Michigan: Antrim County election lawsuit is one of the last in the nation | Mardi Link/Traverse City Record-Eagle

A Monday hearing will determine the fate of one of the last active lawsuits challenging the validity of the 2020 election. A 13th Circuit Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments on a defense request to dismiss an Antrim County election-related lawsuit —a move opposed by the plaintiff who, court records show, is instead seeking to expand the case. Throughout the U.S., hundreds of lawsuits challenging balloting issues, election equipment or the results of the 2020 election have been filed in local, state and federal courts, information from the American Bar Association shows. The case in Antrim County is among the few yet to be adjudicated, records show. A judge in Arizona ruled the Republican-led Senate could hire a third-party contractor — Doug Logan of Florida-based Cyber Ninjas — to conduct an audit of the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in the 2020 election, which is ongoing. Cyber Ninjas, listed in court documents as an expert witness for the plaintiff in the Antrim County lawsuit, was also referenced in a letter sent Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Justice to an Arizona official. “This description of the proposed work of the audit raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters,” Pamela S. Karlan, of the Civil Rights division of the DOJ, wrote to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann. A spokesperson with the Michigan Attorney General’s office said the AG had no comment on whether there was an effort to conflate the two cases.

Full Article: Antrim County election lawsuit is one of the last in the nation | News | record-eagle.com

The Unfolding Disaster in Arizona | David A. Graham/The Atlantic

Of all the flaws in the perplexing “audit” of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, Arizona, the hypocrisy shines through most clearly. As Donald Trump and his allies grasped at straws to cast doubt on the results of last year’s presidential race, they settled on a few common complaints. They said that the election process was tainted by procedures that had been hastily changed in the lead-up to voting, that it was run by partisan hacks, that outside observers were provided insufficient access to oversee the process, and that the election was corrupted by private money given by philanthropists to boards of elections to help them adapt to the pandemic. Now, more than six months after the election, the circus in Arizona, ordered by the state Senate, has become the last stand of the denialists. The review has attracted the close attention of Trump himself, who has fired off repeated, blustery statements about the count from his Mar-a-Lago exile. But Arizona is committing all the same sins that Trump’s supporters have been denouncing, using a brazenly partisan process run by apparently unqualified parties, with procedures kept secret and subject to change. Observers are being asked to sign nondisclosure agreements, reporters have been kicked out of the site, and the exercise is being largely funded by interested outside parties—even though the Arizona legislature recently passed a law that prevents local boards from accepting outside funding. If this is what it takes to conduct the count, the cure is worse than the disease—except that there is no disease, because there’s no evidence of widespread fraud in Maricopa County, and this is no cure. The point of election audits is to make voters feel more secure about the state of elections, but this one is certain to leave people feeling less confident about the process. “The goalposts keep moving,” Tammy Patrick, a senior adviser at the Democracy Fund, told me. “There will never be satisfaction, because the answer is not going to change. Joe Biden won Arizona free and fair and he is our legitimate president. There’s a portion of our electorate that will not believe that, because they continue to be told that the election was stolen.”

Full Article: The Unfolding Disaster in Arizona – The Atlantic

In a small New Hampshire town, the 2020 election still rages | Michael Casey/Associated Press

Windham Board of Selectmen are usually as sleepy as they sound — a handful of residents from the New Hampshire town, a discussion of ambulance fees, maybe a drainage study. So when a crowd of about 500 people showed up last week, some waving American flags, carrying bullhorns and lifting signs questioning the presidential election, Bruce Breton knew things were about to change. “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Breton, who has served on the board for 18 years. “The groundswell from the public is unbelievable.” The crowd at the Monday meeting had been fired up by conservative media, which in recent weeks has seized on the town’s election results for four seats in the state House as suspect. The attention, fanned by a Donald Trump adviser who happens to be a Windham resident, has helped a routine recount spiral, ultimately engulfing the town in a false theory that the national election was stolen from Trump. It doesn’t seem to matter that Republicans won all four state House seats in question. The dust-up shows just how far Trump’s election lies — and the search for evidence to support them — have burrowed into American politics, even the most local. Like House Republicans in Washington fighting over what some call the “Big Lie” and lawmakers in Arizona conducting a partisan “recount,” this bedroom community is still wrestling with the aftermath of 2020. The trouble started when Kristi St. Laurent, a Democratic candidate for the state House, requested a recount after falling 24 votes short in the November election. Instead of gaining a few votes in her House race as she expected, the 53-year-old physical therapist learned that the recount showed that four of the Republicans each received an additional 300 votes. Laurent lost 99 votes.

