‘Time is running out’: can Congress pass a voting rights bill after months of failure? | Sam Levine/The Guardian

For years, Helen Butler has been on a mission to increase voter turnout, especially among Black voters, in Georgia and across the south. She’s used to the skepticism. People she meets wonder why they should bother, because their vote won’t matter. No matter who’s in office, longstanding problems won’t get solved. More recently, she’s pushed back on efforts by Georgia Republicans to make it harder to vote. She’s seen things like overly aggressive efforts to remove people from the voter rolls and the rapid consolidation of polling places. Last year, she listened as Joe Biden promised he would protect the right to vote if he was elected president. “One thing the Senate and the president can do right away is pass the bill to restore the Voting Rights Act … it’s one of the first things I’ll do as president if elected. We can’t let the fundamental right to vote be denied,” he said in July last year. Months later, Butler and other organizers had a breakthrough that had been years in the making. After years of investing in voter mobilization, turnout among Black voters surged in the November election, helping Joe Biden win a state long seen as a Republican stronghold. In January, Black voters came out again and helped Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win two upset Senate bids, giving Democrats control of the US Senate. On the night he was elected president, Biden called out the Black voters who helped him capture the presidency, saying: “When this campaign was at its lowest – the African American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.” And so, after Biden was inaugurated, Butler and many others expected that voting rights would be one of the first things the president and Democrats addressed. Instead, during the president’s first year in office, Butler has watched with dismay as Biden and Democrats have failed to pass any voting rights legislation. Meanwhile, Republicans in Georgia passed sweeping new voting restrictions, one of several places across the country that made it harder to vote.

Full Article: ‘Time is running out’: can Congress pass a voting rights bill after months of failure? | US voting rights | The Guardian

Inside Trump’s campaign to demonize two Georgia election workers | Jason Szep and Linda So/Reuters

As Donald Trump’s campaign sought to overturn his shocking loss of the state of Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, it hatched a conspiracy theory. At its center were two masterminds: a clerical worker in a county election office, and her mom, who had taken a temporary job to help count ballots. The alleged plot: Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and mother Ruby Freeman cheated Trump by pulling fake ballots from suitcases hidden under tables at a ballot-counting center. In early December, the campaign began raining down allegations on the two Black women. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, falsely claimed that video footage showed the women engaging in “surreptitious illegal activity” and acting suspiciously, like drug dealers “passing out dope.” In early January, Trump himself singled out Freeman, by name, 18 times in a now-famous call in which he pressed Georgia officials to alter the state’s results. He called the 62-year-old temp worker a “professional vote scammer,” a “hustler” and a “known political operative” who “stuffed the ballot boxes.” Freeman made a series of 911 emergency calls in the days after she was publicly identified in early December by the president’s camp. In a Dec. 4 call, she told the dispatcher she’d gotten a flood of “threats and phone calls and racial slurs,” adding: “It’s scary because they’re saying stuff like, ‘We’re coming to get you. We are coming to get you.’” Two days later, a panicked Freeman called 911 again, after hearing loud banging on her door just before 10 p.m. Strangers had come the night before, too. She begged the dispatcher for assistance. “Lord Jesus, where’s the police?” she asked, according to the recording, obtained by Reuters in a records request. “I don’t know who keeps coming to my door.” “Please help me.”

Full Article: Inside Trump’s campaign to demonize two Georgia election workers

National: Fearing a Repeat of Jan. 6, Congress Eyes Changes to Electoral Count Law Luke Broadwater and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

Members of the select congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol are pressing to overhaul the complex and little-known law that former President Donald J. Trump and his allies tried to use to overturn the 2020 election, arguing that the ambiguity of the statute puts democracy itself at risk. The push to rewrite the Electoral Count Act of 1887 — enacted more than a century ago in the wake of another bitterly disputed presidential election — has taken on new urgency in recent weeks as more details have emerged about the extent of Mr. Trump’s plot to exploit its provisions to cling to power. Mr. Trump and his allies, using a warped interpretation of the law, sought to persuade Vice President Mike Pence to throw out legitimate results when Congress met in a joint session on Jan. 6 to conduct its official count of electoral votes. It was Mr. Pence’s refusal to do so that led a mob of Mr. Trump’s supporters to chant “Hang Mike Pence,” as they stormed the Capitol, delaying the proceedings as lawmakers fled for their lives. Members of Congress and the vice president ultimately returned and completed the count, rejecting challenges made by loyalists to Mr. Trump and formalizing President Biden’s victory. But had Mr. Pence done as Mr. Trump wanted — or had enough members of Congress voted to sustain the challenges lodged by Mr. Trump’s supporters — the outcome could have been different. “We know that we came precariously close to a constitutional crisis, because of the confusion in many people’s minds that was obviously planted by the former president as to what the Congress’s role actually was,” said Zach Wamp, a former Republican congressman from Tennessee who is a co-chairman of the Reformers Caucus at Issue One, a bipartisan group that is pressing for changes to the election process.

