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

Nevada elections head pushes training, manual amid turnover | Gabe Stern/Associated Press

Amid widespread turnover among county election officials in Nevada as the 2022 midterms approached, the clerks and registrars thrust into new roles often had a dual approach: running elections while learning how they operate. Democratic secretary of state Cisco Aguilar vowed to address the loss of institutional election knowledge to a state Senate committee Thursday, perpetrated in part by election denialism and hostility toward election officials, along with adapting to changing election laws and a host of other duties that some clerks and clerk-treasurers are tasked with. This includes managing decades of public documents and safeguarding millions in public funds. The fallout has been stark: 10 of the state’s 17 counties have changed top election officials since 2020. Several left in the months leading up to the pivotal 2022 midterms. The departures included large portions of county election staffs and the secretary of state’s elections office, where eight of the department’s 11 positions experienced turnover between the 2020 election and October 2022. Aguilar, who took office in January, presented a bill that would mandate his office to prepare biennial training courses and an elections procedures manual for county and city clerks, which would be at the ready for sudden departures and new staff heads leading up to the 2024 election and beyond. Several county clerks and voting rights groups testified in support of the bill.

Full Article: Nevada elections head pushes training, manual amid turnover | AP News

Ohio: Trump ‘White House in waiting’ helped develop voting bill touted as model for states | Zachary Roth/Ohio Capital Journal

A new bill announced by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to standardize and modernize state voting records is being welcomed by election administrators and some voter advocates, who say it could increase transparency and confidence in elections. But the first-of-its-kind legislation was developed with help from a think tank that is leading the charge nationally for more restrictive voting rules and has been called a “White House in waiting” for a second Trump administration. The bill also is winning praise from conservative activists who have spread fear about illegal voting as part of an effort to pressure election officials to more aggressively purge voter rolls. The measure, known as the Data Analysis Transparency Archive (DATA) Act, could offer a glimpse of a future conservative agenda on voting issues. At a Feb. 22 press conference announcing the bill, LaRose, a Republican, thanked the America First Policy Institute for “helping with the development” of the legislation. AFPI reportedly aims to create a policy platform for former President Donald Trump.  A spokesman for LaRose did not respond to an inquiry about AFPI’s role in developing the bill. But Hilton Beckham, AFPI’s director of communications, said via email that the group did not write the bill. Beckham said it came out of an AFPI report released last year, which found that many local election offices are failing to retain election data as required by law, and that in many counties, the total number of ballots cast doesn’t match up with the total number of registered voters who cast ballots.

Full Article: Trump ‘White House in waiting’ helped develop Ohio voting bill touted as model for states – Ohio Capital Journal

Pennsylvania: Luzerne County voters may be using paper ballots at polls on May 16 | Jennifer Learn-Andes/Times Leader

Luzerne County voters may be selecting their candidates on paper ballots instead of electronic ballot marking devices at polling places in the May 16 primary election, officials said Monday. Election Director Eryn Harvey presented the plan to the county’s five-citizen Election Board, saying paper ballots were successfully used during a Jan. 31 state senate special election impacting 18 municipalities. The election bureau received a significant level of positive feedback from both voters and poll workers, she said. After marking their candidate choice, special election voters had to feed their paper ballot into a tabulator/scanner for the vote to be cast. With the ballot marking devices, voters pick their candidates on a computer screen and then print out the resulting ballot, which they must review and feed into the tabulator/scanner. While each of the 186 precincts must still have a ballot marking device available for those with disabilities in the primary, Harvey said the plan she is proposing would reduce the county’s expense for Dominion Voting Systems Inc. to bring a team of 10 or so representatives here for two weeks to program and test all of the approximately 700 ballot marking devices.

Full Article: Luzerne County voters may be using paper ballots at polls on May 16 | The Sunday Dispatch

Texas Lawmakers Seek to Replace ‘Elections Administrators’ with Elected Officials in Large Counties | Holly Hansen/The Texan

In the past few years, election missteps in Harris County have repeatedly drawn national media attention, lawsuits, election contests, and a criminal investigation. This year, state lawmakers are considering a slew of legislative fixes to improve large county management of elections. In the latest proposal, Texas Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) are demanding that counties with a population of more than one million return elections management to elected officials they say will be more accountable to the public. “Voters should have confidence in their elections, and when they see Harris County Elections Administrators botch election after election in 2022 that confidence is shaken,” said Bettencourt, who previously served as the Harris County tax assessor-collector & voter registrar. Among large Texas counties, Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, and Collin have appointed election administrators to manage elections. About half Texas’ 254 counties employ elections administrators, while the others give responsibility to elected officials such as the county clerk.

Full Article: Texas Lawmakers Seek to Replace ‘Elections Administrators’ with Elected Officials in Large Counties | The Texan

Texas: Conspiracy theory whirlwind threatens to blow state out of national program that keeps voter rolls updated | Natalia Contreras/The Texas Tribune

In virtual meetings taking place over a year, right-wing activists and Republican legislators have stoked concern over a multistate coalition that Texas and more than 30 other states use to help clean voter rolls. The majority of their grievances — that it is run by left-wing voter registration activists and funded by billionaire George Soros, among other things — were pulled straight from a far-right conspiracy website and are baseless. Now, lawmakers who regularly attend those meetings have introduced legislation written by the group that would end Texas’s participation in the coalition: the Electronic Registration Information Center, also known as ERIC. The bills were introduced despite the efforts of Texas’ elections director, who attended a meeting and offered factual information related to their concerns last April, apparently without success. Keith Ingram, the elections director for the secretary of state’s office, told the group that the program was the only option available to ensure voters aren’t registered or voting in more than one state at the same time. Nonetheless, the activists moved forward with an effort that experts say is set to undermine one of the best election integrity tools available to Texas and other states to prevent election fraud.

Full Article: Right-wing activists want Texas to quit ERIC, a program that updates voter rolls | The Texas Tribune

Utah lawmakers adopt election reforms suggested by recent audit | Bridger Beal-Cvetko/Deseret News

The Utah Legislature took recommendations from a recent election audit to heart last week, passing a bill to implement several suggestions to improve election security and transparency. Although a legislative audit of Utah’s election system found no instances of widespread voter fraud, it noted small discrepancies in the number of ballots cast and the number of votes recorded in some counties. As a result, the auditors recommended the state adopt a public reconciliation of ballots, which is one of the things HB448 would accomplish.

Full Article: What Utah election reforms were suggested by recent audit? – Deseret News