From his perch in an elementary school gym during last month’s Michigan primary, Grand Rapids City Clerk Joel Hondorp oversaw the electronic book of eligible voters, while first-time election workers Kimberly and Shayne Becher helped check people in and explain how to fill out ballots. Kimberly, a 59-year-old counselor from Greenville, said she and her husband wanted to get involved “to learn how this all works,” since neither is convinced that the 2020 presidential election hadn’t been stolen. “You just go to a Trump rally or go to a Biden rally, that will tell you … who won,” said Shayne, a 53-year-old carpenter. Hondorp hopes that the Bechers and others trained by his office, with a successful election behind them, will change their minds about the process. “Hopefully, they’re going to go back and talk to their friends and family … and say: ‘Hey, this is what we observed,’” Hondorp said. Across the country, election clerks have spent the last two years waging an information and public relations battle to restore faith in elections. They’re doing more TV interviews, giving more office tours and retooling their social media presences. They’re keeping up with legislation to overhaul elections and conspiracy theories spreading online. And they’re redoubling their efforts to explain the exhaustive steps they take to prevent fraud and run secure elections.
Georgia to replace voting machines in Coffee County after alleged security breach | Amy Gardner, Emma Brown and Jon Swaine/The Washington Post
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Friday that he intends to replace some election equipment in a south Georgia county where forensics experts working last year for pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell copied virtually every component of the voting system. Raffensperger (R) said his office will replace machines in Coffee County “to allay the fears being stoked by perennial election deniers and conspiracy theorists.” He added that anyone who broke the law in connection with unauthorized access to Coffee County’s machines should be punished, “but the current election officials in Coffee County have to move forward with the 2022 election, and they should be able to do so without this distraction.” Some election-security experts have voiced concerns that the copying of the Coffee County software — used statewide in Georgia — risks exposing the entire state to hackers, who could use the copied software as a road map to find and exploit vulnerabilities. Raffensperger’s office has said that security protocols would make it virtually impossible for votes to be manipulated without detection. The move comes after Raffensperger’s office spent months voicing skepticism that such a security breach ever occurred in Coffee County. “There’s no evidence of any of that. It didn’t happen,” Gabe Sterling, Raffensperger’s chief operations officer, said at a public event in April.
National: After victory in Nevada, election deniers increase calls to eliminate voting machines across the country | Soo Rin Kim and Laura Romero/ABC
Last month, an effort led by a rural county in Nevada handed election deniers a major victory: In November, several jurisdictions in the state will be hand-counting votes. The Nevada Secretary of State approved a proposal allowing jurisdictions to hand-count votes starting as soon as this fall’s midterm election, after Nye County, based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, decided earlier this year to abandon the Dominion voting machines it had relied on for years. “Everyone said, ‘It’s not you, it’s not the officials,'” said Sandra “Sam” Merlino, who resigned her position as county clerk after the county in March this year decided to use a hand-count instead of voting machines. “But what people don’t understand is, I put my trust in those machines and how the process works.” Last week, Merlino’s successor, Mark Kampf — who himself has been echoing unsubstantiated claims of 2020 election fraud — took a step back and announced a plan to use both hand counting and the Dominion machines for the upcoming elections as a way to cross-check results between the two methods.