Full Article: Fearing a Repeat of Jan. 6, Congress Eyes Changes to Electoral Count Law – The New York Times

National: Addressing Insider Threats in Elections | Lawrence Norden and Derek Tisler/Brennan Center for Justice

Election officials were some of the biggest heroes of the 2020 election. After a grueling year that saw a pandemic, unprecedented disinformation efforts, and the highest turnout in over a century, they stood up to pressure from political actors seeking to overturn or cast doubt on the election results in key states. This collective, bipartisan effort helped avoid a constitutional crisis last year. But the effort to sabotage our elections has only intensified, which is why Congress and state and local governments must take critical steps to protect against insider threats. Unfortunately, almost one-third of Americans still believe the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen. Given this fact, we shouldn’t be shocked that among the more than 8,000 local election officials — and tens of thousands of additional public and private sector employees that support their work — there are some who will also buy into these conspiracy theories. In fact, there has been an active effort to recruit and convince election officials to facilitate these conspiracy theories and push the goals of election deniers. There is reason to worry these efforts could gain traction and followers in the election official community. Following the threats, harassment, intimidation, political pressure, disinformation, and general exhaustion that election officials faced in 2020, many are choosing to leave the election administration field altogether. In Pennsylvania, for example, nearly a third of all county election officials left their posts between the beginning of 2020 and June of this year. And in many cases, the people seeking to fill these open positions are those who have been most activated by the conspiracies surrounding the 2020 election and the most determined to abuse their authority to ensure a different outcome in 2024. At least 10 candidates running for secretary of state and 8 running for attorney general have received former President Trump’s endorsement because they backed his false claims that the 2020 election was illegitimate.

Full Article: Addressing Insider Threats in Elections | Brennan Center for Justice

National: ‘An existential threat’: Violent harassment over the 2020 election haunts election workers, but few perpetrators have been held accountable | Grace Panetta/Business Insider

Ruby Freeman was among the tens of thousands of Americans who helped serve the need for more election workers in her community in 2020, joining her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a full-time employee in the Fulton County, Georgia elections office, to process and count absentee ballots in the November election. Just two months later, Freeman was the target of a relentless online harassment campaign over the election lies perpetuated by former President Donald Trump and his allies. Freeman and Moss, represented by the nonprofit group Protect Democracy and their co-counsels, are now suing the popular right-wing website The Gateway Pundit, its founder Jim Hoft, and his brother and Gateway Pundit writer Joe Hoft, for defamation and intentional inflection of emotional distress. As Trump invoked her name over a dozen times on the January 2 phone call pressuring Georgia officials to “find” enough votes to win him the election, Freeman fled her home on the advice of the FBI at the beginning of January, staying in Airbnbs and avoiding using credit cards that could be used to trace her. The lawsuit outlines how online conspiracy theories can upend the lives of relatively low-level election workers. The suit also highlights how little protection besieged election workers currently receive from law enforcement, and how few people have been held accountable for threatening election officials.

Full Article: Lawsuit Shows Few Consequence for Those Who Threaten Election Workers

National: Federal Funding Sought to Protect Threatened Election Officials | Kenneth P. Doyle/Bloomberg

Federal election officials are seeking expedited legal guidance from the Government Accountability Office on whether funds allocated to states for election administration can be used to pay for personal security purposes. That’s one of the steps to improve the safety of state and local election officials that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission outlined in a letter responding to an inquiry last month from Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and ranking member Roy Blunt(R-Mo.). The senators expressed concern for officials who’ve faced increased threats of violence since the 2020 elections. The commission is asking whether funds directed to states through the 2002 Help America Vote Act that are already being used to pay for securing election offices can also be used for physical personal protection. “HAVA election security grants were made available to states to improve the administration of elections for Federal office, and physical security falls under that umbrella,” the four commissioners said in a Dec. 3 letter obtained by Bloomberg Government. “We await a response from the GAO but stand ready to prepare guidance as soon as an opinion is issued,” they added. The commission hopes to allow states to use money leftover from funds Congress appropriated for the 2020 and 2018 elections.

