National: Experts warn of ‘serious threats’ for 2024 from election equipment software breaches | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

A group of nearly two dozen computer scientists, election security experts, and voter advocacy organizations has written a letter urging federal agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, to investigate efforts to access voting system software in several states. The letter, organized by the left-leaning group Free Speech for People, outlines potential security threats and risks to the 2024 election and beyond. The experts request a federal probe and risk assessment of voting machines used across the country, emphasizing that breaches affected equipment made by two companies representing over 70% of votes cast in the U.S. Read Article

Talk to the hand – the current state of the push to count ballots by hand | M. Mindy Moretti/Electionline Weekly

Probably since the inception of the first voting machine, there have been skeptics. However, that skepticism — by and large unfounded — reached a fever pitch in 2020 and has manifested itself in a rise in calls from some factors to count ballots by hand. Elections officials, experts and advocates have all largely come out against the idea of hand-counting ballots other than in limited circumstances. “Machine counting is generally twice as accurate as hand-counting and a much simpler and faster process,” said Stephen Ansolabehere, a professor of government at Harvard University who has conducted research on hand-counts told the Associated Press. In one study in New Hampshire, he found poll workers who counted ballots by hand were off by 8%. The error rate for machine counting runs about 0.5%, Ansolabehere said. Most recently, Verified Voting released a report, Election Night Hand Counts: Realities and Risks. The report notes that claims that election night hand counts are the only way to confirm election outcomes are being used as a tool to spread disinformation about vote counting systems. Read Article

National: A surge in violent threats against US public officials is disrupting American democracy | Rob Kuznia, Majlie de Puy Kamp, Alex Leeds Matthews, Kyung Lah, Anna-Maja Rappard and Yahya Abou-Ghazala/CNN

As the 2024 campaign revs up – and on the heels of indictments against the Republican frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, who has verbally attacked some of his courtroom adversaries – the ongoing onslaught of violent messages, particularly to federal lawmakers and other public officials, threatens to disrupt the American machinery of government. … Threats have also recently targeted election officials. Last month, staff in election offices in several states received suspicious letters. One of them, in Washington state, contained fentanyl. … CNN reviewed more than 540 cases involving people who have been federally charged with making threats against public officials or institutions between January 2013 and November 2023. Read Article

National: Voter advocates, conservative activists brace for 2024 election showdowns | Julia Harte and Tim Reid/Reuters

As the U.S. approaches the 2024 election, various groups are gearing up to address threats to voters’ rights and concerns about potential electoral fraud. A non-partisan coalition plans to recruit over 20,000 volunteers for its “election protection” effort, while the Republican National Committee aims to train tens of thousands of poll watchers through its newly launched “Election Integrity Department.” Despite widespread rejection of claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump continues to assert baseless allegations. Recruitment drives are ongoing, and election officials anticipate potential clashes reminiscent of the 2020 election, prompting increased preparedness for disruptions. Read Article

National: America’s Election Officials Fight Disinformation and Death Threats Ahead of 2024 | Allison Mollenkamp/Just Security

Election administrators in the United States, including Karen Brinson Bell, Executive Director of the State Board of Elections in North Carolina, are facing unprecedented challenges, including death threats, harassment, and a barrage of public records requests, as they prepare for the 2024 elections. The threats are linked to the persistent disinformation surrounding the 2020 election, and administrators are also grappling with legal changes to voting systems, loss of institutional knowledge due to staff turnover, and the need to educate voters about evolving election rules. Efforts to counter disinformation include engaging with the public through various channels, but the increasing demands and hostile environment are taking a toll on election officials, leading to high turnover rates and concerns about the upcoming elections. Read Article

National: Ignoring questions about election problems will fuel doubts and baseless allegations | Jessica Huseman/Votebeat

The aftermath of the 2023 Election Day has seen increased scrutiny and baseless allegations of fraud, with figures like Abe Hamadeh, a Republican candidate in Arizona, tweeting about errors in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to support claims of mass fraud and errors. There’s a growing spotlight on county election administration, exemplified by incidents like widespread ballot-printing errors in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. The responses to such errors vary, with Northampton County responding promptly and providing clarifications, while Hinds County, Mississippi, faced ballot shortages and offered inadequate explanations. Read Article

National: Voting companies go to court over 2020 election claims as Trump returns to the ballot  | Jane C. Timm/NBC

Voting machine companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic are set to return to court in 2024, filing separate lawsuits alleging defamation against Fox News, Newsmax, Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. The litigation could involve depositions or testimony from former Trump aides and allies, reveal new evidence about false claims of election rigging, and remind voters of Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. The trials, including Dominion’s case against Fox News and Newsmax, and Smartmatic’s case against Lindell and Newsmax, are scheduled for 2024, potentially affecting the election season. Read Article

