Arizona canvass report draws nonsensical conclusions | Ali Swenson/Associated Press

A report released this week in Arizona’s largest county falsely claims to have uncovered some 173,000 “lost” votes and 96,000 “ghost votes” in a private door-to-door canvassing effort, supposedly rendering the 2020 election in Maricopa County “uncertifiable.” But its conclusions aren’t supported by any evidence, according to county election officials and outside election experts, who called the report’s methods “quasi-science” and its findings inaccurate. Still, the 11-page document ⁠— which is separate from an ongoing partisan audit in the county ⁠— has been shared widely in conservative media and by Republican politicians, including state Rep. Mark Finchem, who is campaigning to be Arizona’s secretary of state — the state’s top election official. Report author Liz Harris, an unsuccessful Republican legislative candidate and a real estate agent in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, declined to respond to specific questions but said a more comprehensive version of the report would be released soon. Here’s a closer look at the facts.

CLAIM: An estimated 173,104 “missing or lost” votes and an estimated 96,389 “ghost” votes cast by people who didn’t appear to live at their voter registration addresses indicate that the 2020 election in Maricopa County included irregularities and is “uncertifiable.”

THE FACTS: The report doesn’t provide evidence for these far-fetched claims, and the county’s election results have been certified for months.

Source: FACT FOCUS: AZ canvass report draws nonsensical conclusions

Colorado: Mesa County deputy clerk formally charged with burglary, cybercrime | Blair Miller/Denver Channel

Formal charges were filed Thursday against Mesa County Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley in connection with her allegedly being at a county building and using her boss’s computer while she is on administrative leave. Knisley, 66, was charged with second-degree burglary, a class 4 felony, and cybercrime — unauthorized access, a class 2 misdemeanor. She said little at her court appearance, and her attorney requested a preliminary hearing or arraignment in the case. Judge Matthew Barrett ordered a review hearing be held in the case on Sept. 30. The 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office reiterated Thursday that the charges are separate from the office’s ongoing criminal investigation into election security breaches involving Mesa County’s voting equipment. No arrests have been made in that case, the district attorney’s office said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also conducting an investigation. Knisley turned herself in on Sept. 1 after a warrant was issued for her arrest in the case in which she faces charges. Knisley was put on administrative leave with pay by the county’s human resources director on Aug. 23. According to an affidavit, on Aug. 25, count officials found Knisley at a county office – which she is prohibited from entering while she is suspended – and allegedly tried to use County Clerk Tina Peters’ laptop to access the county computer network.

Full Article: Mesa County deputy clerk formally charged with burglary, cybercrime

Georgia  Republican lieutenant governor demonised by Trump reveals what’s behind GOP election suppression laws: ‘They got scared’ | Gino Spocchia/The Independent

A senior Georgia Republican and former target of Donald Trump has delivered a damning analysis of the party’s attempts at restricting voting access, which he says was because GOP leaders “got scared” by defeat in 2020. Geoff Duncan, the Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia, claimed in a book published on Tuesday that Republicans were restricting turnout — and particularly in big swing states such as Florida, Georgia and Texas — because they feared losing in future. The remarks, which were reported by The Washington Post on Wednesday, were published on the same day that Texas’s Republican governor Gregg Abbott signed a bill into law that restricts voting access, and according to campaigners, will disproportionately target Democratic voters. Mr Duncan wrote in his book, called GOP 2.0: “Unfortunately, many held to the theory that if more people vote, Republicans will lose, because they got scared, GOP leaders became too focused on making voting more difficult.” “We had a clear motive and selfish aims,” the Republican, who announced in May that he will not seek re-election, wrote of the voting restrictions introduced in Florida, Georgia, Texas and around the country. “Nobody thought GOP efforts were anything more than attempts to ensure more Republicans won next time.”