Full Article: Federal Funding Sought to Protect Threatened Election Officials | Bloomberg Government

National: Trump allies are angling for election jobs up and down the ballot. That could have consequences in 2024 | Sara Murray and Jeremy Herb/CNN

As former President Donald Trump prepares for a potential comeback bid in 2024, his allies are flocking to election jobs all the way down to the local level in key battleground states, raising new concerns that the election officials who blocked Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election won’t be there the next time around. Trump himself has endorsed candidates for secretary of state and attorney general — statewide races that play a crucial role in administering elections — who have spread his lies about 2020. But in addition to statewide roles, Trump’s acolytes are pursuing local election posts, even trickling down to the precinct level, and seeking to gain more prominent roles in state GOP parties and state legislatures ahead of the 2024 presidential campaign. In Michigan, for instance, several new Republican appointees to county canvassing boards who have said they wouldn’t have certified the 2020 election are replacing the GOP members who did certify the election result. One appointee in Macomb County urged Trump after the election to invoke the Insurrection Act and suspend the Electoral College meeting to set up military tribunals to investigate claims of election fraud. Michigan is a microcosm of a broader, nationwide strategy being carried out by Trump allies like Steve Bannon, who has advocated for Trump’s backers to infiltrate local Republican Party positions as well as election posts. “We’re taking over the Republican Party through the precinct committee strategy. We’re taking over all the elections,” Bannon said on an episode of his “War Room” podcast last month.

Full Article: Trump allies are angling for election jobs up and down the ballot. That could have consequences in 2024 – CNNPolitics

National: Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun |  Barton Gellman/The Atlantic

Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect. The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already. Who or what will safeguard our constitutional order is not apparent today. It is not even apparent who will try. Democrats, big and small D, are not behaving as if they believe the threat is real. Some of them, including President Joe Biden, have taken passing rhetorical notice, but their attention wanders. They are making a grievous mistake. “The democratic emergency is already here,” Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at UC Irvine, told me in late October. Hasen prides himself on a judicious temperament. Only a year ago he was cautioning me against hyperbole. Now he speaks matter-of-factly about the death of our body politic. “We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024,” he said, “but urgent action is not happening.” For more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party’s national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft. Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election. They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject. They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.

Full Article: How Donald Trump Could Subvert the 2024 Election – The Atlantic

National: Sidney Powell’s Defending the Republic raised more than $14 million as she spread election falsehoods | Emma Brown, Rosalind S. Helderman, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey/The Washington Post

In the months after President Donald Trump lost the November election, lawyer Sidney Powell raised large sums from donors inspired by her fight to reverse the outcome of the vote. But by April, questions about where the money was going — and how much there was — were helping to sow division between Powell and other leaders of her new nonprofit, Defending the Republic. On April 9, many members of the staff and board resigned, documents show. Among those who departed after just days on the job was Chief Financial Officer Robert Weaver, who in a memo at the time wrote that he had “no way of knowing the true financial position” of Defending the Republic because some of its bank accounts were off limits even to him. Records reviewed by The Washington Post show that Defending the Republic raised more than $14 million, a sum that reveals the reach and resonance of one of the most visible efforts to fundraise using baseless claims about the 2020 election. Previously unreported records also detail acrimony between Powell and her top lieutenants over how the money — now a focus of inquiries by federal prosecutors and Congress — was being handled. The split has left Powell, who once had Trump’s ear, isolated from other key figures in the election-denier movement. Even so, as head of Defending the Republic, she controlled $9 million as recently as this summer, according to an audited financial statement from the group. The mistrust of U.S. elections that she and her former allies stoked endures. Polls show that one-third of Americans — including a majority of Republicans — believe that Trump lost because of fraud.

Full Article: Sidney Powell’s Defending the Republic raised more than $14 million as she spread election falsehoods – The Washington Post

National: Voting Battles of 2022 Take Shape as G.O.P. Crafts New Election Bills | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

