National: Electronic pollbook security raises concerns going into 2024 | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

They were blamed for long lines in Los Angeles during California’s 2020 presidential primary, triggered check-in delays in Columbus, Ohio, a few months later and were at the center of former President Donald Trump’s call for supporters to protest in Detroit during last November’s midterms. High-profile problems involving electronic pollbooks have opened the door for those peddling election conspiracies and underscore the critical role the technology plays in whether voting runs smoothly. Russia and Iran already have demonstrated interest in accessing the systems. Despite their importance and potential vulnerabilities, national standards for the security and reliability of electronic pollbooks do not exist and efforts underway to develop them may not be ready or widely adopted in time for the 2024 presidential election. “We have a trust issue in elections. The more we can say there are standards that equipment must be tested to, the better,” said Larry Norden, an election security expert with the Brennan Center for Justice. “It’s like a seal of approval that really doesn’t exist right now.” Poll workers use electronic pollbooks to check in voters. They typically are a tablet or laptop computer that accesses an electronic list of registered voters with names, addresses and precinct information, with some doing so through an internet connection.

Full Article: Electronic pollbook security raises concerns going into 2024 | AP News

National: Election officials say democracy is still at risk in 2024: ‘The gun is still loaded’ | Jane C. Timm/NBC

The November midterms gave election officials and pro-democracy advocates their first sigh of relief in years: The election system they’d spent years defending and shoring up operated almost seamlessly, and most of the election deniers who threatened to disrupt it were defeated. … “The extreme rhetoric is not stopping,” said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who chairs the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, a group that led the charge in battleground states against election denialism. “It just led to a little girl having bullets shoot through her wall in New Mexico because someone was mad at her mom because they thought that she rigged an election, right? I really do not think we’re out of the woods.” Election experts, pro-democracy advocates and secretaries of state who defeated election deniers said in interviews that while democracy defenders have won a key battle, the existential threat to American democracy remains. “In some ways, it was just a dress rehearsal for the 2024 presidential election,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said. In November, he defeated Republican Kim Crockett, a Trump-endorsed candidate who said the 2020 election was rigged.

Full Article: Election officials say democracy is still at risk in 2024

Arizona election ‘audit’ full of infighting, deceit, messages show | yan Randazzo/Arizona Republic

Thousands of new documents The Arizona Republic obtained from Cyber Ninjas, the obscure company state Senate Republicans hired to conduct a partisan “audit” of the 2020 election, show the endeavor was fraught with conflict and confusion. The contractors confided they didn’t know Arizona election law when they were hired, struggled to pay bills and raise money, fought over what to report to the Senate, got deeply sidetracked by a film about their effort, and consistently were in touch with people who tried to concoct ways to keep former President Trump in office after his election loss. Among the most revealing details in the new documents are that the lead contractor reached out to people close to Trump to ask for money to conduct the supposedly objective “audit,” and others involved communicated with the former president as well. The Republic and a left-leaning watchdog group called American Oversight sued the Senate and Cyber Ninjas for emails, texts and other communications from the project and have received batches of documents for more than a year. Doug Logan, the CEO at now-defunct Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, which former Senate President Karen Fann chose to direct the work, has continued to fight the release of all of his communications, which a judge said were subject to disclosure. But facing a $50,000-a-day fine imposed more than a year ago, he recently turned over thousands of texts and Signal messages.

Full Article: Arizona election ‘audit’ full of infighting, deceit, messages show

National: Election officials ready themselves for the next wave of Trump followers | Zach Montellaro/Politico

Hundreds of local election officials across the country are about to confront a political challenge putting their management skills and their campaign chops to the test: Administering the 2024 presidential vote while running for reelection themselves. Donald Trump acolytes galvanized by the former president’s false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from him piled into last year’s campaigns for state election officer positions. And although Democrats and mainstream Republicans defeated all of those candidates in key battleground states like Michigan, Arizona and elsewhere, far more races for local election positions there and in other states will be up for grabs next year. The slate of below-the-radar campaigns will test how much money and attention will be available for these critical roles in the midst of a presidential race. “The concerns about being primaried is absolutely on the mind of very dedicated and very middle-of-the-road, nonpartisan-functioning” election officials in Florida, said Mark Earley, the election supervisor in Leon County, Fla., a blue-leaning county in the state’s deep-red Panhandle.