National: Congress’ latest House-Senate wrangle: Preventing the next Jan. 6 | Nicholas Wu, Marianne Levine, Jordain Carney and Kyle Cheney/Politico
Efforts to reform an obscure 135-year-old election law, which Donald Trump tried to utilize to subvert the 2020 election, are reviving a classic congressional rivalry: the House vs. the Senate. After signaling for months that they wanted to go further than the Senate’s proposed adjustments to the law, House members could vote as early as Wednesday on legislation to update the Electoral Count Act, the 1887 statute that Trump and his allies distorted in an attempt to seize a second term he didn’t win. Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), members of the Jan. 6 select committee, on Monday outlined a proposal aimed at preventing rogue state officials and members of Congress from any future attempt at subversion of the transfer of presidential power. That plan is likely to set up an intense period of wrangling with the Senate, which in July teed up a competing bill that boasts bipartisan support, including the 10 GOP co-sponsors necessary to overcome a filibuster. Their proposal reforms the 19th-century law, which sets out deadlines for states to certify their own presidential contests and a process to deliver electors to Washington. The Electoral Count Act then sets out a process for the vice president — acting as president of the Senate — to preside over the count, and outlines a procedure for lawmakers to challenge any electors they deem invalid. The House version is substantially similar to the Senate bill, though it proposes slight variations and lays out certain processes in more detail. House members’ insistence on releasing their own bill is the latest episode in the simmering tensions between the two chambers as they enter their final stretch of legislating in this Congress, with lower-chamber Democrats hoping to go from bill text to passage within a week and the Senate moving more slowly, expecting to hold a markup of their legislation — while retaining GOP support — next week.
National: Meadows texts reveal direct White House communications with pro-Trump operative behind plans to seize voting machines | Zachary Cohen/CNN
As allies of then-President Donald Trump made a final push to overturn the election in late-December 2020, one of the key operatives behind the effort briefed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about his attempts to gain access to voting systems in key battleground states, starting with Arizona and Georgia, according to text messages obtained by CNN. Phil Waldron, an early proponent of various election-related conspiracy theories, texted Meadows on December 23 that an Arizona judge had dismissed a lawsuit filed by friendly GOP lawmakers there. The suit demanded state election officials hand over voting machines and other election equipment, as part of the hunt for evidence to support Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. In relaying the news to Meadows, Waldron said the decision would allow opponents to engage in “delay tactics” preventing Waldron and his associates from immediately accessing machines. Waldron also characterized Arizona as “our lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade,” referring to similar efforts in other states like Georgia. “Pathetic,” Meadows responded. The messages, which have not been previously reported, shed new light on how Waldron’s reach extended into the highest levels of the White House and the extent to which Meadows was kept abreast of plans for accessing voting machines, a topic sources tell CNN, and court documents suggest, is of particular interest to state and federal prosecutors probing efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
National: False claims, threats fuel poll worker sign-ups for midterms | Sudhin Thanawala/Associated Press
Outraged by false allegations of fraud against a Georgia elections employee in 2020, Amanda Rouser made a vow as she listened to the woman testify before Congress in June about the racist threats and harassment she faced.“I said that day to myself, ‘I’m going to go work in the polls, and I’m going to see what they’re going to do to me,’” Rouser, who like the targeted employee is Black, recalled after stopping by a recruiting station for poll workers at Atlanta City Hall on a recent afternoon. “Try me, because I’m not scared of people.”About 40 miles north a day later, claims of fraud also brought Carolyn Barnes to a recruiting event for prospective poll workers, but with a different motivation.“I believe that we had a fraudulent election in 2020 because of the mail-in ballots, the advanced voting,” Barnes, 52, said after applying to work the polls for the first time in Forsyth County. “I truly believe that the more we flood the system with honest people who are trying to help out, it will straighten it out.”Barnes, who declined to give her party affiliation, said she wants to use her position as a poll worker to share her observations about “the gaps” in election security and “where stuff could happen afterwards.”
National: Top State Judges Make a Rare Plea in a Momentous Supreme Court Election Case | Adam Liptak/The New York Times
“It’s the biggest federalism issue in a long time,” Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court said on the phone the other day. “Maybe ever.” He was explaining why the Conference of Chief Justices, a group representing the top state judicial officers in the nation, had decided to file a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a politically charged election-law case. The brief urged the court to reject a legal theory pressed by Republicans that would give state legislatures extraordinary power. Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a law professor at Harvard, said the brief underscored how momentous the decision in the case could be. “It’s highly unusual for the Conference of Chief Justices to file an amicus brief in the Supreme Court,” he said. “It’s even rarer for the conference to do so in a controversial, ideologically charged case.” If the Supreme Court adopts the theory, it will radically reshape how federal elections are conducted by giving state lawmakers independent authority, not subject to review by state courts, to set election rules in conflict with state constitutions.
