National: ‘Have you no shame?’ Biden frames voting rights as a moral reckoning | Katie Rogers/The New York Times

President Biden said on Tuesday that the fight against restrictive voting laws was the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War” and called Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election “a big lie.” In an impassioned speech in Philadelphia, Mr. Biden tried to reinvigorate the stalled Democratic effort to pass federal voting rights legislation and called on Republicans “in Congress and states and cities and counties to stand up, for God’s sake.” “Help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote,” the president said in remarks at the National Constitution Center. “Have you no shame?” But his words collided with reality: Even as Republican-led bills meant to restrict voting access make their way through statehouses across the country, two bills aiming to expand voting rights nationwide are languishing in Congress. And Mr. Biden has bucked increasing pressure from Democrats to support pushing the legislation through the Senate by eliminating the filibuster, no matter the political cost.

Full Article: Biden Speaks on Voting Rights in Philadelphia – The New York Times

Arizona: Maricopa County to spend $2.8M to replace voting machines | Lacey Latch Mary Jo Pitzl/Arizona Republic

Maricopa County will spend nearly $3 million to replace voting equipment that officials say was permanently tainted by the Arizona Senate’s election review. The county will spend millions to purchase and then destroy the old equipment that was subpoenaed for the audit as well as for new systems before the upcoming elections. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for the funding after the county announced June 28 it would not reuse most of the voting equipment that was in the possession of contractors for the audit. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs had previously warned the county that her office would move to decertify the machines if officials tried to use them in another election, citing concerns about the chain of custody after the Senate took possession of them. Hobbs said she consulted with experts and officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and concluded there was no way to determine whether the machines were tampered with. As a result, the Board of Supervisors agreed to purchase all of the subpoenaed equipment from Dominion Voting Systems for disposal. The board intends to replace the equipment with new voting systems before the next election. “The frustrating thing is, those were perfectly good machines which passed all of our accuracy tests from the time we first got them in 2019. The taxpayer paid good money for them, but now this equipment will have to be decommissioned because the Senate didn’t take our warnings about chain-of-custody seriously,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers in a released statement after the meeting. “When Senate leadership chose novices to conduct their audit rather than reputable, certified companies, they wasted an expensive investment that had served Maricopa County voters well in 2019 and 2020.”

Full Article: Arizona audit: Maricopa County to spend $2.8M to replace voting machines

National: Activists sue Election Assistance Commission over voting system guidelines | Associated Press

Key elements of the first federal technology standards for voting equipment in 15 years should be scrapped because language that would have banned the devices from connecting to the internet was dropped after private meetings held with manufacturers, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday. The lawsuit against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., claims those meetings should have been open and that changes to the draft standards should have been shared with the commission’s advisory and standards boards. The lawsuit seeks to have those changes set aside. The standards, approved in February, did not include draft language that would have banned wireless technology from voting equipment under federal certification guidelines. Voting security experts say the machines will be vulnerable to hacking without such a ban. While the commission’s certification guidelines are voluntary, multiple states use them to set mandatory requirements for voting equipment. Federal law requires the agency to develop its guidelines for voting systems in public, said Susan Greenhalgh of the nonprofit Free Speech for People, the group that brought the lawsuit along with University of California, Berkeley computer scientist Philip Stark, who sits on the commission’s advisory board. Greenhalgh said that was not done ahead of the February vote by commissioners to ratify what had been draft standards. “Instead, the EAC brazenly flouted its legal obligation to adhere to a transparent process, choosing instead to invite the manufacturers into private meetings so they could alter the voting system standards to ease requirements and benefit the manufacturers,” she said.

