Colorado: Mesa County Clerk Fights to Keep Her Job in New Court Filing | Bente Birkeland/Colorado Public Radio

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, who is embroiled in an election security scandal, has denied wrongdoing and requested to remain in her role overseeing elections this fall. Her attorney said Peters was well within her legal right to share information about the county’s Dominion Voting Systems equipment with a non-employee during an annual system upgrade. Data from the machines were featured in screenshots shared by QAnon supporters and released by the right wing website Gateway Pundit, by those eager to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election. A court filing in response to an effort to remove Peters from overseeing elections in Mesa, said the leak of information was not Peters’ intent, but rather she was trying to preserve records and to better analyze how the state conducted system updates. “Unfortunately, there was an unauthorized release of information on one or more publicly available web sites,” said a filing in District Court in Mesa County from attorney Scott Gessler.  In the filing, Gessler, a Republican and former Colorado secretary of state, said the decision by current Secretary of State Jena Griswold to file a lawsuit to remove Peters from overseeing this fall’s election as a result was “wholly disproportionate” and violates Colorado law, “which vests local control over elections in a locally-elected official.”  Mesa county’s district attorney and the FBI are investigating allegations that Peters gave an unauthorized person access to the Dominion election management software and passwords, but no criminal charges have been filed against Peters or anyone else in the dispute.

Full Article: Mesa County Clerk Fights to Keep Her Job in New Court Filing | Colorado Public Radio

National: Harassed and Harangued, Poll Workers Now Have a New Form of Defense | Michael Wines/The New York Times

It is perhaps a metaphor for the times that even the volunteer who checked you into the polls in November now has a legal defense committee. The Election Official Legal Defense Network, which made its public debut on Sept. 7, offers to represent more than just poll workers, of course. Formed to counter the waves of political pressure and public bullying that election workers have faced in the last year, the organization pledges free legal services to anyone involved in the voting process, from secretaries of state to local election officials and volunteers. The group already has received inquiries from several election officials, said David J. Becker, the executive director of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation and Research, which oversees the project. Without getting into details, Mr. Becker said their queries were “related to issues like harassment and intimidation.” The network is the creation of two powerhouses in Republican and Democratic legal circles, Benjamin L. Ginsberg and Bob Bauer. In a Washington Post opinion piece this month, the two — Mr. Ginsberg was a premier G.O.P. lawyer for 38 years and Mr. Bauer was both a Democratic Party lawyer and White House counsel in the Obama administration — wrote that such attacks on people “overseeing the counting and casting of ballots on an independent, nonpartisan basis are destructive to our democracy.”

Full Article: Harassed and Harangued, Poll Workers Now Have a New Form of Defense – The New York Times

National: ‘It’s spreading’: Phony election fraud conspiracies infect midterms | David Siders and Zach Montellaro/Politico

It started as one big, false claim — that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. But nearly a year later, the Big Lie is metastasizing, with Republicans throughout the country raising the specter of rigged elections in their own campaigns ahead of the midterms. The preemptive spin is everywhere. Last week it was Larry Elder in California, who — before getting trounced in the GOP’s failed effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom — posted a “Stop Fraud” page on his campaign website. Before that, at a rally in Virginia, state Sen. Amanda Chase introduced herself as a surrogate for gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and told the crowd, “Because the Democrats like to cheat, you have to cast your vote before they do.” In Nevada, Adam Laxalt, the former state attorney general running to unseat Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, is already talking about filing lawsuits to “tighten up the election” — more than a year before votes are cast. And in Pennsylvania, former Rep. Lou Barletta, who is running for governor after losing a Senate race two years earlier, said he “had to consider” whether a Republican could ever win a race again in his state given the current administration of elections there. Trump may have started the election-truther movement. But what was once the province of an aggrieved former president has spread far beyond him, infecting elections at every level with vague, unspecified claims that future races are already rigged. It’s a fiction that’s poised to factor heavily in the midterm elections and in 2024 — providing Republican candidates with a rallying cry for the rank-and-file, and priming the electorate for future challenges to races the GOP may lose.