Full Article: Senior Republican demonised by Trump reveals what’s behind GOP election suppression laws: ‘They got scared’ | The Independent

Maine: Push to audit 2020 election takes cues from fraught effort in Arizona | Scott Thistle/Portland Press Herald

On a sunny afternoon at the Windsor Fair last week, Norene Libby and Liliana Thelander were busy collecting and notarizing signatures from fairgoers that call for a “forensic audit” of Maine’s 2020 election results. They worked from a booth next to the Kennebec County Republican Party’s small building, at a station replete with a red, white and blue banner sign that read: “Maine 2020 Presidential Election, Forensic Audit Affidavits.” The pair could not say precisely what signing the affidavit was meant to accomplish, but they suggested the documents could be used in a future court case that seemed ill-defined. “It’s exercising your constitutional rights,” Libby said, when asked why someone should sign the document. The campaign is part of an ongoing multistate effort to perpetuate the falsehood – often called the Big Lie – that former President Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election. In Arizona, Trump’s backers convinced the state senate, which is controlled by Republicans, to force an audit of the state’s election results by outside groups with no expertise. In a months-long effort the group, the Cyber Ninjas, has produced no evidence of inaccurate results in Arizona, although the work is reportedly still incomplete.

Full Article: Push to audit Maine’s 2020 election takes cues from fraught effort in Arizona – Portland Press Herald

Michigan, Detroit seek $204K for fighting election lawsuit | Sara Powers/Assocaited Press

Attorneys are seeking $204,000 in fees for successfully defending Detroit and Michigan from a post-election lawsuit filed by lawyers aligned with former President Donald Trump. The tally filed Wednesday came two weeks after a judge said the lawyers, including Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, would pay a penalty for pursuing the case. The final figure will be determined later. Trump voters filed a lawsuit in November after Michigan’s vote in favor of Joe Biden was certified. They alleged fraud and wanted voting machines impounded. U.S. District Judge Linda Parker said the lawsuit was a sham. “Individuals may have a right — within certain bounds — to disseminate allegations of fraud unsupported by law or fact in the public sphere,” the judge said. “But attorneys cannot exploit their privilege and access to the judicial process to do the same.” Detroit was represented by lawyers in private practice. They’re seeking $182,000. The Michigan attorney general’s office is requesting about $22,000. Parker also ordered 12 hours of legal education, including six hours in election law, for each of the nine pro-Trump attorneys. Her decision will be sent to the states where the lawyers are licensed for possible disciplinary action there.

Full Article: Michigan, Detroit seek $204K for fighting election lawsuit | Hosted

Montana lawsuit by youth groups calls new Republican election laws ‘a cocktail of voter suppression measures’ | Sam Wilson/Helena Independent Record

A trio of groups advocating for young Montanans are challenging several changes to Montana’s election laws enacted by the Legislature, calling them “a cocktail of voter suppression measures that land heavily on the young.” The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Yellowstone County District Court, targets three bills passed by Republican lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte earlier this year. Two are already the subject of existing lawsuits: Senate Bill 169, which tightened voter identification requirements, including requiring that student IDs be augmented with another form of identification for in-person voting; and House Bill 176, which ended Election Day registration in Montana. House Bill 506 previously received attention for a series of last-minute changes to the bill by Republicans, who amended it to alter the process for drawing Montana’s new congressional district. Thursday’s lawsuit challenges a different aspect of that law, which prevents ballots from being mailed out to new voters in advance of their 18th birthdays.

Full Article: Lawsuit by Montana youth groups calls new Republican election laws ‘a cocktail of voter suppression measures’ | 406 Politics |

North Carolina legislators must release the money to secure elections | John Shallcross Jr. and Chip Futrell/Charlotte Observer

As Republican and Democratic county election board members, we are pleased to report that North Carolina voters should have confidence in our election systems. But maintaining secure election systems requires a concerted year-round effort in today’s world — and we need continued support from voters and public officials to accomplish that task. Across North Carolina new voters are registering daily and their data must be protected, along with yours. New voting machines are being tested, purchased and retested. Old software and backup systems are being replaced with modern systems that resist cyberattacks. Our operations must be continually audited to detect vulnerabilities. Fortunately, federal funds under the bipartisan 2020 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) have already been sent to North Carolina to finance this effort. But those funds must be released (appropriated) in the state budget that legislators are now debating. As county election officials, we understand the importance of releasing this money because it has a tangible impact, in small and big ways, on our ability to do our job — to protect voters and to maintain a fair, accessible and secure voting system. Given the attention election integrity has received nationally, it would be tragic to withhold these funds.

