AI presents political peril for 2024 with threat to mislead voters | David Klepper and Ali Swenson/Associated Press

The rise of powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tools is posing a significant threat to the integrity of political campaigns and elections. Sophisticated generative AI can rapidly create fake audio, video, and images that are realistic enough to deceive voters and manipulate public opinion. These AI-generated synthetic media can be used to spread misinformation, impersonate candidates, and mislead voters on a large scale and at a rapid pace. The implications for the 2024 campaigns and elections are troubling, as these tools can undermine trust and erode the democratic process. Experts warn that society is ill-prepared to combat this emerging threat, and urgent measures are needed to address the potential consequences of AI-generated political disinformation. Legislation requiring labeling of AI-generated campaign advertisements and synthetic images has been proposed, but more comprehensive solutions are required to safeguard elections from AI manipulation. Read Article

Why we need to celebrate and protect our Black election officials | Veronica Degraffenreid/Philadelphia Inquirer

My grandmother, Carrie L. Williams, a teacher, was one of the first Black people to vote in rural Bertie County, N.C. She registered during a time in the state’s history where Black people were required to pass a literacy test, and my grandfather, who never attended formal school, could not join her in casting a ballot. Just a few decades later, I became the director of election operations in North Carolina. I wonder if Grandma Carrie could have imagined when she was headed to the ballot box for the very first time that one day her granddaughter would be helping to run elections in the very same state — working like many other Black election officials and poll workers to ensure that all eligible citizens, regardless of race, can participate in a truly representative democratic society. Read Article

National: Generative AI Adds New Dimensions to Election Interference | Carl Smith/Governing

The spread of misinformation through social media, fueled by artificial intelligence (AI), has created significant challenges for election officials. AI tools have the potential to worsen this problem, amplifying falsehoods and slander about election processes and officials. The resulting atmosphere of harassment and threats towards election officials has even led to the assault on the Capitol building. As AI continues to advance, the public sector needs to find ways to combat the potential disruptions and negative consequences it may bring, whether through collaboration with the industry or the use of AI tools to counter misinformation. Read Article

National: Trump Was Implicated in a Vote Machine Theft. Why Isn’t DOJ Investigating? | Ben Clements and Susan Greenhalgh/Slate

Federal investigators are seemingly overlooking Donald Trump’s potential involvement in a criminal conspiracy to access and copy voting software systems as part of the larger scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Testimony suggests that Trump was at least aware of the unlawful scheme, which was discussed with him in an Oval Office meeting prior to the January 6 electoral college count. Evidence has emerged of multiple software breaches orchestrated by Trump’s campaign, including instances in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Georgia. Despite the evidence and requests for investigation, there has been no federal inquiry into this software scheme, its connection to the broader conspiracy, or its potential implications for future elections. A thorough federal investigation is necessary to hold accountable those involved and to safeguard the integrity of future elections. Read Artiole

National: States share services as DHS cyber grants roll out | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

State Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) in the United States are prioritizing election security by sharing their cybersecurity services and tools with local governments, school districts, and other political subdivisions. They are utilizing funds from the $1 billion cybersecurity grant program established under the Biden administration’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending law. Instead of implementing complex subgrant processes, states are leveraging the funds to bolster election cybersecurity capabilities in smaller public-sector entities. Initiatives include assisting local governments in implementing multi-factor authentication, migrating to the .gov domain, and providing training on cybersecurity skills. This collaborative approach aims to strengthen election defenses across diverse jurisdictions and promote shared security measures throughout the states. Read Article

National: The Supreme Court has an electoral ‘bomb’ on its hands. Will it defuse it before 2024? | Zach Montellaro/Politico

The U.S. Supreme Court’s resolution of the Moore v. Harper case, which addresses the controversial independent state legislature (ISL) theory, may not occur this year. The theory, championed by conservative legal scholars, diminishes the role of state courts in interpreting election laws set by state legislatures. However, uncertainty looms as the Supreme Court could choose to avoid issuing a decision, potentially leading to chaos in the 2024 election. Proponents argue that accepting the theory could grant state legislatures unchecked authority to shape election rules, potentially enabling partisan gerrymandering and unfair changes to voter registration and ballot casting regulations. The lack of a clear decision could disrupt both congressional and presidential elections, fueling concerns among critics and legal experts. The fate of the Moore case remains uncertain, and its resolution will have significant implications for future elections. Read Article

