The federal agency dedicated to elections continues struggling with turnover | Jessica Huseman/Votebeat

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has fired its executive director, Steven Frid, who held the position for less than a year, marking the agency’s third executive director in as many years. The EAC has also been without a permanent general counsel for nearly two years, with its chief information security officer temporarily filling in as executive director. The agency, responsible for crucial election guidance, faces challenges with staff turnover, and its commissioners are now tasked with filling open positions during the 2024 federal election year. High turnover, lack of staff satisfaction, and internal limitations on hiring qualified personnel have plagued the EAC, impacting its effectiveness in providing support to local election administrators. Reasd Article

New Hampshire’s aging ballot scanners pose challenges. Problems could prompt conspiracy theories | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

All New Hampshire voters mark their ballot by hand, but how those ballots are counted depends on the city or town. Just under half opt to hand count and have done so for years, but those are among the least populated in the state. The most populous towns and cities use machine tabulators, so most ballots cast in the state are counted electronically using the AccuVote scanners. The same type of ballot scanners are used by local voting jurisdictions in five other states, according to Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group that tracks U.S. voting equipment. “You could say it’s primitive technology. You could say it’s simple and reliable technology. Both of those things can be true,” said Mark Lindeman, the group’s policy and strategy director. He said New Hampshire’s tabulators have been kept in good condition and that the biggest challenge for election officials is finding replacement parts. He sees the worst-case scenario as local election officials having to resort to hand counting because a tabulator has failed and they don’t have access to a backup. “As worst cases go, that’s a pretty good one,” Lindeman said. “The ballots are safe. This will not prevent New Hampshire voters from voting or prevent New Hampshire voters from having their votes counted.” Read Article

National: ‘Scared to Death’: Election officials on edge ahead of 2024 vote | John Sakellariadis/Politico

At a conference hosted by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, local election workers voiced alarm and frustration about the difficulty of convincing some Americans that the vote can be trusted. The officials worry about intense partisan scrutiny, insider threats, and AI-powered disinformation affecting the democratic system. Despite efforts to combat false claims, increased harassment, and threats, many officials fear a crisis in voter trust, especially in the face of ongoing conspiracy theories and baseless allegations. Read Article

National: Here’s how ChatGPT maker OpenAI plans to deter election misinformation in 2024 | Ali Swenson/Associated Press

OpenAI has announced a plan to prevent the misuse of its generative AI tools for spreading election misinformation. The San Francisco-based AI startup outlined safeguards, including policies against creating chatbots impersonating real candidates, misrepresenting voting processes, or discouraging voting. OpenAI plans to digitally watermark AI images generated by its DALL-E tool to identify their origin and is partnering with the National Association of Secretaries of State to direct users with voting-related questions to accurate information. The company aims to enhance transparency, enforce policies, and provide accurate voting information through its initiatives. However, concerns about potential gaps and the need for industry-wide guidelines are noted. Read Article

National: Disinformation poses an unprecedented threat in 2024, and the U.S. isn’t ready | Brandy Zadrozny/NBC

As the 2024 U.S. presidential election approaches, experts highlight the unprecedented threat of disinformation to democracy. Researchers, technologists, and political scientists warn that a convergence of events, including rising authoritarianism, deep distrust, and political unrest, creates a dire environment for propaganda, falsehoods, and conspiracy theories. The potential impact of disinformation ranges from influencing how people form opinions on issues to providing false evidence that threatens democracy or public health. Experts emphasize the need for comprehensive solutions, such as reviving local news, implementing information literacy programs, and enacting meaningful legislation around social media. Read Article

Arizona: Not MAGA enough: 2020 election skeptic quit his job after facing blowback from angry election deniers | Rob Kuznia, Scott Bronstein and Donie O’Sullivan/CNN

Bob Bartelsmeyer, the former Cochise County elections director, faced a tumultuous tenure marked by local election deniers, harassment, and conspiracy theories. Initially a believer in the falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, Bartelsmeyer’s attempt to implement common-sense election measures faced strong opposition. The Cochise Board of Supervisors, amidst suspicions related to the 2020 election, voted against Bartelsmeyer’s proposals, leading to his resignation in September. His story highlights the challenges faced by election officials dealing with distrust and conspiracy theories, contributing to a broader trend of election officials leaving their positions across the U.S., raising concerns about the upcoming elections. Read Article

Arizona: Are unstaffed ballot drop boxes allowed? Final rulebook offers little clarity | Jen Fifield/Votebeat

Arizona voters have utilized unstaffed ballot drop boxes for years, but a new state Elections Procedures Manual by Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, finalized on Dec. 30, has raised questions about the legality of these drop boxes. While the prior manual explicitly allowed unstaffed drop boxes, the new edition’s changes imply that only drop boxes staffed by election officials may be placed outdoors or inside a building. Although Fontes’ general counsel insists that the changes were made to align with state law and unstaffed drop boxes are still permitted, concerns have been raised, with Republicans planning to address the matter in litigation. Read Article

Arkansas Supreme Court agrees to expedite case filed by group seeking to require paper ballots and limit absentee voting | Matt Campbell/Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Supreme Court has approved an expedited schedule for a lawsuit filed by the Arkansas Voter Integrity Initiative, seeking paper ballots and restrictions on absentee voting in the state. The group aims to have two proposed constitutional amendments certified for the 2024 ballot. While the case challenges the Attorney General’s authority to certify ballot measures and questions the constitutionality of recent changes to the process, it does not address the substance of the proposed amendments. Read Article

Colorado: Sweeping overhaul of elections gets initial nod for ballot from state Title Board | Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline

The “Colorado Equal Election Access Amendment,” backed by Colorado multimillionaire Kent Thiry, has gained initial approval from the state’s Initiative Title Setting Review Board. The proposed constitutional amendment aims to revamp primary and general elections, eliminating party primaries and introducing “all-candidate primary elections.” Candidates would petition onto the primary ballot through signature campaigns, and the top four candidates would advance to the general election, determined by ranked-choice voting. Thiry’s proposal also seeks to eliminate the vacancy committee system, where parties fill vacant seats, and is part of his broader efforts to reform Colorado’s election laws. The amendment needs 55% voter approval to be included in the state constitution. Read Article

Georgia: Details of voting equipment breach emerge in voting system security trial | Megan Butler/Courthouse News Service

During the trial over the security of Dominion voting machine systems in Georgia, details emerged about a hack coordinated by co-defendants of former President Donald Trump. The hack involved copying confidential election data from an elections office in Coffee County, arranged by individuals now indicted alongside Trump on election interference charges. The incident has become central to a legal battle over the security of Georgia’s voting machines, with plaintiffs arguing it exposes vulnerabilities in Dominion’s systems. The trial is expected to continue for another two weeks, while prosecutors aim for an August start date for Trump’s election interference trial.

Indiana: Group ask Boone County Commissioners to stage coup of election process | Maria Flora/The Lebanon Reporter

A group of voters, led by Boone County Commissioner Tim Beyer, is requesting Boone County Commissioners to take control of the 2024 election from the county election board. The group, comprising around 150 constituents, alleges that their concerns about the vulnerability of electronic voting machines and the unconstitutionality of local elections, as well as their call to return to paper ballots, have been ignored by the Boone County Election Board. Read Article

Kansas: ‘Somehow exploitable’: Election security debate returns to Statehouse | Rachel Mipro/Kansas Reflector

The 2024 Kansas legislative session has begun with renewed debates on election security. Despite no evidence of widespread election fraud, some Republicans argue that potential security flaws in voter machines could be exploited by various actors, including Russian hackers, George Soros, and the Chinese. The House Committee on Elections witnessed a division among Republicans, with Vice Chair Rep. Paul Waggoner emphasizing nonpartisan concerns about election security, while two other committee Republicans cautioned against one-sided claims of election hacking. Read Article

Maine judge delays decision on removing Trump from ballot until Supreme Court rules in Colorado case | David Sharp and Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press

A Maine judge has postponed a decision on former President Donald Trump’s ballot status in the state’s presidential primary, allowing time for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on a similar case in Colorado. Trump’s lawyers appealed when Secretary of State Shenna Bellows removed him from the primary ballot, requesting a pause for the Supreme Court to rule on the Colorado case, potentially making the Maine lawsuit irrelevant. Although the judge lacked authority to stay proceedings, she determined that she could send the case back to the secretary of state to await the Supreme Court’s decision before taking further action. Read Article

Minnesota election officials express confidence about security on eve of Super Tuesday early voting | Steve Karnowski/Associated Press

Minnesota’s Super Tuesday presidential primary begins early voting, and Secretary of State Steve Simon has highlighted the state’s preparedness for challenges such as disinformation, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and threats to poll workers. Simon outlined multiple security measures, including new election security laws, layers of security for remote voting, public testing of voting machine accuracy, and a corps of volunteer election judges. Emphasizing the need to combat disinformation, Simon urged voters to seek reliable information from state and local election offices. He identified disinformation as a significant challenge in the 2024 election year. Read Article

New Hampshire: Bracing for a wave of write-ins and other potential curveballs, poll workers prep for Primary Day 2024 | Olivia Richardson and Todd Bookman/New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire election officials are expanding their pool of poll workers, anticipating a heavier workload due to an increase in write-in votes on the Democratic side and the implementation of a new voter ID law. There are concerns about potential complications surrounding the state’s new affidavit ballot law and challenges in interpreting messy handwriting or misspellings on write-in votes. Election officials are emphasizing the need for patience at the polls and preparing for uncertainties, including the potential delay in counting due to increased scrutiny and unknown factors affecting voter turnout and ballot processing. Read Article

Vermont’s outgoing elections director: ‘Trust the process’ | Steve Pappas/Waterbury Roundabout

Will Senning, the director of elections in Vermont’s Secretary of State’s office for the past decade, is set to join the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to oversee Region 1, which covers New England. Senning, who has been deeply involved in Vermont’s election administration during pivotal times, including the challenges posed by the pandemic and cybersecurity threats, will bring his expertise to enhance election security at the federal level. His departure comes amid ongoing efforts to address issues of trust and misinformation surrounding elections, with Senning emphasizing the solidity and integrity of the electoral process. Read Article

Virginia county finds 4,000 misreported 2020 votes, shorting Biden | Julia Mueller/The Hill

Election officials in Virginia’s Prince William County have acknowledged that approximately 4,000 votes were misreported during the 2020 presidential election, with former President Trump incorrectly receiving 2,327 extra votes, and President Joe Biden being shorted 1,648 votes. The errors affected U.S. Senate candidates from both parties, and a Republican House candidate who won his race was shorted just under 300 votes. The misreporting issues were attributed to results tapes not being programmed in a compatible format for state reporting requirements, leading to errors during correction attempts. Read Article

Wisconsin GOP rift over impeaching Meagan Wolfe boils over in Assembly | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Divisions within Wisconsin Republican lawmakers have escalated as leaders continue to obstruct efforts by a small faction to impeach the leader of the Wisconsin Election Commission, Meagan Wolfe. Representative Janel Brandtjen attempted for the second time to bring forward a resolution for impeachment proceedings against Wolfe over false claims about the 2020 election. Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August blocked the move, describing it as a “big show for the cameras.” Read Article