‘We are clerks; we make it work’: The increasingly stressful duties of local election officials | Grace Bannasch/New Hampshire Public Radio

During the first week of mail-in voting, my office received nine misdirected ballots from Northampton voters for every one we received from Shutesbury. Either I drove 45 minutes across the Connecticut River to deliver these wandering ballots the day they arrived, or someone from the Northampton city clerk’s office made the same journey in the opposite direction. No matter what, these ballots got where they needed to be, so they could be counted. As my colleagues like to say, “We are clerks; we make it work.” But I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t exhausted, burned out and beaten down. I was appointed assistant town clerk in my hometown in 2019, and elected to the office of town clerk in 2020. In my short three years of clerkdom, I’ve witnessed — and had to adapt to — a fundamental transformation in how Massachusetts elections operate. Everything from voter registration to vote-by-mail has been changed by the pandemic.

Full Article: ‘We are clerks; we make it work’: The increasingly stressful duties of local election officials | New Hampshire Public Radio

Georgia election audit begins with dice roll to review random ballots | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With the roll of 20 colorful dice in the Georgia Capitol, election officials launched an audit of a random sample of ballots Wednesday that will be reviewed by hand across the state this week. The audit will check whether machine counts of ballots match hand tallies, showing whether the outcome was accurate. Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the secretary of state’s office, said he hopes the ballot review will prove to voters that they can trust the results of elections. “This audit is an important part of keeping that faith alive,” Sterling said. “Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, we want people to understand the state of Georgia is one of the best states, if not the best state, for fair and accessible elections.” State law requires an audit of one race every two years, and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger decided to check his own win over Democrat Bee Nguyen. It was the largest margin of victory in any statewide race, at 9.3 percentage points.

Full Article: Election audit in Georgia launches a manual review of paper ballots

National: Election deniers face especially stiff rebuke in Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania | Patrick Marley/The Washington Post

Voters rejected election deniers across the country last week. But they did so with particular verve along the Great Lakes. In Minnesota, the Democratic secretary of state defeated by a 10-point margin a Republican challenger who baselessly called the 2020 election rigged and pushed for restricting early voting. In Wisconsin, voters handed Gov. Tony Evers (D) a second term, declining to reward a candidate backed by former president Donald Trump who left open the possibility of trying to reverse the last presidential election. In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) crushed Republican Doug Mastriano, who had highlighted his willingness to decertify voting machines if he won the governorship. But perhaps the biggest statement on democracy came in Michigan, where voters by large margins rebuffed a slate of Republican election deniers running for governor, attorney general and secretary of state. They also embraced an amendment to the state constitution that expands voting rights and makes it much more difficult for officials to subvert the will of voters. In the process, they flipped the legislature with the help of new legislative maps drawn by a nonpartisan commission, giving Democrats complete control of state government for the first time in 40 years.

Full Article: Election deniers face especially stiff rebuke in Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – The Washington Post

National: Fact Check – WiFi access inside a polling place is not proof of election fraud | Reuters

Access to WiFi inside a polling place is not automatic proof of voter fraud, despite claims made online, experts told Reuters. Text circulated online ahead of the U.S. midterm elections urging voters to monitor the WiFi access outside a polling station and when inside, checking again to ensure no additional WiFi network was detectable. The post led to claims that a new WiFi network suddenly appearing from inside a polling station can lead to voter fraud. “If you find any new wifi networks that do not belong, please email your County and State Board of Elections with the name of that wifi network. Ask them to investigate,” a section of the text reads. One individual who shared the claim on Twitter said: “PROVE VOTER FRAUD WIFI !!” (here). Examples of the claim online can be found (here), (here) and (here). But the presence of a WiFi network inside a polling place is not automatic proof of nefarious activity, experts in election security told Reuters. “Network availability isn’t generally a cause for concern or proof that machines are connected to the internet,” David Levine, an elections integrity fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy – German Marshall Fund, told Reuters. “WiFi networks are everywhere,” Juan E. Gilbert, chair of the Computer & Information Science & Engineering department at the University of Florida, told Reuters. “In fact, people can carry WiFi networks with them via their phones or jetpacks, etc. As such, the presence of a WiFi network in a voting area is not an immediate concern. It is not proof that machines are connected to the internet,” Gilbert added.