Editorial: Unsealing the Halderman report would be Responsible Vulnerability Disclosure | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

A statement by computer security experts published on May 12he argues for the immediate unsealing and public release of a report on security flaws in Dominion voting machines, authored by Professors J. Alex Halderman and Drew Springall. It highlights the importance of responsible disclosure in the field of computer security, where vulnerabilities are reported to software vendors and subsequently made public after a set period to incentivize prompt fixes and improve overall security. The statement emphasizes that keeping vulnerabilities secret does not provide security, as others can discover them as well. It cites the industry norm of responsible disclosure and the benefits it brings in terms of prompt patching and informed decision-making by software users. The authors assert that the report in question should be released since the vendor has had ample time to address the vulnerabilities it highlights, and the public needs full information about the security of Dominion’s voting machines. They also express concerns about the potential risks of unauthorized access or public leakage of the report, particularly close to the 2024 election. Read Statement

Alabama Bill requiring mandatory ballot audits filed in House | Craig Monger/1819

Alabama State Representative Debbie Wood has sponsored House Bill 457, which requires a mandatory ballot audit after each county and statewide general election in Alabama. The bill mandates that each county’s canvassing board will conduct a post-election manual audit that includes a manual tally of all ballots in at least one randomly selected race. The selection of the race and polling location may be by drawing lots or computerized random selection to ensure that all voting locations and races are included in the selection method. According to the bill’s sponsor, the audit will ensure accountability to both candidates and voters, particularly as her race was decided by a margin of seven votes. The bill has been assigned to the House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee. Read Article

Arizona: Why Kari Lake is still, six months after losing, in court arguing the 2022 election was stolen? | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

Kari Lake, a GOP candidate who continues to assert that the 2020 election was fraudulently stolen from her, persists with shape-shifting arguments in court even six months after the races were called. Recently, a judge granted Lake a trial on a claim that has undergone changes over time, reflecting her determination to challenge the election results. Despite lacking evidence to support her allegations, Lake has used the ongoing litigation as a platform to spread false claims and solicit funds from supporters. The prolonged legal battle not only fuels uncertainty among voters but also deepens distrust in the electoral system. While Lake benefits from fundraising opportunities, taxpayers foot the bill for state and county attorneys defending the election. This protracted timeline hampers the ability of the Republican Party in Arizona to move forward and focus on upcoming elections, including a crucial Senate race in 18 months. Read Article

Georgia Prosecutor Rebuts Trump’s Effort to Scuttle Elections Case | Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim/The New York Times

Fani T. Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, has requested a judge to dismiss former President Donald J. Trump’s attempt to disqualify her from leading an investigation into whether he and his allies interfered in the 2020 election in the state. In a court filing, Ms. Willis also asked the judge to reject Trump’s request to suppress the final report of a special grand jury that examined evidence in the election meddling case. Trump’s lawyers accused Willis of bias and claimed the grand jury’s work was influenced improperly. The Georgia investigation has the potential to result in Trump’s indictment this summer, addressing whether he violated state laws while seeking to overturn President Biden’s victory after the election. Read Article

Montana: How Lincoln County’s ‘Big Lie’ Upended an Election Department | Tristan Scott/Flathead Beacon

Lincoln County’s election officials in Montana resigned en masse after facing unfounded allegations of fraud and falsifying documents from the county commissioners. The respected officials had been commended for their work and were trusted by candidates and the community. The commissioners’ accusations and hostile environment created by extremist party politics led to the departures. The vacancies pose concerns about the county’s ability to run future elections and deter prospective employees from public service. The tensions reflect a broader trend of election officials stepping away due to baseless accusations and threats, perpetuated by conspiracy theories and disinformation about election security. Read Article

Nevada Attorney General backs making fake elector schemes a felony in light of 2020 | Casey Harrison/Las Vegas Sun

