Blame The Voting Machines: Brazil Riots Fit Global Pattern | Anuj Chopra, Luiza Queiroz and Rossen Bossev/Barron’s

Mobs of rioters who stormed Brazil’s seats of power raised conspiracy-laden slogans against voting machines, a prime target of disinformation campaigns seeking to undermine trust in electoral systems around the world. Far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters, who invaded the presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court in the capital Brasilia on Sunday, demanded access to the “source code” of electronic voting machines. That slogan effectively questioned the reliability of voting equipment after a bitterly contested election that saw Bolsonaro defeated by his leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The right-wing rage was the latest illustration of the impact of disinformation campaigns that have sought to cast doubt on voting machines from the United States to France, Bulgaria and the Philippines. … Experts such as Pamela Smith also called on countries to collate “hard election evidence” to boost public confidence in machine voting. “We advocate for a physical record of voter intent, used in robust post-election checks on the machine-reported outcome, with plenty of transparency,” Smith, president of the nonpartisan nonprofit Verified Voting, told AFP. “Every country should work toward that goal. An election outcome… should not be subverted by whoever shouts the loudest.”

Full Article: Blame The Voting Machines: Brazil Riots Fit Global Pattern | Barron’s

Georgia asks judge to uphold voting system in election security case | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The state of Georgia is asking a federal judge to rule in its favor in a long-running lawsuit alleging that the state’s voting system is inherently insecure. Motions for summary judgment filed Monday said there’s no evidence that voting computers have been hacked or that votes have been counted inaccurately. In addition, election officials have said audits and recounts checked election results. The state’s court filings come as the lawsuit over Georgia’s voting system, which combines touchscreens and printed-out ballots, could finally go to a trial this year, more than five years after the case started. “Ultimately, there is no burden on the right to vote using the state’s chosen voting system by the mere existence of vulnerabilities — because every voting system has vulnerabilities,” wrote attorneys for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the State Election Board. “The numerous audits and hand counts of Georgia elections verify the accuracy of Georgia’s voting equipment.” An attorney for the plaintiffs, David Cross, said there’s substantial evidence of flaws in Georgia’s voting system.

Full Article: Georgia seeks to end lawsuit over election security vulnerabilities

National: Republicans filed record number of anti-voting lawsuits in 2022 – report | Kira Lerner/The Guardian

The Republican party filed a record number of anti-voting lawsuits in 2022, a sign it is shifting the battle over voting access and election administration to courtrooms as well as state legislatures. Last year, Republican party groups filed 23 democracy-related lawsuits, according to a new report by Democracy Docket, a progressive media platform that tracks voting litigation. The lawsuits included efforts to challenge election results, attacks on mail-in voting and attempts to undermine the administration of elections. The Democratic party, the report found, filed only six voting lawsuits in 2022 and all sought to protect or expand the right to vote. The almost two dozen lawsuits filed by the GOP is an increase from 20 in 2020, the year of the presidential election in which Donald Trump’s loss was contested in courts for months. There were no new lawsuits by the Republican party in 2021, when there was no major election. “Evidently, the GOP establishment is becoming more litigious than ever and is turning to courts to achieve its anti-voting and anti-democracy ends,” the report says.

Full Article: Republicans filed record number of anti-voting lawsuits in 2022 – report | Republicans | The Guardian

National: Another ‘radical’ change to the Voting Rights Act could reach the Supreme Court | Tierney Sneed/CNN

A federal appeals court appears open to further shrinking the scope of the Voting Rights Act in a case that could lead to another major Supreme Court showdown over voting rights. The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals at a hearing on Wednesday considered whether private entities – and not just the US Justice Department – can bring lawsuits under a key provision of the law. Two of the three members of the appellate panel asked questions suggesting they were leaning against the idea that the provision, known as Section 2, could be enforced with private lawsuits. If those seeking a narrowing of the VRA are successful, it would significantly diminish the use of the law to challenge ballot regulations and redistricting maps that are said to be racially discriminatory. A vast majority of the cases that are brought under the Voting Rights Act – which prohibits election rules that have the intent or effect of discriminating on the basis of race – are brought by private plaintiffs, with the Justice Department facing strained resources and other considerations that limit the number of VRA cases it files to, at most, a few each year. Last year, however, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Arkansas – running counter to decades of legal practice – said that private parties do not have the ability to sue under the Section 2.