Editorial: The 3 Types of Election-Denying Republicans Running for Secretary of State | Chris Geidner/The New York Times
Around a dozen election-denying Republican candidates secured their party’s nomination for secretary of state this fall. This is the reality, two years on, that Donald Trump’s election lies have created. There are three types of election-denying candidates, and each one poses distinct problems for civic integrity. There are the swing-state candidates getting lots of justified attention, running in places like Arizona and Michigan, because their elections could have pivotal, clear national implications in the 2024 presidential campaign. There are candidates like Chuck Gray in Wyoming, who is all but certain to take office in January, as Democrats didn’t field an opponent. Election-denying candidates in very red states aren’t getting as much attention now, but they likely will come January, when they are officeholders. They will help set policies in their states — many of which will also have Republican-led legislatures and governors — where extremist ideas could become law. And there are people like Dominic Rapini, Connecticut’s Republican secretary of state nominee, who are running in blue states and unlikely to win. Their campaigns, though, will have critical fallout effects. By virtue of their statewide platforms, even losing candidates can further damage the discourse — in their states and nationally — and increase the risks to our democracy. Election deniers in blue states can uniquely exacerbate Mr. Trump’s undermining of faith in our elections, and they, like their winning counterparts in red states, can set the stage for local election-denying candidates to win now or in the future.
Arizona election integrity unit found little fraud, exacerbated suspicions | Beth Reinhard and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez/The Washington Post
Republicans across the country have embraced an aggressive tactic this year as they seek to tout baseless claims that voter fraud is a serious threat: arming state agencies with more power and resources to investigate election crimes. Virginia’s Republican attorney general earlier this month announced a new election integrity unit staffed with more than 20 attorneys and investigators “to increase transparency and strengthen confidence in our state elections.” Georgia legislators recently empowered the statewide police agency to launch election probes. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last month described the arrests of 20 people for alleged illegal voting as the “opening salvo” of a new elections police force. But a Washington Post examination of an earlier endeavor in Arizona to systematically ferret out voter fraud found it has turned up few cases — and that rather than bolster confidence in elections, the absence of massive fraud has just fueled more bogus theories and distrust. After investigating thousands of complaints in the past three years, a special unit in the Arizona attorney general’s office created to crack down on illegal voting and other election-related crimes has prosecuted just 20 cases in a state of more than 4 million voters. The total represents a slight increase from the 16 cases brought by the office in a previous six-year period, according to court filings and hundreds of pages of public records.
California county warns of ‘very aggressive’ people impersonating elections officials | Eric Ting/San Francisco Chronicle
“Very aggressive” individuals impersonating elections officials have reportedly been knocking on Shasta County residents’ doors and questioning their voter registration status, Shasta County’s elections office warned residents this week. “They’re wearing very distinctive neon vests and some kind of ID badge that says ‘voter task force,'” County Clerk Cathy Darling Allen told SFGATE. “We are being told that these people are being very aggressive and intimating that they work in this office when they do not. We want voters to know this isn’t an official effort; we have a whole host of tools we use to verify info. Door knocking is not something we would ever do.” Allen said it is probably a safe assumption that members of the fake “voter task force” are individuals who believe, incorrectly, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. In the time since that election, her office has become a “dumping ground for frustrations” and has had to deal with things ranging from frivolous copy-pasted public records requests to demands that the office preserve records it is required to destroy by California state law. “What we’ve heard is these people aren’t going door-to-door,” Allen said. “People who contacted us said, ‘My house is the only one on the street they went to.'”
