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 |

In red California, recall backers fuel unfounded claims of ‘rigged’ voting, bait workers | Diana Marcum and Priscilla Vega/Los Angeles Times

The Central Valley has long been a stronghold for red California. And on Tuesday, there were loud voices of support for the recall while some election workers had to deal with taunts over unfounded conservative claims of election fraud. The neighborhood of Fig Garden Loop in Fresno is known for big houses and yards full of fruit trees. Old money. Old farmers and ranchers. The polling place was at a business called Elite Venues. After her shift, election supervisor Rebekah Doughty said her lip hurt from biting it so hard, as almost half the voters who came in were spoiling for a fight. “They walked in just baiting: ‘How many dead people are voting here?’” “They questioned the pens. They said the machines didn’t read our type of pens.” “They pointed to the Dominion machines and said they were the center of the fraud.”

Full Article: California recall backers fuel claims of ‘rigged’ voting – Los Angeles Times

Pennsylvania Governor says he’s rescinding nomination of top election official over dispute with Senate GOP’s audit | Jan Murphy/PennLive

Gov. Tom Wolf said he has decided against subjecting his Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Veronica Degraffenreid to a Senate confirmation process and, in a rare move, is recalling her nomination. Instead, the governor indicated he will have her serve in that role in an acting capacity. This decision comes amidst a growing dispute between the governor and Senate Republicans over the caucus’ move to launch an audit of the conduct of the 2020 presidential election. President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in Pennsylvania on his way to winning the White House, but some Republican lawmakers have continued to call for a review of the election. Wolf said based on the Senate Republican majority’s pursuit of an investigation into baseless claims of fraud that skewed the results in Biden’s favor, “it is clear that Veronica Degraffenreid will not receive a fair hearing from this Senate on her merits.”

Full Article: Wolf pulls election nominee, slams Senate GOP over handling

National: Senate Democrats Forge Agreement On New Voting Legislation | Claudia Grisales and Juana Summers/NPR

Senate Democrats have reached a deal on revised voting rights legislation, but a major roadblock remains in the evenly divided chamber with Republicans ready to halt the bill’s progress. The package is the latest attempt by Democrats to counteract Republican-led measures at the state level to restrict voting access and alter election administration. The new legislation, unveiled Tuesday morning by Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and several co-sponsors, builds off a framework proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who had opposed an earlier, sweeping measure from his party. Along with Manchin, the new bill’s co-sponsors are Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Jon Tester of Montana, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Alex Padilla of California, along with Maine independent Sen. Angus King. Republicans have been united in opposition to what they call a federal takeover of state election policy. With an evenly divided Senate, a GOP filibuster stands in Democrats’ way, and their effort would fall short of the 60 votes needed to move the measure forward.

Source: Senate Democrats Forge Agreement On New Voting Legislation : NPR

National: Senate Democrats near agreement on new voting rights legislation | Leigh Ann Caldwell and Teaganne Finn/NBC

Senate Democrats are close to an agreement on updated voting rights legislation that can get the support of all 50 Democratic-voting senators, three Democratic aides familiar with negotiations said. The For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act were introduced in Congress in 2019 and 2021, respectively. Since their introductions, both have been voted on along party lines. The member-level discussions are complete, a source said, but staff members are going through the text to fix technical issues. No further details have been shared. The legislation would require the votes of 60 senators, including 10 Republicans, and it’s unlikely that Democrats will get enough Republican supporters. The bill is part of congressional Democrats’ broader campaign to strengthen voting laws at the federal level to fight restrictive voting laws passed in Republican-led states, such as Texas and Georgia.

Full Article: Senate Democrats near agreement on new voting rights legislation

National: Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election could put future fair elections in jeopardy | Rob Kuznia, Bob Ortega and Casey Tolan/CNN

When the election office led by Lisa Deeley first came under attack from then-President Donald Trump last year, it was more than a month before Election Day. Deeley, the chair of Philadelphia’s three-member election commission and a Democrat, watched from home as Trump falsely claimed during the first 2020 presidential debate that poll watchers had already been turned away at early voting centers in Philadelphia. “Bad things happen in Philadelphia,” Trump said. Deeley’s cell phone immediately lit up with calls and text messages. “A lot of my family, my friends, got a little chuckle out of it, but I knew it wasn’t at all something to laugh about,” she told CNN. “It was just the beginning.” Trump’s efforts to subvert the election began well before Election Day, and have only gained momentum since, with Republicans passing laws to restrict voting or make it easier for partisans to interfere in more than a dozen states, including key battlegrounds. Most recently, in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed an election bill into law last week over the fierce objection of the state’s Democrats, who, in hopes of derailing similar restrictions proposed earlier this summer, had fled the state two times en masse.

