North Carolina: Right-wing legislators want to inspect Durham County’s voting machines. Election officials say ‘no.’ | Lynn Bonner/NC Policy Watch

A group of right-wing North Carolina House members calling themselves the Freedom Caucus want to crack open Durham County’s voting machines to check for vote manipulation despite no evidence of irregularities. Members of the group announced their intentions at a news conference Thursday morning, and said they were picking a county at random. Durham is a heavily Democratic county and voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden in a state that Donald Trump won. “We started an investigation as to whether there were any foreign objects or modems or anything,” said Rep. Jeff McNeely, an Iredell Republican. Later on the House floor, Rep. Zack Hawkins, a Durham Democrat, said members of the Freedom Caucus are not getting into the county’s voting machines. “You are not welcome in Durham County,” he said. In an email, Durham Board of Elections Director Derek Bowens said no one can open the machines. “No one will be permitted to inspect voting equipment in Durham County as per statute and direction from the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections,” he wrote.

Full Article: Right-wing legislators want to inspect Durham’s voting machines. Election officials say ‘no.’ | The Pulse

“God’s Will Is Being Thwarted.” Even in Solid Republican Counties, Hard-Liners Seek More Partisan Control of Elections. | Jeremy Schwartz/ProPublica and The Texas Tribune

Michele Carew would seem an unlikely target of Donald Trump loyalists who have fixated their fury on the notion that the 2020 election was stolen from the former president. The nonpartisan elections administrator in the staunchly Republican Hood County, just an hour southwest of Fort Worth, oversaw an election in which Trump got some 81% of the vote. It was among the former president’s larger margins of victory in Texas, which also went for him. Yet over the past 10 months, Carew’s work has come under persistent attack from hard-line Republicans. They allege disloyalty and liberal bias at the root of her actions, from the time she denied a reporter with the fervently pro-Trump network One America News entrance to a training that was not open to the public to accusations, disputed by the Texas secretary of state’s office, that she is violating state law by using electronic machines that randomly number ballots. Viewing her decisions as a litmus test of her loyalty to the Republican Party, they have demanded that Carew be fired or her position abolished and her duties transferred to an elected county clerk who has used social media to promote baseless allegations of widespread election fraud. Republican politicians and conspiracy theorists continue to cast doubt on the election process across the country, particularly in areas where President Joe Biden won. They have demanded audits in states like Arizona, where the results of a Republican-led review in Maricopa County confirmed Biden’s victory. They have also moved to restrict voting in multiple states, including Texas, which passed sweeping legislation that has already drawn lawsuits alleging the disenfranchisement of vulnerable voters. Last week, Trump issued a public letter demanding an audit in Texas. Hours later, the Texas secretary of state’s office announced that it had begun a “comprehensive forensic audit” in four of the state’s largest counties: Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin. Biden won three of the four.

Full Article: “God’s Will Is Being Thwarted.” Even in Solid Republican Counties, Hard-Liners Seek More Partisan Control of Elections. — ProPublica

Arizona Vote Review ‘Made Up the Numbers,’ Election Experts Say | Michael Wines and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

The circuslike review of the 2020 vote commissioned by Arizona Republicans took another wild turn on Friday when veteran election experts charged that the very foundation of its findings — the results of a hand count of 2.1 million ballots — was based on numbers so unreliable that they appear to be guesswork rather than tabulations. The organizers of the review “made up the numbers,” the headline of the experts’ report reads. The experts, a data analyst for the Arizona Republican Party and two retired executives of an election consulting firm in Boston, said in their report that workers for the investigators failed to count thousands of ballots in a pallet of 40 ballot-filled boxes delivered to them in the spring. The final report by the Republican investigators concluded that President Biden actually won 99 more votes than were reported, and that former President Donald J. Trump tallied 261 fewer votes. But given the large undercount found in just a sliver of the 2.1 million ballots, it would effectively be impossible for the Republican investigators to arrive at such precise numbers, the experts said.


