Arizona: How GOP lawmakers pressured counties on hand-counting ballots | Jen Fifield/Votebeat

Republican lawmakers in Arizona privately pressured county leaders across the state to count ballots by hand instead of using machines, according to previously unreported text messages. The messages, obtained by Votebeat through public record requests, are a window into how state lawmakers are trying to leverage relationships with Republican county supervisors — who decide how to count ballots in their counties — to promote a practice that state officials have repeatedly said would be illegal. And it highlights how lawmakers have turned to counties to try to change how ballots are counted, after failing to change state laws. Read Article

Nevada: Refusal to certify Washoe County election results meant to sow distrust, advocates warn | April Corbin Girnus/Nevada Current

Washoe County’s rejection of the official results of two primary election recounts that yielded few changes from the original count should be seen as an attempt to spread misinformation and sow distrust in the democratic process, say voting advocates. Washoe County Commissioners on Tuesday voted 3-2 against certifying the results of an official recount of two races from Nevada’s June 9 primary. The board’s three Republicans, Commissioners Michael Clark, Jeanne Herman and Clara Andriola voted against certification while Democratic Commissioners Alexis Hill and Mariluz Garcia voted in favor of certification. Clark and Herman have now twice voted against certifying the results of Washoe County’s primary election. The duo also voted against certifying the county’s original canvas two weeks ago. Andriola voted for certification of the original canvas but joined her Republican peers in opposition on Tuesday. Read Article

‘I felt ready to throw in the towel.’ Election officials are being chased from jobs | Tonya Wichman/Columbus Dispatch

Across the nation, election administrators are calling it quits. In addition to the everyday demands of overseeing elections, these officials are experiencing unprecedented harassment, intimidation, abuse and, sometimes, even death threats for doing their jobs. Their jurisdictions often lack sufficient staffing and resources to carry out their responsibilities amidst a hostile work environment. As a result of all this, an estimated one in four election administrators will conduct their first presidential election this year. Since 2015, I have been the board of elections director for Defiance County, leading my team in conducting local elections. Within my community and beyond, I advocate for our nation’s democracy, which is being shaken by a deepening distrust in the electoral process and the rampant spread of disinformation and misinformation. Read Article

National: Election officials push back against draft federal rule for reporting potential cyberattacks | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

A group of state election officials is urging the nation’s cybersecurity agency to revise a draft rule that would require election offices to disclose suspected cyberattacks to the federal government, casting the mandate as too burdensome on overworked local officials. The new rule is the result of a 2022 federal law that directed the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to develop regulations that require certain entities to report potential cybersecurity breaches or ransomware attacks to the agency. Election offices fall under the requirement because their systems are considered critical infrastructure, along with the nation’s banks, nuclear power plants and dams. In a letter, the executive board of the National Association of Secretaries of State asked CISA to consider making the rule voluntary, limit the types of information requested and more clearly define what types of cyber incidents would trigger a report. The proposed rule says state and local election offices must report suspected breaches within 72 hours. Read Article

National: As ‘Pro-Democracy’ Philanthropy Grows, Experts Warn of Many Obstacles to Combating Misinformation | Alex Daniels/The Chronicle of Philanthropy

To cut through online noise and potentially false information surrounding the U.S. elections and ensure that voters go to the polls armed with verified facts, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Thursday announced it will put nearly $7 million toward fighting misinformation in states crucial to determining the results in November. Funding for the Associated Press, in the amount of $1.5 million, will provide training to small newsrooms on how to report election-related polling and how to identify and explain to readers instances of misinformation spreading online. Another $2.75 million will be dedicated to the Knight Election Hub, which provides resources like polling and data, as well as training for newsrooms. Knight will split the remainder of the commitment among nonprofits that support journalism and will direct grants to one news outlet in each of the election swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Read Article

National: GOP jump-starts 2024 election challenges with Trump-inspired lawsuits | Amy Gardner and Isaac Arnsdorf/The Washington Post

The Republican National Committee has expanded legal challenges to voting and election procedures in key swing states since March, when presumptive nominee Donald Trump installed new party leaders with a mandate to pursue his unsubstantiated claims of widespread cheating. In Arizona, Michigan and Nevada, Republicans are seeking to force election officials to remove voters from the rolls, despite federal law limiting such actions in the months preceding an election. In another Nevada lawsuit, the RNC is seeking to block mail ballots from being counted if received after Election Day, using a legal theory that has been repeatedly rejected in other courts and would upend existing practices in many states. Critics say the challenges are legally frivolous. But the cases are dangerous nonetheless, they argue, because they are meant to further erode public confidence in elections and lay the groundwork to overturn the results if Trump loses. Read Article

National: The man who cries voter fraud: how Hans von Spakovsky has built a career peddling election security fears | Alice Herman/The Guardian

