National: Their work secured the election. It also paved the way for pro-Trump conspiracies. | Kevin Collier/NBC

Watching coverage of pro-Trump rioters storm the Capitol building Jan. 6, Matt Bernhard had to wonder: How much were he and his colleagues to blame? “We spent the last five years putting in all this work,” said Bernhard, an engineer at VotingWorks, a nonprofit election technology company, and an expert in election cybersecurity. “And somehow despite all that, there was the worst insurrection in the country since the Civil War because people don’t trust the outcome.”  Like all cybersecurity research, election security relies heavily on the premise that to make any system better, you first need to draw attention to the ways people can hack it. Bernhard’s peers have done that with gusto since the beginning of the Trump administration. They’ve showed how, in the right isolated circumstances, a voter registration machine can be rewired to play the 90s computer game Doom, or how a child could hack a vulnerable website that was coded to look like Florida’s election night reporting site. While their research heavily contributed to security upgrades ahead of the contentious 2020 election — one that election officials jointly called “the most secure in American history” — it has proven to be a double-edged sword. Election cybersecurity researchers who spoke with NBC News say they worry it also provided ammunition to bad-faith actors who have sought to convince some Americans that the election was illegitimate. “We always knew we were walking a bit of a scary line when flagging vulnerabilities,” Maggie MacAlpine, an election security researcher, said. “We’re always battling the fact that the appearance of a hack can be as impactful on an election as an actual hack.”

Full Article: Trump conspiracies strain election cybersecurity experts

Thousands March In D.C. For Voting Rights | Wynne Davis/NPR

Thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C., and other cities across the country on Saturday to protest a recent slew of legislation that critics say suppresses voter rights, particularly for voters of color and young voters, in many Republican-led states. The event, called the March On For Voting Rights, took place on the 58th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. Sunday’s event was organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and partner organizations. Other events also took place in Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix. In D.C., participants gathered early Saturday in McPherson square, and marched to the National Mall for a rally with the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop. Organizers say the event drew thousands to Washington. William Birdo, 82, traveled to D.C. from Los Angeles to participate in Saturday’s march, and said he’d been protesting for civil rights for a half-century. “Ever since time, we’ve been fighting,” he said. “I’m from back there in the ’60s, when we really protested the wars, and voting rights and civil rights, and everything else. And we won, and we made progress.”


Full Article: Thousands March In D.C. For Voting Rights : NPR

National: Experts warn of dangers from breach of voter system software | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

Republican efforts questioning the outcome of the 2020 presidential race have led to voting system breaches that election security experts say pose a heightened risk to future elections. Copies of the Dominion Voting Systems software used to manage elections — from designing ballots to configuring voting machines and tallying results — were distributed at an event this month in South Dakota organized by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an ally of former President Donald Trump who has made unsubstantiated claims about last year’s election. “It’s a game-changer in that the environment we have talked about existing now is a reality,” said Matt Masterson, a former top election security official in the Trump administration. “We told election officials, essentially, that you should assume this information is already out there. Now we know it is, and we don’t know what they are going to do with it.” The software copies came from voting equipment in Mesa County, Colorado, and Antrim County, Michigan, where Trump allies had sue unsuccessfully challenging the results from last fall.

Full Article: Experts warn of dangers from breach of voter system software

National: Partisan Republican vote ‘audits’ are making elections less safe, officials say | Josh Marcus/The Independent

Even though they’re often conducted under the nominal banner of election security, Republican efforts to scrutinize the 2020 election results have made elections less safe, according to cyber security experts. Earlier this month, copies of the widely used Dominion Voting Systems election software were shared with attendees at an election event organised by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a Trump supporter and booster of election conspiracy theories. It’s unclear how the software reached participants, but cyber experts told the Associated Press that now that the Dominion software, which is used in roughly 30 states, is out in public hands, it may make it easier for hackers and others bad actors to find vulnerabilities. “It’s a game-changer in that the environment we have talked about existing now is a reality,” Matt Masterson, a former top election security official in the Trump administration, told the AP. “We told election officials, essentially, that you should assume this information is already out there. Now we know it is, and we don’t know what they are going to do with it.”