A new wave of Republican legislation to reshape the nation’s electoral system is coming in 2022, as the G.O.P. puts forward proposals ranging from a requirement that ballots be hand-counted in New Hampshire to the creation of a law enforcement unit in Florida to investigate allegations of voting fraud. The Republican drive, motivated in part by a widespread denial of former President Donald J. Trump’s defeat last year, includes both voting restrictions and measures that could sow public confusion or undermine confidence in fair elections, and will significantly raise the stakes of the 2022 midterms. After passing 33 laws of voting limits in 19 states this year, Republicans in at least five states — Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma and New Hampshire — have filed bills before the next legislative sessions have even started that seek to restrict voting in some way, including by limiting mail voting. In over 20 states, more than 245 similar bills put forward this year could be carried into 2022, according to Voting Rights Lab, a group that works to expand access to the ballot. In many places, Democrats will be largely powerless to push back at the state level, where they remain overmatched in Republican-controlled legislatures. G.O.P. state lawmakers across the country have enacted wide-ranging cutbacks to voting access this year and have used aggressive gerrymandering to lock in the party’s statehouse power for the next decade. Both parties are preparing to use the issue of voting to energize their bases. Democratic leaders, especially Stacey Abrams, the newly announced candidate for governor of Georgia and a voting rights champion for her party, promise to put the issue front and center. But the left remains short of options, leaving many candidates, voters and activists worried about the potential effects in 2022 and beyond, and increasingly frustrated with Democrats’ inability to pass federal voting protections in Washington.

Full Article: Voting Battles of 2022 Take Shape as G.O.P. Crafts New Election Bills – The New York Times

Editorial: Republicans in Congress Should Update the Electoral Count Act Before It’s Too Late | Benjamin L. Ginsberg/National Review

Donald Trump should want the Electoral Count Act of 1887 amended. And he should want it done even though his some of his Democratic opponents may want the same thing. Designed to govern Congress’s tabulation of Electoral College votes — including disputes between the chambers — the aged law is a swamp of ambiguity. Its byzantine, vague, and muddled provisions do not provide sufficient answers to crucial questions that could arise in a genuinely close election. Despite the fact that the former president’s attempts to exploit those shortcomings failed in 2020, he and all Republicans should be haunted by the blueprint that he has created for his opponents if he were to run for office again in 2024. Republicans should not deceive themselves by thinking the current state of this law automatically works to their advantage. While many of them used it offensively on January 6, 2021, they did so because they were trailing in Electoral College votes. They poked at real flaws, and while not successful because the vice president rebuffed Trump’s legally unsupportable command that the states’ certifications be rejected, Republicans did show how the system can be maneuvered. Republicans should be in favor of clarifying the system now, if for no other reason than they will not be in as strong a position as they were in 2020. For starters, a Democratic vice president will be presiding over the Senate when the Electoral College votes are opened. Suppose Trump runs again, and wins. Now, suppose Vice President Harris believes that Trump’s reelection represents an existential threat to the county and does what Trump couldn’t persuade Mike Pence to do.

Full Article: Electoral Count Act: Congress Should Update | National Review

Colorado’s top elections official seeks security protection | Associated Press

Colorado’s Democratic secretary of state is asking lawmakers for $200,000 annually for guards and other security-related measures after receiving escalating threats over her advocacy of elections security. Jena Griswold has consistently debunked claims, both locally and on national media, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. She’s also sued a Republican county clerk in western Colorado who is under federal investigation for allegedly breaching security protocols involving voting machines and has become a leading elections conspiracy figure popular with the right. With the online threats escalating, Griswold’s office is seeking $200,000 annually from the Legislature to “address election-related concerns” from the threats. The funds would pay for a vendor to track threats on social media and for guards for Griswold and some staff at public events, The Colorado Sun reported Wednesday. Griswold and local elections officials across the country have faced escalating harassment and threats in the aftermath of the 2020 election, which then-President Donald Trump and supporters contend was stolen by Democrat Joe Biden. No evidence of tampering has been found, and a flurry of lawsuits by Trump and his supporters challenging the result were tossed out of court.

Full Article: Colorado’s top elections official seeks security protection | AP News

District of Columbia: There’s A New Push For Mobile Voting In DC | Martin Austermuhle/DCist

You can pay bills, swipe into a Metro station, order a car, and do countless other things on your phone. And now venture capitalist and former political operative Bradley Tusk wants D.C. residents to be able to use their phones to vote. Tusk Philanthropies is bringing its mobile voting project to D.C., hoping to make the nation’s capital the first place in the country where residents can use phones and computers to cast ballots. Tusk, a former campaign advisor to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and one-time Uber official, has in recent years funded mobile-voting pilot programs across seven states — including WashingtonWest Virginia, and Oregon — largely to support overseas and military voters. But his effort in D.C. would represent the first push to make mobile voting a permanent part of elections for all voters. … Still, skeptics of mobile voting abound. They say that just like hackers can steal someone’s bank information or take over their social media accounts, they could wreak havoc on the civic exercise that makes democracy tick. “Study after study has found that internet voting has fundamental security vulnerabilities that simply haven’t been resolved at this point. And a lot of them are almost impossible to overcome given the current implementation of the internet, because the internet was never really designed with security in mind,” says Mark Lindeman, an expert on voting security and audits with Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group that focuses on elections and technology. Four federal agencies concluded as much in a May 2020 assessment, saying that “securing the return of voted ballots via the internet while ensuring ballot integrity and maintaining voter privacy is difficult, if not impossible, at this time.”