Full Article: Election officials ready themselves for the next wave of Trump followers – POLITICO

National: Elections Stayed Secure in 2022, but Trouble Could Return in 2024 | Carl Smith/Governing

Brianna Lennon, the clerk for Boone County, Mo., works in a state where harassment and threats have not escalated to the point that local election officials fear for their safety. That doesn’t mean her office doesn’t get calls from voters who are angry about election results, just that they are likely to be upset about outcomes in other states. Lennon, who co-hosts a national podcast on election administration, is hearing more and more about security worries. “It’s really dominating the conversation amongst election officials,” she says. “It used to be that we just talked about cybersecurity, but now we talk about physical safety.” Midterm elections were free of the election-related violence some had feared. In part, this may have been a consequence of federal investigations in response to events on Jan. 6, which have resulted in charges against almost 1,000 individuals, including leaders of groups promoting violence.

Full Article: Elections Stayed Secure in 2022, but Trouble Could Return in 2024

National: Election-denying lawmakers hold key election oversight roles | Marc Levy and Jonathan Cooper/Associated Press

Republican lawmakers who have spread election conspiracy theories and falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential outcome was rigged are overseeing legislative committees charged with setting election policy in two major political battleground states. Divided government in Pennsylvania and Arizona means that any voting restrictions those GOP legislators propose is likely to fail. Even so, the high-profile appointments give the lawmakers a platform to cast further doubt on the integrity of elections in states that will be pivotal in selecting the next president in 2024. Awarding such plum positions to lawmakers who have repeated conspiracies and spread misinformation cuts against more than two years of evidence showing there were no widespread problems or fraud in the last presidential election. It also would appear to run counter to the message delivered in the November midterm elections, when voters rejected election-denying candidates running for top offices in presidential battleground states. At the same time, many mainstream Republicans are trying to move past the lies told by former President Donald Trump and his allies about his loss to President Joe Biden.

Full Article: Election-denying lawmakers hold key election oversight roles | AP News

National: GOP report shows plan to ramp up focus on disproven election fraud claims | Amy Gardner and Isaac Arnsdorf/The Washington Post

A new internal report prepared by the Republican National Committee proposes creating a permanent infrastructure in every state to ramp up “election integrity” activities in response to perceptions within GOP ranks of widespread fraud and abuse in the way the country selects its leaders. The report, prepared by the RNC’s “National Election Integrity Team” and obtained by The Washington Post, reveals the degree to which Republicans continue to trade on former president Donald Trump’s false claims that Democrats and their allies rigged his defeat in 2020. The report suggests building a massive new party organization involving state-level “election integrity officers” and intensive new training models for poll workers and observers — all based on unsubstantiated claims that Democrats have implemented election procedures that allow for rigged votes. Yet the report also acknowledges that the GOP’s obsession with election fraud has cost the party, most notably in 2021, when mistrust in elections contributed to a drop in Republican turnout in two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia, costing the party its Senate majority.

Full Article: GOP report shows plan to ramp up focus on disproven election fraud claims – The Washington Post

Arizona Republicans try again to force ‘impossible’ hand counts of elections and a return to precinct voting | Caitlin Sievers/AZ Mirror

Arizona Republicans have taken another step in their attempt to completely overhaul elections in the Grand Canyon State, with a proposed bill that would force hand counts in the state’s elections, a practice that elections experts say would be logistically impossible. The measure to ban votes from being counted with electronic tabulators — equipment used in every Arizona city and county, and in virtually every election office across the nation — stems from a demand from constituents requiring hand counts of election results because of their general mistrust of voting machines, said Rep. Cory McGarr, R-Marana. A false belief that electronic ballot tabulators are designed to change votes so Republican candidates lose has become increasingly popular since President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. Believers in the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump began demanding hand counts following that election, and this isn’t the first time such a bill has been proposed in the Arizona legislature. Jen Marson, a lobbyist for the Arizona Association of Counties, had a laundry list of questions for McGarr about his House Bill 2307, since it does not include any specifics about how the hand counts would work. McGarr said he didn’t have any suggestions for how to handle the hand count but was sure that the counties could “figure that out.” “This is impossible,” Marson told the committee.