Full Article: Activists sue federal agency over voting system guidelines

National: Kremlin papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House | Luke Harding, Julian Borger and Dan Sabbagh/The Guardian

Vladimir Putin personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council, according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents. The key meeting took place on 22 January 2016, the papers suggest, with the Russian president, his spy chiefs and senior ministers all present. They agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them “social turmoil” in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position. Russia’s three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature. By this point Trump was the frontrunner in the Republican party’s nomination race. A report prepared by Putin’s expert department recommended Moscow use “all possible force” to ensure a Trump victory. Western intelligence agencies are understood to have been aware of the documents for some months and to have carefully examined them. The papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak from within the Kremlin.

Full Article: Kremlin papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House | Vladimir Putin | The Guardian

National: Lawmakers Pitch New Voting System for US Troops Stationed Overseas | Patricia Kime/

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is seeking to increase the number of U.S. service members who exercise their right to vote — especially those stationed in combat zones or deployed overseas. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced a bill Tuesday that would establish a secure electronic voting system for those assigned to hazardous duty stations or on a rotational deployment. According to the senators, the fully auditable system would track votes from the time they are marked through the counting process. In a release, Duckworth said a new system is needed as part of an overall effort to “strengthen voting rights across the country.” “Service members face numerous barriers to voting that make it more difficult for them to participate in our democracy by exercising their right to vote,” she said. “[The bill] would increase access to the ballot box for troops.”

Full Article: Lawmakers Pitch New Voting System for US Troops Stationed Overseas |

National: Top generals mobilized on fears Trump wanted military post-election coup, book details | Rebecca Shabad/NBC

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, worried that then-President Donald Trump would try to use the military to attempt a coup after the 2020 election and vowed to prevent it. That’s according to a new book by Washington Post reporters Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig, “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” which will be released next week. The book, excerpts of which were obtained by NBC News, attributes the accounts of private conversations between military and government officials to myriad unnamed sources, including aides to those involved. Trump issued a statement Thursday denying that he had ever considered a coup and criticizing Milley, whom he said he appointed only because people he disliked had in turn disliked the general. “So ridiculous! Sorry to inform you, but an Election is my form of ‘coup,’ and if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley,” Trump said.

Full Article: Top generals mobilized on fears Trump wanted military post-election coup, book details

National: Phony Audits = Real Threats to the Vote | Michael Waldman/Brennan Center for Justice

For two months, Republicans, conspiracy theorists, and “Stop the Steal” activists have been conducting an “audit” of Arizona’s presidential election results. Critics call it the “fraudit.” It devolved into a national joke as fevered partisans looked for evidence of bamboo fibers to prove that China had printed the ballots to give the state to Joe Biden. The spectacle is reportedly backfiring, as Arizona’s independent voters recoil. But it’s no joke. It shows how deeply Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen has seeped into American politics. And now similar partisan election reviews are beginning to spread across the country. In Pennsylvania last week, a state senator asked three counties, including Philadelphia, for access to election equipment and materials. The legislator, a leader in the state’s “Stop the Steal” movement, said he’s copying the method of election deniers in Maricopa County, Arizona, where this nonsense began. In response, Philadelphia’s Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt, who is responsible for the city’s elections, retorted: “I would encourage our legislators to educate themselves to know that our election was certified and that it was audited, not once — but twice — and there was no doubt about the outcome. It was safe, it was secure, and it wasn’t even close.” In other words: Trump lost, Biden won. These sham “audits,” however, are anything but objective and secure. In a joint report with R Street Institute and Protect Democracy, we examined proposed and ongoing reviews of election results in five states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Full Article: Phony Audits = Real Threats to the Vote | Brennan Center for Justice

Arizona: House committee launches investigation of GOP-comissioned election review | Eugene Scott/The Washington Post

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is launching an investigation into Arizona’s GOP-commissioned review of the 2020 presidential election and the private contractor leading the effort, whose chief executive has echoed former president Donald Trump’s false claims. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the committee, and Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) sent a letter Wednesday to Douglas Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, seeking correspondences, documents and other information about his Florida-based company’s review of nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County. “The committee is seeking to determine whether the privately funded audit conducted by your company in Arizona protects the right to vote or is instead an effort to promote baseless conspiracy theories, undermine confidence in America’s elections, and reverse the result of a free and fair election for partisan gain,” Maloney and Raskin, who heads the subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties, wrote to Logan. A contact for Cyber Ninjas did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment. Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Arizona in nearly 25 years — earning the state’s 11 electoral college votes, mostly because of the growth and diversification of Maricopa County, home to the fifth-largest city in the United States.