Full Article: Legislators must release the money to secure NC elections | Charlotte Observer

Pennsylvania Republicans launch new election audit but don’t say how it will work | Andrew Seidman and Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Following months of demands from former President Donald Trump, Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers on Thursday jumpstarted what they’re calling a “forensic investigation” of the 2020 election — but they didn’t detail how the review will actually work. State Sen. Cris Dush (R., Jefferson), chairman of the committee leading the review, said it’s aimed at determining whether Pennsylvania election law can be improved. “This investigation is not about overturning the results of any election, as some would suggest,” he said in remarks that opened an almost two-hour hearing. “That horse is out of the barn, as far as this investigation is concerned.” But Dush’s stated objective closely resembles the rationale GOP lawmakers gave for previous probes, including one led by a special panel formed by the top Senate Republican specifically to review the election and recommend changes to state law. For months, State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) — a pro-Trump firebrand and likely candidate for governorled the push for an investigation. But until late August, it was unclear whether GOP leaders would take up Trump’s cause. That’s when Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre) came out in favor of a review, and ousted Mastriano from overseeing the probe.


Full Article: Pennsylvania Republicans launch new election audit but don’t say how it will work

Texas elections law carries costs and threat of litigation for all 254 counties | Allie Morris/Dallas Morning News

In Tom Green County last election, the line of people waiting to cast a ballot from their vehicle sometimes wrapped around the block. The farming and ranching hub in West Texas was one of a handful of places to roll out drive-through voting in the pandemic, drawing enthusiastic support from locals. “It just happened to benefit some people who had kids with them or people who couldn’t stand for a long time,” said elections administrator Vona Hudson. “I can’t tell you how many people appreciated it and called and thanked us.” Tom Green County couldn’t be more different than Harris, the large, liberal county whose novel voting initiatives triggered a months-long legislative fight over voting rights. Yet now, both must account for the new GOP-backed elections law that will have sweeping effects for all 254 counties. The law bars counties from offering drive-through and 24-hour voting, like Houston’s Harris County did. Other, less high-profile provisions could cost taxpayers thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Not only must counties buy new equipment and come up with new election forms, they are now open to potentially costly lawsuits and fines, election officials said.

Full Article: New Texas elections law carries costs and threat of litigation for all 254 counties

Texas Republicans plan expanded election audits | Reid Wilson/The Hill

Texas Republican legislators coming off a successful effort to overhaul the state’s election procedures are preparing new legislation that would dramatically expand the rights of candidates and political party bosses to force mandatory audits of future elections. The legislation, introduced by a former elections official who now serves in the state Senate, would allow those with a direct stake in election outcomes to formally seek answers from county clerks about potential irregularities in reported results and to elevate concerns to the Texas secretary of state. Those who could raise potential objections to election results include a candidate, the chair of a county or state political party, the presiding county judge — effectively a county’s top executive — or the proponents or opponents of a ballot measure campaign. The secretary of state would be allowed to order a review and potentially an audit. The legislation is written to grandfather in complaints about the 2020 presidential election, giving new life to former President Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread irregularities that have not been proven.

Full Article: Texas Republicans plan expanded election audits | TheHill

Wisconsin: ‘It’s a waste of time’: A pair of Republicans take aim at partisan election reviews | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Two Republicans ripped into GOP efforts to review Wisconsin’s presidential election Wednesday, calling it a waste of money that would needlessly damage the public’s views of a properly run election. “We need leaders who are focused on governing, not pushing unfounded lies about a settled election nine months after the fact. These types of election reviews aren’t just wasting time and costing taxpayers money. They are actively threatening the health of our democracy,” said Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor who served as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush. The pushback comes a week after Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said “there’s nothing obviously skewed” about Joe Biden’s victory in Wisconsin and argued officials should not focus on analyzing voting machines. Meanwhile, Republican election clerks — including one who recently reviewed results in her county — this week said they’re confident in how the election was conducted. Despite those sentiments, Assembly Republicans have ramped up their review of the election and have discussed seizing ballots and voting machines from municipal clerks. “It’s a waste of time, a waste of energy and a waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Trey Grayson, Kentucky’s former secretary of state. “And unfortunately these actions make our elections less secure and ultimately make our country worse off.”  “I still consider myself a Republican,” he added. “I worry about the future of election security and the future of the Republican Party.”