Full Article: Republicans try again to force ‘impossible’ hand counts of elections and a return to precinct voting

Colorado’s clerks hope they’ve turned a corner on election disinformation: ‘The temperature has gone down a little bit’ | Bente Birkeland/Colorado Public Radio

The last few years have been tough ones for the officials who run Colorado’s elections; in the wake of the 2020 election they’ve endured threats and hostility, had to push back against misinformation and disinformation, and been left always wondering — what comes next? This week, with the 2022 midterm election in the rearview, county clerks met for their winter conference in Colorado Springs and many said they’re breathing a bit of a sigh of relief that election deniers lost momentum electorally and no outside disruptions impacted a smooth, fair and accurate election process. “I wasn’t feeling hopeful, but then after the election, I do feel like we’ve made progress,” said Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, a Democrat from Salida, about fighting disinformation. “I thought it would happen at some point, but maybe not this quickly. I do feel that the temperature has gone down a little bit.”

Full Article: ‘The temperature has gone down a little bit’: Colorado’s clerks hope they’ve turned a corner on election disinformation | Colorado Public Radio

Georgia: Judge considers whether voter challenges are intimidation | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge questioned Wednesday whether sweeping challenges to the eligibility of hundreds of thousands of Georgia voters amounted to voter intimidation by Texas-based True the Vote, a conservative organization that has promoted unproven claims of election fraud.But an attorney for True the Vote responded that Georgia laws allow residents to cast doubt on individuals who might have moved away, and the group didn’t confront or discourage anyone from casting a ballot.U.S. District Judge Steve Jones is considering whether True the Vote’s effort to challenge 364,000 voters before Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs in early 2021 went too far. He didn’t immediately rule following a court hearing in Gainesville. County election officials threw out almost all the challenges, but the lawsuit alleges that mass challenges amounted to a violation of the Voting Rights Act’s protections against voter intimidation and coercion. The case was brought by several voters and Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams. True the Vote had said it recruited former Navy SEALS to monitor polling places, and the group offered a $1 million bounty to defend fraud whistleblowers if they were sued.

Full Article: Judge considers whether Georgia voter challenges are intimidation

Indiana agrees to provide voting tool to Hoosiers with print disabilities | Dan Carden/The Times of Northwest Indiana

Hoosier adults with print disabilities no longer will be obligated to obtain assistance to cast an absentee ballot for at least the next two years. Indiana Disability Rights announced Wednesday the settlement of its lawsuit against a variety of state election officials, which enables qualifying voters to obtain a remote accessible ballot marking tool for all elections between May 2023 and May 2025. Previously, voters with print disabilities — such as people unable to independently mark a paper ballot or ballot card due to blindness, low vision or a physical disability limiting manual dexterity — generally were required to fill out their mail-in ballot in front of a “traveling board” of election judges. According to the settlement agreement, the remote accessible ballot marking tool will instead allow voters with print disabilities to sign all ballots and forms electronically without the assistance of another person, and those voters will have the option of returning their ballot via email.

Full Article: Indiana agrees to provide voting tool to Hoosiers with print disabilities

Nevada: Nye County Clerk lerk says hand count was ‘more accurate’ than voting machines | Robin Hebrock/Pahrump Valley Times

Nye County’s decision to switch to paper ballots and utilize a hand count in the 2022 election cycle captured the country’s attention, grabbing national headlines and even prompting legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union in an attempt to stop the move. Despite the pushback and a two-week delay caused by the ACLU lawsuit, Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf said the new process devised for 2022 was a successful one and his office will now be analyzing its options for the 2024 election. “Just as a reminder to those who don’t believe it, the tabulation was the primary method of determining our election results. Let me repeat that. We used the Dominion tabulators to calculate our election results, no different than we have in the past,” Kampf explained for the public at the Nye County Commission’s Jan. 18 meeting. The big difference when it came to calculating results for 2022, Kampf said, was the inclusion of a hand count. In addition to counting the ballots with electronic equipment, a force of more than 200 volunteers offered their time and energy to tally all of the votes marked on the paper ballots by hand, the results of which were then balanced against those derived from the Dominion tabulation. In the end, Kampf remarked, it appeared that the hand count was marginally more accurate.