At a US House hearing in May, a bespectacled 65-year-old attorney made a startling claim: American citizens’ right to vote was under attack. Non-citizens, Hans von Spakovsky claimed, were voting unchecked in federal elections, and something needed to be done about it. For Von Spakovsky, who leads Heritage Foundation’s election law initiative and authored the section of Project 2025 on federal election oversight, the testimony joined two of his favorite topics: immigration and what he believes is the unseen scourge of fraudulent voting in American elections. It was also deeply misleading. The criminal penalties for voting in federal elections are steep for immigrants without full citizenship – felony charges and even deportation. So they rarely cast ballots in US elections. That has not stopped Von Spakovsky from doubling down on his claim that non-citizen voting threatens election security. Read Article

National: House passes GOP bill requiring proof of citizenship to vote | Ali Swenson and Farnoush Amiri/Assocaited Press

The House on Wednesday passed a proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration, a proposal Republicans have prioritized as an election-year talking point even as research shows noncitizens illegally registering and casting ballots in federal elections is exceptionally rare. The legislation, approved largely along partisan lines but with five Democrats voting in favor, is unlikely to advance through the Democratic-led Senate. The Biden administration also says it’s strongly opposed because there already are safeguards to enforce the law against noncitizen voting. Still, the House vote will give Republicans an opportunity to bring attention to two of their central issues this year — border and election security. Read Article

National: Even Disinformation Experts Don’t Know How to Stop It | Tiffany Hsu and Stuart A. Thompson/The New York Times

To fight disinformation in a chaotic election year, Ruth Quint, a volunteer for a nonpartisan civic group in Pennsylvania, is relying on tactics both extensively studied and frequently deployed. Many of them, however, may also be futile. She has posted online tutorials for identifying fake social media accounts, created videos debunking conspiracy theories, flagged toxic content to a collaborative nationwide database and even participated in a pilot project that responded to misleading narratives by using artificial intelligence. The problem: “I don’t have any idea if it’s working or not working,” said Ms. Quint, the co-president and webmaster of the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh, her home of five decades. “I just know this is what I feel like I should be doing.” Read Article

Arizona’s Maricopa County prepares for an election spotlight | Ben Giles/NPR

Maricopa County in Arizona — home to nearly 60% of the voting population in the swing state — will once again be in the spotlight come this fall’s general election. Ever since 2020, that spotlight has brought with it pervasive conspiracy theories about elections — including from this year’s leading Republican U.S. Senate candidate in the state. And for the past four years, election officials in Maricopa County have been on the frontlines of efforts to fight back against baseless claims with accurate information about the voting experience, how votes are counted and when results are released. While state law hasn’t significantly altered how elections are conducted, county officials have planned a number of changes this year to try to improve election administration and prevent new conspiracy theories from sprouting. Read Article

Georgia election proposal would add new rule before certification | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Local election board members across Georgia would be entitled to review vast troves of documents before they certify this fall’s presidential election under a rule proposal that critics fear would allow partisans to reject the results. The Republican-controlled State Election Board voted 3-1 on Tuesday to advance the proposal, which was sought by Cobb County Republican Party Chairwoman Salleigh Grubbs. The initiative follows, even when there weren’t any problems and the outcome of the election wasn’t in doubt. Certification is a required step under state law before election results can be finalized by counties the Monday after election day. If the majority of an election board refused to certify the presidential race, the results could be delayed and disputed in court. Read Article

Michigan judge calls off hearing on alleged voter data breach to allow for appeal | Craig Mauger/The Detroit News

A Hillsdale County judge suddenly called off a preliminary examination scheduled for Thursday morning to allow a former township clerk and lawyer, facing felony charges over an alleged voter data breach, to fight the allegations in a higher court. After district court Judge Megan Stiverson announced her decision, Richard Cunningham, the prosecutor in the cases for the Michigan Attorney General’s office, could be heard telling others in the courtroom that he was “shocked.” Two days earlier on Tuesday, Stiverson rejected a motion to immediately dismiss the charges from Dan Hartman, the attorney who’s representing former Adams Township Clerk Stephanie Scott and Stefanie Lambert, a lawyer involved in efforts to advance unproven election fraud claims in multiple battleground states. In her ruling, Stiverson specifically said the preliminary examination to decide whether the charges should proceed to trial would go forward “as scheduled” Thursday. However, at the start of the hearing, Hartman revealed that he wanted to challenge Stiverson’s Tuesday order in Hillsdale County Circuit Court. Read Article

New Hampshire Governor signs bill requiring accessible voting machines in every town for local elections | Ethan DeWitt/New Hampshire Bulletin

New Hampshire cities and towns will be required to provide accessible voting machines for all elections after January 2025, according to a bill signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu this month. House Bill 1264, signed by Sununu July 3, states that every municipality must “ensure that each polling place has at least one accessible voting system” during every election. And it creates a pilot program requiring the Secretary of State’s Office to share those machines with towns and cities in spring 2025. “Now those of us with vision and print disabilities will be able to vote independently and keep our votes private like everyone else,” said Jean Shriner, an activist, in a statement reacting to the signing Friday. “For me, as a blind person, it’s empowering and exciting.” Currently, the Secretary of State’s Office provides accessible voting machines to cities and towns only during federal elections – as required by federal law. That includes the September state primaries, the November general elections, and the presidential primaries. Read Article

