National: Moving to Evidence-Based Elections | Barbara Simons and Poorvi Vora/National Academies

In most jurisdictions things went relatively smoothly in the November 2022 midterms, but serious issues, both technical and political, remain. As we discuss below, elections may be made more transparent and secure through the use of voter-marked paper ballots and rigorous postelection audits. The midterm elections were not as contentious as many had feared, but harassment of election officials and poll workers of both political parties has persisted. For example, on election night Bill Gates, the Republican chair of the Maricopa County (AZ) governing board, had to go into hiding because of threats. In Cobb County, GA, a suspect was arrested for interfering with poll workers and slapping a voter. Police were called in Cascade County, MT, because protesters were circling outside waiting for election officials. And an Arizona judge ordered masked and armed “observers” to keep some distance from ballot drop boxes. Safety fears have triggered election official resignations and made recruitment of poll workers more difficult. In addition, unanticipated technical problems occurred and are likely to continue to occur in every large election. Fast and accurate information is needed to explain both the problems and, where feasible, the workarounds. For example, in Maricopa County, some polling place printers produced blank ballots (for voters to mark by hand) that were too faint for the polling place scanners to read (they were readable by central scanners). Although the printing problem generated conspiracy theories among some, election officials and the press quickly informed voters that they could deposit their completed ballots in ballot boxes for later tabulation. Or they could vote at a different location if they first surrendered their marked ballot.

Full Article: Moving to Evidence-Based Elections | National Academies

Could election denialism in a feuding Arizona county upend US democracy? | Rachel Leingang/The Guardian

The 2022 election ended months ago, at least in most of the country. In a rural county on the US-Mexico border in Arizona, though, the election and its fallout linger, causing heated divisions and offering a view into how conspiracy theories could upend elections across the country. While statewide candidates in Arizona who embraced election lies lost their races in November, the election denialism movement hasn’t died off, especially in legislative and local offices, where Republicans continue to push for restrictions to voting and ballot counting that would hinder access and make elections less secure. Fueled by false claims about whether ballot tabulation machines are properly certified or accurate, supervisors in Republican-controlled Cochise county tried to conduct a full hand count of its election results and attempted not to certify the county’s results. Their efforts ultimately failed, but they reveal how election denialism has taken hold in parts of the United States and could continue to wreak havoc on American democracy.

Full Article: Could election denialism in a feuding Arizona county upend US democracy? | Arizona | The Guardian

National: How the backbone of American elections is being upended | Zach Montellaro/Politico

A bipartisan behind-the-scenes organization that helps states maintain their voter rolls is facing an uncertain future, after several Republican-led states left the group. The board of the Electronic Registration Information Center — or ERIC — is meeting on Friday, as the remaining members of the organization try to chart the organization’s path following the high-profile departures of Florida, West Virginia and Missouri earlier this month. Some officials fear more states are eyeing the door. The division roiling ERIC is just the latest example of a previously apolitical organization involved in fostering cooperation on the mechanics of running elections, finding life a lot more dramatic in the post-Trump world. At risk: the upending of the backbone of the nation’s electoral system. Over the last year, five states with Republican chief election officials — Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia, Missouri and Florida — all left ERIC. Some states have used outwardly conspiratorial-minded reasons for leaving — citing a secretive plot by liberals to take control of voter rolls. Other complaints are more about the structure of the organization bubbling to the surface, which defenders of the organization say is being used as a false pretense to leave.

Full Article: How the backbone of American elections is being upended – POLITICO

National: At center of Fox News lawsuit, Sidney Powell and a ‘wackadoodle’ email | Sarah Ellison and Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

A day after major news organizations declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential race, a Sunday-morning guest on Fox News was holding forth on exotic and baseless claims of election fraud — allegedly deceased voters, ballots supposedly lacking an option to vote for Donald Trump, an “affidavit” from a postal worker claiming to have postdated mail-in ballots — when host Maria Bartiromo pressed for more details. “Sidney, we talked about the Dominion software,” Bartiromo said on the Nov. 8, 2020, broadcast. “I know that there were voting irregularities. Tell me about that.” The guest was Sidney Powell, a Texas-based lawyer who would soon be ambiguously connected to the Trump legal team mustered to challenge the election results. She stared stiffly into the lights of a satellite TV studio but answered without hesitation. “That’s putting it mildly,” Powell replied. “The computer glitches could not and should not have happened at all. That’s where the fraud took place, where they were flipping votes in the computer system or adding votes that did not exist.”

