Michigan plot to breach voting machines points to a national trend | atrick Marley and Tom Hamburger/The Washington Post

Eight months after the 2020 presidential election, Robin Hawthorne did not expect anyone to ask for her township’s voting machines. The election had gone smoothly, she said, just as others had that she had overseen for 17 years as the Rutland Charter Township clerk in rural western Michigan. But now a sheriff’s deputy and investigator were in her office, asking her about her township’s three vote tabulators, suggesting that they somehow had been programmed with a microchip to shift votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden and asking her to hand one over for inspection. “What the heck is going on?” she recalled thinking. The surprise visit may have been an “out-of-the-blue thing,” as Hawthorne described it, but it was one element of a much broader effort by figures who deny the outcome of the 2020 vote to access voting machines in a bid to prove fraud that experts say does not exist. In states across the country, including Colorado, Pennsylvania and Georgia, attempts to inappropriately access voting machines have spurred investigations. They have also sparked concern among election authorities that, while voting systems are broadly secure, breaches by those looking for evidence of fraud could themselves compromise the integrity of the process and undermine confidence in the vote. In Michigan, the efforts to access the machines jumped into public view this month when the state attorney general, Dana Nessel (D), requested a special prosecutor be assigned to look into a group that includes her likely Republican opponent, Matthew DePerno.

Full Article: Michigan plot to breach voting machines points to a national trend – The Washington Post

‘Hackers against conspiracies’: Cyber sleuths take aim at election disinformation | Maggie Miller/Politico

One of the country’s biggest hacking conferences became a test site this year for an urgent political question for the midterms: How to hunt for vulnerabilities in voting machines without fueling election misinformation. Since 2017, the annual DEF CON conference — which wrapped up Sunday in Las Vegas — has featured a “Voting Machine Village” where attendees attempt to crack voting equipment ranging from registration databases to ballot-casting machines. The hackers at DEF CON — which takes its name from the military term for alert levels — have found vulnerabilities in nearly every machine featured during those years. But this year, in the wake of a 2020 U.S. presidential election where false claims of election fraud abounded — including everything from disproven allegations that mail-in ballots were tampered with, to unfounded claims that some voting machines were programmed to change votes — the Voting Village got a lot more political — and the organizers worked to control the information coming out of it. “If there is one theme this year, it’s hackers against conspiracies,” said Harri Hursti, the co-founder of the Voting Machine Village. “2020 and all the side effects have changed everything here.” It’s a tough battle to fight, and one that offers a taste of the problems that the election security community will be grappling with in the run-up to the November elections and the weeks following — as they try to both make sure voting equipment is as secure as possible and to tamp down false claims that the equipment could be tampered with to change the outcome of the election.

Full Article: ‘Hackers against conspiracies’: Cyber sleuths take aim at election disinformation – POLITICO

National: Election deniers march toward power in key 2024 battlegrounds | Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

First came Kristina Karamo, a community college instructor from Detroit who claimed without evidence that she witnessed fraud as a 2020 election observer — and who in April became her party’s pick for secretary of state, Michigan’s top election official, after repeatedly touting those claims. Next was Doug Mastriano, the firebrand state lawmaker from Pennsylvania who urged his colleagues to throw out Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. In May, Mastriano secured the GOP nomination for governor, a position with the power to certify the state’s slate of presidential electors. Finally, this month, Arizona Republicans nominated Kari Lake for governor and Mark Finchem for secretary of state. Both are outspoken election deniers who have pledged that they would not have certified Biden’s victory in their state. The winners fit a pattern: Across the battleground states that decided the 2020 vote, candidates who deny the legitimacy of that election have claimed nearly two-thirds of GOP nominations for state and federal offices with authority over elections, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Full Article: Election deniers march toward power in key 2024 battlegrounds – The Washington Post

National: Trump-allied lawyers pursued voting machine data in multiple states, records reveal | Emma Brown , Jon Swaine , Aaron C. Davis and Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