Full Article: Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election could put future fair elections in jeopardy – CNNPolitics

National: A dangerous trend among GOP candidates shows the Trump threat is here to stay | Greg Sargent/The Washington Post

So is this really how it’s going to be? Are more and more Republican candidates across our great land going to treat it as a requirement that they cast any and all election losses as dubious or illegitimate by definition? We’re now seeing numerous examples of GOP candidates running for office who are doing something very close to this. Which suggests the legacy of Donald Trump could prove worse for the health of democracy than it first appeared. It isn’t just that Republicans will be expected to pledge fealty to the lost cause of the stolen 2020 election. It’s also that untold numbers of GOP candidates will see it as essential to the practice of Trumpist politics that they vow to actively subvert legitimate election losses by any means necessary. One high-profile GOP candidate now playing this ugly Trumpist game is Larry Elder, who is running in a recall election against California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom. This week, Elder told reporters that “there might very well be shenanigans” in the vote counting, just like “in the 2020 election,” and vowed that his “voter integrity board” of lawyers will “file lawsuits.” “The 2020 election, in my opinion, was full of shenanigans,” Elder also told Fox News. “My fear is they’re going to try that in this election right here and recall.” It’s common for campaigns to prepare for post-election litigation. But Elder is going much further. He’s hinting at a concerted effort to steal the recall and linking that to the “big lie” that there were widespread problems in 2020. The goal is plainly to tap into the deep well of paranoia and conspiracy-mongering that Trump fed for years — and to undermine in advance faith in any outcome but a win.

Full Article: Opinion | A dangerous trend among GOP candidates shows the Trump threat is here to stay – The Washington Post

National: Lawmakers seek to protect election workers | Linda So and Jason Szep/Reuters

Democratic Congress members called for tougher legislation to address death threats against U.S. election administrators following a Reuters report that exposed a lack of arrests in response to a wave of intimidation targeting the workers since November’s presidential election. In a report published on Wednesday, Reuters identified more than 100 threats of death or violence made to election workers and officials, part of an unprecedented campaign of intimidation inspired by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. The response from U.S. law enforcement has so far produced only four known arrests and no convictions. “This is a real problem, and it needs attention,” said Representative John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat. “If they are under attack, our democracy is very much under attack.” In late June, Sarbanes was among a group of Democratic House members and senators who introduced the Preventing Election Subversion Act, which would make it a federal crime to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or harass an election worker. It would also seek to limit “arbitrary and unfounded removals of local election officials.” At about the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a task force to investigate threats against election workers.


Full Article: U.S. lawmakers seek to protect election workers after Reuters investigation | Reuters

Arizona Supreme Court allows release of Senate audit records | Bob Christie/Associated Press

The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an effort by the state Senate to keep secret records of its ongoing review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County that are in the possession of the contractors conducting the recount. The high court without comment rejected the appeal filed after an appeals court and trial court both ruled the documents are public records that must be released. The court also dissolved a stay on the appeals court ruling it put in place on Aug. 24 so it could review the record and decide whether to accept the appeal. The Arizona Court of Appeals had ruled that the documents sought by the watchdog group American Oversight detailing how the recount and audit are being conducted are public and must be turned over. Republicans who control the Senate have tried for months to keep secret how their contractors are conducting the recount. They argued that because the records are maintained by Senate contractors, they were not subject to public records law and that legislative immunity applies. But the appeals court in its Aug. 19 ruling rejected that argument. The court said the main contractor, Florida company Cyber Ninjas, was subject to the records law because it was performing a core government function that the Senate farmed out.