Full Article: At center of Fox News lawsuit, Sidney Powell and a ‘wackadoodle’ email – The Washington Post

National: Half of 2020 GOP election deniers admit no ‘solid evidence’ for their belief | Aaron Blake/The Washington Post

Sidney Powell has tacitly conceded that she didn’t have the proof of a stolen election that she claimed. Former Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis has now explicitly acknowledged that. And it turns out the GOP base as a whole is increasingly admitting it to themselves — that its continued belief in a stolen election is largely just about vibes. A new CNN poll shows the false belief that President Biden’s 2020 win over Donald Trump was illegitimate remains strong among Republicans and GOP-leaning voters; 63 percent continue to say that, while 37 percent acknowledge Biden’s legitimate victory. But as this question has been asked over time, something notable has happened: These voters have increasingly acknowledged there is no “solid evidence” for their belief. Shortly after such beliefs led to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, 71 percent of Republican-leaning voters told CNN’s pollsters that Biden’s win was illegitimate — slightly higher than today.

Full Article: Half of 2020 GOP election deniers admit no ‘solid evidence’ for their belief – The Washington Post

National: Postal Service’s Election Mail Program Receives Top Honor | Marti Johnson/USPS

The U.S. Postal Service has received the Public Service Award for its Election Mail program from the nonpartisan Election Verification Network. The award is given every year to a public official or governmental unit for protecting and promoting election integrity and verifiable elections. “This award is further confirmation of the Postal Service’s deep commitment and great success in delivering the nation’s ballots securely and on time,” said Postmaster General and CEO Louis DeJoy. “We take pride in the role our organization plays in the election process. The American people can continue to feel confident in using the U.S. Mail to fulfill their democratic duty to vote.” The Election Verification Network is comprised of election officials, researchers and advocates focused on secure, transparent and verifiable elections. “The award is additional recognition of the Postal Service’s successful processing and delivery of Election Mail, which has grown exponentially in recent years,” said Adrienne Marshall, the Postal Service’s director of election and government mail services. “Our 635,000 employees are proud to provide this service for customers who choose to use the U.S. Mail to participate in the democratic process.”

Full Article: Postal Service’s Election Mail Program Receives Top Honor – Newsroom –

Arizona bill to enable do-it-yourself election audits sparks rare bipartisan interest | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

Behind closed doors this month, in a caucus room that typically holds members from just one party, in a state defined by its political divisiveness, a rare bipartisan parley unfolded. State Sen. Ken Bennett paced around the room explaining his idea for a Do-It-Yourself election audit. He wanted to create a path making it possible — though technically difficult — to confirm the validity of election results by precinct, race, or ballot, from the comfort of home. “I just wanted to give people the opportunity to say, do you have trouble with any of that, the underlying concept?” Bennett said. Sitting before him were prominent figures from both political parties, including Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes and Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers. No one spoke up to object. In a legislative session marked with hostility and party-line votes, this idea from Bennett, a Republican and a former secretary of state, has brought about a rare cross-party dialogue. Both sides set aside their talking points during the meeting, with no emphasis from Republicans on unproven theories of stolen elections, according to video snippets shared with Votebeat, and no stonewalling from Democrats.