A team of computer experts directed by lawyers allied with President Donald Trump copied sensitive data from election systems in Georgia as part of a secretive, multistate effort to access voting equipment that was broader, more organized and more successful than previously reported, according to emails and other records obtained by The Washington Post. As they worked to overturn Trump’s 2020 election defeat, the lawyers asked a forensic data firm to access county election systems in at least three battleground states, according to the documents and interviews. The firm charged an upfront retainer fee for each job, which in one case was $26,000. Attorney Sidney Powell sent the team to Michigan to copy a rural county’s election data and later helped arrange for them to do the same in the Detroit area, according to the records. A Trump campaign attorney engaged the team to travel to Nevada. And the day after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol the team was in southern Georgia, copying data from a Dominion voting system in rural Coffee County. The emails and other records were collected through a subpoena issued to the forensics firm, Atlanta-based SullivanStrickler, by plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit in federal court over the security of Georgia’s voting systems. The documents provide the first confirmation that data from Georgia’s election system was copied. Indications of a breach there were first raised by plaintiffs in the case in February, and state officials have said they are investigating.

Full Article: Trump-allied lawyers pursued voting machine data in multiple states, records reveal – The Washington Post

National: CISA expands efforts to fight election disinformation ahead of ‘challenging’ 2024 vote | Suzanne Smalley/CyberScoop

Chris Krebs, former head of the nation’s cybersecurity agency inside the Department of Homeland Security, caused a stir this week when he suggested the agency break out on its own. Instead of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency residing in DHS, Krebs told an audience at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas, a standalone CISA could help streamline how the private sector and other stakeholders work with the government to combat cyberthreats. “Instead of going to five or six different agencies, make the front door clearly visible — and as I see it that’s CISA,” Krebs said. But former CISA officials and other cybersecurity experts said that idea is simply unrealistic and impractical. CyberScoop spoke with eight former U.S. cybersecurity officials, executives and experts about Krebs’ comments and a majority said that CISA needs to reside inside DHS in order to accomplish its mission. “DHS gives CISA size and Cabinet-level seniority in the interagency,” Looking Glass CEO Bryan Ware, who previously served in senior cybersecurity roles at CISA and DHS, told CyberScoop. “I worry that without that top cover [CISA] could be diminished by DOD, FBI and others.”

Full Articlee: CISA expands efforts to fight election disinformation ahead of ‘challenging’ 2024 vote

National: On TikTok, Election Misinformation Thrives Ahead of Midterms | Tiffany Hsu/The New York Times

In Germany, TikTok accounts impersonated prominent political figures during the country’s last national election. In Colombia, misleading TikTok posts falsely attributed a quotation from one candidate to a cartoon villain and allowed a woman to masquerade as another candidate’s daughter. In the Philippines, TikTok videos amplified sugarcoated myths about the country’s former dictator and helped his son prevail in the country’s presidential race. Now, similar problems have arrived in the United States. Ahead of the midterm elections this fall, TikTok is shaping up to be a primary incubator of baseless and misleading information, in many ways as problematic as Facebook and Twitter, say researchers who track online falsehoods. The same qualities that allow TikTok to fuel viral dance fads — the platform’s enormous reach, the short length of its videos, its powerful but poorly understood recommendation algorithm — can also make inaccurate claims difficult to contain. Baseless conspiracy theories about certain voter fraud in November are widely viewed on TikTok, which globally has more than a billion active users each month. Users cannot search the #StopTheSteal hashtag, but #StopTheSteallll had accumulated nearly a million views until TikTok disabled the hashtag after being contacted by The New York Times. Some videos urged viewers to vote in November while citing debunked rumors raised during the congressional hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. TikTok posts have garnered thousands of views by claiming, without evidence, that predictions of a surge in Covid-19 infections this fall are an attempt to discourage in-person voting.