Full Article: Pair of Republicans take aim at partisan election reviews in Wisconsin

National: How G.O.P. Election Reviews Created a New Security Threat | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

Late one night in May, after surveillance cameras had inexplicably been turned off, three people entered the secure area of a warehouse in Mesa County, Colo., where crucial election equipment was stored. They copied hard drives and election-management software from voting machines, the authorities said, and then fled. The identity of one of the people dismayed state election officials: It was Tina Peters, the Republican county clerk responsible for overseeing Mesa County’s elections. How the incident came to public light was stranger still. Last month in South Dakota, Ms. Peters spoke at a disinformation-drenched gathering of people determined to show that the 2020 election had been stolen from Donald J. Trump. And another of the presenters, a leading proponent of QAnon conspiracy theories, projected a portion of the Colorado software — a tool meant to be restricted to election officials only — onto a big screen for all the attendees to see. The security of American elections has been the focus of enormous concern and scrutiny for several years, first over possible interference or mischief-making by foreign adversaries like Russia or Iran, and later, as Mr. Trump stoked baseless fears of fraud in last year’s election, over possible domestic attempts to tamper with the democratic process. But as Republican state and county officials and their allies mount a relentless effort to discredit the result of the 2020 contest, the torrent of election falsehoods has led to unusual episodes like the one in Mesa County, as well as to a wave of G.O.P.-driven reviews of the vote count conducted by uncredentialed and partisan companies or people. Roughly half a dozen reviews are underway or completed, and more are being proposed. These reviews — carried out under the banner of making elections more secure, and misleadingly labeled audits to lend an air of official sanction — have given rise to their own new set of threats to the integrity of the voting machines, software and other equipment that make up the nation’s election infrastructure.

Full Article: How G.O.P. Election Reviews Created a New Security Threat – The New York Times

National: New Texas voting bill deepens growing disparities in how Americans can cast their ballots | Elise Viebeck/The Washington Post

Red and blue states are increasingly moving in opposite directions on how millions of Americans can cast their ballots, exacerbating a growing divide as Republicans in states across the country — most recently Texas — impose new voting restrictions, while Democrats in others expand access. The conflicting trends are widening the disparities in election policy in the wake of the 2020 election, with Republicans heeding former president Donald Trump’s calls to tighten rules and Democrats moving to make permanent many voting policies that helped turnout soar during the pandemic. At least 18 states this year enacted 30 laws restricting access to voting, according to an analysis as of mid-July by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. That includes 11 states — nine of which supported Trump in 2020 — that only imposed restrictions and seven other states that both restricted and expanded voting access. An additional 18 states — nearly all of which backed President Biden — enacted laws that solely expanded access, the analysis shows.

Full Article: New Texas voting bill deepens growing disparities in how Americans can cast their ballots – The Washington Post

National: State GOP leaders push new 2020 election reviews as Arizona report looms | Zach Montellaro/Politico

Full Article: State GOP leaders push new 2020 election reviews as Arizona report looms – POLITICO

National: After voters embraced mail ballots, GOP states tighten rules | Anthony Izaguirre and Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

A monthslong campaign by the Republican Party, fueled in part by the false narrative of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election, has led to a wave of new voting laws that will tighten access to the ballot for millions of Americans. The restrictions especially target voting methods that have been rising in popularity across the country, erecting hurdles to mail balloting and early voting that saw explosive growth during the pandemic. More than 40% of all voters last fall cast mail ballots, a record. Texas is the latest state to crack down, after the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill Tuesday taking aim at Democratic-leaning counties that have sought to expand access to the ballot. “Regardless of motives, these bills hurt voters,” said Isabel Longoria, the election administrator of Harris County, which includes Houston. “Voters are going to feel this the next time they go vote, and that’s what I’m most worried about.”

