National: A high-level election security group is back. NSA and Cyber Command want to keep it under the radar | Martin Matishak/The Record

U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency will not identify the latest leaders of their joint election security task force, in part to shield them from the threats and harassment other election officials have received for merely being associated with such work. In a departure from previous election cycles, neither organization will publicize the names of the co-chiefs of the Election Security Group (ESG) because of the often-hostile environment surrounding U.S. elections since the 2020 presidential race, Recorded Future News has learned. The identities also are being withheld, government sources said, as part of a larger push by top U.S. national security and law enforcement officials to convey that election security is a whole-of-government effort and therefore public messaging on the charged topic should be driven by agency chiefs — such as the Director of National Intelligence or the head of the FBI — and not bureaucratic entities or career employees. Read Article

New U.S. deadline for certifying election results adds to pressure on Pennsylvania officials | Carter Walker/Votebeat

After the 2022 elections, a flurry of precinct-level recount petitions prevented Pennsylvania from certifying its election results until Dec. 22 — weeks later than usual. This year presents an even more difficult scenario: a new federal law that says states must certify their slate of presidential electoral votes by Dec. 11. That’s about five weeks after Election Day. Election officials and policy advocates are concerned that another influx of recount petitions after a much busier election could make it harder for Pennsylvania and its counties to meet the tighter timeline. If the state can’t comply, they worry, the courts may have to get involved and force certification, providing fodder to those looking to challenge the state’s results in a year when the margin of victory is expected to be much closer than in most midterm races. Read Article

National: Election Workers Face Challenges but There Is Help | Jule Pattison-Gordon/Government Technology

Election workers face a multitude of challenges, from physical threats to cyber attacks to misinformation, requiring thorough preparation and support from state and national election groups. Mark Earley from Leon County, Fla., emphasized the value of having a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) after a scare with white powder in a mail-in ballot. COOP plans should include comprehensive contacts lists to address various incidents effectively. Read Article

National: How state lawmakers, election officials are fighting AI deepfakes | Sophia Fox-Sowell/StateScoop

States are racing to pass legislation that targets the production of AI-generated deepfakes in an effort to curb deceptive information practices ahead of the 2024 presidential election, new research shows. … Megan Bellamy, vice president of law and policy at Voting Rights Lab, said some of these laws aim to provide transparency around AI-generated content, while others seek to penalize those that use AI to intentionally mislead voters. “2024 is the first American presidential election year at the intersection of election-related myths and disinformation that have been on the rise and the rapid growth of AI-generated content,” Bellamy told StateScoop in a recent interview about Voting Rights Lab’s legislative analysis, which was released Tuesday. Read Article

National: Justice Department: crackdown on threats to election officials won’t relent | Josh Gerstein/Politico

Just as another election season gets into full swing, the Justice Department is vowing not to relent in its crackdown on a wave of threats unleashed against voting administrators and other public officials over the past two election cycles. About 20 such prosecutions have been brought since DOJ formed an Election Threats Task Force in June 2021, with many of the defendants receiving substantial prison time, prosecutors said. Read Article

National: The Deepfake Threat to the 2024 US Presidential Election | Ella Busch and Jacob Ware/GNET

As the 2024 US election campaign ramps up, artificial intelligence (AI) and deepfakes are already having a corrosive effect on the democratic process. In the New Hampshire Democratic primary, an artificially generated robocall purported to represent President Biden telling his voters not to participate in the primary. “Voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest to elect Donald Trump again,” the faux Biden declared. “Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday.” Read Article

National: The Critical Role Of Cybersecurity In Election Years | Emil Sayegh/Forbes

As election season heats up, we are navigating through a multitude of issues within our deeply divided society. While politicians often campaign on platforms shaped by fear or designed to appeal to special interest voting blocs, we rarely see politics directly intertwined with cybersecurity. Yet, in election years—especially this one—the topic of cybersecurity assumes unprecedented importance. Read Article

Arizona: Bogus Election Fraud Claims Still Run Rampant in Maricopa County | Kellen Browning/The New York Times