Full Article: House committee launches investigation of GOP-comissioned election review in Arizona – The Washington Post

Georgia: Some ballots initially double-counted in Fulton County before recount | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A duplicate write-in vote for singer Kanye West was a big clue that some absentee ballots had been counted twice in Fulton County. Digital ballot images made public under Georgia’s new voting law show nearly 200 ballots — including one for West — that election officials initially scanned two times last fall before a recount. There’s no indication any vote for president was counted more than once in official results. The discovery of identical ballots provides evidence to back up allegations of problems in the presidential election, but on a relatively small scale that had no bearing on the final certified count. A group of voters seeking to prove the election was fraudulent say double-counting is just the beginning of what they hope to find. … “It’s something that should never happen,” said Mark Lindeman, acting co-director for Verified Voting, an election integrity organization focused on voting technology. “I’m not trying to make excuses for a blunder, but under really difficult circumstances, people do things that are inexplicable, and that seems to be the case here.” Lindeman said he couldn’t recall another example of ballots being scanned twice anywhere in the country. He suggested stronger ballot tracking practices, with ballots divided into batches with unique identifying labels and cover sheets. Some jurisdictions imprint serial numbers on absentee ballots as they’re scanned for use during audits.

Full Article: Search for election fraud in Georgia finds 200 ballots scanned twice

Kansas: Judge to decide if top election official can withhold records by altering software | Sherman Smith/The Kansas City Star

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says the state’s open records law might as well not exist if Secretary of State Scott Schwab is allowed to keep public information hidden by reconfiguring software. Attorney Josh Pierson argued Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court for the release of provisional ballot data requested by Davis Hammet, a voter rights advocate who hoped to educate the public about why their ballots weren’t being counted. Hammet won a lawsuit last year over whether details about provisional ballots are a public record, and District Judge Teresa Watson ordered Schwab to turn the information over. The Republican secretary of state, whose agency oversees elections and manages a statewide voter database, instead ordered software engineers to remove the database function that allows the agency to produce the records. The secretary then denied Hammet’s request on the grounds that the records no longer exist. Schwab’s office told Hammet he could still get access to the data, but only if he paid $522 for the database vendor, Election Systems & Software, to retrieve it. Hammet sued again, with support from the ACLU. “This is gamesmanship,” Pierson said. “This was an attempt by the secretary to not have to produce these records that he litigated to not have to produce. He lost. He took matters into his own hands.”

Full Article: Schwab altered software to hide records, voting activist says. | The Kansas City Star

Louisiana’s Election Integrity Commission folds after two meetings | Wesley Muller/Louisiana Illuminator

After holding just two organizational meetings since it was founded this year in response to baseless allegations of voter fraud, the Louisiana Commission on Election Integrity and Voting was suspended on Thursday. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin made the announcement in a news release, thanking the members for their service and saying he needs to focus on other work. “I sincerely thank Chairman Quentin Dastugue and all members of this commission for their willingness to serve,” Ardoin said. “However, at this time, my staff and I must focus on supporting the important work of studying Louisiana’s next voting system as mandated by statute.” Ardoin has been working for several years to find suitable replacements for the state’s outdated voting machines. The commission that Ardoin suspended was one he formed in April in an effort to appease some who alleged, without evidence, that Louisiana’s elections were fraudulent. Despite this, state lawmakers established their own version of a board that could investigate such allegations and provide oversight of the state’s procurement of new voting machines — the Louisiana Voting Systems Commission, formed by way of Senate Bill 221, which Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law this month as Act 480.  The newer Voting Systems Commission is similarly established within the Louisiana Department of State “for the purpose of independently reviewing any proposals received by the secretary of state” for the sale of voting machines.