Colorado: Election deniers inundate Jefferson County clerks with unprecedented number of information requests; One clerk calls it ‘morale killer’ | Brian Maass/CBS
As Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder George Stern’s staff is gearing up for the Nov. 8 midterm election, he says his office is being hamstrung by dozens of new open records act requests seeking detailed information about the 2020 election, nearly two years ago. “It’s a huge distraction and morale killer eight weeks before a very important election,” Stern said. “He says he is obligated to respond and fulfill the Colorado Open Records Act requests but calls it frustrating that some are consuming valuable staff time, trying to litigate the 2020 election, which he says was free and fair. Of 380,000 votes cast in El Paso County in the 2020 election, Stern says he is aware of one potential case of attempted fraud. “We’ve received CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) requests — about 15 — in a matter of a few days, all copy and pasted. This is a coordinated effort by somebody,” Stern said. The requests typically ask for a dozen or more obscure pieces of 2020 election, information such as undervotes, overvotes, mark density and cast vote records. Some of the requests demand Stern’s office preserve 2020 election records as the requestor indicates they may sue his office over unspecified 2020 election fraud. “Staff members are exhausted from all this,” Stern explained. “It’s a drain.” Stern, a Democrat, continued, saying, ” We’re seeing this all over the state in big counties, small counties, counties that are left and counties that are right. All clerks are facing it.”
Georgia election board evaluates Coffee County breach and precautions | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia officials and the CEO of Dominion Voting Systems tried to reassure voters Wednesday that this year’s elections are secure amid a criminal investigation into election skeptics who coordinated copying of data from voting equipment in Coffee County. State Election Board Chairman William Duffey said the breach in Coffee County fits into a pattern of similar incidents in Michigan and Nevada, and he said the board has asked the FBI to participate in an ongoing investigation by the GBI and secretary of state’s office. “What happened in Coffee County was despicable — the idea that people that we entrust with this precious voting role would allow people that were not allowed to be in there,” Duffey said. “The consequence for that kind of conduct should be significant.” The State Election Board called its meeting at the state Capitol on Wednesday to address the Coffee County breach and discuss protections for upcoming elections, including testing procedures and audit plans.
Kansas: Will election conspiracy theories cause permanent damage to democracy? | Katie Bernard/The Kansas City Star
In early September, Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden spoke with a group of Johnson County conservatives known as the “Liberty People” about his efforts to investigate voter fraud. It was a free-wheeling discussion that included calls for the elimination of all voting machines, unfounded insinuations that undocumented immigrants are voting, and promises that the sheriff was closing in on one of the biggest investigations of his career — despite no evidence of widespread fraud in Kansas’ most populous county. An hour in, an older woman piped up with an apparent call for action. “Now that I’m older, I’m not afraid to go to jail,” she said to Johnson County’s top law enforcement officer. Hayden chuckled and reminded her he’s bound by the constitution. “We are not,” the woman responded. The episode, posted to right-wing video sharing site Rumble, highlighted a phenomenon that has grown over the past two years in Kansas and the country as a whole. A growing collection of citizens no longer trust the outcomes of elections and promote claims of massive fraud without any basis or proof. Though exaggerated claims of voter fraud are not new to the Sunflower State, former President Donald Trump’s continued refusal to accept his 2020 defeat helped set a fire in Kansas that continues to spread ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm election.
Maryland: Appeals court denies motion to delay ballot counting; election officials plan to start counting sometime in October | Emily Opilo/Baltimore Sun
A request for an emergency order to delay the start of mail-in ballot counting in Maryland has been denied by the Special Court of Appeals, allowing election officials to begin counting as soon as Saturday though many said they would not. In a one-paragraph order issued late Thursday, Judge Douglas R.M. Nazarian struck down an effort by Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox to put a hold on ballot counting as he appeals a lower-court ruling allowing the process to begin as early as Saturday. The Maryland State Board of Elections asked for the early start to accommodate a deluge of mail-in ballots expected to be cast this fall. Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Bonifant sided with the board last week, agreeing the situation constitutes an emergency. Maryland law, established before the widespread use of mail-in ballots that became popular during the pandemic, forbids the canvassing of mail-in ballots until the Wednesday following an election. An additional state regulation set by the board of elections further delays that counting process until 10 a.m. the Thursday after an election. That’s the latest start in the nation for mail-in ballot counting.