Nearly four years after Joe Biden flipped Arizona blue, the state — and in particular its largest county, Maricopa — remains a hub for debunked claims of election fraud. In 2021, Republicans pushed for a recount of the vote in Maricopa, a lengthy and chaotic process that failed to validate former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the vote had been rigged. A year later, Kari Lake, a close Trump ally who lost the governor’s race, baselessly claimed that her election had been stolen, too. She attacked state and local officials and filed a series of fruitless lawsuits seeking to overturn the result. Read Article

California supervisor who tried to get rid of Shasta County vote-counting machines survives recall | Adam Beam/Associated Press

A local official in a rural Northern California survived a recall attempt spurred in part by his effort to get rid of the county’s vote-counting machines following unfounded accusations of fraud amplified by former President Donald Trump. Kevin Crye was elected to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors in 2022. He and two other supervisors then voted to get rid of the county’s vote-counting machines, directing local officials to hand count ballots. The machines were made by Dominion Voting Systems, the company at the center of debunked conspiracy theories of how Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. The decision divided the community and prompted a group of residents to file a recall petition to remove Crye from office a little over one year into his four-year term. That effort failed by just 50 votes out of more than 9,300 ballots cast, according to official results that were certified on Thursday by the Shasta County Registrar of Voters more than three weeks after Election Day. Read Article

Georgia lawmakers approve new election rules that could impact 2024 presidential contest | Sudhin Thanawala and Jeff Amy/Associated Press

Georgia lawmakers on Thursday approved new rules for challenging voters and qualifying for the state’s presidential ballot that could impact the 2024 presidential race in the battleground state. Senate Bill 189 passed the House by a vote of 101 to 73 and the Senate by a vote of 33-22, sending it to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature or veto. Read Article

Nevada Secretary of State Wants More Election Funding After Presidential Primary “Glitch” | Matt Cohen/Democracy Docket

Nevada Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar is calling for more federal funding for elections after a coding “glitch” in the vote tally in the state’s Presidential Preference Primary in February. An unknown number of voters were erroneously marked down as having voted when they didn’t in fact vote. The glitch was fixed and no extra votes were counted, but the incident prompted a letter from U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), chairman of the Committee on House Administration, to Aguilar expressing concern over what led to the glitch. In response to Steil’s letter, Aguilar sent a letter on March 22 asking for Congress to provide more federal funding for elections to ensure similar glitches don’t happen again. Read Article

New Hampshire: Vote-counting machine foes hoped for a surge of success. They got barely a ripple | Nick Perry and Holly Ramer/Associated Press

“Electronic machines will face the wrath of New Hampshire voters in March!” Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and ally of former President Donald Trump, crowed in a January fundraising pitch. Not quite. After initially targeting 55 towns, Lindell’s supporters gathered enough petitions to bring the topic up at 23 of the annual town meetings held this month to adopt budgets and settle other matters. Only Danville — population 4,500 — voted in favor of hand-counting ballots, and only for presidential elections in a decision that both the town’s attorney and the secretary of state say is unlikely to stand. Read Article

North Carolina: County elections directors leave amid low pay, voter hostility | Mehr Sher/Carolina Public Press

Over the past five years, North Carolina counties have changed elections directors 58 times, according to the North Carolina State Board Elections, with seven already this year. The state board’s executive director, Karen Brinson Bell, raised concerns about departures of so many county elections directors during a March 26 virtual state canvass meeting for the 2024 primary election. Since the beginning of 2024 four directors have retired and three resigned. Four of these positions have been filled in Chowan, Rowan and Currituck counties, while three remain vacant in Burke, Greene and Vance counties, according to data Carolina Public Press requested from the state board. The departures of county board of elections directors create a loss of institutional knowledge and pose challenges for election administration on the county level in a presidential election year, Brinson Bell said. Read Article

Ohio: Pickaway County unofficial election results inaccurate, include pre-election test vote data | Jim Wilhelm/Columbus Dispatch