Full Article: ‘It’s spreading’: Phony election fraud conspiracies infect midterms – POLITICO

National: Democrats push to shield election workers from violent threats   | John Kruzel/The Hill

Democrats on Capitol Hill are renewing calls for legislation that would stiffen criminal penalties against those who threaten election administrators after unprecedented harassment aimed at workers during last year’s presidential contest. More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers, including from the key battleground states of Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, are pushing the proposals, with some lawmakers warning that violence could erupt during upcoming elections without enhanced protections. “I hope that it does not come to that,” said Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) of the prospect of violence against election workers. “But unless we do something about it, that’s the trendline. We saw what happened at the United States Capitol when no one took the proper steps to prevent that.”  Nearly 1 in 6 local 2020 election workers received threats of violence, and almost 1 in 3 said they felt unsafe because of their job, according to an April survey by the Brennan Center for Justice. Some had their homes broken into, others fled with their families into hiding and some faced armed crowds outside their workplaces and homes. And now, more than 10 months after Election Day, threats persist.

Full Article: Democrats push to shield election workers from violent threats   | TheHill

National: ‘Incredibly dangerous’: Trump is trying to get Big Lie promoters chosen to run the 2024 election | Daniel Dale/CNN

Swing state by swing state, former President Donald Trump is trying to get people who tried to overturn the 2020 election chosen to be in charge of the 2024 election. Trump’s Monday endorsement of state Rep. Mark Finchem for Arizona secretary of state is the latest in a series of announcements that has alarmed independent elections experts. Trump has now backed Republicans who supported his lies about the 2020 election for the job of top elections official in three crucial battlegrounds — ArizonaMichigan and Georgia — where the current elections chiefs opposed his efforts to reverse his 2020 defeat. If people who have sought to undermine the 2020 election are running things in 2024, when Trump might be a candidate again, experts and many Democrats fear that attempts to subvert the will of the voters stand a much greater chance of success. “It is incredibly dangerous to support people for office who do not accept the legitimacy of the 2020 election. It suggests that they might be willing to bend or break the rules when it comes to running elections and counting votes in the future,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science and co-director of the Fair Elections and Free Speech Center at the University of California, Irvine. “Someone who claims falsely that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump lacks credibility and cannot be trusted to run a fair election.” Finchem, who has also promoted QAnon conspiracy theories, has been an especially aggressive promoter of the lies that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and rife with “rampant” fraud. Finchem attended the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington and was photographed outside the US Capitol that day (he denies any involvement in the riot there). And nearly eight months after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, he continues to urge Arizona legislators to somehow overturn Biden’s victory in the state.

Full Article: ‘Incredibly dangerous’: Trump is trying to get Big Lie promoters chosen to run the 2024 election – CNNPolitics

National: Judge: Former EAC executive director Brian Newby violated law in voter form case | Roxana Hegeman/Associated Press

A former high-ranking election official violated federal law in 2016 when he granted requests by Kansas, Georgia and Alabama to modify the national voter registration form to require documentary proof of citizenship in those states, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon threw out the contested decisions made by Brian Newby, then-executive director of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent federal agency, after finding on Thursday that Newby failed to determine whether the proposed requirements were necessary to register to vote. The long-delayed ruling by Leon has little practical effect since a federal appeals court had earlier granted a preliminary injunction in the case, blocking the enforcement of the requirement. In a separate case, the Kansas law requiring documentary proof of citizenship was found unconstitutional by a federal appeals court, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene. Leon remanded the requests for the changes sought by Georgia and Alabama to the Election Assistance Commission to reconsider in a manner consistent with his ruling, should those state continue to seek the state-specific instructions to the form. A requirement that prospective voters provide documents — such as a birth certificate or U.S. passport — in order to register to vote has long been championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who led former President Donald Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission. Kobach was a leading source for Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally may have voted in the 2016 election.

Full Article: Judge: US election official violated law in voter form case

National: This is how embarrassing Trump’s ‘fraud’ claims have gotten | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

It’s been, let’s see, 318 days since the 2020 presidential election. During that time, there has been an unprecedented effort to elevate and prove claims that there were enough illegal votes cast in enough counties in enough states that it cost Donald Trump a victory. That effort has resulted in precisely nothing substantive, no proof of people stuffing ballot boxes or illegally voting thousands of times or of electronic voting machines being manipulated. In multiple states, there were audits and recounts that validated the outcome: Trump lost. But that is not the validation Trump seeks. Instead, he wants the world to believe that he didn’t lose — that, despite the lack of evidence, he was the true victor in November. Or, not that, really — he wants people to think that the debunked and irrelevant evidence actually does prove that case, in the manner of a guy who makes his career selling Bigfoot footage. This, however, is not going to actually change the results of the election, should anything be able to do so, because there is a big difference between convincing random people in “Trump 2024″ shirts that fraud occurred and convincing actual election officials that they missed something big. So there’s been a two-track approach, with Trump and his allies charging that states also messed up their actual election processes, either by inadvertently committing technical violations of voting rules or by changing the rules in the first place.