Full Article: Nye clerk says hand count was ‘more accurate’ than voting machines | Pahrump Valley Times

New Jersey Judge orders recount in Monmouth County after some 2022 votes were double-counted | David Wildstein/New Jersey Globe

A Superior Court judge today ordered a recount of some voting machines in four Monmouth County municipalities after errors with the installation of voting machine software from Election Systems and Software (ES&S) caused some votes to be double counted in the November 2022 general election. That could change the outcome of a school board race in Ocean Township, where Steve Clayton unseated incumbent Jeff Weinstein by 20 votes and was sworn in last month; unofficial tallies now put Weinstein ahead by just one vote. Election officials said that the recount will be held on February 8. In his decision, Judge David Bauman relied on a New Jersey Supreme Court decision that election laws should be interpreted liberally as a reason for recounting and rechecking voting machines in Ocean Township, Belmar, Fair Haven, and Tinton Falls even though the deadline had passed. “The public interest in (the) finality of counting votes and election outcomes, in this instance, has not been shown to be strong enough to warrant strict enforcement of the provisions of (the statutes) … where, as here, the counting error appears to have been derived from a unique confluence of mechanical and human error, and no one on this record opposes the prayers for relief,” Bauman wrote in his ruling.

Full Article: Judge orders recount in Monmouth County after some 2022 votes were double-counted – New Jersey Globe

Pennsylvania: After years of troubleshooting, Philadelphia will use electronic poll books in this year’s primary election | Brian A. Saunders/PhillyVoice

This year, Philadelphia voters will choose a new mayor. When they head to the polls in May’s primary election, they’ll see something else new: updated technology at their polling places. After almost four years of troubleshooting, city commissioners say poll workers will begin using electronic poll books, eliminating the paper stacks of information workers have long used to check in voters. Many states have implemented electronic poll books to provide checks and balances for human error and speed up the check-in process for voters. Over 20 states currently use the software in some capacity, and six use them statewide, Pew reports. “I just think that the electronic poll books are going to revolutionize the way Philadelphians vote in person,” City Commissioner Lisa Deeley told KYW Newsradio. “It’ll streamline the process, it will be more efficient and it’ll be a much better day for the board workers.”

Full Article: Philadelphia will use electronic poll books in upcoming primary election | PhillyVoice

Texas: Dallas County Republicans question voting machines, lobby for paper ballots | Josephine Peterson/The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas County Republican Party says its top legislative priority this session is lobbying for the return of the paper ballot. Local Republicans say that the electronic voting system currently being used may have counted more votes than were actually cast in the 2022 election, despite the Dallas County Elections Department’s saying that is not the case. The GOP points to those votes that rolled in after polls closed and to 188 “phantom voter” errors the state found in the 2020 election as proof that the county’s electronic voting system can’t be trusted. “Any voting equipment or election process that is not fully transparent and trustworthy simply has to go,” the local party said in a Jan. 20 blog post laying out their position. Dallas County Republican Party Chair Jennifer Stoddard-Hajdu told The Dallas Morning News that she is concerned about voting machines in local elections that are connected to a server through Wi-Fi, pointing to a surge in tallied votes that occurred after the polls closed during the last election. She also cited a state audit that reported the “phantom voter” incidents. “I’m not saying that there was any fraud or that the election was stolen or votes were ma that she is concerned about voting machines in local elections that are connected to a server through Wi-Fi, pointing to a surge in tallied voters that occurred after the polls closed during the last election. She also cited a state audit that reported the “phantom voter” incidents. The state, county, the voting machine company, and Dallas County Democratic Party have approved or defended Dallas’ current voting system.

Full Article: Dallas County Republicans Want Switch to Paper Ballots

Utah Lawmakers want to audit elections, but not to examine whether the results are accurate | Bryan Schott/The Salt Lake Tribune

The House Government Operations Committee unanimously approved HB269 on Tuesday afternoon, which mandates a performance audit of Utah’s elections in even-numbered years. Legislative auditors are tasked to review almost every aspect of the primary and general elections, from candidate selection to counting ballots. The bill from House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, springboards from a year-long probe of Utah’s elections instigated by Schultz in late 2021. He explained he was motivated not by unfounded fraud claims but by a desire to build confidence in Utah’s elections. … Absent from the bill is a mechanism for verifying the accuracy of election results. State law requires county clerks to conduct a post-election audit to determine whether vote-counting machines are operating correctly. Legislative auditors recommended a pilot program to audit a certain percentage of ballots after the election to help ensure the results are accurate.