Full Article: On TikTok, Election Misinformation Thrives Ahead of Midterms – The New York Times

National: Another year, another high-profile voter-fraud summit — this time from True the Vote — goes bust | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

It was just over a year ago that MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell convened supporters and data experts in South Dakota for a multiday summit at which he pledged to show his evidence that foreign actors had interfered in the 2020 election. As presented, the idea was straightforward: Lindell, who believed fervently that the election had been stolen, would finally offer up the raw information that he claimed showed how voting machines had been hacked and the results altered from overseas. This wasn’t his analysis, obviously; he’d hired guys who said they’d uncovered a pattern that could be replicated by others. But when the moment came … it couldn’t. The data was invalid and/or useless. There was no proof. None has since emerged. But Lindell was in a corner. He’d kept stringing people along for months, promising a big reveal. Whether he knew he didn’t have anything or not, someone did. And this is how cons work: The stakes keep getting increased until the whole thing collapses. This episode sprang to mind immediately when I started watching “The Pit,” a symposium held in Arizona over the weekend by 2022′s in-vogue election conspiracy theorists, the leaders of the group True the Vote. Same elevation of hype. Same collapse of what was promised.

Full Article: Another year, another high-profile voter-fraud summit — this time from True the Vote — goes bust – The Washington Post

Editorial: American Democracy Was Never Designed to Be Democratic | Louis Menand/The New Yorker

To look on the bright side for a moment, one effect of the Republican assault on elections—which takes the form, naturally, of the very thing Republicans accuse Democrats of doing: rigging the system—might be to open our eyes to how undemocratic our democracy is. Strictly speaking, American government has never been a government “by the people.” This is so despite the fact that more Americans are voting than ever before. In 2020, sixty-seven per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot for President. That was the highest turnout since 1900, a year when few, if any, women, people under twenty-one, Asian immigrants (who could not become citizens), Native Americans (who were treated as foreigners), or Black Americans living in the South (who were openly disenfranchised) could vote. Eighteen per cent of the total population voted in that election. In 2020, forty-eight per cent voted. Some members of the loser’s party have concluded that a sixty-seven-per-cent turnout was too high. They apparently calculate that, if fewer people had voted, Donald Trump might have carried their states. Last year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, legislatures in nineteen states passed thirty-four laws imposing voting restrictions. (Trump and his allies had filed more than sixty lawsuits challenging the election results and lost all but one of them.) In Florida, it is now illegal to offer water to someone standing in line to vote. Georgia is allowing counties to eliminate voting on Sundays. In 2020, Texas limited the number of ballot-drop-off locations to one per county, insuring that Loving County, the home of fifty-seven people, has the same number of drop-off locations as Harris County, which includes Houston and has 4.7 million people.

Full Article: American Democracy Was Never Designed to Be Democratic | The New Yorker

The Arizona Republican Party’s Anti-Democracy Experiment | Robert Draper/The New York Times

R​​ose Sperry, a state committeewoman for Arizona’s G.O.P., answered immediately when I asked her to name the first Republican leader she admired. “I grew up during the time that Joe McCarthy was doing his talking,” Sperry, an energetic 81-year-old, said of the Wisconsin senator who in the 1950s infamously claimed Communists had infiltrated the federal government. “I was young, but I was listening. If he were here today, I would say, ‘Get him in there as president!’” Sperry is part of a grass-roots movement that has pushed her state’s party far to the right in less than a decade. She had driven 37 miles the morning of July 16, from her home in the Northern Arizona town Cottonwood to the outskirts of Prescott, to attend the monthly meeting of a local conservative group called the Lions of Liberty, who, according to the group’s website, “are determined to correct the course of our country, which has been hijacked and undermined by global elites, communists, leftists, deep state bureaucrats and fake news.” That dismal view of America today was echoed by nearly every other conservative voter and group I encountered across the state over the past year. Arizona has become a bellwether for the rest of the nation, and not just because of its new status as a swing state and the first of these to be called for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. It was and has continued to be the nexus of efforts by former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies to overturn the 2020 election results. At the same time, party figures from Trump down to Rose Sperry have sought to blacklist every Arizona G.O.P. official who maintained that the election was fairly won — from Gov. Doug Ducey to Rusty Bowers, speaker of the state’s House of Representatives. Such leaders have been condemned as RINOs, or Republicans in name only, today’s equivalent of the McCarthy era’s “fellow travelers.”