An election worker in a western Michigan town has been charged with two felonies after allegedly inserting a flash drive into a computer containing confidential voter registration data during an election in August, local officials said on Wednesday. At the Aug. 2 primary, an election worker was seen inserting a USB drive into the computer used to administer the election at a precinct in Gaines Township in Kent County, according to a statement by county clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons. The incident highlights the so-called “insider threat” risk that has increasingly worried election officials, especially in battleground states like Michigan where falsehoods about systemic voter fraud in the 2020 election have spread most widely. “This incident is extremely egregious and incredibly alarming. Not only is it a violation of Michigan law, but it is a violation of public trust and of the oath all election workers are required to take,” Lyons said in the statement.
A Carson City District Court judge denied a group’s attempt to stop counties from hand counting ballots in the Nov. 8 election. Judge James Wilson ruled this week against the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada’s motion asking to prohibit the Nevada secretary of state’s office from authorizing counties to engage in hand counting. Nye County has decided to implement hand counting in its elections, and in response the Nevada secretary of state adopted regulations on Aug. 26 for how counties should conduct hand counting. The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada challenged the move on Aug. 31 and filed a motion for preliminary injunction Sept. 1, arguing that Nevada’s laws preclude hand counting ballots, and that hand counting could disenfranchise voters. Wilson ruled that Nevada’s law does not prohibit the use of hand counting. Voting is permitted by a “mechanical voting system,” but it is optional, he wrote in his order.
Pennsylvania counties can help voters fix problems with their mail ballots, state court rules | Jonathan Lai and Jeremy Roebuck/Phildelphia Inquirer
A state judge cleared the way Thursday for Pennsylvania counties to continue helping voters correct small mistakes on their submitted mail ballots, saying nothing in the law prohibits the practice. The decision was a loss, at least temporarily, for Republicans who have tried in recent years to stop local elections officials from offering voters the opportunity to fix errors like missing signatures that would otherwise cause their ballots to be thrown out. “Petitioners have not proven that there is a clear violation of the Election Code or the law interpreting the Election Code,” Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler wrote in her 58-page opinion. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought by the Republican National Committee, which had asked the judge to bar the practice — known as “ballot curing” — before the November election. They cited the fact that there is no consistent curing policy across the state, and that some counties allow voters to fix errors while others do not.
Texas court confirms the AG can’t unilaterally prosecute election cases | Alejandro Serrano/The Texas Tribune
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton‘s last-ditch attempt to regain the power of his office to unilaterally prosecute election cases was rejected by the state’s highest criminal court Wednesday. The Court of Criminal Appeals instead upheld its previous ruling that says that the attorney general must get permission from local county prosecutors to pursue cases on issues like voter fraud. Paxton had been fighting to overturn that ruling as the issue of prosecuting election fraud has become fraught in recent years. Paxton sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and has aggressively pursued individual cases of fraud, outraging some voting rights advocates who see the punishments as too harsh for people who made honest mistakes. Last December, eight of the nine members on the all-GOP court struck down a law that previously allowed Paxton’s office to take on those cases without local consent. The court said the law violated the separation-of-powers clause in the Texas Constitution. In the aftermath, Paxton, joined by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, led a political push to get the court to reconsider its decision, warning that it would allow cases of fraud to go unpunished. His office filed a motion asking the Court of Criminal Appeals to rehear the case, vacate its previous opinion and affirm an appellate court’s judgment, which was in his favor.
Virginia updates how it conducts risk-limiting audits for election results | Charlotte Rene Woods/Richmond Times-Dispatch
On Tuesday, the Virginia Board of Elections approved a new risk-limiting audit manual ahead of the general election this November. Though election officials were already conducting risk-limiting audits in Virginia, they are now going to happen before state election officials certify election results. That’s because the General Assembly passed legislation that repealed and replaced previous state code relating to the audits. Risk-limiting audits are “a type of post-election audit that utilizes statistical methods and a manual review of paper ballots to confirm that the voting equipment accurately reported the correct outcome of an election,” the manual reads. The audits analyze a random sample of hand-counted ballots to confirm election results along with using auditing software called Arlo. The process helps confirm that voting accurately reported election results. “Now it’s going to be done prior to the certification of the election, whereas before we did it in the months after the election,” said former elections commissioner Chris Piper. For instance, the most recent such audit took place this past January — two months after the 2021 elections — and analyzed the results of the 13th and 75th House of Delegates districts.