Full Article: Arizona Sen. Ken Bennett pushes bipartisan elections bill for do-it-yourself audits – Votebeat Arizona – Nonpartisan local reporting on elections and voting

Arkansas House committee passes bill to regulate paper ballot counties | Hunter Field/Arkansas Advocate

A group of state representatives advanced legislation Monday that would require counties that opt to get rid of voting machines to bear the costs of paper ballots. The Arkansas House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs passed Senate Bill 250 by Sen. Kim Hammer (R-Benton) on a split voice vote after several hours of debate and testimony that included debunked claims and conspiracies about election integrity. The bill was introduced in response to a Donald Trump-connected group’s efforts to convince county quorum courts to ditch voting machines for hand-marked ballots and hand-counted election results. Cleburne County in January became the first county in the state to pivot away from voting machines, but last week, the quorum court repealed that ordinance. An official from the Association of Arkansas Counties told the House committee Monday that the North Arkansas county had passed the January ordinance hastily and may not have realized its full implications. Opponents of SB250 testified the bill would discourage counties from opting to count election results by hand. Hammer said the proposal was not “anti-paper ballot,” saying the bill provides guidelines for any counties that do “deviate” from the rest of the state. Arkansas, he said, has a history of free, fair elections.

Full Article: Arkansas Advocate : Arkansas House committee passes bill to regulate paper ballot counties | Regional News |

Colorado: Federal judge refuses to dismiss defamation suit by former exec of Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems | Michael Karlik/The Gazette

Dominion Voting Systems executive against an Oklahoma podcaster who spread unproven statements about election-rigging in the wake of the 2020 presidential race. Eric Coomer, the former director of product security and strategy for voting technology supplier Dominion, sued Clayton Thomas “Clay” Clark and his “Thrivetime Show” podcast for promoting the rumor that Coomer allegedly confessed to ensuring former President Donald Trump would not win reelection. Those assertions of “treasonous behavior” resulted in death threats against Coomer, who lives in Colorado. On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Senior Judge William J. Martínez denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Clark and Thrivetime argued they had “every reason to believe” the dubious allegations about Coomer, and the lawsuit could not survive because it stemmed from their protected First Amendment activity. But the judge found “no real dispute” that some of the defendants’ comments about Coomer amounted to defamation.

Full Article: Defamation lawsuit by former Dominion exec remains intact | Courts |

Georgia grand jury hears 3rd leaked Trump call | Tamar Hallerman and Bill Rankin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The bomb-sniffing dog was new. The special grand jurors investigating interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections hadn’t before seen that level of security on the third floor of the Fulton County courthouse where they had been meeting in secret for nearly eight months. Oh, God, I hope it doesn’t find anything, one juror recalled thinking as the German Shepherd inspected the room. “It was unexpected. We were not warned of that,” she said. The reason for the heightened surveillance was the day’s star witness: Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser. An election denier who suggested martial law should be imposed to seize voting machines in Georgia and other swing states where Trump lost, Flynn had only agreed to appear after being compelled to by two courts in his home state of Florida. Fulton law enforcement was taking no chances on that unseasonably warm December day, concerned about who might turn up to protect Flynn, a prominent figure among far-right, conspiracy theorist and Christian nationalist groups. Outside, on the courthouse steps, sheriffs’ deputies and marshals carrying automatic weapons kept watch.

Full Article: Behind the scenes of Trump grand jury in Georgia; jurors hear 3rd leaked Trump call

Missouri is not hand-counting votes, despite California county supervisor’s claim | David Benda Redding/Record Searchlight

Supervisor Patrick Jones has used the state of Missouri as an example of where a hand-count ballot system can work and also comply with federal election laws. Jones is leading a charge to eliminate electronic vote tabulation machines in Shasta County and return to hand-counting ballots. “I have been doing a little bit of research with at least one state. Missouri is returning to hand-counting,” Jones said at the board’s Feb. 28 meeting. The Show Me State is not ditching its electronic machines to hand-count ballots. New election provisions that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed into law in June 2022 do a lot of things. What they don’t do is mandate hand-counting all ballots. “Starting in 2024, we are eliminating some electronic equipment, which is called our DRE equipment. Basically, though, just saying that it will be replaced with equipment that will be producing that paper ballot. … But there’s nothing in Missouri where we’re going to start hand-counting all paper ballots,” JoDonn Chaney, director of communications for Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, said to the Record Searchlight.