Full Article: The Arizona Republican Party’s Anti-Democracy Experiment – The New York Times

Georgia: Giuliani Is Told He Is a Target in Trump Election Inquiry | Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim/The New York Times

The legal pressures on Donald J. Trump and his closest allies intensified further on Monday, as prosecutors informed his former personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Mr. Giuliani was a target in a wide-ranging criminal investigation into election interference in Georgia. The notification came on the same day that a federal judge rejected efforts by another key Trump ally, Senator Lindsey Graham, to avoid giving testimony before the special grand jury hearing evidence in the case in Atlanta. One of Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers, Robert Costello, said in an interview that he was notified on Monday that his client was a target. Being so identified does not guarantee that a person will be indicted; rather, it usually means that prosecutors believe an indictment is possible, based on evidence they have seen up to that point. Mr. Giuliani, who as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer spearheaded efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power, emerged in recent weeks as a central figure in the inquiry being conducted by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., which encompasses most of Atlanta. Earlier this summer, prosecutors questioned witnesses before the special grand jury about Mr. Giuliani’s appearances before state legislative panels in December 2020, when he spent hours peddling false conspiracy theories about secret suitcases of Democratic ballots and corrupted voting machines.

Full Article: Giuliani Is a Target in Georgia’s Trump Election Inquiry, Lawyer Says – The New York Times

Kansas to recount abortion vote by hand, despite big margin | John Hanna/Associated Press

Kansas’ elections director says the state will go along with a request for a hand recount of votes from every county after last week’s decisive statewide vote affirming abortion rights, even though there was a 165,000-vote difference and a recount won’t change the result. Melissa Leavitt, of Colby in far western Kansas, requested the recount and declined to comment to reporters Friday evening, citing work obligations. But she said on an online site raising funds for a recount that she had “seen data” about the election. Her post was not more specific, and there is no evidence of significant problems with the election. Baseless election conspiracies have circulated widely in the U.S., particularly among supporters of former President Donald Trump, who has repeated false claims that he lost the 2020 election through fraud. Kansas law requires Leavitt to post a bond to cover the entire cost of the recount. Bryan Caskey, state elections director for the Kansas secretary of state’s office, said it would be the first recount of the votes on a statewide ballot question in at least 30 years.

Full Article: Kansas to recount abortion vote by hand, despite big margin | AP News

Louisiana: Conspiracies complicate voting machine debate | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

The need for Louisiana to replace its voting machines is not in dispute. They are badly outdated — deployed in 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina struck — and do not produce paper ballots that are critical to ensuring election results are accurate. What to do about them is another story. The long-running drama includes previous allegations of bid-rigging, voting machine companies claiming favoritism and a secretary of state who is noncommittal about having a new system in place for the 2024 presidential election. Local election clerks also worry about the influence of conspiracy theorists who have peddled unfounded claims about voting equipment and have been welcomed into the debate over new machines. “It would be a travesty to let a minority of people who have little to no experience in election administration tear down an exceptional process that was painstakingly built over many, many years,” Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court Lynn Jones told state officials in a meeting this summer. “And for us to throw it out of the window because of unfounded theories is mind-boggling.” The uncertainty is playing out against a backdrop of attacks on the integrity of elections, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him and promoted by a web of his allies and supporters. Some of those same supporters have been trying to convince election officials across the country that they should ditch machines in favor of paper ballots and hand-counts.

Full Article: Conspiracies complicate voting machine debate in Louisiana | AP News

Michigan: Preprocessing, more funding among clerks’ asks for legislature | Ben Orner/MLive.com

Michigan’s primary election passed by last week with few bumps in the road. But with the most decentralized election system in America, local clerks from both parties are calling for critical changes, and they want state lawmakers’ attention. Election results are notoriously slow in Michigan, with the most finger-pointing directed toward mail-in ballot processing. State law doesn’t allow tabulation of absentee ballots – which numbered more than 1.1 million in last week’s election – until 7 a.m. on Election Day. Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum told MLive that things ran smoothly in her jurisdiction on Aug. 2, but it could be smoother. She said there is room for lawmakers to add absentee (also called AV) ballot preprocessing, while also give more funding to train more election officials.