Full Article: Fact Check-WiFi access inside a polling place is not proof of election fraud | Reuters

National: Lawmakers advance bill to make mail voting more transparent | Camdyn Bruce/The Hill

The House Oversight and Reform Committee advanced a measure on Thursday to make it easier to track mail-in ballots for federal elections. The Vote by Mail Tracking Act requires that all mailed ballots include a U.S. Postal Service barcode that enables tracking of each individual ballot, as well as meeting other requirements for envelope design and bear an official election mail logo. Mailed ballots have been thrust into the political spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, with millions of Americans choosing to vote from home. The 2020 general election saw record numbers of mail votes cast, and voting by mail remained popular in this year’s midterms. According to NBC, over 47 million people voted early in the 2022 midterms with 55 percent of them choosing to cast their ballot by mail.

Full Article: Lawmakers advance bill to make mail voting more transparent | The Hill

National: Former CISA director praises government’s role in election security | Ines Kagubare/The Hill

Chris Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said the government and elections officials did a “good job” at securing the midterm elections and communicating with voters on what is accurate information. Krebs, who spoke on Wednesday at an annual cyber summit in New York hosted by the Aspen Institute, said the key is to effectively convey accurate information and debunk misinformation and disinformation narratives ahead of elections.  “You can do all this stuff in the background, but you have to continue to communicate, communicate, communicate on what is happening and what [voters] should be thinking about as information is teed up,” Krebs said.  “The key here is that the prebunking is dependent on identifying the potential areas that could be exploited,” he added. In 2020, CISA created a page on its website called the Rumor Control which debunks common misinformation and disinformation narratives. Testifying before a House panel in April, CISA Director Jen Easterly told lawmakers that the website provides accurate information regarding the election, including facts about absentee ballots, so that voters “have the information they need to maintain confidence in the integrity of elections.”

Full Article: Former CISA director praises government’s role in election security | The Hill

National: Lengthy vote counts frustrate, but don’t signal problems | Christina A. Cassidy and Julie Carr Smyth/Associated Press

Four days after Election Day, with a bitter, high-profile race for Arizona governor still up in the air, Ohio’s secretary of state broke an unspoken protocol among top election officials. “Dear Arizona, need some advice on how to run an election the right way?” Frank LaRose, a Republican, chided his counterparts on Twitter. “Your process is obviously not working.” Though not as fast as most would like, the process actually was working as designed and as it has for years in a state where the vast majority of voters cast mailed ballots. What’s different is that many of the races were so close that winners couldn’t be quickly determined, a frustration that has become more common as Arizona has evolved into one of the nation’s most hotly contested political battlegrounds. The governor’s race eventually was called for the Democrat, Katie Hobbs, four days after LaRose sent his social media blast — with about 17,000 votes separating the candidates out of more than 2.5 million cast. Arizona isn’t the only state where votes were still being counted a week later. Even in Ohio, where the margins for Republican candidates were wide enough for all top races to be called on election night, counties were still tallying late-arriving mailed, military and overseas ballots nearly a week after Election Day. One state legislative race had yet to be called.

Full Article: Lengthy vote counts frustrate, but don’t signal problems | AP News

Arizona county leaders end hand-count lawsuit, cite recount | Bob Christie/Associated Press

Two Republicans who control the board in a rural southeastern Arizona county on Wednesday told a judge they want to withdraw a lawsuit they had filed just two days prior that sought to force their own elections director to hand-count all the ballots cast in-person on Election Day. The court filing and one of the GOP supervisors in Cochise County said they did not want to interfere with the likely recount in the race for Arizona attorney general. Democrat Kris Mayes was leading Republican Abraham Hamadeh by well under the recount margin as of late Wednesday afternoon. The Legislature this year changed the state’s election recount law to greatly increase the threshold for mandatory recounts. It now requires a recount when the candidates are within .5% of each other. In the attorney general race, the trigger is about 12,500 votes. Supervisor Peggy Judd told The Associated Press that she agreed to withdraw the lawsuit against Elections Director Lisa Marra that she and Supervisor Tom Crosby filed on Monday because they did not want to disrupt the statewide recount. That will be triggered once the state accepts the election certifications from all 15 Arizona counties and the statewide vote-totals are accepted.