All records from the closed Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin are being uploaded to a website “for all to see,” an attorney told a judge on Tuesday. The investigation was led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who was fired in August by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, just days after Vos won his primary over an opponent endorsed by Gableman and former President Donald Trump. But the office Gableman led still exists. American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, has filed four open records lawsuits against Gableman, Vos and the office seeking the records created during the investigation. On Tuesday, during a hearing over a lawsuit American Oversight filed to stop the deletion of records, attorney James Bopp said all electronic and paper records from the office have been turned over to the Assembly chief clerk’s office. The files are being uploaded to a website that will soon be available “for all to see,” said Bopp, who represents the office that he said has no employees. Hundreds of pages of documents have already been made public as the result of other American Oversight lawsuits. Bopp said the data yet-to-be made public that’s being processed now includes text messages on cellphones used in the course of the investigation.
National: House passes bill to prevent efforts to subvert presidential election results | Amy B. Wang/The Washington Post
The House voted Wednesday to pass an electoral reform bill that seeks to prevent presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress, the first vote on such an effort since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. The bill passed on a 229-203 vote, with just nine Republicans breaking ranks and joining Democrats in supporting the measure. None of those nine Republican lawmakers will be members of Congress next year — either because they lost their primaries or chose to retire. The Presidential Election Reform Act, written by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), explicitly cites the Capitol attack as a reason to amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887, “to prevent other future unlawful efforts to overturn Presidential elections and to ensure future peaceful transfers of Presidential power.” “Legal challenges are not improper, but Donald Trump’s refusal to abide by the rulings of the courts certainly was,” Cheney said Wednesday during House debate on the measure. “In our system of government, elections in the states determine who is the president. Our bill does not change that. But this bill will prevent Congress from illegally choosing the president itself.”
House Passes Overhaul of Electoral Count, Moving to Avert Another Jan. 6 Crisis | Carl Hulse/The New York Times
The House on Wednesday took the first major step to respond to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, voting mostly along party lines to overhaul the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, the law that former President Donald J. Trump tried to exploit that day to overturn his defeat. The bill was the most significant legislative answer yet to the riot and the monthslong campaign by Mr. Trump and his allies to invalidate the 2020 presidential election, but it also underscored the lingering partisan divide over Jan. 6 and the former president’s continuing grip on his party. It cleared a divided House, passing on a 229 to 203 vote. All but nine Republicans opposed the measure, wary of angering Mr. Trump and unwilling to back legislation co-written by Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and a leader of the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 and what led to them. The partisan division could complicate future negotiations with the Senate, which is moving ahead with its own bipartisan version of the legislation that differs from the House bill in some significant respects. Lawmakers now say they do not expect final approval before Congress returns for a lame-duck session after the Nov. 8 midterm elections. The legislation is aimed at updating the law that governs Congress’s counting of the electoral votes cast by the states, the final step under the Constitution to confirm the results of a presidential election and historically a mostly ceremonial process. Democrats said that the aftermath of the 2020 election — in which Mr. Trump and his allies’ attempts to throw out legitimate electoral votes led to the violent disruption of the congressional count by his supporters on Jan. 6 — made clear that the statute needed to be changed.