Full Article: Lawmakers want to audit Utah’s elections, but not to examine whether the results are accurate

Wisconsin statewide audit shows no voting machine errors during 2022 election | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Voting machines counted ballots accurately during the November 2022 general election, results of a new statewide audit show. About 222,000 ballots, or 8.4% of the total number cast during the Nov. 8 election, were audited by county and municipal clerks in the weeks following the midterm election. The survey, the largest of its kind was released this week by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. It found six human-forced errors and no problems with the functioning of ballot tabulating machines. The results, part of a routine audit, come after years of baseless allegations of widespread instances of inaccurate voting machine tallies during the 2020 election launched by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. President Joe Biden beat Trump by about 21,000 votes in Wisconsin in 2020. Trump sought recounts in liberal-leaning Dane and Milwaukee counties, which confirmed Biden’s win. Trump sued and the state Supreme Court upheld the results on a 4-3 vote on Dec. 14, 2020. Bob Spindell, a Republican commissioner, called the result “remarkable” in a commission meeting Thursday. “(The audit) should give confidence to the people of Wisconsin that the machines worked properly,” he said.

Full Article: There were no voting machine errors during 2022 election in Wisconsin

Wyoming Lawmakers Vote To Reduce Early Voting Window, Require Post-Election Audits | Leo Wolfson/Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming elections would be subject to post-election audits and early voting windows would be shortened under a bill advanced by a legislative committee Tuesday. Senate File 153, titled “Election Security,” would reduce early voting to 28 days from the current 45 for domestic applicants. Overseas applicants and military would still have 45 days to vote early or with an absentee ballot. On post-election audits, state law doesn’t require them, but there’s an outstanding directive to require them by former Secretary of State Ed Buchanan. Pressure to require audits has increased in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, which former President Donald Trump and his supporters have maintained was tainted by widespread fraud. If SF 153 passes, Wyoming would still have the 12th longest early voting period in the country. Mary Lankford, a representative from the Wyoming County Clerks Association, said the average length of early voting offered by U.S. states is 23 days. It passed unanimously out of the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

Full Article: Wyoming Lawmakers Vote To Reduce Early Voting Window, Require Post-Election Audits – Cowboy State Daily

National: States Push for New Voting Laws With an Eye Toward 2024 | Neil Vigdor/The New York Times

The tug of war over voting rights and rules is playing out with fresh urgency at the state level, as Republicans and Democrats fight to get new laws on the books before the 2024 presidential election. Republicans have pushed to tighten voting laws with renewed vigor since former President Donald J. Trump made baseless claims of fraud after losing the 2020 election, while Democrats coming off midterm successes are trying to channel their momentum to expand voting access and thwart efforts to undermine elections. States like Florida, Texas and Georgia, where Republicans control the levers of state government, have already passed sweeping voting restrictions that include criminal oversight initiatives, limits on drop boxes, new identification requirements and more. While President Biden and Democrats in Congress were unable to pass federal legislation last year that would protect voting access and restore elements of the landmark Voting Rights Act stripped away by the Supreme Court in 2013, not all reform efforts have floundered.

Full Article: States Push for New Voting Laws With an Eye Toward 2024 – The New York Times

With a roll of the dice, Michigan begins audit of 2022 election | Ben Orner/MLive.com

Over the next month, state and local election officials will audit Michigan’s 2022 general election, checking the accuracy of results and security of procedures. These more than 200 audits across counties, cities and townships will see Bureau of Elections staff and county clerks review ballots and election administration in randomly selected precincts and identify best practices for future elections. “It is somewhat like a recount, but it is not a recount,” said Michigan elections director Jonathan Brater. “What we’re doing is counting enough containers across the state to make sure that – within a statistical level of certainty – we’re confident that the tabulators got the proper result.” Brater watched Thursday as a handful of local election officials and bureau staff rolled a 10-sided die to determine which batches of ballots will be hand-counted to check the accuracy of Michigan’s vote tabulation machines.

Full Article: With a roll of the dice, Michigan begins audit of 2022 election – mlive.com

National: Election Assistance Commission Appoints New Director With Security-Focused Background | Edward Graham/Nextgov

The Election Assistance Commission on Tuesday announced that Steven Frid—the security director at the Education Department’s Federal Student Aid office—has been appointed as the new executive director of the agency beginning on Jan. 30. In a press release, EAC called Frid “a long-term public servant who has dedicated his career to collecting and analyzing data about risks to federal employees, facilities, information and operations within the Office of Personnel Management, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education.” “Steven Frid will be joining the EAC during a very exciting and pivotal time for the agency as we prepare for the 2024 elections,” EAC Chairman Thomas Hicks, Vice Chair Christy McCormick, and Commissioners Ben Hovland and Donald Palmer said in a joint statement. “His leadership, innovative work and expertise at a range of federal agencies will be an asset as the EAC continues to grow and work to better serve election officials, voters and other stakeholders.”