Full Article: This is how embarrassing Trump’s ‘fraud’ claims have gotten – The Washington Post

National: Some Republicans Fear Tighter Election Rules Could Boomerang on the Party | Dante Chinni/Wall Street Journal

Since the 2020 election, Republicans in state legislatures have been tightening rules around voting and ballot security, passing more than 100 pieces of legislation in 24 states. Now some Republicans in Michigan, where they are weighing tightening voter rules, are pausing their efforts—in part because they believe some election-law changes could hurt their own party at the ballot box. This summer state Rep. Ann Bollin, the Republican who chairs the Michigan House Elections and Ethics Committee, said there was “not support” to make the absentee voting process more difficult. Ms. Bollin, herself a former township clerk, cited concerns from county clerks, including Republicans from largely conservative areas, who said the bills could have negative impacts on voter participation among voters of all stripes, Republicans as well as Democrats. The move has set off a fight within the state GOP over whether the new rules are necessary and whether they could actually hurt Republicans in the state. Other proposals have also been shelved for now. Michigan Republicans aren’t alone in their concerns. Party officials in a handful of other states voiced disapproval over the new proposals and laws.

Full Article: Some Republicans Fear Tighter Election Rules Could Boomerang on the Party – WSJ

Alabama: MyPillow’s Mike Lindell to run ‘tests’ on voter list after meeting Merrill, Ivey – Howard Koplowitz/

MyPillow founder and Donald Trump adviser Mike Lindell plans to conduct “tests” on Alabama’s voter rolls after purchasing the list, said Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who along with Gov. Kay Ivey met with Lindell on Friday. Lindell, the founder and CEO of MyPillow who is Trump’s main attack dog in the former president’s battle contending the 2020 presidential election was stolen, is going to comb through the list of Alabama voters to determine whether the state has any ineligible people on it, including deceased residents. Merrill said he doesn’t expect Lindell to find evidence that Alabama’s voter list, which is available for purchase by anyone, is tainted. “We know we don’t put people on the voter rolls unless they’re qualified to be on the voter rolls,” the secretary of state told Lindell, who set up the meeting with Merrill after attending Trump’s “Save America” rally in Cullman in late August, heaped praise on Alabama’s election procedures, ranging from the state’s voter ID law to how votes are tabulated in the state, according to Merrill. But Lindell “still believes there’s a potential to hack some equipment, even though we assured him none of our equipment is connected to the Internet,” the secretary of state said.

Full Article: MyPillow’s Mike Lindell to run ‘tests’ on Alabama voter list after meeting Merrill, Ivey –

Alaska election officials confident in Dominion voting equipment | Tim Rockey/Frontiersman

Early voting for the cities of Palmer, Houston and Wasilla begin Sept. 20. Without an acting city clerk, Palmer has hired veteran clerk Kristie Smithers to run the elections this year. “I was the city clerk of Wasilla for 18 years and then before that, I worked for the Mat-Su Borough as deputy clerk and so I have about 59 elections underneath my belt and I’m pretty familiar with it. We’ve done lots of special meetings, initiatives, referendums, and recall elections. I have seen pretty much everything that could happen with elections,” said Smithers. Smithers praised the work of interim clerk Jeanette Sinn and Nichole Degner in assisting her with election preparation. On Tuesday, Smithers detailed the entire voting process from the summer candidate filings through the election certifications in October. The city of Palmer’s two voting precincts will both be at the Mat-Su Borough Dorothy Swanda Jones building with one in the back of the Assembly chambers and the other in the Borough Gym. Smithers detailed the five separate types of ballots that can be cast by absentee, early voting, questioned ballots, special needs ballots and personal representative voting. “We also have questioned ballots and so those are the people that usually they’re just not on the register. Maybe it might be somebody that they think they live in the city and they don’t, they’re going to vote a questioned ballot and maybe they don’t have any ID,” said Smithers. “Every now and then there might be somebody that questions another person’s eligibility. In all of my years of doing elections I’ve had that one time and that was at the Mat-Su Borough so it was a long time ago.”