Full Article: In a small New Hampshire town, the 2020 election still rages

National: Fox News made me do it: Capitol attack suspect pulls ‘Foxitis’ defense | Luke O’Neil/The Guardian

The lawyer for a Delaware man charged over the Capitol attack in January is floating a unique defense: Fox News made him do it. Anthony Antonio, who is facing five charges including violent entry, disorderly conduct and impeding law enforcement during civil disorder, fell prey to the persistent lies about the so-called “stolen election” being spread daily by Donald Trump and the rightwing network that served him, his attorney Joseph Hurley said during a video hearing on Thursday. Antonio spent the six months before the riots mainlining Fox News while unemployed, Hurley said, likening the side effects of such a steady diet of misinformation to a mental health syndrome. “Fox television played constantly,” he said. “He became hooked with what I call ‘Foxitis’ or ‘Foxmania’, and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what was being fed to him.” Antonio’s segment was somehow only the second most notable part of the hearing. Another defendant shouted obscenities, sending the proceedings into near chaos at one point.

Full Article: Fox News made me do it: Capitol attack suspect pulls ‘Foxitis’ defense | US Capitol breach | The Guardian

Arizona: Maricopa Co. Sheriff says election audit risks law enforcement | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone called the Arizona Senate’s demands for its audit of Maricopa County’s presidential election “mind-numbingly reckless and irresponsible.” Penzone said the law enforcement agency would be at risk if the county turned over the state Senate’s intensified demand for certain routers, or digital copies of the routers. The Senate also is demanding certain administrative passwords to voting machines that county officials say they do not have. Providing the routers could compromise confidential, sensitive and highly classified law enforcement data and equipment, he said in a statement on Friday. “The Senate Republican Caucus’ audit of the Maricopa County votes from last November’s election has no stopping point. Now, its most recent demands jeopardize the entire mission of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office,” Penzone’s statement said. The county has provided all 2.1 million voter general election ballots, voter information and election equipment in response to state Senate subpoenas. The Senate gave the election materials to private contractors, which allowed the audit and recount to get underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 23. But the county did not deliver certain routers that the state Senate sought in its original subpoenas, according to Senate liaison Ken Bennett,

Full Article: Maricopa Co. Sheriff says Arizona election audit risks law enforcement

Editorial: Republicans aren’t just making it harder to vote. They’re going after election officials, too. | Joshua A. Douglas/The Washington Post

The right to vote is under attack, as are the people who protect that right. Multiple states have passed or are considering new restrictive voting rules in response to the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen. There is, of course, no evidence of massive voter fraud in 2020 — and President Biden legitimately won the election — but that has not stopped unscrupulous politicians in states such as Arizona, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Iowa from considering new strict rules on absentee balloting, the ability to use a drop box, and even providing food or water to voters waiting in line. These attacks on our democracy have received much attention. Far less noticed, however, have been provisions in these laws that penalize local election officials who administer our elections. Iowa, in addition to limiting voter access by cutting early voting days and forbidding local election officials from mailing out absentee ballot request forms without a specific request from a voter, will now make it a crime if election workers violate the new rules. Florida has enacted a rule that limits ballot drop box availability to only during early voting hours, and provides that, “If any drop box at an early voting site is left accessible for the return of ballots outside of early voting hours, the supervisor is subject to a civil penalty of $25,000.” A Texas proposed bill would subject a local registrar to fines if the registrar fails to mail out notices demanding proof of citizenship to individuals otherwise deemed ineligible to vote. It would also criminalize election workers who “distance or obstruct the view of a [poll] watcher in a way that makes observation reasonably ineffective.” Arizona legislators want to make it a felony for an election worker to mail an early ballot to a voter who has not requested one.

Full Article: Opinion | Republicans aren’t just making it harder to vote. They’re going after election officials, too. – The Washington Post

Florida’s Governor signs new voting restrictions into law as Republicans rush to align with Trump’s false claims of fraud | Amy Gardner and Lori Rozsa/The Washington Post

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday enthusiastically embraced former president Donald Trump’s demand for tougher election laws, signing into law a slew of new voting restrictions in a staged live broadcast despite previously touting how smoothly his state’s elections ran last fall. DeSantis (R) hailed the measure as necessary to shore up public faith in elections, but critics accused him of trying to make it harder to vote, particularly for people of color. His signing of the bill, which he delivered live on the Fox News morning program “Fox & Friends,” makes Florida the latest GOP-controlled state to impose new voting hurdles, following Georgia, Montana and Iowa. The Texas House took up a similar measure later Thursday, and other states including Arizona, Michigan and Ohio are considering their own bills. DeSantis offered a string of justifications for the law, claiming it would prevent ballot “harvesting” and the stuffing of ballots into unmonitored drop boxes — though such practices were already prohibited in the state and there is no evidence they occurred last year. “We’re not going to let political operatives go and get satchels of votes and dump them in some drop box,” the governor said. DeSantis’s vigorous support for the new law, which he arranged to showcase exclusively on Fox News’s signature morning show, is the latest example of the GOP’s rush to align with Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was marred by fraud. Even as some Republicans have privately lamented Trump’s false statements that Joe Biden did not win the election, few have been willing to say so publicly — and those who have are facing swift blowback.