Full Article: After voters embraced mail ballots, GOP states tighten rules

National: Heeding Steve Bannon’s Call, Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP — and Reshape America’s Elections | Isaac Arnsdorf, Doug Bock Clark, Alexandra Berzon and Anjeanette Damon/ProPublica

One of the loudest voices urging Donald Trump’s supporters to push for overturning the presidential election results was Steve Bannon. “We’re on the point of attack,” Bannon, a former Trump adviser and far-right nationalist, pledged on his popular podcast on Jan. 5. “All hell will break loose tomorrow.” The next morning, as thousands massed on the National Mall for a rally that turned into an attack on the Capitol, Bannon fired up his listeners: “It’s them against us. Who can impose their will on the other side?” When the insurrection failed, Bannon continued his campaign for his former boss by other means. On his “War Room” podcast, which has tens of millions of downloads, Bannon said President Trump lost because the Republican Party sold him out. “This is your call to action,” Bannon said in February, a few weeks after Trump had pardoned him of federal fraud charges. The solution, Bannon announced, was to seize control of the GOP from the bottom up. Listeners should flood into the lowest rung of the party structure: the precincts. “It’s going to be a fight, but this is a fight that must be won, we don’t have an option,” Bannon said on his show in May. “We’re going to take this back village by village … precinct by precinct.” Precinct officers are the worker bees of political parties, typically responsible for routine tasks like making phone calls or knocking on doors. But collectively, they can influence how elections are run. In some states, they have a say in choosing poll workers, and in others they help pick members of boards that oversee elections.

Full Article: Heeding Steve Bannon’s Call, Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP — and Reshape America’s Elections — ProPublica

National: Misinformation on Facebook beats factual news when it comes to clicks, study finds | Elizabeth Dwoskin/The Washington Post

A new study of user behavior on Facebook around the 2020 election is likely to bolster critics’ long-standing arguments that the company’s algorithms fuel the spread of misinformation over more trustworthy sources. The forthcoming peer-reviewed study by researchers at New York University and the Université Grenoble Alpes in France has found that from August 2020 to January 2021, news publishers known for putting out misinformation got six times the amount of likes, shares, and interactions on the platform as did trustworthy news sources, such as CNN or the World Health Organization. Ever since “fake news” on Facebook became a public concern following the 2016 presidential election, publishers who traffic in misinformation have been repeatedly shown to be able to gain major audiences on the platform. But the NYU study is one of the few comprehensive attempts to measure and isolate the misinformation effect across a wide group of publishers on Facebook, experts said, and its conclusions support the criticism that Facebook’s platform rewards publishers that put out misleading accounts. The study “helps add to the growing body of evidence that, despite a variety of mitigation efforts, misinformation has found a comfortable home — and an engaged audience — on Facebook,” said Rebekah Tromble, director of the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University, who reviewed the study’s findings. In response, Facebook said that the report measured the number of people who engage with content, but that is not a measure of the number of people that actually view it (Facebook does not make the latter number, called impressions, publicly available to researchers).

Full Article: Misinformation on Facebook beats factual news when it comes to clicks, study finds – The Washington Post

Arizona Senate releases more records of 2020 election review | Bob Christie/Associated Press

Lawyers representing the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate in a review of 2020 election results in the state’s most populous county released a slew of communications between GOP lawmakers, their audit liasions and others under a court order obtained by a watchdog group that is fighting for transparency in the election recount. Among the communications were text messages from a top campaign official of former President Donald Trump to Senate liaison Randy Pullen asking where to send $175,000 to help pay for the partisan recount. Former Trump campaign chief operating officer and ex-Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit also asked Pullen if another group raising funds for the audit was legitimate, saying “Trump asking.” The Senate records were not complete. Senate attorney Kory Langhofer told a judge Wednesday that it withheld nearly 3,000 records because they contained legislative or attorney-client communications he says are privileged. Other records sought by American Oversight remain the subject of a court battle. A judge had also ordered the Senate’s contractor, including the Florida company that is overseeing the audit, to produce its records.