Full Article: Election Assistance Commission Appoints New Director With Security-Focused Background – Nextgov

National: GOP action on mail ballot timelines angers military families | Julie Carr Smith and Gary Fields/Los Angeles Times

Ohio’s restrictive new election law significantly shortens the window for mailed ballots to be received — despite no evidence that the extended timeline has led to fraud or any other problems — and that change is angering active-duty members of the military and their families because of its potential to disenfranchise them. The pace of ballot counting after election day has become a target of conservatives egged on by former President Trump. He has promoted a false narrative since losing the 2020 election that fluctuating results as late-arriving mail-in ballots are tallied is a sign of fraud. Republican lawmakers said during debate on the Ohio legislation that even if Trump’s claims aren’t true, the skepticism they have caused among conservatives about the accuracy of election results justifies imposing new limits. The new law reduces the number of days for county election boards to include mailed ballots in their tallies from 10 days after election day to four. Critics say that could lead to more ballots from Ohio’s military voters missing the deadline and getting tossed. This issue isn’t confined to Ohio. Three other states narrowed their post-election windows for accepting mail ballots last session, according to data from the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab. Similar moves pushed by Republican lawmakers are being proposed or discussed this year in Wisconsin, New Jersey, California and other states.

Full Article: GOP action on mail ballot timelines angers military families – Los Angeles Times

Arizona Court of Appeals rejects state GOP party effort to end early voting | Mary Jo Pitzl/Arizona Republic

Arizona’s early voting system is constitutional, the state Court of Appeals has ruled, upholding a popular voting method used widely across the state. The ruling, issued Tuesday, is the second legal defeat on the issue for the Arizona Republican Party and its chair, Kelli Ward, who last year sued to eliminate early voting before the 2022 elections. The three-judge appeals court rejected the party’s argument that mail-in voting violates the secrecy clause in the state Constitution, which requires that voters must have a way to conceal their choices on the ballot. The state’s mail-in, or early voting, process does provide secrecy, the court found, “by requiring voters to ensure that they fill out their ballot in secret and seal the ballot in an envelope that does not disclose the voters’ choices.”

Full Article: Arizona Court of Appeals: Early voting does not violate Constitution

Arkansas: Cleburne County Rejects Voting Machines and Votes to Move to Hand Counted Paper Ballots | Magnolia Banner News

The Cleburne County quorum court passed a binding resolution making them a “paper ballot” county, meaning future elections would be administered with hand marked paper ballots that are hand counted. The vote was in response to Arkansas Voter Integrity Initiative, INC.(AVII) CEO Colonel Conrad Reynolds’ push for election computers to be removed from Arkansas elections. Reynolds stated, “For more than a decade there have been too many unanswered questions with these voting machines, which are essentially computers. The owners of the machine company are intentionally shielded from the public. The machines do not read the names on the ballots, instead they scan barcodes, which humans cannot read. They also utilize proprietary software that we are not allowed to examine. This all means voters cannot verify that their vote is being counted properly as mandated by state law. As a former military intelligence officer, I look at this through a national security perspective and conclude there are big problems with our current voting system.”

Full Article: Cleburne County (Arkansas) Rejects Voting Machines and Votes to Move to Hand Counted Paper Ballots

Colorado: Pueblo County election tampering case bound for competency court | Justin Reutter/The Pueblo Chieftain

A Pueblo man’s competency to stand trial in an election tampering case is still up in the air and has been bound over to competency court by District Judge William Alexander. An initial report from the Colorado Department of Human Services has been ordered to opine on the initial likelihood of restoring to competency suspect Richard Patton, 31, to stand trial. However, no findings have yet been made, according to Colorado court records. At a hearing Dec. 29, Alexander also ordered Patton to undergo outpatient mental health treatment in hopes of restoring legal competency in the case. A Jan. 18 competency court hearing has been set in front of District Judge Allison Ernst, according to Alexander. Patton was found to be incompetent to stand trial following a December evaluation by a behavioral health expert.

Full Article: Pueblo election tampering case bound for competency court

Idaho lawmakers want hand recounts during election audits | James Dawson/Boise State Public Radio

Post-election audits must be done by hand under the first bill to make it to the House floor this year. State legislators passed a law last year requiring a random audit of each primary and general election in Idaho. Counties are randomly drawn, with the requirement that small and larger counties alike are chosen. But the law never specified how audits should be conducted. Despite that, Secretary of State Phil McGrane said state officials did previously use hand recounts. “This is just affirming the current practice,” said McGrane. “It was done previously by directive of [former Secretary of State Lawerence Denney]. That directive will continue.” Votes are typically scanned and counted by a machine, which can occasionally misread faintly filled-in bubbles, or make other errors.