Source: Arizona Vote Review ‘Made Up the Numbers,’ Election Experts Say – The New York Times

National: False election claims undermine efforts to increase security | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Officials say the biggest threat facing U.S. elections isn’t Russian hacking or domestic voter fraud but disinformation and misinformation increasingly undermining the public’s perception of voting security. Since the 2016 vote, Congress has allocated millions of dollars to states in an attempt to shore up cybersecurity and replace outdated, vulnerable voting machines, but even as improvements are made, faith in the system is being eroded. “I believe that the biggest vulnerability is disinformation, that these machines are not functioning in the way that they were intended,” Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Commissioner Thomas Hicks, who was nominated by former President Obama, said Thursday during a virtual event hosted by Freedom House, the Bush Institute, Issue One and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. EAC Chairman Donald Palmer, nominated by former President Trump, agreed with Hicks, telling The Hill Friday that “our systems are secure, and they have been tested and are secure, and the misinformation about those systems, that hurts voter confidence.” Concerns over misleading claims undermining elections are nothing new, but gained widespread public attention after 2016. In the months leading up to November, Russian government hackers targeted election infrastructure in all 50 states, successfully accessing voter registration systems in two of them, though no votes were changed.

Full Article: False election claims undermine efforts to increase security | TheHill

National: New legislation seeks to expand protections for election workers | Linda So/Reuters

A U.S. senator introduced legislation on Monday to broaden protections for election workers, their family members and physical polling locations in response to a Reuters investigation into threats against election administrators. The Election Worker and Polling Place Protection Act aims to make the workers who help administer America’s elections safer — from officials to volunteers and the contractors who set up and maintain voting equipment. The protections would extend to family members of election officials and prohibit threats of damage to polling places, tabulation centers or other election infrastructure. The measure, sponsored by Georgia Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff, cites two recent Reuters reports about threats of physical harm and death against election workers across the country, from senior officials to volunteer poll workers along with their families. The barrage, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s ceaseless false claims that the 2020 vote was stolen, has continued nearly a year after the November election. There have only been four known arrests in response to the threats and no convictions. “Threats of violence targeting election officials and polling places are threats against our Constitution and the right to vote,” said Ossoff, 34, elected this year. “At this moment of peril for our democracy, my bill will strengthen federal laws protecting election workers and polling places from violent threats and acts of violence.”

Full Article: New U.S. legislation seeks to expand protections for election workers | Reuters

National: Trump seeking to elevate Republicans who refuse to accept Biden victory | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Donald Trump and allies are seeding one of their most dangerous efforts to undermine US elections to date, seeking to elevate candidates who refuse to accept Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 to crucial offices where they could do significant damage in overturning the 2024 elections. The former president has endorsed several Republican candidates running to be the secretary of state, the chief election official, in their respective states. If elected, these candidates would wield enormous power over elections, and could both implement policies that would make it harder for Americans to cast a ballot and block the official certification of election results afterwards. Ten of the 15 candidates running for secretary of state in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada have either said the 2020 results were stolen or that they need to be further investigated, Reuters reported earlier this month. The endorsements from the former president underscore the enormous power that secretaries of state have over election rules and procedures, both before and after the election. One of the main reasons Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election failed in many places were election officials, including Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, who refused to go along with his effort. If those officials are voted out of office next year, it would be a serious blow to the guardrails of US democracy.