Full Article: Voting Rights Act: Another ‘radical’ change could reach the Supreme Court | CNN Politics

Arizona: 500-vote gap in Pinal County general election count was due to ‘human error’ | Sasha Hupka/Arizona Republic

Three months after a disastrous primary, Pinal County seemed to pull off a smooth Election Day in November. But the county made errors in counting some ballots, officials said as a 500-vote discrepancy between certified election tallies and recounted results came to light on Thursday. “The purpose of a recount is to ensure accurate vote totals are put forth, as it is reasonable to expect some level of human error in a dynamic, high-stress, deadline intensive process involving counting hundreds of thousands of ballots,” county officials said in a statement. “The recount process did what it was supposed to do — it identified a roughly 500 vote undercount in the Pinal County election attributable to human error.” The county, which runs south and east of Maricopa County, is home to about 450,000 residents and has experienced rapid growth in recent years. About 140,000 voters cast ballots there in the November election. The issues don’t change the results of two races — for state attorney general and state schools superintendent — that were recounted statewide because of tight margins. And numerous officials said they believe the recount results are accurate. Still, the newly counted ballots narrowed the lead of Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes, a Democrat, over Republican opponent Abe Hamadeh in one of the tightest races in Arizona history.

Full Article: Pinal County: 500-vote gap in general election count was ‘human error’

Arkansas: Former candidate files suit over voting machines using bar codes | Daniel McFadin/Arkansas Democrat Gazette

A former candidate for Arkansas’ U.S. House District 2 has filed an “election integrity lawsuit” aiming to prevent Arkansas from using specific voting machines in future elections. Conrad Reynolds, a retired U.S. Army colonel and leader of a group called Arkansas Voter Integrity Initiative Inc., filed the lawsuit Monday in Pulaski County against Secretary of State John Thurston, the State Board of Election Commissioners, and Election Systems and Software (ES&S). The lawsuit contends that “the voting machines currently approved by the Secretary of State and the State Board of Election Commissioners fail to comply with state law.” The lawsuit, which was assigned to Judge Tim Fox on the 6th Judicial Circuit, urges the court to rule that the ExpressVote and DS200 voting machines used by the state “do not comply with Arkansas law because the voter cannot independently verify the votes selected by the voter on the ballot prior to being cast by the voter as the ordinary and common voter cannot read bar codes.” According to the lawsuit, voters mark their ballots using ExpressVote, which prints a ballot summary card that includes a bar code at the top “allegedly encoding the voter’s selected candidates and/ or issues.” The summary card is fed into the DS200, which tabulates the votes by reading the bar code. Because “most ordinary and common voters cannot read a bar code,” the lawsuit contends, the state law requiring that the voter be able to verify their vote is not met.

Full Article: Former candidate files suit over voting machines using bar codes

Georgia officials consider changes to state’s runoff election system | Benjamin Barber/Facing South

In last month’s runoff election, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael G. Warnock of Georgia defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker by 97,000 votes. Warnock had won a plurality of the votes in the Nov. 8 general election but failed to reach the 50% majority threshold the state requires to win the general election outright, forcing the runoff. Runoffs, which can be held for both primary and general elections, are almost exclusively held in the South. States that have some form of runoffs in either primary or general elections include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Vermont. Georgia is the only state to use runoffs in both the primary and general elections. Mississippi implemented a similar system in 2020, but the state hasn’t had a general election runoff since the law was approved. In most other states, candidates who get the most votes win, while Alaska and Maine use ranked-choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, to decide elections. Warnock’s recent victory was the third consecutive runoff win by Democrats in U.S. Senate elections in Georgia in recent years. Now lawmakers in the state’s Republican-led General Assembly are considering abolishing general election runoffs.

Full Article: Georgia officials consider changes to state’s runoff election system | Facing South

Minnesota elections chief seeks to make voting even easier | Steve Karnowski/Associated Press

Minnesota’s chief elections officer called on state lawmakers Monday to make it easier for residents to vote while protecting elections officials from threats and intimidation. Key elements of Secretary of State Steve Simon’s agenda are included in an elections package that fellow Democrats in the state House and Senate introduced last week. Others will be covered in separate legislation. As legislatures convene across the country, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are bracing for new fights on election-related legislation amid the continued false claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies that the 2020 election was stolen. Republicans are eager to tighten election rules further, whereas Democrats are seeking to make it easier to vote. Simon — who won more votes than any other candidate on Minnesota’s statewide ballot as he fought off a GOP challenger who claimed the 2020 election was rigged — said Minnesota consistently has one of the highest turnouts in the country by promoting voter access while balancing it with security measures that keep fraud at “microscopic” levels. “Minnesotans agree: Democracy was on the ballot in 2022,” Simon said at a news conference. “The voters of Minnesota had a chance to make their voices heard on elections and voting issues. They spoke loudly and clearly.”