Arizona: Cochise County supervisors face a legal battle and possible fines. Who will pay for it? | Sasha Hupka/Arizona Republic

Cochise County supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd, facing charges related to interference in the 2022 election, will not have their legal costs covered by taxpayers, according to Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre. The supervisors, who voted to delay certification of the vote last year, will be personally responsible for legal fees, potential fines, and hiring their attorneys. The charges stem from their actions on the board, but they are indicted as individuals, making it a criminal case. While some county officials receive legal fee coverage through insurance, Cochise County’s insurance pool reportedly only covers expenses related to civil litigation, leaving Crosby and Judd to seek alternative sources for their defense costs. Read Article

Connecticut scrutinizing new voting machines | Paul Hughes/Republican-American

Connecticut is evaluating four voting systems to replace the AccuVote OS scanners and IVS Ballot Marking Devices currently in use in the state. With $25 million in funding released for the purchase of new machines, four manufacturers – ClearBallot, ES&S, LHS Associates (representing Dominion Voting Systems) and Smartmatic – responded to the state’s solicitation for proposals by the October 29th deadline. The State hopes to use the new voting system in the November 2024 elections, with a contingency plan for a pilot program if necessary. Read Article

Michigan: Trump staffer allegedly urged rioting to obstruct Detroit vote count | Craig Mauger/The Detroit News

Federal prosecutors allege that a campaign employee of former President Donald Trump “encouraged rioting” to obstruct the counting of votes in Detroit after the November 2020 election, drawing a direct connection between the events and the Trump campaign. The allegation is part of a court filing in a criminal case against Trump, focusing on his efforts to overturn the election. The court document indicates that a Trump campaign staffer exchanged text messages encouraging rioting when they learned the vote count was trending in favor of Biden. Read Article

Mississippi: Voting rights groups push for answers from election officials about ballot shortages | Michael Goldberg/Associated Press

One month after Mississippi’s November statewide election, voting rights groups are expressing concern over a lack of information from election officials in Hinds County regarding problems that led to shortages of ballots at polling precincts. Civil rights organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, have requested meetings and more details about why the wrong ballots were ordered, causing shortages during the competitive governor’s race and other down-ballot contests. The groups claim that their inquiries have been largely met with silence from the Hinds County Election Commissioners, who have not immediately responded to questions. Read Article

Missouri GOP Secretary of State candidate wants all ballots counted by hand | Kurt Erickson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Missouri State Senator Denny Hoskins, a Republican running for the state’s top election official position, has filed legislation for the upcoming 2024 legislative session to require all ballots to be cast in paper form and hand-counted, repealing current state law allowing the use of automatic tabulating equipment. Critics of the proposed legislation, including fellow Republicans, express concerns about increased errors, delays, and additional costs associated with hand-counting ballots, emphasizing the accuracy and efficiency of electronic tabulation. Read Article

Six Nevada Republicans charged with casting fake electoral votes in 2020 | Rachel Leingang/The Guardian

Six Republicans in Nevada, who falsely claimed to be presidential electors in 2020, were charged with two felonies each by the state’s attorney general. The charges include “offering a false instrument for filing” and “uttering a forged instrument” for sending documents claiming to be the state’s electors. This follows similar cases in Georgia and Michigan, with other states still investigating. Read Article

Pennsylvania: Exodus of election officials in Luzerne County rings alarm for US democracy | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Luzerne County has experienced a high level of turnover in its election office, facing unintentional human errors, which, in turn, contribute to public distrust in elections. The loss of institutional knowledge, combined with the increasing lack of experience, creates a cycle of errors and distrust, further pushing officials to leave. To address these challenges, Luzerne County is working on improving internal election processes and rebuilding trust in its election system. Read Article

Texas: Republican push for hand counting leads to uncertainty about Travis County’s 2024 primaries | Nina Hernandez/Austin Monitor

The Travis County Republican Party’s consideration of changes to the 2024 primary election, including hand counting of early vote totals and discontinuation of countywide vote centers, has led to concerns and a lack of agreement with the Travis County Democratic Party. The potential changes, driven by conservative activists, could impact voter convenience, increase costs, and create confusion. Read Article

Wisconsin Trump electors settle lawsuit, agree Biden won in 2020 | Patrick Marley/The Washington Post