Full Article: Trump seeking to elevate Republicans who refuse to accept Biden victory | Donald Trump | The Guardian

National: Alex Jones and pro-Trump conspiracy theorists face legal consequences | Aaron Blake/The Washington Post

Misinformation has always been a problem in politics. What has changed over the last six years or so is how much one movement in particular — the one led by former president Donald Trump — has embraced it as an organizing principle. Trump and his allies have also aligned with the kind of extremist purveyors of conspiracy theories who were once given the cold shoulder in polite society. Increasingly, though, a bit of a reckoning is taking place. Trump allies spouting wild, baseless theories and otherwise taking our political discourse down misinformation rabbit holes are confronting consequences in court or otherwise facing bona fide legal penalties for their actions. The question, as ever, is whether it will change anything — whether those penalties will serve as the deterrent they are supposed to be. Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is the latest to be ordered to pay up by a court. As The Post’s Timothy Bella reported Friday, a judge ruled Jones was liable for all damages in lawsuits over his claims that the massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six others at Sandy Hook Elementary was a “false flag” and a “giant hoax.” The conspiracy theory has led to the harassment of the victims’ families.

Full Article: Alex Jones and pro-Trump conspiracy theorists face legal consequences – The Washington Post

Editorial: Will 2024 Be the Year American Democracy Dies? | Spencer Bokat-Lindell/The New York Times

Nearly nine months after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election, a question still lingers over how to place it in history: Were the events of Jan. 6 the doomed conclusion of an unusually anti-democratic moment in American political life, or a preview of where the country is still heading? Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law and an expert in election law, believes the second possibility shouldn’t be ruled out. In a paper published this month, he wrote that “The United States faces a serious risk that the 2024 presidential election, and other future U.S. elections, will not be conducted fairly, and that the candidates taking office will not reflect the free choices made by eligible voters under previously announced election rules.” It could be a bloodless coup, he warns, executed not by rioters with nooses but “lawyers in fine suits”: Between January and June, Republican-controlled legislatures passed 24 laws across 14 states to increase their control over how elections are run, stripping secretaries of state of their power and making it easier to overturn results. How much danger is American democracy really in, and what can be done to safeguard it? Here’s what people are saying.

Source: Opinion | Will 2024 Be the Year American Democracy Dies? – The New York Times

Editorial: Don’t be afraid of the election audits — they may be our only ticket out of this mess | Benjamin L. Ginsberg/The Washington Post

Bring on the audits. Really. As a Republican election lawyer who has participated in more than 30 post-election recounts, contests and audits, I am extremely confident: They won’t find anything. The massive fraud that former president Donald Trump claims tarnished the 2020 election has been and will remain illusory — because it didn’t exist. But audits, I believe, can be the friend of sanity, helping everyone in the political process, especially the Republicans who understand that convincing their voters that elections are hopelessly rigged is no way to win elections. Denying reality is not a successful electoral strategy. My argument to Republicans is simple: In the end, Trump’s elections-are-rigged message is going to hurt not only our democracy but also Republicans more than it hurts Democrats. So to the extent that some of those who have bought into Trump’s delusional claims of a stolen election can be dislodged from this view by the repeated conclusions of the audits he himself has called for, my advice is: Bring it on. Welcome them with open arms. The furies have already been unleashed. And if there’s a better plan to dispel the “big lie” out there, no one’s described it. The status quo is not sustainable, Trump is corroding American democracy with his unproven charges of fraudulent elections. Almost 30 percent of the electorate — and an astonishing 66 percent of Republicans — say they buy into Trump’s “big lie.” Constant fact-checking and reprobation by mainstream media outlets and good-government groups have not budged that number.

Full Article: Opinion | Don’t be afraid of the election audits — they may be our only ticket out of this mess – The Washington Post

Arizona Audit Backers Turn on Each Other After Recount Flop | Will Sommer/The Daily Beast