Full Article: Arizona Senate releases more records of 2020 election review

California: Security of some ballot-marking devices could be vulnerable in recall election, researchers say | John Myers/Los Angeles Times

A group of voting security researchers, alarmed by recent disclosure of sensitive election system software by an ally of former President Trump, want California officials to conduct a statewide post-election review of ballots cast in the Sept. 14 recall targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom. Their request, made just days before in-person voting begins in several counties, threatens to drag California into the tumultuous national debate over election security. “While the software versions are not identical to those used in California, differences are relatively minor,” the group said in its letter Thursday to Secretary of State Shirley Weber. “The release materially elevates threats to the trustworthiness of the ongoing California recall election and to public trust in the election.” The researchers who wrote to Weber acknowledged California’s strong record on election security. But they argued the public discussion of Dominion products by Mike Lindell, the chief executive of My Pillow and an informal advisor to Trump, was tantamount to a serious breach of election system security. Jenna Dresner, a spokeswoman for Weber, said Friday that the election systems used in California are secure and the state has launched a pilot program for risk-limiting audits with plans to expand the effort to all counties by 2023.

Full Article: Experts question California recall ballot-marking devices – Los Angeles Times

California: Experts call for rigorous audit to protect recall election | Christina A. Cassidy and Kate Brumback/Associated Press

A group of election security experts on Thursday called for a rigorous audit of the upcoming recall election for California’s governor after copies of systems used to run elections across the country were released publicly. Their letter sent to the secretary of state’s office urges the state to conduct a type of post-election audit that can help detect malicious attempts to interfere. The  statewide recall targeting Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, set for Sept. 14, is the first election since copies of Dominion Voting Systems’ election management system were distributed last month at an event organized by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an ally of former President Donald Trump who has made unsubstantiated claims about last year’s election. Election offices across 30 states use the Dominion system, including 40 counties in California. Election security experts have said the breaches, from a county in Colorado and another in Michigan, pose a heightened risk to elections because the system is used for a number of administrative functions — from designing ballots and configuring voting machines to tallying results. In the letter, the experts said they do not have evidence that anyone plans to attempt a hack of the systems used in California and are not casting blame on Dominion. “However, it is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted,” the experts wrote in their letter, which was shared with The Associated Press. The eight experts signing the letter include computer scientists, election technology experts and cybersecurity researchers.

Full Article: Experts call for rigorous audit to protect California recall

California: Latest Wave of Fake News Concerns Mail Ballot Fraud in Recall Election | Sameea Kamal/Times of San Diego

You’ve seen the posts on Twitter and Facebook, or maybe someone forwarded a WhatsApp message about suspicious activity with California’s recall ballots. Unfounded rumors about election security have always been around, but they’ve been rampant since the 2020 election and former President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” movement. Despite those allegations, the 2020 elections were found to be “the most secure in American history,” according to a statement from a coalition of government and election industry officials. Claims of fraud in California’s recall election have been amplified on social media by some recall supporters, as well by some of the candidates themselves, including Larry Elder, the Republican talk show host leading most polls. So ahead of the Sept. 14 election, state and county election officials are emphasizing transparency — including allowing observers to watch the vote count — and ramping up messages to combat disinformation. On television and social media, the secretary of state’s office is running spots about how votes are safeguarded, including independent testing, paper trails and audits.   On Sept. 2, a group of election security experts urged California to conduct a thorough post-election audit because the recall is the first contest after copies of systems used to run elections were released publicly, the Associated Press reported.

Full Article: Latest Wave of Fake News Concerns Mail Ballot Fraud in California’s Recall Election – Times of San Diego

Colorado county election official allegedly pressured employees to not cooperate with investigation into security breach | Paul P. Murphy/CNN

County administrators in Colorado have opened an investigation into an election official after employees complained she was pressuring them not to cooperate with a joint local, state and federal criminal investigation into an election system security breach discovered last month, a source told CNN. Deputy clerk Belinda Knisley of the Mesa County Clerk and Recorders office has been placed on paid administrative leave due to a “confidential personnel matter,” CNN previously reported. A source in the Mesa County government tells CNN that the “confidential personnel matter” refers to an open county human resources investigation in which Knisley is accused of pressuring fellow clerk employees — her subordinates — not to cooperate with the criminal investigation into the breach. When Knisley caught wind of the HR investigation, the source said that Knisley also then pressured employees not to cooperate with it. Knisley was arrested on Wednesday, charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor cyber crime. As part of her bail conditions, Knisley agreed to have no contact with any clerk employees.