Full Article: Missouri is not hand-counting votes, despite Shasta supervisor’s claim

Nevada Senate bill: Repay state for unused voting machines | Taylor R. Avery/Las Vegas Review-Journal

Counties and cities could be on the hook for repaying the state for unused voting machines under a bill considered by lawmakers Thursday. Senate Bill 215, presented by state Sen. James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, would require counties and cities that choose to stop using voting machines purchased with state funds to return the money to the state. The bill comes in response to some counties that considered using paper ballots and hand counting, ostensibly to ensure election integrity. The bill would not be retroactive, meaning counties that have already opted to stop using voting machines wouldn’t be required to pay the money back. If passed, the bill would become effective on July 1. The proposed legislation was suggested by an interim legislative committee, which voted in August to request a version of the bill be introduced during the 2023 legislative session.

Full Article: Nevada Senate bill: Repay state for unused voting machines | Las Vegas Review-Journal

New Mexico: Intimidation, voting rights measures headed to governor’s desk | Dan McKay/Albuquerque Journal

Legislation making it a crime to intimidate election workers and expanding automatic voter registration is on its way to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham after winning House approval Monday. The proposals — contained in separate bills — emerged this year as priorities for Democratic legislative leaders. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said the measures would increase protection for people on the front lines carrying out elections and make it easier for New Mexicans to vote. “As federal voting bills are stymied in Congress and voting rights come under attack across the nation, states like New Mexico must step up to protect these rights,” said Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat. The automatic voter registration proposal, House Bill 4, includes provisions to establish a Native American Voting Rights Act, outlining requirements for secure ballot drop boxes and restores felons’ rights to vote when they leave incarceration, rather than after the completion of probation or parole.

Full Article: Intimidation, voting rights measures headed to governor’s desk in New Mexico – Albuquerque Journal

Texas Senate passes bill to make illegal voting a felony again | Pooja Salhotra/The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Tuesday gave final approval, on a 19–12 vote, to legislation that would raise the penalty for voting illegally from a misdemeanor to a felony, a priority for Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other conservative lawmakers who have worked to remake the state’s voting laws since the 2020 election, despite the lack of evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas. Senate Bill 2 heads next to the lower chamber for consideration. If the bill becomes law, a person found guilty of the crime could face up to 20 years in prison and more than $10,000 in fines. The initial debate on the floor Monday between Democratic lawmakers and Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, the bill’s author, focused heavily on what constitutes illegal voting. Lawmakers disagreed over whether, under the bill, a person who mistakenly votes illegally could be prosecuted. Democrats pointed to examples such as a person who knows they have been convicted of a felony but doesn’t realize that makes them ineligible to vote or a person who knows they are not a U.S. citizen but does not know that makes them ineligible.

Full Article: Texas Senate gives OK to make illegal voting a felony | The Texas Tribune

Utah: Elections audits and restrictions for changing parties. Here’s how voting will change. | Bryan Schott/The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah lawmakers introduced 36 bills dealing with elections during the 2023 legislative session, passing 13. Additionally, there were seven proposed amendments to the Utah Constitution, with three that will make it to the 2024 ballot. Most of the election-related bills approved by lawmakers are administrative. For example, HB37 from Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, standardizes signature verification procedures for ballots and how to contact voters when a problem with their signature needs rectifying. Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, pushed SB63, which changes the conditions under which political parties can replace candidates on the ballot. Previously, candidates could only be replaced if they died, were disqualified or resigned due to a physical or mental disability. The change was prompted by the controversy surrounding former Rep. Joel Ferry remaining on the ballot after he resigned from the Legislature and was appointed to head up the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

Full Article: Utah lawmakers passed more than a dozen elections laws. Here’s how voting will change.