Full Article: Partisan Republican vote ‘audits’ are making elections less safe, officials say | The Independent

National: As Washington Stews, State Legislatures Increasingly Shape American Politics | Michael Wines/The New York Times

With the release of the 2020 census last month, the drawing of legislative districts that could in large part determine control of Congress for the next decade heads to the nation’s state legislatures, the heart of Republican political power. Increasingly, state legislatures, especially in 30 Republican-controlled states, have seized an outsize role for themselves, pressing conservative agendas on voting, Covid-19 and the culture wars that are amplifying partisan splits and shaping policy well beyond their own borders. Indeed, for a party out of power in Washington, state legislatures have become enormous sources of leverage and influence. That is especially true for rural conservatives who largely control the legislatures in key states like Wisconsin, Texas and Georgia and could now lock in a strong Republican tilt in Congress and cement their own power for the next decade. The Texas Legislature’s pending approval of new restrictions on voting is but the latest example. “This is in many ways genuinely new, because of the breadth and scope of what’s happening,” said Donald F. Kettl, a scholar of state governance at the University of Texas at Austin. “But more fundamentally, the real point of the spear of Trumpism is appearing at the state and local level. State legislatures not only are keeping the flame alive, but nurturing and growing it.” He added that the aggressive role played by Republican legislatures had much further to run.

Full Article: As Washington Stews, State Legislatures Increasingly Shape American Politics – The New York Times

National: Report: Most federal election security money remains unspent | Roxanna Hegeman/Associated Press

Congress provided hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up the nation’s election system against cyberattacks and other threats, but roughly two-thirds of the money remained unspent just weeks before last year’s presidential election. A recently released federal report says the states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories had spent a little more than $255 million of $805 million in election security grants through Sept. 30 of last year, the latest figures available. States were given leeway on how and when to spend their shares because election concerns and potential vulnerabilities of voting systems vary widely across the country. Several election officials cited two main reasons for the slow pace of spending: More than half the money wasn’t allocated until the 2020 election was less than a year away, giving election officials and state lawmakers little time to make major spending decisions. And the coronavirus pandemic upended last year’s election planning, forcing officials to focus on safety at the polls and pivot to provide more early voting and mail-in balloting. “Security was still on everybody’s mind, but it took a back seat to just making sure that the election ran without it just having a total meltdown,” said Don Palmer, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which issued the report. A state-by-state snapshot the commission released last month shows that as of the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30, when early voting was already happening in the presidential election, the nation’s 50 states plus the District of Columbia and five territories had spent roughly 31% of the election security funding. The grant money came in two chunks since 2018 under the Help America Vote Act.

Full Article: Report: Most federal election security money remains unspent

National: Legal experts welcome sanctions of pro-Trump lawyers, say more needed | John Kruzel/The Hill

Attorneys behind some of the dubious litigation over former President Trump’s 2020 election loss were sanctioned this week by a federal judge in a move that was welcomed by legal ethics experts. More disciplinary steps are needed to deter efforts to undermine future U.S. elections, said experts who spoke to The Hill, adding that the system for holding pro-Trump election lawyers to account was working as it should. “The wheels of ethical accountability grind slowly but deliberately,” said Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer. “Within the span of 10 months, we have seen both state bars and the courts take action against those lawyers who took their propagation of Trump’s conspiratorial fantasies out of the cable news studio and into the courtroom.” Following President Biden’s win at the ballot box, pro-Trump attorneys filed dozens of lawsuits based on unfounded claims contesting the election’s legitimacy. The litigation persisted even after the attorneys collectively racked up an abysmal record in court, winning only a single minor case while losing some 60 others. Although some Trump-allied attorneys characterized their actions as hard-fought advocacy, critics say they crossed an ethical red line by deploying politically motivated disinformation to advance Trump’s “big lie” that the election was stolen from him.

Full Article: Legal experts welcome sanctions of pro-Trump lawyers, say more needed | TheHill

Editorial: How to prevent the next Jan. 6, as revealed in an important new analysis | Greg Sargent/The Washington Post

We cannot say we weren’t warned. As the select committee examining the Jan. 6 violence ramps up, one of its lesser-known goals is to offer “recommendations” to prevent a future effort to overthrow U.S. democracy through mob assault and intimidation. As it happens, there is a critical way Congress can minimize the possibility of another Jan. 6 — by addressing glaring legal vulnerabilities in the presidential electoral process that encouraged Donald Trump’s movement to try to overturn his loss, creating the conditions for the worst outbreak of U.S. political violence in recent times. We’re talking about revising the Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887. That may sound dry and unexciting, but it would shore up hidden weaknesses that made the 2020 breakdown possible. This week, a bipartisan coalition of pro-democracy experts will release a new blueprint laying out a way to revise the ECA along those lines. The report from the National Task Force on Election Crises — which includes dozens of experts in election law and voting rights — outlines major fixes.