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford has revealed that his office is unable to prosecute individuals who signed fake electoral certificates declaring Donald Trump the winner in Nevada after the 2020 election because there is no state law explicitly making such actions illegal. Ford testified in support of Senate Bill 133, which seeks to prohibit the creation and submission of false slates of presidential electors, making it a category B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $5,000. The bill aims to hold accountable those attempting to subvert democratic processes based on false claims. Ford’s office is also assisting the U.S. Department of Justice in its investigation into fake electors. Read Article

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia is not giving equal polling place access to disabled voters | Laura Benshoff/Votebeat

The challenges faced by voters with disabilities in Philadelphia are brought to light, revealing the city’s shortcomings in providing equal access to the voting process. Despite legal requirements for accessibility, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, voters with disabilities still encounter obstacles. Issues include the absence of necessary equipment for wheelchair accessibility and a lack of consideration for accommodations. While progress has been made, there is a need for ongoing efforts to ensure that individuals with disabilities can exercise their right to vote independently and without barriers. The article highlights past legal actions, ongoing complaints, and the importance of maintaining a continuous focus on accessibility to create an inclusive voting experience for all citizens. Read Article

Tennessee: Voting machines in Williamson County in limbo again after vote | Chris Gadd/Nashville Tennessean

The use of Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) for all voters versus hand-marked paper ballots has sparked a heated debate in Williamson County, Tennessee. The county commission recently voted against purchasing BMDs, a decision applauded by the Voters for Election Integrity citizen group. However, the county election commissioners, while disappointed, remain determined to find a solution. Advocates of BMDs argue for their accuracy and cost-effectiveness, citing an error rate of less than one percent. On the other hand, critics express concerns over the reliability of using devices to mark ballots and favor the traditional method of hand-marked paper ballots. Read Article

Texas Legislature could take rare step to eliminate Harris County’s elections administrator position | Jen Rice/Houston Chronicle

The Texas Legislature is considering a bill that could eliminate the position of Harris County elections administrator, which would be an unprecedented move to remove a local official without the county’s consent. The bill, authored by state Senator Paul Bettencourt, has already passed the Senate and a House committee. If signed into law, the responsibilities of overseeing elections in Harris County would revert back to the county clerk and tax assessor-collector, who previously handled the task. While the bill is specific to Harris County, its passage could set a precedent for similar actions targeting officials in other counties. The move has raised concerns about the state’s interference in local government and the potential erosion of voter accountability. The bill is part of a broader effort by the Texas Legislature to restrict the powers of local governments, including measures that limit the ability to pass local ordinances. Read Article

Texas: Eliminating countywide voting would make the process harder on voters, cost more money, election leaders say | Pooja Salhotra/The Texas Tribune

Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would eliminate vote centers, which allow any registered voter to vote at any polling location in the county on Election Day, and instead require residents to vote at an assigned precinct in their neighborhood. The bill, SB 990, has passed the state Senate and is now being reviewed by the House Elections Committee. Supporters of the bill argue that it would ensure accurate vote counts and prevent multiple voting, although no evidence has been provided to support these claims. Critics, including voting rights advocates and local government officials, argue that vote centers are popular and that eliminating them would create logistical and financial burdens for election offices. Read Article

Wisconsin: As voting has gotten harder, organizers have found ways to help | Matt Mencarini/Wisconsin Watch

Despite Wisconsin’s consistently high overall voter turnout, there is a growing concern about declining participation among Black, Hispanic, and lower-income voters. Factors such as closed polling locations and underfunding of elections contribute to this decline. The Cost of Voting Index indicates a link between increased voting difficulty and reduced participation, although the impact varies across different groups. Interestingly, when voting becomes more challenging, it motivates Black voters to come to the polls. The presence of community organizers and local organizations plays a vital role in mobilizing voters and building trust. Governor Tony Evers has proposed various voting-related changes to improve accessibility, such as automatic voter registration, but these proposals face opposition from Republicans. BLOC, an organization dedicated to political engagement and voter education, prioritizes community involvement and plays an active role beyond elections. Read Article