In a civil settlement, 10 Republicans in Wisconsin who falsely claimed to be presidential electors in 2020, submitting certificates to Congress asserting that Donald Trump won the state, have agreed to withdraw their inaccurate filings, acknowledge Joe Biden won the presidency, and not serve as presidential electors in 2024 or any election where Trump is on the ballot. The settlement represents the first time pro-Trump electors have agreed to revoke their false filings and refrain from repeating their actions in future presidential elections. Read Article

Wisconsin: Republican lawmakers propose abolishing Elections Commission, giving duties to the Secretary of State | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A group of Republican lawmakers is proposing to dissolve Wisconsin’s bipartisan elections commission and transfer its duties to the secretary of state’s office, currently held by Democrat Sarah Godlewski, ahead of the 2024 presidential election. The proposal requires Godlewski to take over election administration by June 30, though her actions would be subject to approval by GOP-controlled legislative committees overseeing election issues. This move is part of the Republican-controlled Legislature’s efforts to overhaul election administration in Wisconsin, with critics arguing that it is an attempt to interfere with or control election outcomes. Read Article

Election Night Hand Counts: Realities and Risks | Verified Voting

A new report published by Verified Voting examines misguided proposals to eliminate all vote counting machines and move to hand counting all ballots on election night that would have far reaching implications for our trust in our elections. Elections are a combination of people, processes, and technology. Human oversight of election processes is integral to ensuring that voting technology works correctly and that votes are counted as cast. “Hand to eye” examination of ballots in audits and recounts are quality control checks that carefully and transparently assess that voting technology got the election outcome right—or correct the outcome if it did not—and give voters justified confidence in election outcomes. But that best practice does not translate to humans hand counting millions of votes on election night. The paper examines the risks of full election night hand counts, explains when hand counts should be used, and emphasizes why common-sense best practices that employ voting machines and post-election audits make our election outcomes verifiable and resilient. Read Report

Pennsylvania: Voting machine trouble in Nothhampton County triggers alarm ahead of 2024 | John Sakellariadis/Politico

In Northampton County, where programming errors on ExpressVote XL voting machines raised concerns about the integrity of elections, the county faces a challenge to restore voter confidence ahead of the upcoming presidential election. In 2019 the machines resulted in undercounting votes in a local judges’ race, and a recent glitch in the same machines triggered a backlash. Despite officials claiming the errors did not affect outcomes, skeptics question the reliability of the machines and call for their replacement. The incident highlights the broader issue of election security and the delicate balance officials must strike in addressing problems without fueling conspiracy theories. Read Article

National: In face of threats, election workers say: ‘You are not disrupting the democratic process’ | Matt Vasilogambros/Stateline

Local election workers across the nation are facing increased threats and intimidation, with lies about rigged elections and the 2020 presidential outcome fueling conspiracy theories. In response to these ongoing threats, state lawmakers in several states, including Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, have enacted new protections for election workers and increased penalties for those who harass or threaten them. However, the exodus of election officials due to safety concerns raises concerns about the potential for errors and increased vulnerability to conspiracy theories. Read Article

National: Ballot shortages are rare in U.S. elections, but here’s why they sometimes happen | Ashley Lopez/NPR

Ballot shortages at some polling locations in Mississippi, along with instances in Ohio and Texas, underscore the challenge election officials face in determining the number of ballots needed. In Mississippi, a surge in voter turnout caught officials unprepared, resulting in shortages, long lines, and some individuals walking away. Determining how many ballots to print is described as an “inexact science,” involving estimates based on past turnout. The costs of mistakes can be high, with states like Mississippi having laws about the minimum number of ballots to print, leading to potential waste. The absence of early voting or no-excuse absentee voting in some states complicates the task, emphasizing the importance of accurate planning to safeguard election integrity. Read Article

National: How election officials are planning to avoid a repeat of 2020’s slow vote count | Zach Montellaro/Politico

In preparation for the 2024 elections, several battleground states in the United States are taking measures to speed up the counting of votes to avoid the prolonged uncertainty experienced in 2020. New laws and procedures aim to facilitate quicker counting and processing, minimizing the time between polls closing and unofficial results being announced. States are allowing more pre-processing of mail ballots before Election Day, enhancing efficiency and expediting the release of results. While some states have made significant changes to improve the speed of ballot counting, others, such as Pennsylvania, still face challenges and partisan disputes. The goal is to reduce the period of uncertainty, limiting the potential for misinformation and false claims about the election outcome. Read Article

National: Federal government stops helping Big Tech spot foreign meddling amid GOP legal threats | Naomi Nix and Cat Zakrzewski/The Washington Post