Full Article: Idaho lawmakers want hand recounts during election audits | Boise State Public Radio

Michigan lawmakers announce plans to protect election officials in wake of threats | Anna Gustafson/Michigan Advance

After threats against election workers have soared in the wake of a right-wing campaign to push lies about the 2020 election, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Democratic lawmakers announced Tuesday plans to protect election officials and crack down on those intentionally sharing misinformation about elections and voting. “As Michigan’s chief election officer, my responsibility is to ensure that our elections are accessible, safe, secure, and that the results are an accurate reflection of the will of the people,” Benson said during Tuesday’s press conference. “It’s a role that increasingly forces all of us in this work, whether we consider ourselves Republican, Democrat or independent, to endure threats, harassment, false and malicious attacks on our character and integrity, and sometimes even violence. “We cannot have a secure democracy if we do not protect the security of the people who administer, protect and stand guard over our elections,” Benson continued.

Full Article: Benson, Dem lawmakers announce plans to protect election officials in wake of threats ⋆ Michigan Advance

Mississippi: New voting machines can help keep elections secure but will require funding | Kobee Vance/MPR

Mississippi is currently investing in a new voting infrastructure that will rely more on paper ballots as a backup to the machines that scan in votes. This was originally funded through a law passed last year. It allows for local municipalities to print ballots on demand and has specialized touchscreen voting machines for those with disabilities. But Secretary of State Michael Watson says there are some additional costs with these machines that need additional legislative funding to maintain software and security. “I think it’s important to make sure that Mississippians are educated, and they say, ‘well, we’re still voting on machines.’ Well it’s a machine that counts a paper ballot,” says Watson. “So if there’s ever an issue, you can come back and say ‘you know what, let’s look to the paper.’ And so I think Mississippians will feel more confident about that.” Watson says the continued security maintenance that modern voting machines require will be a recurring cost for local municipalities, and much of this will be handled by the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services.

Full Article: New voting machines in Mississippi can help keep elections secure but will require funding

Nevada: Democratic state senator to propose criminalizing ‘fake elector’ schemes | Sean Golonka/The Nevada Independent

In a bid to strengthen Nevada election laws, Democratic Sen. has requested a bill that would criminalize so-called “fake elector” schemes, such as the 2020 plot that saw self-designated Republican electors seek to pledge Nevada’s electoral votes to then-President Donald Trump, despite him losing the popular vote to Democrat Joe Biden. “I just wanted to, to the extent that we can, strengthen the rule against it, the penalty for it, make sure it never happens again, basically make it even more illegal than it was before,” Daly, who represents a Sparks-area district, told The Nevada Independent. “The idea is not only to capture … the actual fake electors, but anyone conspiring with them to do such a thing.” For those found guilty of submitting false electoral votes or conspiring to do so, Daly’s requested bill would, if approved, subject them to felony charges, including four to eight years of jail time. It also would ban those convicted of breaking the law from running for elected office in Nevada and from being appointed to any government position in the state. “I pray that we’ll never … have to prosecute or attempt to prosecute or have a reason to prosecute anybody,” he said. “But at the same time, though, who would have thought that it would happen the first time?”

Source: Democratic state senator to propose criminalizing ‘fake elector’ schemes – The Nevada Independent

New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission moves forward with assessing new counting machines | Jeongyoon Han/New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire’s Ballot Law Commission is continuing to test out different ballot counting machines as it seeks to replace the state’s aging ones. The commission, which sets the criteria and has the final say for certifying ballot counting machines in the state, met on Wednesday to assess several companies’ ballot counting machines. Here’s what happened. The commission met with representatives from a company called Clear Ballot Group, which wants to have their ballot counting machines approved so that towns in New Hampshire could use them for elections. The state uses those machines when conducting its routine election audits. James Rundlett, national sales manager at the company, showed the commission how the ballot machine works. “We believe this is the future of elections,” Rundlett said. Clear Ballot Group’s ballot devices are being used in various parts of the country, including in parts of the Pacific Northwest, Kansas, Seattle, and Ohio.

Full Article: NH Ballot Law Commission moves forward with assessing new counting machines | New Hampshire Public Radio