Full Article: Colorado county election official allegedly pressured employees to not cooperate with investigation into security breach – CNNPolitics

Georgia Election Officials Prep For New Voting Law’s Impact | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

It would be easy to lose track of all the changes to Georgia’s voting rules made by the 98-page Senate Bill 202, but for local elections officials, that’s not an option. Across three days this week, hundreds of county supervisors, elections board members, probate judges and staff received hands-on training at the Georgia Association of Voter Registration and Elections Officials conference on Jekyll Island. The session dealing with SB 202 ran for more than an hour, with the Secretary of State’s office going section by section to make sure no alteration goes unnoticed. While Republicans, Democrats and federal lawsuits have zeroed in on a few higher-profile parts of the bill, dozens of pages of it that people aren’t talking about more directly affect how local officials do their jobs.

Full Article: Georgia Election Officials Prep For New Voting Law’s Impact | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Maryland settles lawsuit over machines used by blind voters | Pamela Wood/Baltimore Sun

The state of Maryland will pay $230,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by visually impaired voters and the National Federation of the Blind that alleged the state’s electronic voting machines compromised voter secrecy and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Three voters and the federation sued the state in federal court two years ago, detailing problems with the electronic devices, which are often used by voters with vision impairments or other disabilities. Since 2016, most Maryland voters have used paper ballots marked with a pen. Before that, all voters used touch screen machines. The lawsuit contended that in some instances, election judges were poorly trained or that the voting machines, known as “ballot marking devices,” were inoperable. And the lawsuit noted that the ballot marking device prints out a ballot that’s a different size and shape than the paper ballots used by other voters. That means that if only one voter used the ballot marking devices at a voting location, their ballot could be identified among the rest. After months of settlement negotiations, the state and the plaintiffs reached an agreement in August. The Maryland Board of Public Works, a three-member panel that oversees state spending, voted unanimously and without discussion Wednesday to approve the settlement and $230,000 payment.

Full Article: Maryland settles lawsuit over machines used by blind voters – Baltimore Sun

Editorial: The lessons from Trump’s ‘Kraken’ lawyer sanctions in Michigan – How to protect against this type of attack in the future | Scott L. Cummings/NBC

The only thing surprising about U.S. District Judge Linda Parker’s order early last month imposing monetary sanctions on nine Trump attorneys was that it was so long in coming. These lawyers — led by conspiracy-theorists-in-chief Sidney Powell and Lin Wood — made outlandish claims of election fraud in Michigan and other key battleground states, all of which were roundly rejected by every court that considered them. The Michigan suit was part of multistate litigation that Powell called the “Kraken” after the mythic sea monster (the release of which she claimed would destroy President Joe Biden’s victory). The Trump legal team made unsubstantiated claims of computerized ballot stuffing by a deceased foreign dictator and late-night ballot dumps by mysterious trucks, leading Parker to lambaste the lawsuit as “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.” The Kraken suit, and others brought by Trump campaign attorneys, imposed a stress test on the American legal system by seeking to co-opt courts to advance a fabricated account of the election results. Parker’s order suggests that the American system passed this test — just barely, and just for now. To protect against this type of attack in the future requires a concerted effort by the entire legal profession. It is therefore crucial that the lawyers on the bench and in the bar take seriously what they can do — and must do — better.

Source: Scott L. Cummings: The lessons from Trump’s ‘Kraken’ lawyer sanctions in Michigan

Missouri Secretary of State wants ban on helping voters fix absentee ballot mistakes | Jonathan Shorman/The Kansas City Star

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft wants the General Assembly to ban local election workers from helping voters correct mistakes on absentee ballots, a change that could keep some votes from being counted. The request adds to a growing list of measures advanced by Republicans to alter the state’s election laws, including restoring rules requiring voters to show a photo ID and making it harder to amend the state constitution through ballot measures. Lawmakers failed to pass most proposals earlier this year, but proponents are signaling they will try again in 2022. The proposals come as GOP legislators indulge lingering conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 presidential election. Missouri Republicans are also keen on curbing Democrats’ success at passing progressive policies through statewide votes. Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana and minimum wage increases have all been approved by voters in recent years. “We would like to see legislation that does not allow for curing of absentee ballots,” Deputy Secretary of State Trish Vincent told the House Elections Committee last week, ‘curing’ being a common term for fixing errors.

