audit, and to gather information related to their voting history.

Full Article: Elections experts call on Justice Department to send monitors to Arizona audit | TheHill

Arizona: Cyber Ninjas releases its election audit policies after court order | Jeremy Duda/Arizona Mirror

Following a judge’s ruling that the Arizona Senate’s election audit team can’t keep its policies and procedures secret, lead audit contractor Cyber Ninjas submitted nearly two hundreds pages to the court detailing its practices. The collection of policies and procedures covers guidelines for hand counting ballots, handling digital evidence, documenting chain-of-custody for ballots, rules of conduct for observers and other matters from Cyber Ninjas, as well as the subcontractors it’s working with. It also includes manifests for ballots and tabulation machines provided by Maricopa County election officials. The policies shed some light on the processes that auditors are using to count the ballots, a process being overseen by Wake Technology Services. Wake’s policies also describe the examination process for ballot, including checking the ballots for folds — early ballots are folded, while in-person ballots cast on election day aren’t — examining the thickness and feel of the paper, checking for discrepancies in the printing and scanning ballots with ultraviolet lights to “compare to representative specimens.” The policy documents don’t elaborate on what exactly the lights are supposed to show. Through Wednesday morning, audit employees had been shining UV lights on each ballot, though they haven’t been using the lights since later that afternoon. Auditors are also using technology purportedly invented by Jovan Pulitzer, an inventor and treasure hunter, that he says can detect fake ballots by examining the folds, or lack thereof, in the paper. Cyber Ninjas’ statement of work for the audit states that it will search for counterfeit ballots, despite a total lack of any evidence that any such ballots were counted in the 2020 general election. It’s unclear if all of the policies were drafted before the audit, or if some were implemented afterward. The documents state that policies on writing implements were updated after the audit began.

Full Article: Cyber Ninjas releases its election audit policies after court order

Arizona: ‘Crazy Times Carnival’ to take place on same grounds as election audit | Nicole Sadek/Arizona Republic

The Arizona State Fairgrounds announced Monday that a new carnival will kick off Thursday on the same grounds where a Maricopa County election audit is taking place. The “Crazy Times Carnival” is scheduled to run 11 nights outside the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, where auditors are hand counting nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in the November 2020 general election. Maintaining security at the coliseum has been a key concern during the audit. Jen Yee, a spokesperson for the fairgrounds, said the carnival will be fenced off, with the north lot set aside for audit parking. The fairgrounds marketing team brainstormed names for possible live events early in the pandemic “when the world first imploded,” Yee said. They came up with “Crazy Times Carnival” well before the Nov. 3 election or before anyone imagined a ballot recount happening inside the coliseum.

Full Article: ‘Crazy Times Carnival’ to take place on same grounds as election audit

Colorado lawmakers advance online voting for the blind over objections from election security experts, Homeland Security, Justice Department | Pat Poblete/Colorado Politics

A House panel on Thursday advanced a bill that seeks to allow blind or otherwise print-impaired voters to privately and independently vote by returning marked ballots online. But a host of federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, warned in a report to states ahead of last fall’s election the bill’s provisions would amount to a “high-risk” endeavor that could compromise election integrity by allowing hackers to manipulate ballots and election results “at scale.” Senate Bill 21-188 was carried through the Senate by Sen. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, where it passed on a near-party line vote. In the House, the legislation is sponsored Democratic Reps. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, and David Ortiz, a Littleton Democrat who now uses a wheelchair after a helicopter crash while serving in Afghanistan left him with little muscle control below his waist. The proposal seeks to build on legislation that allows voters with disabilities to access a ballot online, which Danielson championed in 2019. Under Danielson’s Senate Bill 19-202, a ballot can then be marked, printed and returned, which allows voters with disabilities to cast a ballot privately and independently. After being signed into law in May 2019, Danielson said Secretary of State Jena Griswold quickly implemented the legislation and it has largely been successful, save for one hiccup: few voters with disabilities have a printer.