Full Article: Louisiana’s Election Integrity Commission folds after two meetings

Michigan GOP official: Trump a ‘malignancy’ who spouts election ‘lies’ | Craig Mauger/The Detroit News

One of two Republican members of Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers blasted Donald Trump during a Tuesday meeting, calling the former president a “malignancy.” Tony Daunt, who’s also a member of the Michigan GOP’s state committee, made the comments after a presentation by state Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, whose Senate Oversight Committee led a seven-month investigation into the 2020 election and found no evidence of fraud. “I just want to thank you, the committee, for having the courage to do this report, to put the information out there without leaning on the scales, for having the courage to stand up against the malignancy that is Donald Trump and the people who have lacked the courage to stand up to him for the last six months,” Daunt said to McBroom. Norm Shinkle, the other GOP member of the Board of State Canvassers, adjourned the meeting soon after Daunt’s remark. The board is in charge of certifying election results in the state. After the meeting, Daunt, a longtime figure in GOP politics, said it’s unfortunate that Trump continues to “spout lies” that the election was rigged. Democrat Joe Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes, or 3 percentage points. The state Senate’s probe, dozens of court rulings and bipartisan boards of canvassers have reinforced the outcome despite unproven claims of fraud by the former president and his supporters.

Full Article: Michigan GOP official: Trump a ‘malignancy’ who spouts election ‘lies’

New Hampshire: Windham audit blames discrepancy on folded ballots | Kevin Landrigan/New Hampshire Union Leader

The discrepancy found in Windham’s state representative races last November was caused by folds in mailed absentee ballots being misread by ballot-counting machines, not by partisan misbehavior, the forensic audit team concluded. In its 121-page report released Tuesday, the three-man audit team sought to put to rest suspicions about the 300-vote gains all four Republican candidates achieved after a hand recount of the Nov. 3 ballots. “We found no basis to believe that the miscounts found in Windham indicate a pattern of partisan bias or a failed election,” wrote Harri Hursti, Mark Lindeman and Phillip Stark, the three auditors chosen by the state and the town to conduct the review. In the first count on the night of Nov. 3, Republican Julius Soti won the fourth state representative seat by 24 votes over Democrat Kristi St. Laurent. But Soti’s win grew to 420 votes after a Nov. 12 hand recount requested by St. Laurent. All four GOP candidates picked up roughly 300 votes apiece, while St. Laurent’s vote total dropped by about 100 after the hand recount.

Full Article: Windham audit blames discrepancy on folded ballots

North Carolina House Freedom Caucus stymied in voting machine probe | David N. Bass/Carolina Journal

Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the N.C. State Board of Elections, is blocking attempts by the N.C. House Freedom Caucus to inspect voting machines for possible irregularities. Republicans are crying foul. “What we actually seek to show the public is that the equipment in North Carolina is not a problem,” said Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, at a press conference on Thursday, July 15. “We seek transparency in the election process. The Freedom Caucus believes that every legal vote should be counted but not a single illegal vote should be counted.” The Freedom Caucus — 25 House members and chaired by Kidwell — is seeking to inspect two voting systems in randomly selected precincts to ensure modems are not inside, which could allow for election results to be changed remotely. Brinson Bell responded to Kidwell with a blistering letter denying the request. Her office subsequently contacted all county boards of elections directing them to not allow Freedom Caucus members to inspect voting equipment. “The State Board has received no credible evidence that the certified results are not accurate, and elected officials from both sides of the aisle have stated that the 2020 general election in North Carolina was conducted fairly,” Brinson Bell wrote. “We will not allow misinformation about voting systems or any other aspect of elections to dictate our priorities in administering elections.”