Full Article: Florida voting restrictions: Gov. DeSantis signs new restrictions into law – The Washington Post

Arizona Review of 2020 Vote Is Riddled With Flaws, Says Secretary of State | Michael Wines/The New York Times

Untrained citizens are trying to find traces of bamboo on last year’s ballots, seemingly trying to prove a conspiracy theory that the election was tainted by fake votes from Asia. Thousands of ballots are left unattended and unsecured. People with open partisan bias, including a man who was photographed on the Capitol steps during the Jan. 6 riot, are doing the recounting. All of these issues with the Republican-backed re-examination of the November election results from Arizona’s most populous county were laid out this week by Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state, in a scathing six-page letter Ms. Hobbs called the process “a significant departure from standard best practices.” “Though conspiracy theorists are undoubtedly cheering on these types of inspections — and perhaps providing financial support because of their use — they do little other than further marginalize the professionalism and intent of this ‘audit,’” she wrote to Ken Bennett, a former Republican secretary of state and the liaison between Republicans in the State Senate and the company conducting it. The effort has no official standing and will not change the state’s vote, whatever it finds. But it has become so troubled that the Department of Justice also expressed concerns this week in a letter saying that it might violate federal laws. “We have a concern that Maricopa County election records, which are required by federal law to be retained and preserved, are no longer under the ultimate control of elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors, and are at risk of damage or loss,” wrote Pamela Karlan, the principal deputy assistant attorney general with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The scene playing out in Arizona is perhaps the most off-the-rails episode in the Republican Party’s escalating effort to support former President Donald J. Trump’s lie that he won the election. Four months after Congress certified the results of the presidential election, local officials around the country are continuing to provide oxygen for Mr. Trump’s obsession that he beat Joseph R. Biden Jr. last fall.

Full Article: Arizona Election Results Review Is Riddled With Flaws, Says Official – The New York Times

Texas lawmakers advance restrictive election bill despite Democrats’ all-night fight | Jane C. Timm/NBC

Texas lawmakers advanced a restrictive election bill early Friday as Republicans overcame Democratic efforts to derail the legislation. Democrats had vowed to wage an all-night fight against the bill, which they argue would suppress voting and disenfranchise voters of color. Republicans led by Rep. Briscoe Cain, the chair of the Elections Committee, say the House bill would ensure ballot integrity and protect voters from coercion and fraud. The key vote at 3 a.m. in the Texas House followed hours of debate as Democrats, who had little means of stopping the bill in the GOP-controlled state Capitol, deployed technical challenges and hours of questioning that Rep. Cain appeared unprepared at times to answer. Finally, an agreement was reached between Republicans and Democrats leaving the bill with 20 amendments that significantly watered down some of what advocates called the most problematic aspects of the bill as it passed the key vote 81-64. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has urged legislators to pass election legislation, which he made a priority for the session ending May 31. The bill was originally proposed as House Bill 6, but Republican lawmakers used a legislative maneuver to ensure that it would advance quickly. Last week, Republicans replaced the text of a different bill, SB 7, a Senate elections bill, with HB 6. A second vote is still required to advance SB 7 out of the House, after which the Senate and House bills are expected to end up in a conference committee, where they would be reconciled by legislators and then sent to Gov. Abbott to sign. The Texas vote came after Florida became the latest U.S. state to enact restrictive voting laws, with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signing the legislation live on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” It enacts restrictions on voting by mail and at drop boxes, which Democrats and activists warn could suppress voter turnout.

Full Article: Texas lawmakers advance restrictive election bill despite Democrats’ all-night fight

Washington Secretary of State: Recount in Arizona is a ‘frightening precedent to set’ | MyNorthwest

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has been known to call out her party in the past when they make a move she disagrees with, and she recently called out Republicans in Arizona for the recount that’s being done now of the 2020 election results. “The precedence of this is just unnerving for election officials across the country and it should alarm every American in the country because we don’t want people to be able to just walk into a crime scene and contaminate evidence for a future trial,” Wyman said previously. For those who haven’t been following the story in Arizona, Wyman joined KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show to explain, and share why she’s bothered by the precedent it sets. “One of the things that I’ve been very proud of, my profession as election administrators, that over the last 30 years we’ve worked very hard to have policies and procedures and laws that make our elections fair and that inspire confidence in everyone from the most liberal Democrat to the most conservative Republican,” she said. “And what we’re seeing in Arizona is this move to privatize administrative processes, politicize them, and try to have an outcome that calls into question the election by giving 2.1 million ballots to a private company with no accountability to the public or to the voters of Arizona.”