Full Article: There’s A New Push For Mobile Voting In DC

Florida: How Orange County’s election office solved authentication challenges | Kimberly Johnson/GCN

The volume of ransomware attack attempts in the first half of 2021 was 150% higher than the same time in 2020. Despite this alarming increase, many local governments lag behind other organizations in adopting modern cybersecurity practices, leaving them woefully unprepared for the onslaught of attacks they face. Government agencies have been particularly susceptible to ransomware attacks. Over 40% of central government organizations were targeted in 2020 because their data stores are highly tempting to cybercriminals who want citizens’ sensitive data for phishing and identity theft. Attackers may also be attempting to steal classified data and undermine citizen confidence. Smaller cities and agencies face a unique set of challenges that make them especially vulnerable to attacks. They operate with decentralized budgets and security operations, while large federal, state and local government agencies have the reach, budget and personnel to deliver higher security. The nation’s smaller cities, municipalities, counties and agencies unwittingly offer a wide array of attack options to cybercriminals. Some government agencies, however, have begun preventing attacks by taking a more active approach to threats. Florida’s Orange County Election Office, whose staff comprises a broad spectrum of full- and part-time employees and volunteers, is one such example. The OC Office needed a cybersecurity solution to protect voter data and files to prevent vote tampering and fraud, while also ensuring easy access for its employees.

Full Article: How a Florida county’s election office solved authentication challenges — GCN

Georgia Republicans purge Black Democrats from county election boards | James Oliphant and Nathan Layne/Reuters

Protesters filled the meeting room of the Spalding County Board of Elections in October, upset that the board had disallowed early voting on Sundays for the Nov. 2 municipal election. A year ago, Sunday voting had been instrumental in boosting turnout of Black voters. But this was an entirely different five-member board than had overseen the last election. The Democratic majority of three Black women was gone. So was the Black elections supervisor. Now a faction of three white Republicans controlled the board – thanks to a bill passed by the Republican-led Georgia legislature earlier this year. The Spalding board’s new chairman has endorsed former president Donald Trump’s false stolen-election claims on social media. The panel in Spalding, a rural patch south of Atlanta, is one of six county boards that Republicans have quietly reorganized in recent months through similar county-specific state legislation. The changes expanded the party’s power over choosing members of local election boards ahead of the crucial midterm Congressional elections in November 2022. The unusual rash of restructurings follows the state’s passage of Senate Bill 202, which restricted ballot access statewide and allowed the Republican-controlled State Election Board to assume control of county boards it deems underperforming. The board immediately launched a performance review of the Democratic-leaning Fulton County board, which oversees part of Atlanta. The Georgia restructurings are part of a national Republican effort to expand control over election administration in the wake of Trump’s false voter-fraud claims. Republican-led states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona have enacted new curbs on voter access this year. Backers of Trump’s false stolen-election claims are running campaigns for secretary of state – the top election official – in battleground states. And some Republicans in Wisconsin are seeking to eliminate the state’s bipartisan election commission and threatening its members with prosecution.

Full Article: Georgia Republicans purge Black Democrats from county election boards | Reuters

Louisiana’s the final state with a paperless voting system | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

More than five years after Russian interference troubled the 2016 election, Louisiana still hasn’t transitioned to a paper ballot system for its voters. While the state legislature committed to switch to a paper-based system this year, it won’t be ready before the 2022 election and may not be ready in time for 2024, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) tells me. The big picture: That means the state is still falling short of what federal officials say is the single most important protection to secure elections against hacking from Russia or elsewhere. In at least the next election, its voters will cast ballots on machines called direct recording equipment that experts say make it far easier for hackers to change votes undetected. “We’re going to have a paper-based system. The point is we can’t rush into it without looking at all of the changes that need to be made … and educating voters, as well as educating elected officials,” Ardoin told me. “It’s a dramatic shift from where we are today.” Louisiana is an extreme case. It’s the only remaining state where all in-person voters cast ballots on paperless machines. But there are five other states where at least some voters are still casting ballots on such machines, according to a map maintained by the group Verified Voting. The state highlights the supreme difficulty of making even some of the most basic election security reforms, which can cost millions in taxpayer dollars and run into hot political tensions. Ardoin is a paper advocate. He’s been pressing since he first took office in 2018 to replace the state’s more than 10,000 paperless voting machines with a paper-based system. 