Full Article: Minnesota elections chief seeks to make voting even easier | AP News

Montana Democrats say election security committee is a waste of time | Shaylee Ragar/Montana Public Radio

A special committee on election security will have its first meeting at the Montana Legislature on Thursday. Republicans and Democrats are at odds over its purpose. Republican Sen. Carl Glimm from the Flathead will chair the special select committee on election security. He says the six-person, Republican majority committee will have two main goals. “I would like to see us come out the other end with good legislation, if we deem that it’s necessary, and I would like for us to be able to give assurance to the citizens of Montana that our elections are the best they can be.” Glimm did not point to a specific case where elections have been flawed, but said there’s always room for improvement. Glimm says lawmakers are responding to concerns about election security from constituents, and will ask for expert testimony about how to prosecute election fraud, the chain of command of ballots at county elections offices and how ballot tabulation machines work.

Full Article: Democrats say election security committee is a waste of time | Montana Public Radio

Nebraska: Hand-counted election audit finds low error rate with voting machines | Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner

After facing months of questions about election integrity from populist Republicans, Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen — also a Republican — probed deeper to confirm his belief that the state’s voting processes were “reliable and accurate.” On Friday, his office released the results from an expanded audit of general election ballots, checking at least one precinct in all 93 counties. The audit hand-counted 48,292 ballots from 10% of precincts. That’s significantly more than the typical 2%-3% of precincts audited after each election. County election officials found a total of 11 ballot discrepancies, bolstering what Evnen and most political observers have consistently argued: that Nebraska’s vote-counting machines are accurate. The number of errors translates into one out of every 4,390 votes, or roughly 0.002%. That’s better than the one-tenth of 1% error rates of machine-scanned ballots that studies have found in other states. “There are Nebraskans who have expressed concerns about the integrity of the voting process,” Evnen told the Nebraska Examiner on Friday. “I thought it was important for us to address those concerns.”

Full Article: Hand-counted election audit finds low error rate with Nebraska’s voting machines | Nebraska Examiner

New Hampshire audit of open-source voting machine gives thumbs-up, mostly | David Brooks/Concord Monitor

The open-source software worked well but the hardware had a few issues. That’s the conclusion from audits of a new ballot-counting machine that was tested in three New Hampshire towns during the November election. The device, developed by a nonprofit called VotingWorks, is being considered as a possible replacement for the state’s aging AccuVote machines. The key point of the VotingWorks device is that it uses the open-source Linux operating system rather than software controlled by a private company. Its backers say this openness provides a level of transparency that can help defuse conspiracy theories about fair elections. Any decision about changing the devices that towns and cities can use for elections will be made by the Ballot Law Commission, a 10-person body whose members are appointed by the Legislature and the governor. There is no timeline for replacing the AccuVote machines. The VotingWorks machines were used in the Nov. 8, 2022, election in Ashland, Newington and Woodstock, three of the smallest towns in the state that count ballots with the AccuVote machines. The VotingWorks devices digitally scanned and tallied results from the state’s standard paper ballots. The results were later double-checked with a hand-count audit by the Secretary of State’s office.

Full Article: State audit of open-source voting machine gives thumbs-up, mostly

New Hampshire Vote Tabulation Machine Failed in November Pilot | Kevin Landrigan/The New Hampshire Union Leader

New ballot-counting devices tested in the Nov. 8 election broke down in one of the three small towns chosen for the pilot, Secretary of State David Scanlan said Monday. The machine was made by VotingWorks. It used open-source software rather than company-supplied software, which some advocates have said would improve voter confidence because its operations were more transparent to the public. Since the mid-1990s, the Ballot Law Commission has only allowed the AccuVote ballot counting device to be used in all cities and towns that don’t count ballots by hand. The manufacturer no longer makes replacement parts for this machine, forcing some New Hampshire cities and towns to purchase machines from communities in other states that upgraded their technology.

Full Article: New Hampshire Vote Tabulation Machine Failed in November Pilot

New York: Officials urged to modernize state’s election systems | Rick Reisman/State of Politics

Making it easier to register to vote and obtain an absentee ballot, funding a system of publicly financed campaigns and launching automatic voter registration are among the measures New York officials are being urged to focus on to strengthen the state’s voting infrastructure. The Brennan Center and a coalition of advocacy organizations in a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul and top lawmakers in the state Legislature called for a package of changes, some of which are being implemented this year, in order to bolster faith in voting in the state. The push for the measures comes as state lawmakers this week began the 2023 legislative session in Albany, and after legal challenges were made during last year’s election season to absentee ballots. “Last year, we witnessed a disturbing increase nationwide in election denialism, threats against election workers, and voter intimidation,” the groups wrote in the letter. “New York was no exception.”