Full Article: Arizona Supreme Court allows release of Senate audit records

California: False Election Claims in Recall Reveal a New G.O.P. Normal | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

The results of the California recall election won’t be known until Tuesday night. But some Republicans are already predicting victory for the Democrat, Gov. Gavin Newsom, for a reason that should sound familiar. Soon after the recall race was announced in early July, the embers of 2020 election denialism ignited into new false claims on right-wing news sites and social media channels. This vote, too, would supposedly be “stolen,” with malfeasance ranging from deceptively designed ballots to nefariousness by corrupt postal workers. As a wave of recent polling indicated that Mr. Newsom was likely to brush off his Republican challengers, the baseless allegations accelerated. Larry Elder, a leading Republican candidate, said he was “concerned” about election fraud. The Fox News commentators Tomi Lahren and Tucker Carlson suggested that wrongdoing was the only way Mr. Newsom could win. And former President Donald J. Trump predicted that it would be “a rigged election.” This swift embrace of false allegations of cheating in the California recall reflects a growing instinct on the right to argue that any lost election, or any ongoing race that might result in defeat, must be marred by fraud. The relentless falsehoods spread by Mr. Trump and his allies about the 2020 election have only fueled such fears.

Full Article: False Election Claims in California Reveal a New G.O.P. Normal – The New York Times

California: Larry Elder prepares for recall loss with lawyers, voter fraud website | Lara Korte/The Sacramento Bee

With less than a week to go until the California recall election, some Republicans are falsely claiming that votes are rigged in favor of Democrats and suggesting, without evidence, that Gov. Gavin Newsom can only win with fraudulent votes. The claims are unsubstantiated, and echo similar false messages promoted by Republicans last year following the election of President Joe Biden. Larry Elder, the top-polling Republican candidate seeking to replace Newsom, is already preparing to challenge the recall results if Newsom survives. Elder told reporters in Los Angeles on Wednesday that he believes “there might very well be shenanigans” in the recall election, but that he expects to win anyway because “so many Californians are angry about what’s going on,” according to CNN. Elder said his campaign nevertheless is ready to file lawsuits and encouraged people to report any issues.

Full Article: Republicans lob accusations of voter fraud ahead of CA recall | The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: California has a secure voting system — but more transparency wouldn’t hurt. Here’s why | Kim Alexander and Mike Alvarez/The Sacramento Bee

There is a growing chorus claiming that California’s recall election is not secure. Some claims come from people providing no evidence to back them up and no substantiation of fraud. Some come from people who question aspects of California’s election administration practices that they don’t understand (like the use of accessibility holes by some counties in ballot return envelopes to help guide low-vision voters to the signature box). Some are fueled by a dramatic incident where 300 ballots were found in a man’s car in Southern California, leading some to allege it was evidence that people are trying to steal the election (while this case is still under investigation, it appears likely the ballots were collateral damage in a case of attempted mail theft to rob people of checks, not ballots). Compared to other states, California makes it easy for people to vote. But making voting simple for eligible citizens is, in fact, a complex task for state and county election officials. Every county does things a little differently, from how they lay out their ballots and what their ballot return envelopes look like, to what kind of in-person voting options are available, whether it’s at neighborhood polling places or county-wide vote centers.

Full Article: Continued transparency needed on CA’s election voting system | The Sacramento Bee

Colorado Secretary of State outlines disturbing online threats against her office | Sloan Dickey/The Denver Channel

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is no stranger to threats online. She says since the election in 2020, threats have been a constant. Fueled by lies alleging stolen elections and widespread voter fraud, the attacks against Griswold and her staff have not only sustained, she says they have increased. “Department of Homeland Security has alerted us about physical threats. The FBI has alerted us,” Griswold said. She said there is still no office dedicated to vetting the authenticity of the threats. “It’s falling on Secretary of States offices to comb through literally thousands of threats,” Griswold said. The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office shared some of those threats with Denver7. The comments were posted to Griswold’s personal and public social media accounts and sent in direct messages. The messages make direct and gruesome threats against her life.

Full Article: Griswold shares violent threats against her office

Florida: With 2022 on the horizon, election officials brace for death threats | Dara Kam/News Ervice of Florida