The U.S. government has ceased notifying social networks, including Meta, about foreign disinformation campaigns on their platforms, disrupting a longstanding practice aimed at preventing interference in American politics. This change, attributed to a conservative legal campaign challenging initiatives established after the 2016 election, involves a reduction in communications about global influence campaigns. The shift is linked to a July ruling limiting the Biden administration’s communications with tech platforms in response to a lawsuit, Missouri v. Biden, which alleges that coordination violates the First Amendment. The legal uncertainty is causing foreign policy officials to hesitate in their communications with tech companies. Read Article

National: Ahead of 2024 election, Meta worries about lack of information on top-tier nation-state covert operations | AJ Vicens/CyberScoop

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has warned that foreign governments, particularly Russia, Iran and China, are likely to continue running inauthentic messaging campaigns via fake social media accounts leading up to elections worldwide in 2024. In a new report, Meta officials expressed concern that the U.S. government has stopped proactively sharing information with the company and other social networking platforms, which has been a crucial source of information about major, nation-state influence operations in the past. Meta’s report also highlighted its efforts to combat inauthentic accounts and campaigns, pointing out that it had identified and neutralized three covert influence campaigns in the third quarter, two from China and one from Russia. Read Article

Arizona: Two Cochise County supervisors indicted for refusing to certify midterm election | Jen Fifield/Votebeat

Cochise County Supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd, both Republicans, have been indicted for conspiracy and interference with an election officer, both felonies, by an Arizona grand jury. The charges stem from their refusal to certify the county’s election by the Nov. 28, 2022 deadline, as required by state law, and allegedly conspiring to delay the canvass of votes. The indictment claims they knowingly interfered with the Arizona Secretary of State’s ability to complete the statewide canvass. Read Article

Arizona: ‘The poison continues to spread’: legal losses fail to quell election denial hotbed | Rachel Leingang/The Guardian

In Cochise County the aftermath of two Republican supervisors, Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby, questioning the integrity of elections and refusing to certify results has led to significant consequences. The county, facing legal costs amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, has witnessed changes in its elections department leadership, and it has become a focal point for far-right election fervor, featuring conspiracy theories and attempts to limit voting access. Despite legal losses, election denialism persists in the county, with Crosby crowdfunding for legal support, and efforts to recall him falling short. The county’s struggles have deterred other Arizona counties from adopting similar approaches. Read Article

Arkansas Attorney General rejects proposed measure to hand count elections | Antoinette Grajeda/Arkansas Advocate

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has rejected two proposed constitutional amendments aimed at removing voting machines from the state’s election process. The proposed amendments called for hand-marked, hand-counted paper ballots and specified absentee ballot procedures. Griffin cited reasons such as “partisan coloring language” and ambiguities in the proposals for rejecting their popular names and ballot titles. The group behind the amendments, Restore Election Integrity Arkansas, plans to revise and resubmit the proposals, which would then require collecting signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot. Read Article

Michigan Governor signs election law overhaul that aims to prevent ‘chaos’ | Jonathan Oosting/Bridge Michigan

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a series of election bills into law, touting them as measures to boost democratic participation and prevent chaos in the event of disputed elections. Among other provisions, the new laws expand voter registration, criminalize poll worker intimidation, regulate political ads using artificial intelligence, and tighten the election certification process. Read Article

Nevada: Former Trump attorney to cooperate with investigators in fake elector probe | Tabitha Mueller and Eric Neugeboren/The Nevada Independent

A former attorney for President Donald Trump, Kenneth Chesebro, who played a role in the submission of fraudulent slates of electors in Nevada and other swing states after the 2020 presidential election, has agreed to meet with Nevada officials investigating the false electors. Chesebro is cooperating with investigators as part of the state’s probe into the fake elector scheme, which involved falsely pledging Nevada’s electoral votes to Trump. The investigation focuses on potential charges related to filing false documents, with a deadline for charges under Nevada law approaching on December 14, the three-year anniversary of the fake electors’ meeting in Carson City. Read Article

New Hampshire Supreme Court case about ballot-counting machines draws a crowd | David Brooks/The Concord Monitor

An Auburn man, Daniel Richard, representing himself, has argued before the New Hampshire Supreme Court that ballot-counting machines shouldn’t be used at polling places due to a lack of proper legal foundation in the state’s constitution. Richard contends that the use of such machines requires approval in the state constitution and wants their use forbidden, along with alterations to state election laws. He claims that all absentee ballots cast in the state since 1979 are “defective.” Supporters, including those critical of ballot-counting machines, gathered for the oral arguments, while attorneys for the state and Auburn town dispute Richard’s points, noting no evidence of injury due to the machines. Read Article