Election experts issue report recommending changes ahead of 2024 | Zach Montellaro/Politico

A panel of prominent election experts has issued a report warning that American democracy is facing significant stress in the lead-up to the 2024 election. The report, which includes 24 policy recommendations, addresses issues stemming from hyperpolarized politics and closely contested elections in the past two decades. Among the suggestions are the implementation of laws safeguarding election officials, ensuring ample and robust voting opportunities, and policies for social media companies to combat election misinformation. The committee emphasizes the need for clear rules and early resolution of election disputes. It also calls for a swift determination on challenges to candidates’ eligibility, such as those regarding former President Donald Trump’s potential candidacy under the 14th Amendment. The report underscores the importance of these measures to prevent public unrest and maintain confidence in the electoral process. Read Article

“Where’s Celia?” An Arizona elections official becomes the target of a virtual manhunt by GOP activists on a public records crusade. | Jen Fifield/Votebeat Arizona

The article details the story of Celia Nabor, a former election official in Maricopa County, Arizona, who faced harassment and threats from a political action committee called We The People AZ Alliance, primarily funded by Patrick Byrne’s The America Project. The PAC employed a strategy of bombarding local election offices with public records requests, using the obtained documents to spread misinformation about elections. Nabor, who oversaw mail-in ballot verification, was falsely accused of aiding election fraud. The surge in such requests has overwhelmed election offices nationwide, straining resources and hampering their ability to combat misinformation. Nabor eventually resigned and faced ongoing harassment, prompting her to relocate for safety. Despite these challenges, the PAC continues to file requests for Nabor’s communications, and legal battles surrounding these requests persist. Read Article

National: 2024 election-related violence among security threats facing US, DHS says | Holmes Lybrand and Kaanita Iyer/CNN

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a threat assessment for 2024, identifying potential risks and challenges for the United States. The report highlights concerns over possible violence and foreign influence targeting election infrastructure, processes, and personnel during the 2024 election season. It anticipates that Russia, China, and Iran, with advanced influence campaigns, may employ AI-generated content and disinformation on social media to shape policy outcomes and influence Americans. The DHS also warns of threats from Americans motivated by conspiracy theories and anti-government sentiments, who could aim to disrupt the election by targeting voters, election workers, and government officials, as well as polling stations and vote counting sites. Read Article

National: State election chiefs look to courts to deal with Trump ballot challenges | Nnamdi Egwuonwu and Emma Barnett/NBC

State election officers are cautious about involving themselves in potential challenges to Donald Trump’s eligibility for the 2024 ballot based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars those who engaged in insurrection from holding office. Secretaries of state in New Hampshire, Arizona, Michigan, and Colorado have either faced or anticipate legal disputes over Trump’s eligibility for state ballots in the upcoming Republican primaries. Many election officials are hesitant to weigh in on this matter, with some emphasizing that their offices might not be the appropriate venues for making final determinations on such issues. They argue that candidates’ qualifications are typically decided by the courts after filing for office. Read Article

National: Voting rights activists sound alarms over private tool that could lead to cancelling voter registrations | Fredreka Schouten and Curt Devine/CNN

Voting rights groups are raising concerns over a new tool called EagleAI NETwork, supported by some conservatives, aimed at identifying fraudulent voter registrations. Critics argue that the private software relies on unreliable information and could potentially disenfranchise legitimate voters. The creators of EagleAI NETwork claim it to be a pivotal tool for validating, maintaining, and reviewing election rosters. However, voting rights advocates see this as an extension of the skepticism around election administration that emerged among certain Republicans after Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss. They fear that the data used by EagleAI NETwork may not contain enough identifying details, potentially leading to the removal of valid voters from the rolls. The software is being promoted as an alternative to the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which has been criticized by Trump and conservative activists. While EagleAI NETwork has made pitches to officials in various states, none have confirmed plans to use it, and it could potentially be exploited for mass voter registration challenges ahead of the 2024 election. Critics emphasize that such challenges could burden voters and election officials alike. Read Article

National: The U.S is getting hacked. So the Pentagon is overhauling its approach to cyber. | Maggie Miller and Lara Seligman/Politico