The Pickaway County Board of Elections revealed discrepancies in the unofficial results of the March 19 primary election, clarifying that these errors stemmed from a USB flash drive used during pre-election logic and accuracy testing being mistakenly left in a tabulation computer, thus incorporating test data into the unofficial vote count. This mistake inflated absentee vote totals, affecting the reported results. While the board assures that the official outcomes of contests remain unaffected, they emphasize the importance of providing accurate vote counts and express their commitment to rectify the situation and prevent similar errors in the future. Read Article

Pennsylvania can require voters to put a date on mail ballots, U.S. appeals court rules | Carter Walker/Votebeat

A federal appeals court decision upholding Pennsylvania’s rules for voting by mail could mean that tens of thousands of ballots are rejected in this year’s election because they lack a date or are misdated. But the full impact of the ruling is still up in the air while the parties who brought the case decide whether to appeal. A panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Wednesday that a Pennsylvania law requiring mail voters to handwrite a date on the return envelope did not violate a provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that’s meant to protect voters from being denied the right to register to vote. The decision could have broad implications: If plaintiffs appeal to the Supreme Court and justices uphold it, it could become precedent for the entire country, rather than just the jurisdictions in the 3rd Circuit. Such a ruling could limit how the Civil Rights Act applies to requirements for casting a ballot. Read Article

Pennsylvania: Overworked, underpaid, under attack: on the frontlines in a US election office | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Emily Cook, the deputy director in the Luzerne County election office, found herself thrust into a chaotic situation on election day in November 2022 when reports of paper shortages at polling locations flooded in. As tensions escalated, she faced harassment and threats, reflecting a broader trend of election officials leaving their positions due to similar pressures nationwide since 2020. Cook, who has witnessed high turnover in her office, now finds herself as the acting election director, grappling with the challenge of stabilizing the bureau amidst political uncertainty and public distrust. Despite the daunting task ahead, Cook remains committed to restoring confidence in the county’s electoral processes, recognizing the importance of transparency and perseverance in the face of adversity. Read Article

South Dakota: Election petitions seek a return to hand counting | C.J. Keene/SDPB

At a moment when public trust in elections is crucial, there are some people who want to ditch voting machines in favor of a return to hand counting ballots. A campaign in South Dakota aims to get signed petitions in front of local government officials. The current effort has real implications for the people who manage local elections. McPherson County auditor Lindley Howard is familiar with unsubstantiated complaints of voter fraud. She’s been called a “traitor” on one far-right commentary website. But this kind of rhetoric isn’t limited to the internet. Howard said on occasion she’s had people watching her as a result of her job. Read Article

Texas woman sentenced to five years over voting error acquitted | Sam Levine/The Guardian

A Texas appeals court has thrown out a five-year prison sentence for Crystal Mason, a Texas woman who was sentenced for trying to cast a provisional ballot in the 2016 presidential election that was rejected. Mason, now 49, attempted to vote in Fort Worth in the 2016 even though she was ineligible because she was still on supervised release – which is like probation – for a tax felony. She has always maintained she had no idea she was ineligible and only tried to cast a ballot because her mother urged her to. A judge convicted her in a 2018 trial that lasted just a few hours. Mason’s case became well known nationally and struck a chord as an example of an egregious punishment for a voting mistake. Many saw it as a thinly veiled effort to intimidate Black voters. Read Article

Wisconsin ballot questions on election administration are too vague, officials say | Alexander Shur and Jack Kelly/Votebeat

Wisconsinites will vote Tuesday on two proposed amendments to the state constitution that could reshape how elections are run in the state — but voters, and many election officials, don’t know exactly how the broadly written proposals would be interpreted by state election officials and the courts. Election officials said the second proposal could have especially unpredictable consequences. That one seeks to ban anybody besides election officials from performing “any task in the conduct of any primary, election, or referendum.” How strict would that ban be? Would it mean that elections officials couldn’t hire private companies to print ballots or assemble voting machines? Or that they couldn’t ask other city workers to set up polling sites? Officials and experts aren’t sure. Read Article