After last year’s emotionally charged elections and in anticipation of what some predict will be a tsunami of threats to elections officials, a bipartisan group of high-powered lawyers are joining forces and enlisting others to offer free legal advice to elections administrators. And they’ve tapped Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley to serve on the advisory board for the newly created Election Official Legal Defense Network. The nonprofit is co-chaired by Ben Ginsberg, a veteran Republican attorney who represented President George W. Bush’s campaign during the 2000 recount, and Bob Bauer, a longtime Democratic attorney who served as White House counsel under former President Barack Obama. The group was founded in collaboration with the Center for Election Innovation & Research and its executive director, David Becker. “It’s almost sad and unfortunate that we have to be talking about this. You know, odd-numbered years are usually pretty low-key elections. It’s like last November just continues, sort of like Groundhog Day,” Corley told reporters Wednesday during a Zoom call to announce the group. Corley said he was hit with death threats, and dozens of racial slurs were lobbed at his workers following last year’s presidential election, despite Florida’s smooth election. A group of protesters showed up at the home where Corley previously lived with his ex-wife and son, who were still residing at the house, he said. He received death threats on social media. The Pasco supervisor said he had to enlist the aid of local and federal law enforcement.

Full Article: With 2022 on the horizon, Florida election officials brace for death threats

North Dakota IT probe to include state election system | Govt-and-politics | Mike McCleary/Bismarck Tribune

North Dakota’s election system will be included in a large-scale probe of the state’s information technology, a move the state auditor says is not an election audit of 2020 results. State Auditor Josh Gallion’s office is in contract negotiations for the statewide IT security assessment that will look at cybersecurity vulnerability including software, hardware and physical infrastructure. Gallion expects the work to begin around January and to conclude by October 2022. Contractors during the last assessment excluded the election system due to the November 2020 general election occurring at the time, he said. The probe is covered by a $450,000 budget item approved by the 2021 Legislature. Gallion said the IT assessments go back 10-12 years. He did acknowledge a “dialogue going on out there” from “certain groups” in favor of auditing the 2020 presidential election results in the wake of Republican Donald Trump’s reelection loss, such as in Arizona, which Democrat Joe Biden narrowly won. Trump took North Dakota with 65% of the vote.  The second-term Republican auditor said “this will not do that. We will not be auditing those results.”

Full Article: North Dakota IT probe to include state election system | Govt-and-politics |

Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers to subpoena personal information on every voter in controversial 2020 election review | Danielle OhlSpotlight PA

Republican lawmakers in the Capitol are pushing to collect personal information on every registered Pennsylvania voter, as well as a trove of communications between state and county election officials, as part of a controversial inquiry into the 2020 presidential election. The GOP lawmakers have crafted a sweeping subpoena, shared with Spotlight PA late Tuesday, in which they are requesting all communications between state elections officials and elections officials in every county, as well as the name, address, and partial social security number of every voter registered as of last November. The subpoena, which is up for a vote before a Senate committee on Wednesday morning, is likely to face pushback from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, as well as Democrats in the legislature who have characterized the GOP’s efforts as baseless partisan attacks meant to undermine President Biden’s win over Donald Trump. But Republicans who control the state Senate say they believe the sweeping review is necessary because of the state’s evolving guidance last year to counties on how to handle mail-in and other ballots, and to ensure that there were no irregularities in last year’s election — even though GOP legislative leaders have acknowledged that they have no evidence of fraud. “We saw an extraordinary number of changes and guidance and clarifications and modifications of that guidance leading up to the election,” said Jason Thompson, a spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre). “Certain aspects of that guidance we felt were partisan.”


Full Article: Pa. GOP lawmakers to subpoena personal information on every voter in controversial 2020 election review · Spotlight PA

Pennsylvania: ‘One enormous conspiracy theory’: Federal judge orders attorneys who pushed election fraud lie to pay sanctions | Julia Agos/WITF

A federal judge is determining the cost of sanctions for two attorneys ​whose lawsuit contained baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed the motion in May ​to recover legal fees from Gary Fielder and Ernest Walker. Shapiro says the two lawyers attacked how Pennsylvania’s election was conducted and attempted to undermine faith in the results. “While any reasonable attorney would have been aware from the start that this entire case was unjustifiable, plaintiffs’ attorneys were specifically made aware of the spuriousness of their case soon after they filed it,” Shapiro wrote in the filing brief.  In the class action suit ​filed in Colorado, United States Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter found the lawyers acted in bad faith and tried to mislead the court with unfounded claims of fraud. The class-action suit asked for $1,000 for each of the 160 million voters.