Full Article: Preprocessing, more funding among Michigan clerks’ asks for legislature – mlive.com

Nevada: Voter groups object to proposed hand-counting rules | Gabe Stern/Associated Press

As officials in some parts of rural Nevada vow to bypass voting machines in favor of hand counting ballots this November, the Nevada secretary of state’s office is proposing statewide rules that would specify how to do it, including requiring bipartisan vote counters, room for observation and how many ballots to count at a time. On Friday, four voting rights groups came out against the proposal, calling it an “admirable attempt to ensure higher standards” for counting votes by hand, but urging the secretary of state to prohibit the practice outright, noting that the push for hand-counting stems from “unfounded speculation” about voting machines. “The regulations are not enough to address the underlying accuracy issues and remediate the legal deficiencies of hand count processes,” the groups Brennan Center, All Voting is Local, ACLU Nevada and Silver State Voices said in a statement Friday. Both voting rights groups and hand-count proponents spoke at an online hearing Friday, the first meeting convened to discuss the regulations. Voting rights groups lobbied to prohibit hand-counts, while voting machine skeptics, a majority of the speakers, said the proposed regulations were a power grab meant to sabotage hand-counting.

Full AQrticle: Voter groups object to proposed Nevada hand-counting rules | AP News

New Mexico: Election official says paper shortage won’t impact ballots | Dan Boyd/Albuquerque Journal

A global paper shortage has raised concerns around the nation about whether enough ballots can be printed – and obtained in time – to run this fall’s elections. But a top New Mexico elections administrator said the paper paucity should not cause problems for state county clerks. Specifically, Deputy Secretary of State Sharon Pino said the state’s two outside ballot vendors have assured state officials they have a sufficient paper supply to conduct the Nov. 8 general election. “We are fortunate here in New Mexico,” Pino told the Journal. The paper shortage is due to a decline in U.S. paper production in recent years and supply chain issues, according to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center. The report said paper orders that previously took days or weeks are now taking months to process, while costs have increased by 40% or more in some cases. Transportation issues have also played a role in the paper shortage, with the American Trucking Association predicting that an existing shortage of truck drivers will worsen over the next decade.

Full Article: Election official says paper shortage won’t impact NM ballots – Albuquerque Journal

North Carolina elections board seeks rule changes to reduce conflicts with observers | Paul Specht/WRAL

During the state’s primary elections a few months ago, election observers posed a problem to voters in Davidson County. There to monitor that votes were entered and tabulated properly, these private citizens hovered or moved awkwardly through polling places in an effort to make sure election workers were doing their jobs correctly. “There were several that weren’t aware of where they could and could not be in the polling place,” Andrew Richards, Davidson County’s director, recently told the state elections board. “While most were perfectly fine, several demanded to be behind the machines to watch people vote. When told they could not be behind the voting equipment several became argumentative.” Richards added: “Clearer rules rather than just legal language is needed.” Election officials around North Carolina are reporting similar instances, including heated confrontations between voters, observers and election officials. In response, North Carolina’s state election board is proposing temporary rule changes for election observers. It’s an attempt to reduce confusion over existing laws and prevent interference that some counties reported when conducting the May primaries.

Full Article: NC elections board seeks rule changes to reduce conflicts with observers :: WRAL.com

Pennsylvania: Voting machine maker moves to subpoena former secretary of state | Zach Hoopes/PennLive