National: Republicans in key battleground races refuse to say they will accept results | Amy Gardner , Hannah Knowles , Colby Itkowitz and Annie Linskey/The Washington Post
A dozen Republican candidates in competitive races for governor and Senate have declined to say whether they would accept the results of their contests, raising the prospect of fresh post-election chaos two years after Donald Trump refused to concede the presidency. In a survey by The Washington Post of 19 of the most closely watched statewide races in the country, the contrast between Republican and Democratic candidates was stark. While seven GOP nominees committed to accepting the outcomes in their contests, 12 either refused to commit or declined to respond. On the Democratic side, 18 said they would accept the outcome and one did not respond to The Post’s survey. The reluctance of many GOP candidates to embrace a long-standing tenet of American democracy shows how Trump’s assault on the integrity of U.S. elections has spread far beyond the 2020 presidential race. This year, multiple losing candidates could refuse to accept their defeats. Trump, who continues to claim without evidence that his loss to Joe Biden in 2020 was rigged, has attacked fellow Republicans who do not agree — making election denialism the price of admission in many GOP primaries. More than half of all Republican nominees for federal and statewide office with powers over election administration have embraced unproven claims that fraud tainted Biden’s win, according to a Washington Post tally.
National: Election officials fighting Trump scheme to undermine midterms | Mark Z. Barabak/Los Angeles Times
This is peak busy season for those who run the country’s elections, with the Nov. 8 midterms less than 60 days away. There are polling places to be situated. Election workers to hire and train. Ballots to proofread and mail out. And, increasingly, there is a flood of lies and misinformation to combat, along with an apparent attempt by Trump cultists to undermine the election system with a deliberate sabotage campaign. In recent weeks, election offices around the country have been buried with public records requests pertaining to the 2020 vote, part of an effort led by election deniers including former President Trump’s serially indicted ex-strategist Stephen K. Bannon and the MyPillow chief executive and nut case Mike Lindell. The requests — many identically worded, cut and pasted — shouldn’t be mistaken for an honest attempt at holding public officials accountable. Rather, it is a devious attempt to gum up the country’s election machinery at the worst possible moment.
National: Breaches of voting machine data raise worries for midterms | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press
Sensitive voting system passwords posted online. Copies of confidential voting software available for download. Ballot-counting machines inspected by people not supposed to have access. The list of suspected security breaches at local election offices since the 2020 election keeps growing, with investigations underway in at least three states — Colorado, Georgia and Michigan. The stakes appeared to rise this week when the existence of a federal probe came to light involving a prominent loyalist to former President Donald Trump who has been promoting voting machine conspiracy theories across the country. While much remains unknown about the investigations, one of the most pressing questions is what it all could mean for security of voting machines with the midterm elections less than two months away. Election security experts say the breaches by themselves have not necessarily increased threats to the November voting. Election officials already assume hostile foreign governments might have the sensitive data, and so they take precautions to protect their voting systems. The more immediate concern is the possibility that rogue election workers, including those sympathetic to lies about the 2020 presidential election, might use their access to election equipment and the knowledge gained through the breaches to launch an attack from within. That could be intended to gain an advantage for their desired candidate or party, or to introduce system problems that would sow further distrust in the election results.
National: Voter challenges, records requests swamp election offices | Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press
Spurred by conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, activists around the country are using laws that allow people to challenge a voter’s right to cast a ballot to contest the registrations of thousands of voters at a time. In Iowa, Linn County Auditor Joel Miller had handled three voter challenges over the previous 15 years. He received 119 over just two days after Doug Frank, an Ohio educator who is touring the country spreading doubts about the 2020 election, swung through the state. In Nassau County in northern Florida, two residents challenged the registrations of nearly 2,000 voters just six days before last month’s primary. In Georgia, activists are dropping off boxloads of challenges in the diverse and Democratic-leaning counties comprising the Atlanta metro area, including more than 35,000 in one county late last month. Election officials say the vast majority of the challenges will be irrelevant because they contest the presence on voting rolls of people who already are in the process of being removed after they moved out of the region. Still, they create potentially hundreds of hours of extra work as the offices scramble to prepare for November’s election. “They at best overburden election officials in the run-up to an election, and at worse they lead to people being removed from the rolls when they shouldn’t be,” said Sean Morales-Doyle of The Brennan Center for Justice, which has tracked an upswing in voter challenges.