Full Article: Arizona county leaders end hand-count lawsuit, cite recount – The Washington Post

Arizona precincts with voting problems were not overwhelmingly Republican | Lenny Bronner , Isaac Stanley-Becker and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez/The Washington Post

The voting locations that experienced problems on Election Day in Maricopa County, home to more than half of Arizona’s voters, do not skew overwhelmingly Republican, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The finding undercuts claims by some Republicans — most notably Kari Lake, the GOP nominee for governor, and former president Donald Trump — that GOP areas in the county were disproportionately affected by the problems, which involved a mishap with printers. Republicans nonetheless argue that their voters were more likely to be affected, given their tendency to vote on Election Day rather than mail in their ballots. The claims come as Lake continues to narrowly trail her rival, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and as the number of ballots remaining to be counted dwindles. Hobbs was up by 26,011 votes following the release of a fresh batch of results Sunday evening, with just over 180,000 estimated to remain. The Hobbs campaign issued a statement after the latest figures were released that called her “the unequivocal favorite to become the next Governor of Arizona.” “Katie has led since the first round of ballots were counted, and after tonight’s results, it’s clear that this won’t change,” said the statement, which was attributed to campaign manager Nicole DeMont.

Full Article: Arizona: Maricopa County precincts with voting problems were not overwhelmingly Republican – The Washington Post

Colorado: Lauren Boebert-Adam Frisch race appears headed to a recount in Congressional District 3 | Megan Verlee and Caitlyn Kim/Colorado Public Radio

The congressional race in Colorado’s 3rd District appears set to go even further into overtime. Final vote counting on Thursday has shrunk Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert’s lead over Democratic challenger Adam Frisch to fewer than a thousand votes, pushing it under the threshold for an automatic recount. Colorado law mandates a recount if the margin of votes in a race equals less than half a percent of the votes received by the leading candidate. However, it will be a while before the state makes it official — the Secretary of State officially certifies the vote count on Dec. 5, and only at that point will she order any automatic recounts. But as of Thursday afternoon, that result was looking more and more likely. Clerks in the 27 counties that make up the 3rd District have spent the day tallying their final ballots, which came from a mix of sources — military and overseas voters, ballots that were originally uncountable but were fixed by voters, and some regular ballots held back to ensure the final counts are fully anonymous.

Full Article: Lauren Boebert-Adam Frisch race appears headed to a recount in Colorado District 3 | Colorado Public Radio

Georgia Democrats sue to allow Saturday voting in runoff amid holiday dispute | Matthew Brown/The Washington Post

Democrats are suing to force Georgia election officials to allow early voting on a Saturday ahead of the Dec. 6 U.S. Senate runoff election. The suit comes in response to a determination by state officials that law forbids voting right after Thanksgiving and a state holiday that once honored Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The state’s decision, announced over the weekend, prompted a lawsuit from the Democrat fighting for reelection, Sen. Raphael G. Warnock, as well as the Georgia Democratic Party and the Democrats’ Senate campaign arm. They argue in their suit that current guidance “applies only to primary and general elections, not runoffs.” Without action by the courts, the suit states, Georgia voters “will be deprived of their right to vote during the advance voting period permitted by Georgia law.” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) responded to the lawsuit Tuesday morning by accusing Democrats of “seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences” and “muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law.”

Full Article: Democrats sue over Georgia early voting amid dispute over Robert E. Lee holiday – The Washington Post

Nevada high court rejects plea to stop county’s hand-count | Gabe Stern/Associated Press

The Nevada Supreme Court denied an emergency writ from two voting rights groups on Monday that sought to shut down a controversial hand-count of all paper ballots in rural Nye County, meaning that the county clerk can continue the hand-counting of ballots that have been counted by machine tabulators. “Having reviewed the petition and answer, we conclude that petitioner has not demonstrated that our extraordinary intervention is warranted at this time,” the justices said in their decision. Officials in the county first started a hand-counting process on Oct. 26 but the Nevada Supreme Court ordered it shut down a day later, siding with the American Civil Liberties Union’s objections to volunteers reading election results aloud. Nye County resumed a revised version of its hand-counting last week after Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske ordered the county to halt its counting until after polls closed. While Nye County commission members have shown support for scrapping voting machines completely, machine tabulators are the primary counting method for this election, and Nye has already reported the results of nearly 21,000 ballots cast. Nye County, home to about 34,000 registered voters, is the most prominent county in the U.S. to change its vote-counting process in reaction to conspiracy theories about election fraud tied to voting machines, though there has been no credible evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of machines.