Full Article: ‘One enormous conspiracy theory’: Federal judge orders attorneys who pushed election fraud lie to pay sanctions to Pa. and other defendants. | WITF

Wisconsin: Election probe email raises security concerns | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

An email signed by the leader of a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin sent to county clerks on Monday raised security concerns about its authenticity and what measures would be taken to protect sensitive information requested. The message signed by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is leading the probe, asked clerks to retain all records related to the election and notify him if any had been destroyed. It comes after Gableman initially asked the Wisconsin Election Commission for the data. But elections are run locally and all of the ballots, voting machines and other data are maintained by county and municipal officials. The email, which was signed by Gableman but came from a address from someone named John Delta, raised security concerns in the state’s two largest counties. “I cannot confirm the authenticity of its origin,” wrote Dane County senior systems administrator Brian Wimann to County Clerk Scott McDonell. “I would strongly recommend against replying to it with any information. If these actions are in an official capacity, I would expect it to come from an email account with an official email address.” Wimann also said that the county had received no verification of any operational security practices from the special counsel. “I would not recommend any disclosure of sensitive information until official channels of communication have been established and verified,” Wimann wrote to McDonell.

Full Article: Election probe email raises security concerns in Wisconsin

Editorial: Election officials need our legal help against repressive laws and personal threats | Bob Bauer and Benjamin L. Ginsberg/The Washington Post

Election officials are coming under unprecedented attack for doing their jobs. Some states are attempting to criminalize the exercise of these officials’ trained professional judgments; some officials have been the target of threats to themselves and their families. Any American — whether Republican, Democrat or independent — must know that systematic efforts to undermine the ability of those overseeing the counting and casting of ballots on an independent, nonpartisan basis are destructive to our democracy. The two of us have been partisan opponents in the past, representing opposing political parties to the best of our abilities. But at this moment in time, we share a grave concern about attacks on those public servants who successfully oversaw what was arguably the most secure and transparent election in our country’s history, with record turnout, during a global pandemic. If such attacks go unaddressed, our system of self-governance will suffer long-term damage. So, in partnership with the nonprofit and nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research, we are launching the Election Official Legal Defense Network (EOLDN), which will connect licensed, qualified, pro bono attorneys with election administrators who need advice or assistance. State and local election workers anywhere in the country can go to, or call the toll-free number (877) 313-5210, at any time, 24/7, to request to be connected with a lawyer who can help them, at no cost.

Full Article: Opinion | Election officials need our legal help against repressive laws and personal threats – The Washington Post

National: Democrats, GOP Push Back Against Partisan Election Audits | Matt Vasilogambros/Stateline

Ten months after the 2020 presidential election, Republican state lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are following Arizona in pushing investigations rooted in the false claim that the election was stolen. Inspired by former President Donald Trump’s baseless accusation of widespread voter fraud, the inquiries are taking place in two states won by President Joe Biden. They come as the similarly partisan review wraps up in Arizona, where investigators chased conspiracy theories and accepted millions of dollars from Trump allies. State lawmakers, mostly Democrats but also some Republicans, and much of the election administration community have lambasted the Arizona effort in Maricopa County for jeopardizing the security and confidence of elections and for tampering with election equipment that top state election officials now say needs to be replaced. Many election officials and lawmakers from both parties fear a repeat in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. “I can’t be party to what I consider to be the destruction of democracy in the United States,” said Pennsylvania state Sen. Dan Laughlin, a moderate Republican who is running for governor, in an interview. “We ran a clean election in 2020, but there’s a lot of folks who don’t quite believe that because of the distrust that’s been sown. I don’t see it. I don’t see any massive fraud.” This puts Laughlin at odds with most of his caucus, though he claims the disagreement has not caused a lot of friction. Republican state Sen. Gene Yaw also has said he does not support the audit.

Full Article: Democrats, GOP Push Back Against Partisan Election Audits | The Pew Charitable Trusts

National: Terrorized U.S. election workers get little help from law enforcement | Linda So and Jason Szep/Reuters