National: DHS rejects plan to protect election officials from harassment as midterms loom | Sean Lyngaas/CNN
The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency this summer turned down a multimillion-dollar proposal to protect election officials from harassment ahead of the midterm elections, multiple people familiar with the matter told CNN. The plan’s rejection comes as some DHS and cyber officials have expressed concern about their work to stem disinformation being cast as “partisan,” according to multiple people familiar with DHS policy discussions. Last month, DHS shut down its high-profile Disinformation Governance Board after Republicans criticized the expert chosen to lead the board as being overly partisan. “DHS got very spooked after the failed rollout of the Disinformation Governance Board, even though the message [from administration officials] was clear that we can’t back down, we can’t be bullied by the right,” a senior US official told CNN. The proposal, which was made by a federally funded nonprofit, also included plans to track foreign influence activity and modestly increase resources for reporting domestic mis- and disinformation related to voting. DHS officials had legal concerns about the plan’s scope and whether it could be in place for November, the people said. But the decision not to adopt the anti-harassment part of the proposal has drawn frustration from at least two election officials as their colleagues nationwide continue to face an unprecedented wave of violent threats often inspired by online misinformation.
National effort launched to safeguard poll workers and voters | Alicia Robinson/Orange County Register
With less than two months to the midterms and election signs and mailers already abundant, Orange County’s former registrar has launched a new national campaign to ensure the safety of election workers and voters in an increasingly volatile and partisan environment. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections – chaired by Neal Kelley, who retired in March, and supported by the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice – includes experts in law enforcement and election administration from around the country. Its short-term goal is to connect local law enforcement and election officials to address threats and violence against election workers and voters. Long-term, the group will look to recommend policies and legislation to address the problem more broadly. Earlier this year, a Georgia election worker and her mother testified to Congress that they had to move to new homes and were afraid of being recognized in public after former President Donald Trump and his supporters accused them publicly of meddling with local election results. A survey done this year by the Brennan Center found one in six election workers said they’ve personally received threats, and some election offices have reportedly installed surveillance cameras, hired private security and offered active shooter training after an influx of threats of violence. “There was a collective feeling among a lot of election officials across the country that the threats were increasing, the agitation was increasing as we’re heading into (2022, 2024),” Kelley said. “Some elections officials don’t know what to do, don’t know how they’ll be protected.”
Editorial: ‘A Crisis Coming’: The Twin Threats to American Democracy | David Leonhardt /The New York Times
The United States has experienced deep political turmoil several times before over the past century. The Great Depression caused Americans to doubt the country’s economic system. World War II and the Cold War presented threats from global totalitarian movements. The 1960s and ’70s were marred by assassinations, riots, a losing war and a disgraced president. These earlier periods were each more alarming in some ways than anything that has happened in the United States recently. Yet during each of those previous times of tumult, the basic dynamics of American democracy held firm. Candidates who won the most votes were able to take power and attempt to address the country’s problems. The current period is different. As a result, the United States today finds itself in a situation with little historical precedent. American democracy is facing two distinct threats, which together represent the most serious challenge to the country’s governing ideals in decades.
Rusty Bowers is a worried man. Retreating to a dark room within his suite at Arizona’s sun-baked capitol complex, he sinks into a couch, tall and slender in a purple dress shirt. With a prominent mole above his left brow, the speaker of the state’s house looks you in the eye as he talks — until the conversation turns to the subject of his fears. Then his gaze drifts and he stares into the distance, speaking of the “world of hurt” he believes his political rivals will unleash should they prevail in the midterm elections this November. Remarkably, those rivals are from his own party. Bowers is a lifelong Republican and a staunch conservative who regularly votes along party lines on issues like taxes and abortion. He holds a 92 percent rating from the NRA, a 20 percent rating from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and abysmal reviews from environmental organizations like the Sierra Club. Unlike some prominent members of the GOP, he supported former President Donald Trump throughout his term in office, though it ended on a sour note. “He did some good for this country, for which I’m grateful,” Bowers says, “but he’s unfit to serve as our president.”