Full Article: Lawmakers advance online voting for the blind over objections from election security experts, Homeland Security, Justice Department | Elections |

Colorado: Federal judge in Denver dismisses class-action suit against Dominion, Facebook | Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics

A U.S. magistrate in Denver dismissed a class-action lawsuit that originated in Colorado against Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook and others accused of conspiring to cost Donald Trump last November’s election. U.S. District Court Magistrate N. Reid Neureiter issued a ruling less than 24 hours after arguments to dismiss the case Wednesday afternoon, because the plaintiffs who say they were harmed by unfair election tactics have the same problems as dozens of other failed cases have had: lack of standing. Denver lawyer Gary Fielder filed the class-action lawsuit against the election software company at the center of conspiracy theories about a stolen election, in addition to Facebook, its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, as well as a nonprofit that helped local governments prepare for last November’s vote. The suit asked not to turn over the results of the election but to penalize the defendants $1,000 for each of the more than 160 million voters, adding up to more than $160 billion. Neureiter said the suit was a  “generalized complaint” — meaning it was based on information that hasn’t been proven — and that it lacked enough facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face” and failed to “plausibly allege violation of constitutional rights.”

Full Article: Federal judge in Denver dismisses class-action suit against Dominion, Facebook | Elections |

Florida: Election reforms targeting voting by mail, drop boxes passes Legislature | Lawrence Mower/Tampa Bay Times

The Florida Legislature approved along party lines a multitude of changes to the state’s elections laws Thursday night, including a ban on possessing multiple vote by mail ballots and restrictions on the use of ballot drop boxes. Relenting on a number of ideas that were strongly opposed by county elections supervisors and Democrats, the bill now heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk is far less onerous than what Republicans were proposing over the last month. The bill does not ban drop boxes, an idea DeSantis endorsed earlier this year. It does not require someone show an I.D. when leaving a vote by mail ballot in a drop box, which elections supervisors warned would have created long lines. It also does not include the strict signature-comparison requirements for validating vote by mail ballots that some feared would require millions of Floridians to update their signatures with their county elections office.

Full Article: Election reforms targeting voting by mail, drop boxes passes Florida Legislature

Michigan Secretary of State: GOP bill would criminalize officials’ election Twitter posts | Craig Mauger/The Detroit News

One of the 39 bills Michigan Senate Republicans proposed to overhaul the state’s voting laws would make it a crime for certain officials to share information about an upcoming election on Twitter or other social media platforms. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, raised the criticism Wednesday as the Senate Elections Committee began debating the proposal that seeks to bar the “name or likeness” of an official from appearing in any “communication” funded with public money that involves an election-related activity. The bill specifically defines communications as advertisements, billboards, mail or “social media posts.” Under the bill, a violation would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $100. “Senate Bill 305 would inexplicably bar the most trusted sources of voter education and election information in our state — the secretary of state and election clerks — from educating citizens about the mechanics of voting,” Benson said in a statement. “At a time when misinformation is escalating and election administrators are the most reliable and informed voices available to counter it, this bill would ban them from doing so.”

Full Article: Benson: GOP bill would criminalize officials’ election Twitter posts

Montana Election Security Bill, Amended To Limit Who Can Handle Absentee Ballots, Headed To Governor | Kevin Trevellyan/MTPR

Legislation limiting who can handle absentee ballots during election season cleared the Montana Legislature Tuesday largely along party lines. An initially uncontroversial bill granting the secretary of state’s office rulemaking authority to boost election security was amended with the rule to prevent someone from turning in somebody else’s absentee ballot if they’re paid to do so. Sponsor and Ulm Republican Rep. Wendy McKamey said the provision is a needed voting safeguard. “We want to keep it as clear and transparent and uninfluenced by monies as possible,” Ulm said. Browning Democratic Rep. Tyson Running Wolf said the amendment prevents Indigenous get-out-the-vote groups from collecting ballots in rural tribal communities, disenfranchising residents who lack consistent access to mail service and polling places. “Ballot collection is the only way for many of the voters to make sure their vote is counted and voices are being heard,” Running Wolf said.

Full Article: Election Security Bill, Amended To Limit Who Can Handle Absentee Ballots, Headed To Governor | MTPR

New Hampshire: Windham selectman calls foul over audit representative selection | Julie Huss/The Eagle-Tribune