Full Article: Nevada high court rejects plea to stop county’s hand-count | AP News

Nevada: Nye County clerk tempers hand count expectations, calls it a ‘test’ | Brett Forrest/KSNV

One day after Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf finally began his controversial hand count plan, he appeared to step back from previous claims and said it amounted to a “test.” “In any system conversion, if you wanted to change, you wouldn’t just shut off the old system and turn on the new one,” said Kampf on Friday. “You would test both in parallel to see how they work. And that’s been our intention all along.” … “We took the volunteers we had and put them to work. Unfortunately, you get a lot of mistakes when you get people in our demographic,” he said. “In this town, 85% of the people are 56 years and older. Sometimes even I make mistakes, you know, my ripe age of 68. So we had to send back a lot of votes for ballots for recount. But again, that’s part of the quality control process is to make sure that we get the vote right.” Kampf said each volunteer works as long as they can, but he planned many would be working long hours and through the weekend. They take breaks and on Friday, Kampf had pizza delivered for lunch. After the first day, Kampf estimated there was a 25% error rate. He admitted it was “very, very high,” but remained optimistic it would improve after each day. As for the volunteers who couldn’t seem to keep up or grasp the process, Kampf said he would thank them for the support, but send them on their way.

Full Article: Nye County clerk tempers hand count expectations, calls it a ‘test’ | KSNV

New Jersey: All Election Day votes are counted in Mercer County after mishap, but questions remain | Katie Sobko/northjersey.com

All ballots cast in person on Election Day have been counted in Mercer County, officials said this week. But that doesn’t include more than 5,200 provisional, 700 emergency and an unknown number of mail-in ballots that still need to be reviewed to decide a handful of local races. “The Office of the Mercer County Superintendent of Elections will continue to work through this process to ensure that all votes cast are counted,” Nathaniel Walker, the Mercer County superintendent of elections, said in a statement. “We remain committed to ensuring the integrity of our elections.” That announcement came a week after problems scanning ballots in voting machines on Election Day prompted voters to use backup paper ballots and, two days later, election officials won a court order to open voting machines to look for potentially missing ballots. Walker did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the search. “Everything’s been accounted for, and they counted all of the Election Day ballots. They are currently counting provisional ballots and vote-by-mail ballots … and emergency ballots as well,” Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello said. “This is a report that was made to me” by Walker’s office, she added. Sollami-Covello said she wasn’t involved in the court order last week.

Full Article: NJ elections: Mercer County live ballots counted, questions remain

Pennsylvania: How ten-sided dice play into state’s post-election audit | Justin Sweitzer/City & State

On Thursday, officials at the Pennsylvania Department of State rolled the dice. Literally. To kick off the state’s post-election audit of this month’s race for governor, department staff rolled 20 ten-sided dice to create a “seed number” used to randomly select batches of ballots to audit. That seed number will then be entered into Arlo, an audit software tool used to select random batches of ballots for auditors in each county to manually review. The auditors will then conduct a hand tally of the votes cast for governor in each batch, according to Department of State officials. The department will then compile the results of the audit and determine whether the statistical criteria needed to confirm the election results has been met. The audit, known as a risk-limiting audit or RLA, involves auditing a randomly-selected batch of ballots to confirm the outcome of the election. The number of ballots audited depends on how wide the margin was in a particular race.

Full Article: How ten-sided dice play into Pennsylvania’s post-election audit – City & State Pennsylvania

South Dakota: Tabulator catches human error in Tripp County post-election audit | Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight

The case of Tripp County’s 75 “missing” ballots has been solved, County Auditor Barb Desersa said this week. The discrepancy emerged last week after a hand count of ballots in the only county in South Dakota in nearly 20 years to perform one. The mismatch does not have any impact on election results. Tripp County officials were prepared to ask for a court order to reopen a ballot box to find the answer, but the question was resolved without one. The human error explanation for the mismatch, it turned out, was right there in the records from the vote tabulator – the machine that county commissioners had ordered Desersa not to use to tally the county’s official, reportable Election Day results. A Thursday vote canvas revealed a discrepancy in a single precinct between the number of official, completed ballots recorded in the poll book and the number of audited ballots in one precinct. Several races had to be recounted by Tripp County’s volunteer counting boards – sometimes three or four times on election night. The last precinct to come in, Colome, had mismatched numbers according to the tabulator audit the next day. Desersa ran the audit to prove to her county commissioners and residents that the machine was accurate. The mismatched numbers prove the point, Desersa said Monday.