Vermont: Internet voting: Good idea, but the risk is still too great | Angelo Lynn/Addison Independent

As a Vermont state legislator, one of the most satisfying parts of the job is to craft legislation that solves a problem for a particular group of constituents. In H.429, legislators crafted a bill that attempts to improve several aspects of the state’s election laws, including what was called a “sore loser law” in which the bill limits the ability of a candidate who loses in a primary battle to re-enter the general election as an independent candidate for the same office. But a clause in the bill also makes changes to expand online voting. This brief aspect of the bill was drafted and passed with bipartisan support and not much controversy for what are good reasons: it sought to make voting easier for a select group of citizens, it was expanded from an existing system, and adequate effort was made to ensure the voting process was secure. And it sought to accomplish what everyone saw as a public good: larger voter turnout via a more convenient process. But what seems secure isn’t always so. Currently, Vermont towns can send blank ballots to a few select voters — basically military, overseas military and citizens with disabilities who request absentee ballots. All ballots are filled out and mailed back via US postage, with military personnel having a special premium paid service that expresses it back to the states. The new law would allow for military, those with disabilities and voters who request an absentee ballot emailed to them, with also the ability for that ballot to be returned electronically.

Full Article: Editorial: Internet voting: Good idea, but the risk is still too great – Addison Independent

Wisconsin: Election-denying donors pour millions into key supreme court race | Alice Herman/The Guardian

More than $3.9m has poured into the Wisconsin supreme court election from individuals and groups involved with promoting election disinformation and attempts to overturn the 2020 election, according to an analysis of campaign spending by the Guardian. The contributions, in support of the conservative candidate Daniel Kelly, come amid a race that has broken national campaign spending records. According to a campaign finance tracker by the Brennan Center for Justice, political ad orders for the liberal county judge Janet Protasiewicz and conservative Kelly have reached at least $20m in anticipation of the 4 April general election. The Wisconsin supreme court is currently made up of three judges who lean liberal and four conservatives. Whoever replaces the conservative retiring justice Patience Roggensack will determine the ideological composition of the court, which has been dominated by the right wing for 15 years. At stake in the Wisconsin supreme court race are redistricting, abortion rights, and voting rights and elections policy. And these decisions go beyond the state: Wisconsin has been a critical swing state in recent presidential elections, so its voting policies affect more than just state residents.

Full Article: Election-denying donors pour millions into key Wisconsin supreme court race | Wisconsin | The Guardian

National: Is anyone investigating Trump allies’ multi-state effort to access election systems? | Sarah D. Wire/Los Angeles Times

As news trickled out that former President Trump’s supporters had organized to access federally protected election machines, and copied sensitive information and software, election expert Susan Greenhalgh waited for FBI or Justice Department leaders to announce an investigation. “It just seemed so stunning that we thought, well of course there’s going to be a big reaction and the government is going to investigate,” said Greenhalgh, senior advisor on election security for the nonprofit Free Speech For People. When months passed with no such announcement, Greenhalgh and over a dozen other election experts wrote a 14-page letter to Justice Department leaders in December outlining what they called a “multi-state conspiracy to copy voting software” and asking the agency to open an investigation. Greenhalgh was baffled when she received a terse, noncommittal response from the FBI a month later that seemed to indicate no action had been or would be taken at the federal level.

Full Article: Who’s probing Trump allies’ effort to access voting systems? – Los Angeles Times

Arizona attorney general sues Cochise County for giving election skeptic control over elections | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes is suing Cochise County for giving its recorder near-full control over the county’s elections, according to a lawsuit Mayes filed Tuesday. Mayes believes that, when agreeing last week to give Recorder David Stevens the authority to run the county’s elections, the county supervisors weren’t clear enough that they still have the final say over certain decisions, according to the Arizona Superior Court complaint. State law requires the supervisors to approve decisions such as where to put voting centers and who to hire to work the polls, for example, and they must also finalize election results. In a statement Tuesday, Mayes equated the agreement to an “unqualified handover” that could give Stevens the potential to cloak future changes to the county’s elections from the public. “I am deeply concerned this move might shield or obscure actions and deliberations the Board would typically conduct publicly under open meeting law,” Mayes wrote.