A selectman hopes to change the outcome of a recent vote to choose a representative to participate in a forensic audit of Windham’s election results and voting machines from the Nov. 3 general election. Bruce Breton released a statement this week, asking his fellow selectmen to reconsider a 3-1 vote taken April 26 that selected Mark Lindeman, co-director of the organization Verified Voting, as the town’s designee for the upcoming audit, citing conflicts of interest. … Breton said Lindeman has a definite conflict of interest representing Windham and New Hampshire’s citizens as a forensic auditor, citing Lindeman joining in to sign a letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, expressing opposition to the election audit currently taking place in that state’s Maricopa County. In the letter sent to Fann in Arizona, Verified Voting joined in with a long list of election law experts, administrators, voting rights experts and national security representatives to voice concern about the public being restricted from having access to the audit currently taking place on 2.1 million ballots from the November election. The letter urged Fann to grant public observation to representatives from nonpartisan American organizations and education institutions. “This audit, which will include recounting ballots cast for U.S. President, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, is a matter of concern to all Americans,” the letter read. “The Arizona Senate must not prohibit access to election administration and voting equipment experts from nonpartisan American organizations that support free, fair and secure elections.”

Full Article: Windham selectman calls foul over audit representative selection | New Hampshire |

Texas Democrats ask for federal review of House Elections Committee after voting bill debacle | Lauren McGaughy/Dallas Morning News

Four Texas Democrats have asked the federal government to monitor the goings-on inside a state House committee after they accused the chairman of trying to avoid public debate on a divisive elections bill. On Thursday, Briscoe Cain, chairman of the House Committee on Elections, ultimately succeeded in getting his nine-member panel to approve Senate Bill 7, a GOP-backed omnibus bill that would tighten voting laws in Texas. Cain, a Deer Park Republican, first brought the bill up for a vote in the morning without any warning, Democrats on his committee complained, denying them the chance to notify the public so a public hearing could be held. But Thursday night, after the Republican majority committee voted down several amendments to the bill, it approved the legislation on a 5-4 vote along partisan lines. No public debate was heard. The incident prompted the committee’s Democrats to send a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and urge the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to review what happened and monitor the committee “if deemed appropriate.” The letter also accused Cain of repeatedly violating rules and “silencing opposing viewpoints.” “The way we have been treated is emblematic of the majority’s view on minority participation in our democracy. The viewpoints of minorities are an unimportant nuisance that is an obstacle to their continued control of Texas,” the signatories wrote, saying female Democrats “have been belittled, talked over, and disrespected.”

Full Article: Democrats ask for federal review of Texas House Elections Committee after voting bill debacle

Vermont Secretary of State announces completion of 2020 General Election Audit | Vermont Business

Today Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos announced the completion of the 2020 Vermont General Election Audit, which was conducted on April 28th at the Pavilion Auditorium located in Montpelier. No significant abnormalities or discrepancies were found between the audit results and the Official Returns of Vote. “Yesterday’s successful audit of the 2020 Vermont General Election has verified the accuracy, dependability and integrity of Vermont’s official November General Election results,” said Condos. “While the audit is an important administrative process required by state law, it also serves to give Vermont voters strengthened confidence in our election results. Every voter deserves to have peace of mind in knowing that when they cast their ballot it will be counted accurately.” Audits of General Election results are a nationally identified best practice and have been required by Vermont state statute since 2006. Every vote cast must be securely sealed by the Town or City Clerks in tamper proof ballot bags under strict chain of custody and retained in the vaults for 22 months following the election.

Full Article: Condos announces completion of 2020 Vermont General Election Audit | Vermont Business Magazine

Wisconsin: New legislation would require lawmakers to volunteer as poll workers | Jonah Chester/WORT

Today, a group of Democratic legislators introduced a bill that would require all elected state officials to serve as poll workers during elections. The legislation wouldn’t apply to members of the judiciary, but it would apply to Wisconsin’s Senators and Assembly members. The only exception is if the official is on the ballot. Representative Lee Snodgrass (D-Appleton) said during a press conference today that the proposal will increase transparency in the state’s election processes. “By requiring our non-judicial state elected officials to receive the same training as election officials in their district, we can increase knowledge, understanding and confidence in an election administered fairly and without doubt,” Appleton said. Since the November Presidential election, Republicans at both a state and federal level have cast doubt on the process Last month, the Wisconsin State Assembly greenlit a committee-led investigation into Wisconsin’s Presidential election, granting that body the ability to subpoena testimony. Democrats, elections officials, voting rights advocates, state and federal courts have all said that there were no irregularities in the November election. Democrats and voting rights advocates say that election investigations — both in Wisconsin and elsewhere — are based solely on the repeated lies of former President Donald Trump.

Full Article: New legislation would require lawmakers to volunteer as poll workers – WORT 89.9 FM