Full Article: Tabulator catches human error in Tripp County post-election audit – South Dakota Searchlight

Texas: Election Day Problems Inflame Voter Fraud Conspiracies in Houston | Michael Barajas/Bolts

Some of the most notorious election deniers in Texas rallied outside the Harris County government building in downtown Houston Tuesday, while dozens of angry people waited inside for their turn at the mic to chastise county commissioners and local election officials. Among the shouting and calls for order during the meeting, one woman issued a biblical denunciation, pulling from the Book of Ezekiel: “The rulers will be helpless and in despair, trembling in fear… I will bring on them the evil they have done to others and they will receive the punishment they so richly deserve.” Another woman was even more cryptic. “You guys have been caught, you just don’t know it,” she said without elaboration. “You have no idea what’s coming your way.” At issue were the problems that voters experienced in Texas’s largest county last week. At least one polling place opened late, and some ran out of ballot paper. It remains unclear how widespread the problems were, but the Houston Chronicle reported that roughly three percent of the county’s 782 polling places experienced ballot paper shortages last week. Those problems followed others that occurred during the March primaries and ultimately forced the resignation of Harris County’s previous elections administrator and fueled baseless conservative conspiracies about voter fraud. Last week’s Election Day glitches have further inflamed bogus claims of stolen elections while also exacerbating an ongoing feud between state GOP leaders and Texas’ largest and increasingly left-leaning county.

Source: Election Day Problems Inflame Voter Fraud Conspiracies in Houston | Bolts

Texas elections official keeps the peace with right-wing voting activists | Natalia Contreras/The Texas Tribune

Aubree Campbell, 33, a poll watcher from Tarrant County, is, by now, pretty well known among Texas election administrators. The redhead and self-described “metalhead” basically has many of them on speed dial. “Are your ballots prenumbered sequentially beginning with the number one according to the Texas election code 52.062 and 52.009? You’re sitting in violation of the state and national Constitution. Do you not know the code and the law off the top of your head like I do?” she asked one official, rapid-fire, in an audio recording she posted online in April. Her social media channels are full of posts and self-recorded videos documenting these often charged interactions, carefully monitored by a small but loyal following that reacts on every post. She volunteers in elections routinely, has trained dozens of other poll watchers and considers herself a knowledgeable watchdog of Texas elections administration. There’s a single elections administrator in Texas who, she says, “makes other election administrators look like idiots” — Heider Garcia, who oversees elections in her home county. It’s an interesting choice. Garcia, in fact, has received more rancor from voter fraud activists than most of the more than 200 people running elections across this state. They’ve accused him of contributing to voter fraud in other countries. Fringe activists groups shared his home address online, along with racist messages and death threats, making him fear for his life and the safety of his wife and small children.

Full Article: Texas elections official keeps the peace with right-wing voting activists | The Texas Tribune

Wisconsin man charged with terrorism in Election Day knife incident | Lawrence Andrea/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A West Bend man who police say entered a city polling place last Tuesday with a knife and demanded staff “stop the voting” had been arrested just days prior and was free on a signature bond for reportedly posting hand-written racist and threatening political messages downtown and sending photos of those notes to Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. Prosecutors in Washington County have since charged Michael J. Miecielica, 38, with more than 12 counts, including making “terrorist threats” and using threats to discourage voting — both felonies. He is also charged with endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct, according to court records. Most of the charges stem from an Election Day incident in which Miecielica reportedly entered the West Bend Community Memorial Library with a hunting knife in an attempt to stop voting at the polling location inside. Body camera footage from the incident published by CBS58 shows an officer pointing his gun at a man in red pants and a maroon T-shirt with a gray backpack as the officer tells the man to “drop the knife” and get on the ground near the entrance to the library. “I have box cutters in my backpack, like four,” the man told officers in the footage. He also said he had three or four beers that day and that “I probably should have a psych (evaluation).”

Full Article: Wisconsin man charged with terrorism in Election Day knife incident