Full Article: Opinion | How to prevent the next Jan. 6, as revealed in an important new analysis – The Washington Post

Arizona Attorney General: County must comply with 2020 election subpoena | Bob Christie/Associated Press

An Arizona county that has resisted parts of a subpoena issued by the state Senate as it reviews how it handled the 2020 election must turn over everything the Senate wants or lose all its state funding, the state attorney general said Thursday. Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued the decision after a Republican senator asked him if Maricopa County’s refusal to hand over routers, passwords and other items the Senate says it needs to complete the unprecedented partisan review violated state law. The county has turned over its vote-counting machines, servers and huge amounts of data but balked at handing over routers it uses county-wide and passwords it says it does not control. But the county board of supervisors has said the routers were never connected to election tabulation equipment but were used by every county department, including the sheriff’s office, and that turning them over would compromise sensitive law enforcement information. Brnovich, also a Republican, said that refusal to comply with the Senate’s subpoena violates state law and triggers another law that penalizes counties, cities or towns that have policies in conflict with laws enacted by the Legislature. The county has until Sept. 27 to comply or it will lose all the revenue it gets from the state — about 25% of its budget, which was $2.8 billion in 2020.

Full Article: Arizona AG: County must comply with 2020 election subpoena

California: Lawsuit to halt recall election is dismissed | Maura Dolan/Los Angeles Times

A federal judge in Los Angeles on Friday refused to block the Sept. 14 recall election, which opponents had challenged on the grounds it violated constitutional guarantees of one person, one vote. U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald, an Obama appointee, said there was “nothing unconstitutional about placing in one ballot a vote for or against the recall of the governor and then a vote for a replacement candidate.” The lawsuit, filed by civil rights lawyer Stephen Yagman on behalf of a recall opponent, sought a court order blocking the election or requiring the ballot of replacement candidates to include Gov. Gavin Newsom. Under California’s recall rules, Newsom is not permitted to run as a replacement candidate, and he could be replaced by a candidate who received far fewer votes.

Full Article: Lawsuit to halt California recall election is dismissed – Los Angeles Times

Colorado secretary of state sues to stop Mesa County clerk from overseeing elections | Justin Wingerter/Denver Post

Colorado’s secretary of state filed a lawsuit Monday to remove the clerk of Mesa County from her role overseeing elections because the clerk is under criminal investigation for allegedly allowing a security breach of election equipment. Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit in Mesa County District Court. Griswold can unilaterally require supervision of county elections, as she did in Mesa County earlier this month, but needs a judge’s order before taking the additional step of preventing county clerks from overseeing elections. Monday’s lawsuit is the latest fallout from an alleged security breach at Mesa County’s election office. Griswold believes that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, a Republican, allowed an unauthorized man into a secure room in May. Images of the county’s election equipment passwords and hard drives were later posted online and presented at a conspiracy theorist conference that Peters attended. The alleged breach is under investigation by the FBI and the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Griswold’s office also investigated the matter and determined that Peters likely allowed the breach to occur May 25. The lawsuit seeks to appoint Wayne Williams, Griswold’s Republican predecessor, as Mesa County’s top election official for the November elections and give Sheila Reiner, Peters’ Republican predecessor, the position of elections supervisor. On Monday, the Mesa County Commission approved a contract that will pay Williams $180 per hour to do the job. Reiner is currently the county treasurer.

Full Article: Jena Griswold sues to prevent Tina Peters from overseeing elections

Georgia Secretary of State seeks court orders for absentee ballot study | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is going to court to unseal absentee ballot documents for a study of signature verification in last year’s presidential election. The secretary of state’s office confirmed this week that it is seeking court orders to retrieve absentee ballot envelopes in at least 17 counties. Other counties have disclosed election materials without requiring a judge’s approval. The absentee ballot envelopes will be used for a statewide study evaluating the effectiveness of the signature verification process, which compared voters’ signatures to verify their identities. The Georgia General Assembly has since eliminated signature verification, replacing it with new ID requirements. Raffensperger announced the study in December after Republican Donald Trump and state legislators called for further verification of election results that showed he lost to Democrat Joe Biden by less than 12,000 votes in Georgia. An audit of absentee ballot signatures in Cobb County completed later that month found no cases of fraud. Though election officials no longer use signature matching for absentee ballots, the study will evaluate verification methods employed in November’s election, said Trey Hood, a University of Georgia political science professor hired by the secretary of state’s office to conduct the research.