Full Article: Cochise County sued over transfer of election duties to Recorder David Stevens – Votebeat Arizona – Nonpartisan local reporting on elections and voting

National: G.O.P. States Abandon Bipartisan Voting Integrity Group, Yielding to Conspiracy Theories | Neil Vigdor/The New York Times

First to leave was Louisiana, followed by Alabama. Then, in one fell swoop, Florida, Missouri and West Virginia announced on Monday that they would drop out of a bipartisan network of about 30 states that helps maintain accurate voter rolls, one that has faced intensifying attacks from election deniers and right-wing media. Ohio may not be far behind, according to a letter sent to the group Monday from the state’s chief election official, Frank LaRose. Mr. LaRose and his counterparts in the five states that left the group are all Republicans. For more than a year, the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit organization known as ERIC, has been hit with false claims from allies of former President Donald J. Trump who say it is a voter registration vehicle for Democrats that received money from George Soros, the liberal billionaire and philanthropist, when it was created in 2012. Mr. Trump even chimed in on Monday, urging all Republican governors to sever ties with the group, baselessly claiming in a Truth Social media post that it “pumps the rolls” for Democrats. The Republicans who announced their states were leaving the group cited complaints about governance issues, chiefly that it mails newly eligible voters who have not registered ahead of federal elections. They also accused the group of opening itself up to a partisan influence.

Full Artifcle: G.O.P. States Abandon Group That Helps Fight Voter Fraud – The New York Times

National: Some Election Officials Refused to Certify Results. Few Were Held Accountable. | Doug Bock Clark/ProPublica

A week and a half after last November’s vote, members of the Board of Elections in Surry County, North Carolina, gathered in a windowless room to certify the results. It was supposed to be a routine task, marking the end of a controversial season during which election deniers harassed and retaliated against the county’s elections director. Not long into the meeting, however, a staffer distributed a letter from two board members stating that they were refusing to certify. According to the letter, the two members had decided — “with regard for the sacred blood shed of both my Redeemer and His servants” and “past Patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice”— that they “must not call these election results credible and bow to the perversion of truth.” In their view, a federal judge who’d struck down a North Carolina voter ID law for discriminating against minorities had transformed the state’s election laws into “a grotesque and perverse sham.” Tim DeHaan, one of the two board members who signed the letter, explained at the meeting, “We feel the election was held according to the law that we have, but that the law is not right.” This argument failed to win over the three Democratic board members, according to a recording of the meeting. DeHaan eventually agreed to join the three on a technicality, and the board certified the election with a 4-1 vote. Jerry Forestieri, the Republican board secretary who also signed the letter, held out.

Full Article: Some Election Officials Refused to Certify Results. Few Were Held Accountable. — ProPublica

National: Trump Lawyer Admits to Falsehoods in 2020 Fraud Claims | Alan Feuer/The New York Times

Jenna Ellis, a lawyer who represented President Donald J. Trump after his loss in the 2020 election, admitted in a sworn statement released on Wednesday that she had knowingly misrepresented the facts in several of her public claims that widespread voting fraud led to Mr. Trump’s defeat. The admissions by Ms. Ellis were part of an agreement to accept public censure and settle disciplinary measures brought against her by state bar officials in Colorado, her home state. Last year, the officials opened an investigation of Ms. Ellis after a complaint from the 65 Project, a bipartisan legal watchdog group. The group accused her of professional misconduct in her efforts to help Mr. Trump promote his claims of voting fraud and undertake “a concerted effort to overturn the legitimate 2020 presidential election results.” An earlier complaint about Ms. Ellis had been filed by a lawyer, Benjamin Woods. According to the sworn statement on Wednesday, some of Ms. Ellis’s lies about election fraud were made during appearances on Fox News, several of whose top hosts and executives were recently shown to have disparaged Mr. Trump’s fraud claims in private even though they supported them in public. The revelations about these discrepancies have emerged in a series of court filings by Dominion Voting Systems, a voting-machine company that filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox for promoting a conspiracy theory about its role in the election results.