Supporters of Republicans’ controversial “audit” of 2020 presidential election ballots have turned on each other after the partisan investigation failed to find proof of election malfeasance, with disaffected backers even circulating a fabricated rival report they claim shows interference by the “deep state.” The audit report landed with a thud on Friday, only proving, if anything, that Joe Biden won Arizona by more votes than previously realized. On this week’s episode of The Daily Beast’s Fever Dreams podcast, hosts Asawin Suebsaeng and Will Sommer are joined by Arizona Mirror reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy to discuss the audit’s fractious aftermath. “Some people who were involved in the report say the deep state kept the real truth out,” Sommer said on this week’s episode. “The deep state and the politically correct lawyers and RINOs of the GOP suppressed this,” said MacDonald-Evoy, summarizing right-wing critics’ complaints about the anti-climactic audit report. Among the audit report’s new detractors: Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, the controversial inventor whose supposed technology analyzing folds in ballot paper had promised, according to audit supporters, to detect some kind of voter fraud. Instead, the final audit report contained no mention of Pulitzer’s imaging technology, a change Pulitzer attributed on Twitter to “deep state” malfeasance. Asked over email who in the “deep state” supposedly sabotaged his contribution to the report, Pulitzer remained vague. “That’s the big question — is it not?” Pulitzer wrote in an email to The Daily Beast.

Full Article: Arizona Audit Backers Turn on Each Other After Recount Flop

California bar urged to probe Trump 2020 election adviser David G. Savage/Los Angeles Times

A group of prominent lawyers, including former governors and judges, urged the California bar on Monday to launch an investigation into John C. Eastman’s role in advising President Trump on how he could overturn his election defeat, including by having his vice president refuse to count the electoral votes in seven states won by President Biden. Eastman, a former law professor and dean at Chapman University in Orange County, emerged as a key legal advisor to Trump in the weeks after it was apparent he had been defeated in the November election. He wrote two legal memos that advised Vice President Mike Pence he could decide the results in several states were disputed and therefore that their electoral votes would go uncounted. Doing so would have turned Trump from a loser to the winner. Trump repeatedly pressed Pence to follow Eastman’s advice. But Pence understood correctly that the Constitution gave the the vice president a quite limited role. He presides in Congress on the day when the electoral votes are counted, but he has no role beyond opening the envelopes and announcing the state-by-state results. Despite Trump’s pressure, Pence decided he would follow the law, not the advice from Eastman.

Full Article: California bar urged to probe Trump 2020 election adviser – Los Angeles Times

District of Columbia: Supreme Court Turns Away Bid For D.C. Voter Representation in Congress | Kaia Hubbard/Associated Press

Idaho Election denialists smacked down by secretary of state | Reid Wilson/The Hill

Conspiracy theorists pushing misinformation about the 2020 elections took their allegations to Idaho, and Idaho officials pushed right back. Top Gem State election administrators in Secretary of State Lawrence Denney’s (R) office said late Wednesday they had visited two counties to conduct a hand recount of last year’s presidential contest after hearing from readers of a website linked to MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, widely discredited for spreading easily disprovable misinformation in recent months. Denney’s office said it received allegations, in the form of screenshots of a report published on Lindell’s site, that vote tallies in all 44 of Idaho’s counties showed evidence of “electronic manipulation.” The only problem: At least seven of Idaho’s 44 counties do not use any electronic steps in their vote-counting process, making the claims impossible. Those counties, all small rural areas, still count ballots by hand, bypassing electronics or machines altogether. That process is feasible because there are so few ballots cast.

Full Article: Election denialists smacked down by Idaho secretary of state | TheHill

Illinois: DuPage County Board to Put Election Equipment to Vote Again | Megann Horstead/Naperville Community Television

The DuPage County Board is preparing to put election equipment to a vote again in the coming weeks after rejecting a bid from a vendor over what some officials describe as a questionable procurement process. A decision made last month to deny awarding the contract to Hart InterCivic has prompted the county to take another look at its vendor selection process. Chairman Dan Cronin said the county is committed to addressing the issue that arose, but he did not specify what went wrong. A vote on election equipment failed along party lines with the county board’s Democrats expressing confidence in Hart InterCivic and what the vendor offers and Republicans taking issue with it. Potential county board action to consider another bid comes as officials face continuing backlash from DuPage County residents at a recent meeting for failing to commit to the purchase and implementation of new election equipment.