Full Article: Officials urged to modernize New York’s election systems

Pennsylvania: 2020 Lycoming County election recount completed | Pat Crossley/Williamsport Sun-Gazette

It is done. Over two years after the 2020 presidential election, the final batch of ballots were counted again, this time by hand, early Wednesday afternoon. There were 59,481 ballots within the official results from the election that were counted, according to Forrest Lehman, director of Voter Services. “That’s how many we knew going into this that we needed to look at. We have one batch still out that is being hopefully finalized right now,” Lehman said, speaking in the nearly empty room that since Monday had been the site where about 24 people paired off and meticulously tabulating votes for the presidential and auditor general races in an election that was conducted in 2020. “It took a little over two days to get through the batches once, and then the additional time was spent today, Wednesday, (going) back through some of the batches a second time because the first time that they were looked at; we had some number discrepancies…, We kind of held onto those and then decided we were going to go back and look at them again at the end. So, that’s what we did,” he added.

Full Article: 2020 Lycoming County election recount completed | News, Sports, Jobs – Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Rhode Island: Elections Systems and Software settles with state over Spanish language ballot blunder | Patrick Anderson/The Providence Journal

The election equipment provider in the middle of a blunder on Spanish language ballots in the September primaries has agreed to credit Rhode Island $47,644, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said Thursday. Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software “will provide a credit for all project management services provided in connection with the 2022 Primary Election,” Gorbea said in a news release. The company also agreed to post a message on its website reminding election workers that it’s a good idea to proofread all ballots and test all tabulation machines before voters head to the polls. “We have held our vendor accountable for their mistake, and working together we have succeeded in making systemic improvements to pre-election testing across my office, the Board of Elections and ES&S,” Gorbea said in the release. As a result of what were described as undetected “programming errors,” during the September primary’s early voting period some Spanish ballots on new touch-screen voting machines listed candidates from the 2018 election.

Full Article: Elections Systems and Software settle with RI over Spanish ballot mistake

Texas senators draw lots to determine how long their terms will be | James Barragan/The Texas Tribune

It was the luck of the draw for Texas senators on Wednesday as they drew lots to decide which half of them would get two-year terms and which would get four-year terms. The practice is outlined in Article 3, Section 3, of the Texas Constitution, which calls for “Senators elected after each apportionment [redistricting]” to be divided into two classes: one that will serve a four-year term and the other to serve a two-year term. That keeps Senate district elections staggered every two years. After that, senators serve four-year terms for the rest of the decade. On Wednesday, each of the chamber’s 31 lawmakers walked to the front of the chamber and drew lots by picking an envelope that held a pill-shaped capsule. Inside the capsules were numbers: Even numbers meant two-year terms, and odd were for four-year terms.

Full Article: Texas senators draw lots to determine how long their terms will be | The Texas Tribune

Wiscosnin: Racine at the center of election conspiracy universe | Henry Redman/Wisconsin Examiner

At the Nov. 30 meeting of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), several people spoke during the public comment period to complain about how the recent election had been administered by the city of Racine. In early December, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), a right-wing legal advocacy organization, filed a complaint against the city in circuit court for its use of a “mobile voting van” which allowed people to cast early votes at the van rather than going into the clerk’s office or other pre-determined site. The organization had previously filed a similar complaint with the WEC, which was dismissed. “Racine’s abuse of alternate absentee ballot sites circumvents multiple statutory safeguards on the collection of absentee ballots,” WILL deputy counsel Anthony LoCoco said in a statement. “The WEC Commissioners failed to take action and delegated the matter to the WEC Administrator who declined to enjoin Racine’s illegal behavior. Further, although WILL’s complaint was filed in August, the WEC Administrator did not issue her decision on the matter until in-person absentee voting for the 2022 general election was essentially completed which meant that WILL could not appeal the decision until after the November general election was over. We are confident that a court will put an end to Racine’s egregious practices.” In the two years since the 2020 election, the city of Racine and the surrounding area have become a hotbed of right-wing election-related activism.

Full Article: Racine at the center of Wisconsin’s election conspiracy universe – Wisconsin Examiner

Wyoming Secretary of State Scores Victory With Defeat Of Bill That Would Have Prevented Ballot Inspections | Leo Wolfson/Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming elections may be subjected to hand-count ballot audits after the Legislature’s House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee killed a bill Wednesday that would have prevented ballot inspections. With the rejection of House Bill 6, the possibility of hand-count ballot audits in Wyoming elections remains alive, as newly sworn in Secretary of State Chuck Gray has said he wants more scrutiny of Wyoming elections. HB 6, which would have clarified that ballots cannot be requested for inspection under the Public Records Act, was rejected by the committee on a 6-3 vote. It also was specific that any ballots, election records or images of ballots would be kept confidential.

Full Article: Chuck Gray Scores Victory With Defeat Of Bill That Would Have Prevented Ballot Inspections – Cowboy State Daily