Full Article: Trump Lawyer Admits to Falsehoods in 2020 Fraud Claims – The New York Times

National: Election conspiracies fuel dispute over voter fraud system | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

A bipartisan effort among states to combat voter fraud has found itself in the crosshairs of conspiracy theories fueled by Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election and now faces an uncertain future. One state has dropped out, a second is in the process of doing so and a handful of other Republican-led states are deciding whether to stay. The aim of the Electronic Registration Information Center, a voluntary system known as ERIC, has been to help member states maintain accurate lists of registered voters by sharing data that allows officials to identify and remove people who have died or moved to other states. Reports also help states identify and ultimately prosecute people who vote in multiple states. In Maryland, state election officials have received reports through the system identifying some 66,000 potentially deceased voters and 778,000 people who may have moved out of state since 2013. In Georgia, the system is credited with providing data to remove nearly 100,000 voters no longer eligible to vote in the state. Yet the effort to improve election integrity and thwart voter fraud has become a target of suspicion among some Republicans after a series of online posts early last year questioning its funding and purpose.

Full Article: Election conspiracies fuel dispute over voter fraud system | AP News

Arizona: Finchem sanctioned over ‘baseless’ election suit | Jonathan J. Cooper/Associated Press

An Arizona judge has sanctioned former Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem and his attorney over a lawsuit challenging his loss in last year’s election, saying the suit “was groundless and not brought in good faith.” Finchem’s suit raised unsupported claims that his loss was marred by misconduct and demanded the results be set aside and the election redone. He’s refused to concede to Democrat Adrian Fontes, who took office in January. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Melissa Julian tossed out Finchem’s lawsuit in December. Fontes and then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is now governor, asked her to sanction Finchem for requiring them to incur the hassle and expense of defending against a baseless lawsuit. Julian said in a ruling dated March 1 that Finchem must pay the reasonable lawyer fees incurred by the Fontes campaign and by the secretary of state’s office, which Fontes now leads. Those costs have not been determined. “Mr. Finchem and bad actors like him cannot be permitted to avoid accountability,” Fontes said in a statement. “He continues to grift off of his broken political agenda using fraudulent schemes that take advantage of Arizonans.”

Full Article: Finchem sanctioned over ‘baseless’ Arizona election suit | AP News

California: Election experts warn against hand-counting ballots in Shasta County | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

Shasta County’s quest to ditch voting machines and count every ballot by hand will be a laborious, time-consuming and a potentially more costly endeavor. Hand counting ballots might be feasible for smaller communities, but for a county like Shasta, with more than 110,000 registered voters, the process becomes more challenging, two election experts told the Record Searchlight. “There is nothing wrong with hand counting, per say. It’s just the larger the jurisdiction ― the number of ballot styles you have ― it does become a little more time-consuming and it does become more complex,” said Genya Coulter, senior director of stakeholder relations at the Open Source Election Technology Institute, a nonprofit that works to ensure election technology is accurate, secure and transparent. “I think it’s certainly going to be very resource heavy,” said Pamela Smith, president of the nonpartisan election watchdog group Verified Voting. “When you talk to election officials, the biggest challenge is recruiting enough poll workers. If you tell them they are going to have to recruit, easily, double the poll workers just to accomplish a hand count, it’s not feasible.” Smith said she has heard the argument that plenty of people want to volunteer to work elections. “That’s just not the case,” she added. “You will need a lot more people” and that could add to the cost.

Full Article: Election experts warn against hand-counting ballots in Shasta County

Editorial: Mike Lindell is helping a California county dump voting machines. You should worry | Anita Chabria/Los Angeles Times

MyPillow guy Mike Lindell, known as much for his voter fraud conspiracy theories as for his two-for-one deals on bedding, has something to sell California. It’s a softer, gentler — and more dangerous — version of the “Big Lie” that fraud stole the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump, and we need it about as much as his Giza Dreams™ bedsheets. Lindell is pushing for U.S. elections to stop using any electronic voting and return to hand-counted paper ballots. And as my colleague Jessica Garrison reported this week, he has one California county ready to bite. Lindell regularly talks about the dangers of electronic voting on his new social platform, Frank Speech, and anywhere else he can find people to listen. That includes this week at the influential Conservative Political Action Conference, where he announced his newest venture, the Election Crime Bureau (donations accepted), not to be confused with any actual government-related bureau.