Full Article: DuPage County Board to Put Election Equipment to Vote Again | Naperville

Michigan Poll Challengers Are Suing Dominion With Dershowitz’s Help | Madison Hall/Business Insider

A group of eight Michigan poll challengers is suing Dominion Voting Systems after the company sent them cease and desist letters. First reported by The Daily Beast, the group is being led by a former “Stop the Steal” attorney, Kurt Olsen, who attempted to convince the US Department of Justice to file a lawsuit regarding the 2020 election to the Supreme Court as part of an effort to undermine President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Famed Democratic attorney and former lawyer for President Donald Trump, Alan Dershowitz, is also a part of the group’s counsel. He told The Daily Beast he’s an “adviser and consultant on the First Amendment issues of this case.” The state of Michigan allows for interest groups and political parties to appoint “election challengers” to challenge a voter’s eligibility or an election inspector’s actions.  Eight of the state’s challengers from the 2020 presidential election said they received cease and desist letters from Dominion after they inquired about potential irregularities in the election despite never mentioning Dominion in their formal challenges.

Full Article: Michigan Poll Challengers Are Suing Dominion With Dershowitz’s Help

Montana: GOP legislators push for special panel to probe elections | Sam Wilson/Helena Independent Record

An overwhelming majority of Montana’s GOP legislators are urging their leadership in the state House and Senate to appoint a special committee to investigate the security of the state’s election system, an effort spearheaded by Republican legislators who are pushing theories of widespread voting fraud. The decision to appoint a special select committee, as requested in the Wednesday letter signed by 86 of the GOP’s 98 lawmakers, rests entirely in the hands of Senate President Mark Blasdel and House Speaker Wylie Galt, both Republicans. Galt didn’t return phone calls requesting comment on the letter, which asks for a response from them by Oct. 6, and Blasdel declined to comment when reached Friday. The letter proposes forming a GOP-majority committee, in which each party gets seats relative to their numbers in each chamber. Republicans hold 67 of 100 House seats and 31 of 50 Senate seats. “Many of our constituents have reached out to us with questions about Montana election security,” the letter states. “… The Select Committee would conduct hearings about the process and security of Montana elections and propose future changes if needed; including legislation.”

Full Article: GOP legislators push for special panel to probe Montana elections | 406 Politics |

Oregon county clerks inundated with calls for audit of 2020 presidential election | Bill Poehler/Salem Statesman Journal

Eleven months after the 2020 election, county clerks in Oregon are getting a new round of calls and emails disputing the results. Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess said the requests for audits and canvasses of election results in the county have been coming since June. But he said they’ve picked up in the past few weeks following an audit of a county’s election results in Arizona. “People, they’ll come and they’ll start asking the question and then they won’t wait for an answer,” Burgess said. “They’ll start railing away and sometimes with a lot of obscenity and all, too.” In the 2020 presidential election, voters in Marion County swung to Democrat Joe Biden over Republican Donald Trump by 49.2% to 48%, a margin of 1,870 votes out of 164,308. That was a reversal from the 2016 election when Trump carried the county. Burgess said the calls and emails have also become threatening, including some he’s forwarded to the FBI in the past few weeks. He said some of his election staff don’t want their photo taken for fear of being tracked. “It seems to go in waves,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t tell if these are direct threats or not.”

Full Article: Spike in calls for Oregon audit of 2020 election after Arizona recount

Pennsylvania Republican made a big claim to defend the party’s election review. There’s no evidence for it. | Jonathan Lai and Andrew Seidman/Philadelphia Inquirer

Days after Pennsylvania Republicans subpoenaed Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration for millions of voters’ personal information, including the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, the head of the Senate GOP acknowledged the request was “intrusive.” But, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said, the subpoena simply demanded the same records the administration had already disclosed to third parties. Not only that, but those outside groups could have compromised the voter rolls, she suggested last month: “We don’t know what information they could add to the system. We don’t know what information they could take from the system.” It was a striking claim. Trump supporters have been pushing similar claims for months, and the Republican senator leading the party’s new election review has said lawmakers will be “digging into” the issue. But there’s no evidence to support it. A top Pennsylvania elections official said in sworn testimony earlier this year that outside groups had no such access. House Republicans investigating the matter accepted his explanation. Rep. Seth Grove (R., York), House Republicans’ point person on elections, said he’s concluded there’s nothing to it: “Just because you read it on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true.”