Full Article: Louisiana’s the final state with a paperless voting system – The Washington Post

North Carolina: Watauga County Board of Elections releases statement on modems in voting machines | Watauga Democrat

It has recently come to the attention of the Watauga County Board of Elections that modems were removed from ballot-counting machines used by the Board in county elections, the board announced in a Dec. 9 press release. Before being removed, these modems had never been used. Given the importance of a fair and transparent election process, the board stated it wished, with this announcement, to make relevant information promptly available to the public. Since 2002, the Board has used M100 ballot scanners to count ballots. The Board voted unanimously to purchase this equipment. The scanners were purchased from Printelect, a North Carolina company. The Board owns 31 M100 ballot scanners. They have been used in every election since their initial purchase. On Nov. 9, Karen Brinson Bell, the Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, hosted a Microsoft Teams meeting with election staff from the six counties that still use M100 ballot scanners. In addition to Watauga, these counties include Graham, Macon, Moore, Montgomery, and Swain. Director Bell informed them that Printelect would be undertaking annual preventative maintenance and would remove any modems found in the machines.

Full Article: Watauga Board of Elections releases statement on modems in voting machines | Local News | wataugademocrat.com

Utah Lt. Gov. calls election integrity claims ‘destructive’ | Lindsay Whitehurst/Associated Press

The leader who oversees Utah elections said Wednesday that new efforts questioning the integrity of the state’s voting system are “destructive” and “very concerning.” The comments from Republican Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson come after a panel of majority-GOP lawmakers approved an audit into the election system. There are also separate efforts to get a forensic audit on the ballot and her office has gotten a report about people knocking on doors asking residents about their votes. Former President Donald Trump handily won the state in 2020. “From all of the things that I have seen, the endgame here is to fundamentally destroy the voting system we have here in the state of Utah,” she told The Associated Press. “Where there are challenges and problems, let’s work together to solve them and overcome them. But let’s not deliberately spread lies, falsehoods, misinformation and do it in a way that ensures that certain people don’t have access to the ballot. My question to those elected officials is, why are you afraid to let people vote?” The questions in conservative Utah echo those in states like Arizona, where an outside firm was hired to conduct a review after Trump falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen. That review, though described by experts described as riddled with errors, bias and flawed methodology, confirmed Democrat Joe Biden’s win in the state. In October, some 200 people rallied at the Capitol building and packed a legislative meeting room calling for a similar review in Utah. The audit approved Tuesday in Utah, by contrast, will be carried out by nonpartisan legislative auditors.

Full Article: Utah Lt. Gov. calls election integrity claims ‘destructive’ | AP News

Wisconsin: Trump-tied group pushing for voting changes | Scott Bauer and Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press

A group formed to support former President Donald Trump’s agenda is working with Wisconsin Republicans on a ballot measure that would bypass the state’s Democratic governor to change how elections are run in the battleground state. The effort represents a new escalation in the ongoing Republican campaign to alter voting laws in response to Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. It comes as Wisconsin has become the epicenter of this year’s voting wars, with Republicans trying to dismantle the election system they themselves put in place several years ago — and figure out how to do that with a Democratic governor still in office. The backing for a possible route around Gov. Tony Evers was revealed during a private meeting on elections hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which advocates conservative policies to state lawmakers in voting and other areas. Trump’s former White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told attendees that his new organization, the Center for Election Integrity, was working with elected officials and business leaders in Wisconsin “to figure out the best path” around Evers, who has said he will block GOP-backed election measures. “We feel as though the governor can’t do anything about it and it will become law,” Gidley said in a recording of the session made by an attendee and obtained by The Associated Press. The strategy is similar to one already underway in Michigan. State Republicans there already are gathering signatures to place a measure on the ballot that would tighten that state’s voting laws, an effort to get around Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto of a similar bill that passed the GOP-controlled state legislature. But Gidley’s statement is the first indication of a Trump-tied group engaged in a similar tactic in Wisconsin.

Full Article: Trump-tied group pushing for voting changes in Wisconsin | AP News