The death threats brought Staci McElyea to tears. The caller said that McElyea and other workers in the Nevada Secretary of State’s office were “going to f—— die.” She documented the threats and alerted police, who identified and interviewed the caller. But in the end, detectives said there was nothing they could do – that the man had committed no crime. The first call came at 8:07 a.m. on Jan. 7, hours after Congress certified Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the November 2020 presidential vote. The caller accused McElyea of “stealing” the election, echoing Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. “I hope you all go to jail for treason. I hope your children get molested. You’re all going to f—— die,” he told her. He called back three times over the next 15 minutes, each time telling her she was “going to die.” McElyea, 53, a former U.S. Marine, called the Nevada Capitol Patrol and sent the state police agency a transcript of the calls, according to emails Reuters obtained through a public-records request. An officer contacted the man – who police would later identify as Gjurgi Juncaj of Las Vegas – and reported back to McElyea that their inquiry “might have pissed him off even further,” the emails showed. A week later, state police concluded that Juncaj’s threats were not criminal, characterizing them as “protected” political speech, according to a summary of the case. Juncaj was never arrested or charged. Asked about the calls, Juncaj told Reuters he didn’t believe he had done anything wrong. “Like I explained to the police, I didn’t threaten anybody,” he said.

Full Article: Special Report: Terrorized U.S. election workers get little help from law enforcement | Reuters

National: More secure election machines won’t be ready until 2024 | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Election officials and technology companies are embarking on a multiyear process to improve the security and accessibility of voting machines. But they’re running smack into a cadre of GOP politicians sowing unfounded doubts about election security. The major election vendors are getting ready to produce new voting machines that meet a slate of upgraded security standards. But those machines won’t be ready until around 2024, they told the Election Assistance Commission during a hearing yesterday. The machines likely won’t be widely used by voters until the 2026 midterm elections or later. Yet there’s a sense of urgency to boost public confidence in elections. The delay could be damaging as some Trump supporters continue to spread baseless claims about election hacking in 2020 and push for partisan audits in states Donald Trump narrowly lost to President Biden in November. It’s reasonable to wonder whether the slow pace of change at the EAC and in the vendor community are up to the task of combating a loss of public confidence in elections,” Edward Perez, global director of technology development at OSET Institute, a nonprofit election technology organization, told me. In February, the EAC approved the basic rules for the upgrades. It’s the 2.0 version of a document called the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), which, despite its name, is often incorporated into mandatory guidelines approved by states. Among other changes, the update requires the strongest form of encryption of voting data and technology that makes it easier to audit vote counts. 

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: More secure election machines won’t be ready until 2024 – The Washington Post

National: UC Berkeley group to study future of mobile voting | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

With the acknowledgment that mobile voting is gradually becoming more common across U.S. elections, a think tank at the University of California, Berkeley announced Wednesday it’s assembling a group of cybersecurity experts and former election officials to study the controversial practice and develop guidelines for its future use. The working group will be based out of Berkeley’s Center for Security in Policy, which will spend the next 12 to 18 months analyzing historical uses of internet-connected voting — including in several recent election cycles — and the feasibility of new technical standards that could offer greater layers of trust and security. While ballot submission by email and fax is offered in 31 states to military and expat voters, thanks to a federal program for U.S. citizens living abroad, a handful of states and counties have in the last few years started experimenting with mobile apps and websites for broader use. Those pilot programs, many of which have been funded by private donations, have drawn numerous criticisms from members of the election-security community, who’ve argued an electronic ballot is fundamentally insecure. Third-party audits have also found software developed by mobile-voting vendors, like Voatz, to be riddled with bugs.

Full Article: UC Berkeley group to study future of mobile voting

Arizona: 42% of Maricopa County budget on the line as officials discuss next move on senators’ election subpoenas | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

Maricopa County stands to lose hundreds of millions in state funding — an estimated 42% of the money it uses to run the county’s day-to-day operations such as public safety, the court system and public health — if officials don’t act soon. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said last month that, by not fully responding to subpoenas for election information issued by a few state Senate leaders, the county had violated state law and would lose state money, amounting to about $676 million of the $1.6 billion in general fund revenue the county expects this fiscal year. Key among the Senate’s demands: access to the county’s routers. Brnovich gave the county 30 days to respond, with a deadline of Sept. 27. The supervisors are considering how to move forward. They met in a closed-door session to discuss the issue on Thursday, but didn’t come to any decision. Supervisors were not immediately available for comment. “Productive talks today,” county spokesperson Jason Berry said. “We’ll act before the deadline.” Among the various options, he said, are further responding to the subpoenas, attempting to negotiate with the Senate or filing a lawsuit. The fight continues to pit county Republicans — four of five supervisors and Recorder Stephen Richer are Republican — against state Republicans, including Brnovich and the two senators who issued the subpoenas, Senate President Karen Fann and Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen.

Full Article: Maricopa County supervisors debate compliance with Senate subpoenas