Full Article: Top MO elections official: ban absentee ballot ‘curing’ | The Kansas City Star

Nevada: Federal, state election officials stymie rural Lander County commissioners’ proposed 2020 election audit | Sean Golonka/The Nevada Independent

State election officials and the Department of Justice intervened last week to thwart an attempt by Lander County commissioners to audit the county’s electronic voting machines, which hold physical voting records from the 2020 general election. The county’s election official is required under federal law to retain and preserve those records for 22 months after the election. At the same time, county commissioners are also considering converting to entirely paper elections — largely viewed as more time-consuming and error-prone — by restricting use of all electronic machines in the election process. In August — more than nine months after the 2020 general election — Lander County Manager Bert Ramos requested to the county clerk (at the direction of the county commission) that all of the county’s 26 electronic voting machines be transferred from the clerk’s office into the custody of the county manager’s office. In an interview with The Nevada Independent, Lander County Clerk Sadie Sullivan confirmed that the commissioners intended to conduct a post-election audit of the machines in order to determine whether they had been tampered with or if they had been connected to the internet (the machines run on a closed system and are certified by the federal government to not rely on internet connectivity). Sullivan also said the county hired a legal team to examine the machines.

Full Article: Federal, state election officials stymie rural Lander County commissioners’ proposed 2020 election audit – The Nevada Independent

14 Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers go to court to challenge mail-in voting law 11 of them voted for | Marc Levy/Associated PRess

Fourteen Republican state lawmakers have filed a new lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting law, calling it unconstitutional and asking for it to be thrown out — even though 11 of those lawmakers supported it just two years ago. The legal challenge was filed just before midnight Tuesday in the state Commonwealth Court. It is the latest attempt by Republicans to invalidate the 2019 law that GOP lawmakers almost unanimously supported. The central claim of the lawsuit is that the law — which allowed no-excuse voting by mail — violates a constitutional provision that requires lawmakers to provide a way for people to vote if they are unable to do so in person for specific reasons. Those reasons include being out of town on business, illness, physical disability, Election Day duties or a religious observance. But the lawsuit contends that the 2019 law violates that because it allows people to vote by mail even if they do not meet fall under one of those categories.

Full Article: 14 Pa. Republican lawmakers go to court to challenge mail-in voting law 11 of them voted for | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Texas Senate too late with hastily conjured bill allowing party officials to trigger audits of 2020 election | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Full Article: Texas Senate bill would have let party officials trigger audits of 2020 election | The Texas Tribune

Wisconsin: Milwaukee, Brown County clerks refuse to turn over ballots, voting machines to GOP lawmaker, but issue could escalate | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The top election officials in Milwaukee and Brown counties refused Friday to turn over ballots, voting machines and other material to a Republican state lawmaker because subpoenas she issued last month have been deemed invalid by nonpartisan legislative attorneys. “Milwaukee County’s elections are transparent and fair. We have proven this fact on numerous occasions,” said a statement from George Christenson, a Democrat serving in his second term as Milwaukee County clerk. Hours after Christenson issued his statement, an attorney for Brown County Clerk Patrick Moynihan released a letter saying he was taking the same stance. Moynihan is a Republican who was elected to his first term less than a year ago. While officials from the two counties said they would not comply with Rep. Janel Brandtjen’s subpoenas, they could soon face new demands for documents — ones with far more legitimacy. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester last week said he will sign subpoenas as part of an investigation of the 2020 election if the attorney overseeing the probe believes they are necessary. Subpoenas signed by Vos could lead to a legal standoff. Some Democrats and election officials have said clerks should not turn over their material as part of an investigation into an election that multiple courts have found to be valid. Further, the U.S. Department of Justice has warned officials they could violate federal laws if they don’t maintain custody of their election records.

Full Article: Milwaukee, Brown counties refuse to turn over ballots to GOP lawmaker