The Defense Department’s secretive branch, U.S. Cyber Command, is shifting its approach due to the evolving landscape of cyberwarfare. Recent high-profile cyberattacks from Russia, China, and criminal networks have prompted a realization that collaboration is now imperative. Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting private companies and government agencies beyond the Pentagon’s typical scope. Consequently, the Defense Department is engaging with other federal agencies, private sectors, and foreign allies to address cyber threats to critical systems, including elections. This shift marks a departure from the previous focus on protecting military networks, as the Pentagon recognizes the need to defend against a broader range of cyber threats, including ransomware attacks on private businesses crucial to the U.S. economy. Read Article

Arizona: Federal Judge blocks state from enforcing law regulating who can vote for president | Howard Fischer/Arizona Capitol Times

A federal judge in Arizona has ruled that the state cannot enforce a 2022 law regulating who can vote for president. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton declared that Arizonans using a federal voter registration form have the right to cast a ballot in presidential elections, invalidating portions of the law requiring “satisfactory evidence of citizenship” to vote in such elections. Additionally, the judge struck down a provision preventing those using the federal form from voting by mail. However, final judgment on other changes in state voter registration laws will be determined after a full trial. The ruling effectively overturns efforts by GOP lawmakers to restrict presidential voting eligibility ahead of the 2024 election. While state law mandates proof of citizenship for voting in local and state races, federal law allows a sworn statement of citizenship for voting in federal elections, including presidential ones, according to the National Voter Registration Act. Read Article

Arkansas: Pulaski County circuit judge tosses out lawsuit challenging state’s voting machines | John Lynch/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A lawsuit challenging the legality of Arkansas’ ballot-counting machines has been dismissed after the plaintiff’s attorney couldn’t demonstrate that the system ever misrepresented a vote. The case revolved around whether the bar code-based system allows voters to independently verify their selections before casting their ballots, as required by Arkansas law. The judge ruled that the system does provide this opportunity, as voters receive printed ballots reflecting their choices after making selections from the computer system. The plaintiff’s argument that the system has flaws or vulnerabilities unrelated to the verification process was not considered relevant to the case. Read Article

California lawmakers vote to limit when local election officials can count ballots by hand | Adam Beam and Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

California lawmakers have voted to restrict the circumstances under which local governments can conduct hand counts of election ballots, a move primarily aimed at Shasta County. The county’s conservative-majority board of supervisors decided to terminate its contract with Dominion Voting Systems, citing loss of public confidence in the machines. The recent legislation limits hand counts to specific situations, such as regularly scheduled elections with fewer than 1,000 registered voters or special elections with fewer than 5,000 eligible voters. Critics argue that hand counts are resource-intensive and less precise compared to electronic tabulation. Read Article

California: Shasta County supervisors to vote on suing state over voting law prohibiting hand counting ballots in most elections | Damon Arthur/Redding Record Searchlight

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors is considering suing the state of California over a recently passed bill, Assembly Bill 969, that would prohibit hand counting ballots in most elections. The board argues that if the bill is signed into law, it would violate the state constitution by being illegally approved as an urgency measure, and it would also strip local control from the Shasta County supervisors. The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Gail Pellerin, would mandate the use of voting machines for ballot counting, except in elections with fewer than 1,000 registered voters. Shasta County, with over 110,000 registered voters, would be affected by this change. The bill also requires counties to have a transition plan and a replacement contract in place before terminating an existing voting system contract. While some supervisors support the potential lawsuit, others believe the funds could be better used elsewhere. Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen supports the bill, emphasizing the importance of using certified and qualified voting systems for tabulating results. Read Article

Connecticut advocacy groups push Governor to fund new voting machines | Andrew Brown/CT Miror

A coalition of advocacy organizations, including the ACLU, League of Women Voters, AARP, Common Cause CT, Safe Vote CT, and others, is urging Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont to authorize funding for new voting equipment ahead of the 2024 presidential election. This call for action follows malfunctions and issues with the state’s existing ballot tabulators, which were first used in 2006 and 2007. The state legislature has passed a bill to borrow more than $25 million to replace the aging equipment, but Lamont and the State Bond Commission need to vote to officially allocate the funds. The coalition is concerned that delays in securing new tabulators could jeopardize voting accessibility and election integrity. Read Article