Full Article: House Freedom Caucus stymied in voting machine probe – Carolina Journal – Carolina Journal

Pennsylvania: York County joins Tioga County in raising objections to Mastriano’s election audit | Marc Levy and Mark Scolforo/Associated Press

Another Pennsylvania county targeted for an Arizona-style “forensic investigation” of the 2020 presidential election being pushed by former President Donald Trump is raising strong objections to a sweeping demand for access to its voting equipment and records. York County’s three commissioners — two Republican and one Democrat — wrote this week to the Republican state lawmaker seeking the information and raised questions about the legality of his demand, the cost to the county and their lack of staff to complete the project. The commissioners also pointed to the likelihood that its voting machines would be decertified and rendered useless if they allow third-party access to the machines that is not authorized by the state or the company that supplied them, Dominion Voting Systems. In any case, the county’s commissioners said they had run the election legally, securely and transparently, and completed the required county and state audits confirming the accuracy of the results. York County responded a week after receiving the five-page request from Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who has talked of possibly running for governor and claimed that Trump “asked me” to run.

Full Article: York County joins Tioga County in raising objections to Mastriano’s election audit | News, Sports, Jobs – Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Texas: Behind the partisan drama lies a profoundly serious struggle over who gets shut out under voting laws | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

The dramatic exodus of Democratic Texas lawmakers to block a Republican voting bill has choked the political airways in a haze of confusion, posturing and finger-pointing. But beneath the smoke, a fire rages. Many Democrats, especially those who are people of color, are incensed, seeing the latest Republican voting bill as another moment of crisis in a state they believe has long marginalized people like them in the halls of power. Many Republicans, passions stoked by unsubstantiated claims of widespread voting fraud, see their hold on political power slipping away, and are clamoring for a firewall. The struggle over voting rights in Texas goes beyond the legislative theatrics of the moment. It is fundamentally a clash not just of elected officials, but of the two constituencies they represent. It is a fight over whose voices will be heard that began long before the Democrats shut down the Texas Legislature, and the stakes are not trivial. The two days preceding the Democratic flight offered a microcosm of the standoff. As a House committee fast-tracked the GOP’s voting bill over the weekend, hundreds of Texans descended on Austin to plead their cases against it. They were left milling in the Capitol’s basement corridors for more than 17 hours, waiting for their allotted three minutes to address the House’s committee on constitutional rights and remedies created specifically to consider the special session agenda.

Full Article: Behind the drama lies a profoundly serious struggle over Texas voting laws | The Texas Tribune

Wisconsin voting laws: What local election clerks think of GOP bills | Hope Karnopp/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have drawn clear lines on where they stand on changing Wisconsin’s voting laws. But the officials responsible for administering those laws have a more nuanced view of bills that have made their way through the state Legislature. The Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association registered against most of the bills but are supportive or neutral on two of the proposals. The group represents election officials from around the state, in both red and blue areas. The past year challenged clerks like none other, especially during the April 2020 presidential primary when state leaders fought in court over whether to hold the election during the emerging pandemic, leaving clerks caught in the middle. “In the midst of (the April election), I remember thinking this election is going to make or break a lot of clerks and I think there was a lot of resigning afterwards. Most things don’t stress me out but that election gave me gray hair,” said Village of Oakfield Clerk Miriam Thomas. “Most things don’t bother me at all but it was stressful especially right up to it, having the laws go back and forth, back and forth.” Now, clerks say some of the legislation proposed by Republicans in the aftermath of the contentious 2020 elections could add to their workload. What are some of the voting proposals being debated, and what do clerks — who administer elections at the local level — think about them? Brookfield Clerk Kelly Michaels chairs the legislative and communications and advocacy committee for the clerks’ association. She said the committee held a long meeting after the bills were introduced to try to figure out the implications of the legislation. “In a perfect world, things happen this way or should happen this way, but in an unperfect world, when you’ve got a thousand voters lined up at your door, is it really going to work that way?” Michaels said.

Full Article: Wisconsin voting laws: What local election clerks think of GOP bills