Full Article: Election officials confident in Dominion voting equipment | Local News Stories |

The Arizona Election Audit Is Still Unraveling in Chaos | David A. Graham/The Atlantic

If you’ve forgotten about the Arizona “audit” of Maricopa County’s votes in the 2020 election, you can be forgiven. At times, it seems like the audits’ backers have forgotten about it too. Arizona state-Senate Republicans launched the process this spring as a response to false claims of election fraud spread by several of themselves, as well as former President Donald Trump. The Senate hired Cyber Ninjas, a firm run by a “Stop the Steal” backer that has repeatedly declined to offer any evidence it is qualified for the job. The process was originally expected to conclude by May 14. This was a hard deadline, because the coliseum rented for the count was due to hold another event. But the count missed that deadline, and the process resumed later in May. May turned to June, and Donald Trump was reportedly telling people that he expected to be reinstated to the presidency in August, once the audit proved that fraud had tainted the election results. (Never mind that there remains no evidence of widespread fraud, and that there’s no mechanism for a former president to be reinstated mid-term.) By July, the due date was mid-August.

Full Article: The Arizona Election Audit Is Still Unraveling in Chaos – The Atlantic

Arizona: Cyber Ninjas, flouting court order, refuse to turn over public records to the Senate | Jeremy Duda/Arizona Mirror

Cyber Ninjas won’t hand over all of the documents that Senate President Karen Fann requested from the review it conducted of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, despite an order by the Arizona Court of Appeals that all such records be made public. Attorney Jack Wilenchik, who represents the Florida-based company that led the election review that Fann ordered, argued to the Senate’s lawyer that the staffing records and internal communications are not public records, and said Cyber Ninjas will not turn them over as the Senate president requested. The company will provide “full financial statements” about the audit, either as part of the report that will become public on Sept. 24, or shortly thereafter, Wilenchik wrote in an email to Senate attorney Kory Langhofer on Friday. And it will provide its communications with the Senate, which have not been made public, and any updated policies and procedures its subcontractors have used during the audit. But staffing records, as well as internal communications and communications with subcontractors, are private records, Wilenchik wrote. For example, Wilenchik said it would not be “practical, workable, fair or legal” for the company to be forced to turn over internal company emails about staffing and Cyber Ninjas’ performance of its contract with the Senate. “If the case were otherwise, then it would set an extremely unsettling precedent for all government contractors in this state and make it impossible for the State to do business,” Wilenchik wrote. Furthermore, Wilenchik said Fann’s request for all records that have “a substantial nexus to the audit” — a phrase that the Arizona Court of Appeals used to describe documents that the Senate must obtain and publicly release under the state’s public records law — is vague and difficult to define.

Full Article: Cyber Ninjas, flouting court order, refuse to turn over public records to the Senate

Colorado: Cost of counting ballots multiple times could mount | Charles Ashby/Daily Sentinel

It will take weeks after the Nov. 2 election, and cost thousands of more dollars, before Mesa County elections officials will complete extra recounts and audits of ballots to ensure that the initial count is accurate, county officials were told Thursday. To help instill voter confidence in the county’s election system in the wake of local, state and federal investigations into possible wrongdoing by Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and some members of her staff, the county is implementing four steps to help verify results of the fall election. The first will be the normal process of running ballots through newly installed Dominion Voting System tabulation machines, which will provide immediate, albeit unofficial, results of the election on Election Day. Following that, the county plans to run the same ballots through Clear Ballot voting machines, and then do a hand count of them. The final step — other than the normal risk-limiting audit that is routinely done after any election — will be to place digital versions of those ballots online so anyone can do their own count.

Full Article: Cost of counting ballots multiple times could mount | Western Colorado |

Kansas to pay $1.4M in legal fees for Kris Kobach-backed lawsuit fail | Andrew Bahl/Topeka Capital-Journal

A federal judge approved a deal Wednesday that would see the state pay out over $1.4 million in legal fees to a group of attorneys, including the American Civil Liberties Union, stemming from a prolonged court fight over a controversial voting law favored by former Secretary of State Kris Kobach. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson signed off on the agreement, which is less than half of the $3.3 million initially requested by the groups. The parties reached an agreement on the matter and presented it to the judge Friday. The costs come from a five-year legal battle over legislation originally passed in 2011 and championed by Kobach, which required an individual present their birth certificate or passport in order to register to vote. The law was struck down by a federal judge in 2018 and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the case last year. After its introduction, the requirement was blamed for the suspension of thousands of voter registration applications, as residents didn’t necessarily have the right documents to prove their citizenship.