Full Article: Lies about Dominion are the real election threat in California – Los Angeles Times

Colorado election denier former clerk Peters guilty of obstruction | Associated Press

A former Colorado clerk who has become a hero to election conspiracy theorists was convicted Friday of a misdemeanor obstruction charge for trying to prevent authorities from taking an iPad she allegedly used to videotape a court hearing. The case is separate from Tina Peters’ alleged involvement in a security breach of voting machines. Jurors found Peters guilty of obstructing government operations but acquitted her of obstructing a peace officer, The Daily Sentinel reported. She was charged last year after allegedly recording a court hearing involving a subordinate who was also charged in the alleged voting machine breach. Testimony during the two-day trial included that Peters repeatedly told investigators that the iPad did not belong to her and that she could not provide the password because it belonged to someone else named Tammy Bailey. Peters’ lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, said that was an alias used by Peters, suggesting it was created for security reasons.

Full Article: Election-denying former Colorado clerk guilty of obstruction | AP News

Georgia voter registration system upgraded for smoother elections | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s new, faster voter registration system is now running across the state, an upgrade that election officials said Thursday will ensure security and shorter wait times at polling places. Surrounded by dozens of county election directors at the Georgia Capitol, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the registration system successfully launched last month, replacing the state’s 10-year-old technology that at times broke down under the heavy load of high turnout. “When people ask us, ‘How do we know who voted? How do we know it’s real? How do we know it’s fair?’ Because we have the receipts we keep on this secure system. That’s how we know,” said Gabriel Sterling, Raffensperger’s chief operating officer. “Don’t let anybody believe there are dead voters voting or there’s double voting in any significant way, because it’s just not true.” The registration system, nicknamed GARViS for the Georgia Registered Voter Information System, stores registration records for Georgia’s 7.9 million voters, verifies voters’ information when they check in and processes absentee ballot information.

Full Article: New Georgia voter registration system praised after statewide launch

Michigan: Tiny township pays for imposter 2020 election auditors’ damage | Mardi Link/Meadville Tribune

A tiny township in the remote woods of Michigan stands as a victim of 2020 vote auditing imposters who broke voting machines and have so far been uncharged and unaccountable, leaving Cross Village with a $5,000 bill even insurance won’t pay. Township Clerk Diana Keller tries to keep calm and carry on and was busy on a recent morning calling the National Weather Service in Gaylord, to report the lakeside community’s temperature and precipitation, a task she’s been doing for years. “On days like this I’m not sure why I do it,” she says, laughing off the challenges of being a volunteer weather-spotter in such a remote place. Fewer than 300 people live in this township year-round, residents are surrounded by forests and remote beaches, where the nearest large grocery store is a half-hour away — and that’s when the roads are clear.

Full Article: Tiny township in Michigan pays for imposter 2020 election auditors’ damage | News |

Minnesota election bill would make it illegal to knowingly spread false information that impedes voting | Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer

Despite a dozen hearings in the Minnesota House and Senate, lawmakers have scarcely mentioned a key provision of a major elections bill that would make it a crime to spread election misinformation to try to stop people from voting. The Democracy for the People Act, (HF3), includes a provision that would make it a gross misdemeanor — punishable by up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine — to knowingly spread materially false information with the intent to impede or prevent people from voting. It would apply before 60 days an election. It would be illegal to spread false information about the “time, place or manner of holding an election,” qualifications for or restrictions on voter eligibility, and threats to physical safety associated with voting.

Full Article: Election bill would make it illegal to knowingly spread false information that impedes voting – Minnesota Reformer