Dominion Voting Systems expects to depose Pennsylvania’s former secretary of state as part of a subpoena in the voting machine maker’s defamation case against Fox News regarding the 2020 presidential election. Documents from the Dauphin County prothonotary’s office indicate that Dominion expects to serve a subpoena to the Pennsylvania Department of State for records that may be germane to its lawsuit. As part of that, Dominion’s attorneys plan to depose former Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar next month. The $1.6 billion defamation case is being heard in Delaware Superior Court, with Dauphin County records showing Dominion’s attorneys filed notice to serve the out-of-state subpoena and deposition notice. The Department of State is aware of and reviewing the subpoena, according to department press secretary Grace Griffaton. In the lawsuit, filed last year, Dominion accuses Fox News and its affiliates of knowingly spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories about the security of Dominion’s machines and the election results they produced, despite the cable news network having information from other sources – including from federal and state election monitors like the Pennsylvania Department of State – proving that such claims of widespread voting fraud were impossible. The subpoena covers any documents or communications regarding the Department of State’s certification of Dominion’s voting machines, the integrity of the 2020 election generally, and any communications the department may have had with Fox News or with the campaign of former President Donald Trump.

Source: Voting machine maker moves to subpoena Pa.’s former secretary of state

Texas: Threats against election workers occurring across state | Brian Kirkpatrick/Texas Public Radio

Threats against election administrators and county clerks are occurring throughout Texas as the mid-term election on Nov. 8 draws near. The threats are fueled by a tight governor’s contest and congressional races laced with intense partisan rhetoric and voter fraud misinformation. Voter turnout is expected to be increased by calls for gun control in the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde this past May. The topic of abortion rights is also expected to send more voters to the polls after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade this summer. Voters will be looking to support like-minded candidates on both issues. Gillespie Elections Administrator Anissa Hererra and other office staff have resigned due to threats on social media that began after the 2020 election. Her last day on the job is Tuesday, Aug. 16. Election officials blame misinformation about voter fraud spread on social media across the country in the wake of the 2020 presidential election as contributing to the problem. The immediate past-president of the Texas Association of Election Administrators Remi Garza said he wants any election administrator or county clerk and other election workers in the state’s 254 counites speak up if they are threatened. “I hope they will speak out, so that others are aware of this activity so some common threats can be identified and maybe a wider solution can be achieved either through the legislature or through law enforcement,” said Garza, the Cameron County Elections Administrator.

Full Article: Threats against election workers occurring across Texas | TPR

Texas: Gillespie County elections admin resigns over death threats | Gabriel Romero/San Antonio Express-News

A Gillespie County employee is resigning from her job after dealing with death threats over the 2020 election, but she is not the first to leave. Gillespie County elections administrator Anissa Herrera told the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post that she will be leaving her position on Tuesday, August 16. “The year 2020 was when I got the death threats,” Herrera said to the Standard-Radio Post. “It was enough that I reached out to our county attorney, and it was suggested that I forward it to FPD (Fredericksburg Police Department) and the sheriff’s office.” Herrera was an inaugural member of the elections office and was with Gillespie County for almost a decade, according to the report. She was the elections clerk under the county clerk’s office before she was named elections administrator in 2019. After the 2020 election, Herrera’s tenure took a turn for the worse. She told the Standard-Radio Post that she was threatened, stalked, and was called out on social media. According to the report, other people in the elections department have left for similar reasons.

Full Article: Gillespie County elections admin resigns over death threats

Wisconsin: Robin Vos fires Michael Gableman, ending a 2020 election review that’s cost taxpayers more than $1 million and produced no evidence of fraud | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos fired Michael Gableman on Friday, more than a year after he hired the former Supreme Court justice to probe the 2020 election and three days after Vos barely survived a primary challenge Gableman supported. Vos ended Gableman’s contract with the state that has provided a national platform and more than $100,000 in salary to Gableman over the last 14 months but has produced a review of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 loss that has promoted election conspiracy theories and revealed no evidence of significant voter fraud. The review has cost state taxpayers more than $1 million through costs for salaries and legal fees related to lawsuits filed against Gableman and Vos over ignored requests for public records. Vos did not respond to multiple requests from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for comment. He told WISN-12’s Matt Smith in an interview for UPFRONT that Gableman was sent a letter. “We did it through the process of the contract,” Vos said. “I really don’t think there’s any need to have a discussion. He did a good job last year, kind of got off the rails this year and now we’re going to end the investigation.”

Source: Vos fires Michael Gableman, ending $1 million review of 2020 election