Full Article: Defending subpoena for Pennsylvania Republican election review, Kim Ward misstates facts

Pennsylvania: Deadline passes in GOP’s election ‘investigation’ subpoena | Marc Levy/Associated Press

The deadline passed Friday for Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to comply with a subpoena from a Republican-controlled state Senate committee pursuing what the GOP calls a “forensic investigation” of last year’s presidential election, as a state court sorted through three legal challenges. Wolf’s administration and Senate Republicans remained silent in the matter Friday. The court was expected to set up an expedited briefing schedule in one or all of the cases. Challengers, including Senate Democrats and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, have sought broadly to block the subpoena, saying it is an abuse of legislative power, and in particular have challenged its request for the driver’s license numbers and partial Social Security numbers of roughly 9 million registered voters. Republicans maintain that they are attempting to find and fix problems in last year’s presidential election and this year’s primary election. Democrats accuse them of helping perpetuate baseless claims that former President Donald Trump was cheated out of victory. It’s not clear whether Wolf’s administration can be forced to comply with a Senate subpoena. The subpoena comes as Trump and his allies pressure battleground states to investigate ballots, voting machines and voter rolls for fraud. Democrats say it is part of a national campaign to take away voting rights and undermine both democracy and elections. Democrat Joe Biden beat Trump in Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, according to certified results.


Full Article: Deadline passes in GOP’s election ‘investigation’ subpoena

South Carolina elections director steps down three months earlier than planned. Here’s why | Joseph Bustos/The State

South Carolina’s state elections director, who announced her resignation in May after she pushed for COVID-19 health precautions before the 2020 election, has stepped down three months ahead of her original leave date. Marci Andino’s last day on the job was Friday, Oct. 1, said state elections’ spokesman Chris Whitmire, adding she’s accepted a new job as the director of the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center, part of the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. Andino notified the five-member State Elections Commission of her planned move on Sept. 15, though she had initially planned to stay on through the end of December. Voter Services Director Howard Knabb will serve as interim director until commissioners find a permanent replacement, Whitmire said. … Last year, and what ultimately led to her departure, Andino pushed for expanded access to absentee early voting and mail-in options as a way to limit the spread of COVID-19. She also asked lawmakers to allow voters to request absentee ballots online and to remove the witness signature requirement on absentee ballots.

Full Article: SC elections director steps down early to take new job | The State

Wisconsin: Michael Gableman issues subpoenas for election records | Molly Beck Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The attorney overseeing Assembly Republicans’ review of the 2020 election served subpoenas Friday demanding records and interviews with officials from the state and at five cities about private funds used to help run the election. The subpoenas — the first to be issued by state lawmakers in decades — are the most significant step yet in former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s probe into the November contest that elected President Joe Biden. Recounts and court rulings have repeatedly found Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin by 0.6 percentage points.  Gableman is seeking to take testimony at a Brookfield office on Oct. 15 with Meagan Wolfe, the director of the state Elections Commission, and officials in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Racine and Kenosha. With his subpoenas, Gableman is seeking information about private grants to help conduct elections that have long frustrated Republicans. So far he has not sought ballots or voting machines — an idea that has raised far more serious concerns for clerks because of their legal duty to maintain custody of them. “We are still analyzing it and do not have any comment at this time,” Wolfe said in a statement. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester this summer hired Gableman as Republicans in other states pursued similar partisan reviews. Gableman, who contended last year without evidence that bureaucrats stole the election, has a taxpayer-funded budget of about $680,000.

Full Article: Michael Gableman issues subpoenas for Wisconsin election records