Full Article: Kansas to pay $1.4M in legal fees for Kris Kobach-backed lawsuit fail

North Dakota IT audit to include review of election tech | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

The North Dakota State Auditor’s office this week launched an extensive review of many of the state’s IT assets, including the machines and electronic systems it uses to conduct elections. The process, State Auditor Joshua Gallion said in a press release, is designed to help the state government be “proactive in its defense against cyber threats.” The audit is part of IT assessments that North Dakota conducts every two years, costing about $450,000. Along with the election infrastructure, auditors will also look over the North Dakota Information Technology Department, particularly any systems related to the state’s unemployment insurance program and the 11-campus North Dakota University System. The audit will be the first extensive review of voting equipment North Dakota acquired in 2019. That year, Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office purchased more than 900 new devices, including optical ballot scanners, devices for helping voters with disabilities to mark paper ballots and machines for counting absentee and mail ballots, though that inventory was not subject to the last biennial audit.

Full Article: North Dakota IT audit to include review of election tech

Pennsylvania Senate Democrats sue Republicans to block election review subpoena | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Democrats in the Pennsylvania Senate sued their Republican colleagues Friday evening to block them from subpoenaing voter records as part of a review of the 2020 election. The lawsuit argues that the Republican effort unconstitutionally tramples on the separation of powers by stepping on the courts’ power to investigate and rule on election disputes and on the executive branch’s power, given specifically to the state auditor general, to audit how elections are run. The lawsuit also contends that the subpoena violates state election law because it requests voters’ private information, including driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. Senate Democrats “ask this Court to prevent violation of the Pennsylvania Election Code and the Pennsylvania Constitution through [Republican lawmakers’] untimely election contest and to protect the rights of the approximately 6.9 million Pennsylvanians who cast votes in the 2020 General Election, including protection from the unlawful disclosure of their private information” in the state voter database, the suit reads.

Full Article: Pa. Senate Democrats sue Republicans to block election review subpoena

Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers vote to subpoena voter records, official emails in 2020 probe | Elise Viebeck and Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania on Wednesday approved subpoenas for a wide range of data and personal information on voters, advancing a probe of the 2020 election in a key battleground state former president Donald Trump has repeatedly targeted with baseless claims of fraud. The move drew a sharp rebuke from Democrats who described the effort as insecure and unwarranted and said they would consider mounting a court fight. Among other requests, Republicans are seeking the names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, last four digits of Social Security numbers, addresses and methods of voting for millions of people who cast ballots in the May primary and the November general election. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) called Wednesday’s vote “merely another step to undermine democracy, confidence in our elections and to capitulate to Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.” Wolf added in a statement, “Election security is not a game and should not be treated with such carelessness. Senate Republican[s] should be ashamed of their latest attempt to destabilize our election system through a sham investigation that will unnecessarily cost taxpayers millions of dollars.” But Sen. Cris Dush, the Republican chairman of the committee that approved the subpoena, argued during the hearing that the information is needed because “there have been questions regarding the validity of people who have voted — whether or not they exist.” “Again, we are not responding to proven allegations. We are investigating the allegations to determine whether or not they are factual,” he said, adding that the vetting process for outside vendors will be “rigorous.”

Full Article: Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers vote to subpoena voter records, official emails in 2020 probe – The Washington Post

Wisconsin Republican State Senator Kathy Bernier uses position to combat election misinformation | Riley Vetterkind/Wisconsin State Journal

After a year of relentless disinformation about the 2020 presidential election, Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, has had enough. Earlier this month Bernier, who chairs the Senate’s elections committee, organized an informational session to explain how Wisconsin’s elections work. The hearing offered something rare in Wisconsin’s hyper-partisan political environment: a crash course in Wisconsin elections administration conducted by a nonpartisan panel of state and local election officials. Bernier at the outset barred attendees or participants from grandstanding. Several Republicans attended the hearing to ask questions, including Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, who has unsuccessfully tried to seize ballots and election materials from Milwaukee and Brown counties to aid in her own election investigation. Bernier’s hearing came in the wake of news that former conservative state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman — hired by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, to conduct a probe of the election — spent days at a conspiratorial election rally sponsored by MyPillow’s chief executive and traveled to Arizona to observe its flawed election review. His investigative team includes a former Trump campaign official, The Associated Press reported last week.

Full Article: Republican Sen. Kathy Bernier uses position to combat election misinformation | Local Government |