Michigan: Threatening election workers could soon be felony | Ben Orner/mlive.com

Michigan State Rep. Kara Hope is advocating for legislation, House Bills 4129 and 4130, aimed at safeguarding election workers from harassment and intimidation. These bills, which have gained momentum with Democrats holding a majority in both legislative chambers, propose making it a felony to intimidate or obstruct the duties of election officials, with penalties including up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $1,000. The legislation, motivated by concerns over increasing political tensions and threats against election workers, is viewed as crucial for the smooth operation of elections. Read Article

Nevada: Election regulations again draw GOP pushback; allow hand counting, with limits | Sean Golonka/The Nevada Independent

The Nevada Secretary of State’s office is in the process of updating and adopting regulations for the upcoming presidential primary elections. These regulations cover various technical aspects of election administration and are aligned with state election laws passed in the last legislative session. They establish timelines for pre- and post-election procedures and provide clarity for election officials and the public on how elections are conducted. While the process is routine, it has become a platform for Nevada Republicans to express concerns about the state’s election laws. Some argue that these regulations represent an “election law power grab,” while others criticize the state’s mail ballot laws and the requirement for a presidential preference primary for each major party. The regulations will need approval from the Legislative Commission before taking effect. Read Article

New York City pension funds and state of Oregon sue Fox over 2020 election coverage | Associated Press

New York City’s pension funds and the state of Oregon have filed a lawsuit against Fox Corporation, alleging that the company allowed Fox News to broadcast false information about the 2020 election, resulting in harm to investors and making the network vulnerable to defamation lawsuits. The complaint, filed in Delaware, accuses Fox of amplifying conspiracy theories about the election, leading to a settlement of nearly $800 million with Dominion Voting Systems. The suit contends that Fox’s board prioritized airing former President Donald Trump’s election falsehoods to appease his supporters, knowing it could lead to legal repercussions. The complaint does not specify the damages sought, but it highlights the board’s disregard for journalistic standards and failure to implement safeguards against defamation litigation. Read Article

Pennsylvania: US Supreme Court won’t intervene in dispute over access to voting equipment after 2020 election | Ariane de Vogue and Zachary Cohen/CNN

The Supreme Court has declined an emergency request from Republican election officials in a Pennsylvania county regarding sanctions related to a dispute over voting equipment and the 2020 election. The case centers on actions taken by two of the three Fulton County Commissioners who sought an examination of Dominion voting equipment by a third party after the 2020 election. They claimed it was to decide whether to continue using the machines. Multiple unauthorized outside firms gained access to the voting systems in Fulton County, which was later deemed improper. The Supreme Court’s decision upholds the sanctions imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Read Article

Texas: What’s at stake in the long-awaited trial over sweeping 2021 elections law | Natalia Contreras/The Texas Tribune

The trial for the legal challenge against Texas Republicans’ voting and election law overhaul, known as Senate Bill 1, began in federal court in San Antonio. More than 20 state and national organizations have brought lawsuits against the law, claiming it violates federal laws including the Voting Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and constitutional amendments. The law, passed in 2021, faced criticism from Democrats who argued it was based on unfounded voter fraud claims. Plaintiffs argue that certain provisions of the law make it more difficult for voters of color to cast their ballots, with some alleging this effect was intentional. The trial is expected to last until late October, with a decision possibly coming months later. The case could potentially impact elections and voting in 2024, though appeals could prolong the process. Read Article

Wisconsin Senate Republicans fire elections chief Meagan Wolfe, setting the stage for a legal fight heading into the 2024 elections | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In a party-line vote, Senate Republicans in Wisconsin voted to remove the state’s top election official, Meagan Wolfe, from her position as the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. This decision has ignited a legal battle over the authority to oversee voting in the state as the 2024 presidential election approaches. The move follows lingering outrage within the GOP over the 2020 election and a baseless campaign by former President Donald Trump to undermine its legitimacy. Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has filed a lawsuit to block the removal, while Wolfe plans to stay in her position pending court decisions. Critics argue that this move is relitigating the 2020 election and may undermine faith in the electoral system. Read Article