Nevada county votes against certifying recount results, a move that raises longer-term questions | Gabe Stern/Associated Press

Commissioners in Nevada’s second most populous county on Tuesday refused to certify the results of two local recounts from last month’s primary, a rare move that has potential implications for the presidential race in one of the nation’s most important swing states. The three Republican members on the five-member Washoe County Board of Commissioners voted to reject the results of recounts in one race for a commission seat and another for a local school board seat. What happens next is unclear. The county elections department and district attorney’s office declined to comment, along with the state attorney general. A request for comment from the secretary of state was not immediately returned. The rejection of the recounts and questions over how to handle it raised concerns about what could happen in November if a local commission refused to certify the presidential election results. Read Article

North Dakota: Ballot measure to prohibit electronic voting machines and tabulators misses deadline for November ballot | Michael Achterling/North Dakota Monitor

Sponsors of a constitutional ballot initiative that would change how elections are conducted in North Dakota failed to submit signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office by Monday’s deadline for inclusion on the November ballot. The petition was approved by the Secretary of State’s Office for circulation on Sept. 27, 2023, and the measure’s sponsoring committee has one year to gather 31,164 signatures. Sponsors are working to collect 20,000 more signatures between now and September for inclusion on the June 2026 ballot, Lydia Gessele, chair of the ballot measure’s sponsoring committee, told the North Dakota Monitor. She said petition circulators are gathering more signatures than required in case some are ruled invalid. “We’re going to have people out at different events and then just in their communities as well,” Gessele said. The ballot measure would prohibit electronic voting machines and tabulators, which would cause all election results to be hand counted. Some of the other aspects of the measure would prohibit early voting or voting by mail, except for absentee ballots; drop-boxes for ballots; and ranked-choice voting. Read Article

Pennsylvania House passes bill to avoid election certification logjam | Carter Walker/Votebeat

In a bipartisan effort to avert a potential crisis in certifying November’s election results, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill Tuesday that would cement the timelines for resolving post-election legal battles and prevent delays in finalizing the state’s electoral votes. A federal law passed in 2022, the Electoral Count Reform Act, set a strict deadline for states to certify slates of presidential electors: Dec. 11. But Pennsylvania doesn’t have its own set of deadlines to meet that target, which could set the state up for a potential conflict with the federal law. “This gap poses a significant risk of missing the federally mandated deadlines for certifying presidential election results,” said Rep. Benjamin Sanchez (D-Montgomery), the bill’s prime sponsor. “Our goal with HB 2473 is to mitigate this risk and guarantee Pennsylvania’s voice is heard and respected when Congress counts the state’s electors.” Read Article

Utah: Iron County certifies 2024 primary election results despite controversy over ballot postmarks | Bryan Schott/Salt Lake Tribune

After 24 hours of handwringing and investigating if hundreds of Utahns’ mail-in ballots with late postmarks could be counted, the Iron County Commission voted 2-1 on Tuesday to officially certify their 2024 primary election results. On Monday, Republican Commissioner Paul Cozzens disrupted the typically routine vote to certify the election results by refusing to approve the final count. He cited the rejection of approximately 400 ballots postmarked after the June 24 deadline. Mailed ballots were sent to Las Vegas for processing, and many mailed before the deadline were not postmarked until the following day, rendering them invalid, county officials said. The commission postponed the certification vote for a day to explore whether the law provided any flexibility that would allow them to include those ballots in the final count. There was none to be found. Commission members and other county officials said they spent the final day to certify their ballots by conferring with the state elections office and legislative leaders, who told them that, under current Utah law, there was no way to include the late ballots. Read Article

Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstates absentee ballot drop boxes | Lawrence Andrea and Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court on Friday restored the use of absentee ballot drop boxes in the swing state ahead of the upcoming elections — a reversal of a past decision from the court that could impact voter participation. The 4-3 decision was a win for Democrats who argued the longstanding practice of allowing voters to file ballots into the locked, unmanned boxes made voting more accessible. That process, however, was highly criticized in 2020 by former President Donald Trump and Republicans who claimed without evidence that the boxes and absentee voting were rife with fraud. Read Article

Wyoming: Push To Ditch Ballot Machines For Hand Counts Gaining Steam | Cowboy State Daily

A push to eliminate electronic ballot counting machines in favor of hand counts in Wyoming’s elections is spreading across the state, and it has the full support of Secretary of State Chuck Gray. Wyoming Voter Initiatives, the same group that recently turned in 44,000 signatures to get a property tax initiative on the 2026 ballot, is now working on a new effort to have all ballots hand counted. The goal is to get the initiative on the 2026 ballots and implemented for the 2028 elections. In addition to the “People’s Initiative to Restore Hand Tabulation of all Elections in Wyoming” ballot initiative, the group also wants to overhaul the state’s Title 22 election code through the Legislature by enacting measures allowing for public ballot inspections, stricter voter ID and registration requirements, and ban ballot dropboxes. Read Article