Full Article: Judges asked to unseal Georgia absentee ballots for signature study

New Hampshire: Windham emails provide window into election distrust | Michaela Towfighi/Concord Monitor

In a small white building, with green shutters to match the door, six binders with thousands of emails tell a story of outrage and distrust in an election system. The aftermath of a recount, forensic audit and sheer uproar over the November election still ring through this southern New Hampshire town as the state continues to release reports on how Windham got its election results wrong. The State of New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission released a final report last week on how three Republican candidates, who won the election, were shortchanged about 300 votes apiece. “The commission finds that the discrepancies in Windham in November, 2020 were the result of a unique set of circumstances, not the result of malfunctioning of the ballot counting devices, and are not likely to reoccur,” the report reads. The commission reaffirmed the results of the recount and offered an explanation for why Democrats were initially given more votes than deserved. Folds in the ballots interfered with the scanner’s ability to correctly read the ballots. The machines often misread the fold as a vote for a Democrat, but in some cases that meant a vote for four candidates vying for three State Representative seats, which invalided the ballot. Hand counting revealed the true totals, according to the commission. “The commission finds that the presently authorized AccuVote machines are capable of continuing to meet the requirements for elections held in New Hampshire,” the report concludes. Still, separating fact from fiction regarding the November election continues to be a point of debate.

Full Article: Windham emails provide window into election distrust

North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn falsely suggests elections are ‘rigged,’ says there will be ‘bloodshed’ if system continues on its path | Felicia Sonmez/The Washington Post

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) on Sunday falsely suggested that elections in the United States are “rigged” and said there will be “bloodshed” if the country’s electoral system continues on its current path. Cawthorn, a freshman lawmaker and pro-Trump star of the far right, made the remarks during an event at the Macon County Republican Party headquarters in Franklin, N.C., on Sunday night. “The things that we are wanting to fight for, it doesn’t matter if our votes don’t count,” Cawthorn told the crowd, according to a video of the event posted by the county party on its Facebook page and circulated on Twitter by a Democratic congressional staffer. “Because, you know, if our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it’s going to lead to one place — and it’s bloodshed.” Cawthorn suggested that he was prepared to take up arms against his fellow Americans if necessary to combat voter fraud. There is no evidence that widespread fraud took place in the 2020 election. … About a minute earlier in his remarks, Cawthorn was holding a shotgun that he signed as part of a raffle conducted by the county Republican Party.

Full Article: Rep. Madison Cawthorn falsely suggests elections are ‘rigged,’ says there will be ‘bloodshed’ if system continues on its path – The Washington Post

Pennsylvania: Despite infighting, GOP senators push 2020 election audit | Katie Meyer and Sam Dunklau/WHYY

A week after the most powerful Republican in Pennsylvania’s Senate promised a full “forensic audit” of the 2020 election, there’s little clarity among those in the legislature — including on the senator’s own staff — about exactly what that means, or how it will work. But based on conversations with GOP staffers and members on both sides of the aisle, one conclusion appears widespread among those watching the Senate’s audit drama unfold: Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, generally seen as a by-the-books pragmatist, is making a political calculation. “I think Senator Corman and other Republicans are responding to political pressure from the national party,” said Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia). “The national Republican party, led by the former president, has ginned up a lot of anxiety about whether the election process happened fairly, which we know it did.”

Full Article: Despite infighting, Pa. GOP senators push 2020 election audit – WHYY

Texas: The hard-fought voting bill is poised to become law. Here’s what it does. | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Texas voting bill: Here’s what’s in the legislation poised to become law | The Texas Tribune

Wisconsin governor: $680K for election probe is ‘outrageous’ | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said Monday that it was “outrageous” that Republicans planned to spend $680,000 on an investigation into the 2020 election in Wisconsin, accusing Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of “drinking the Kool-Aid” after meeting with former President Donald Trump. A Republican-controlled Assembly committee gave approval Monday, on a 5-3 party-line vote, to designating former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman as special counsel to lead the investigation ordered by Vos, assist the Assembly Elections Committee and hire investigators and others as needed. Vos said on Friday that the contract will allow for spending up to $680,000 on the probe. That is more than nine times as much as the original contract with Gableman and the vote comes a week after Vos flew with Trump to a campaign rally in Alabama where the two discussed the Wisconsin investigation. “I think it’s outrageous,” Evers said of the GOP election probe, saying the money would be wasted.

Full Article: Wisconsin governor: $680K for election probe is ‘outrageous’