Full Article: Secretary of State: Recount in Arizona is a ‘frightening precedent to set’

National: Lawmakers want greater resources, authorities for CISA to protect critical infrastructure | Tonya Riley/The Washington Post

Leading voices in Congress say the nation’s top cybersecurity agency needs better resources to handle growing threats to critical services like water and power. One step: centralizing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s authority to track vulnerabilities in industrial control systems that power the nation’s critical infrastructure, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) said yesterday. The top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee touted legislation he helped introduce earlier this year that would grant CISA leadership the authority to coordinate federal response to such vulnerabilities. Concerns about cybersecurity threats to the systems powering America’s critical infrastructure have escalated after a cybercriminal attempted to poison a water plant on Oldsmar, Florida earlier this year. A series of foreign attacks on popular software used by critical systems, including SolarWinds and Microsoft exchange, have also underscored the need for better protective efforts.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Lawmakers want greater resources, authorities for CISA to protect critical infrastructure – The Washington Post

National: Sidney Powell Can’t Be Let Off the Hook for Lies, Dominion Says | Erik Larson/Bloomberg

Dominion Voting Systems Inc. blasted former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell for telling a judge that her claims about a vast election-fraud conspiracy were merely opinions in order to dodge the company’s $1.3 billion defamation suit. Powell repeatedly and falsely claimed in public that she had proof Dominion rigged the 2020 election against Donald Trump, saying she could “hardly wait to put forth all the evidence” and that “you would have to be a damn fool” not to believe it, Dominion said in a filing late Monday against Powell’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. “Powell did not even attempt to couch her accusations as opinions,” Dominion said in the filing in Washington federal court. “She leveled the falsehoods as deadly serious assertions of fact backed by evidence that she claimed would prove that Dominion had in fact stolen the 2020 election.” Powell’s conspiracy theory and other disinformation preceded a deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 by a mob of Trump supporters, and Trump continues to claim the election was stolen, even though his own attorney general said he hadn’t found evidence of fraud that would have affected the result. Letting Powell off the hook for her statements now would effectively create a “propaganda exception” for defamation liability, the company said. Powell didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Full Article: Sidney Powell Can’t Be Let Off the Hook for Lies, Dominion Says – Bloomberg

Ohio bill to overhaul voting laws would only allow ballot drop boxes at county boards of elections | Laura Hancock/Cleveland Plain Dealer

A newly introduced voting overhaul bill in the Ohio House would put into law that absentee ballot drop boxes are only allowed at one place in each county and for a shorter length of time than in November’s election. Up to three boxes would be allowed at each county board of elections under House Bill 294, sponsored by Republican Reps. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati and Sharon Ray of Wadsworth, and introduced Thursday. Drop boxes were widely used for the first time in Ohio for last year’s presidential election and have been a flashpoint in voting politics, even ending up in the courts. HB 294 also changes how people can register to vote, request absentee ballots, among other issues. The bill comes after a wave of election law changes in Republican-controlled states. Many Republicans falsely believe that widespread fraud in the 2020 election led to the loss of former President Donald Trump.

Full Article: Ohio bill to overhaul voting laws would only allow ballot drop boxes at county boards of elections – cleveland.com

Arizona’s Republican-run election audit is looking for bamboo-laced “China ballots.” | Jeremy Stahl/Slate

On Wednesday, a member of the Arizona election audit team that has been heavily touted by former President Donald Trump revealed that its examination of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County will include a “forensic” analysis of ballots to determine if the paper is made of bamboo—in order to determine whether or not China delivered tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots to tip the state to Joe Biden. If that sounds much too crazy for an audit that was initiated by the Republican-led Arizona Legislature and whose communications are being spearheaded by the Republican former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, it very much is not. On Wednesday, audit liaison John Brakey told a reporter from the local CBS affiliate in Phoenix that the audit team was checking to see if 40,000 Biden ballots were smuggled into Arizona from Asia by checking the paper’s fiber to try to detect bamboo. “There’s accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown in and stuffed into the box and it came from the southeast part of the world, Asia. And what they’re doing is to find out if there’s bamboo in the paper,” Brakey told Dennis Welch of CBS5 News. Welch asked Brakey a series of follow-ups, such as “Why do you check for bamboo?” and “This is part of what you’re looking for?” and he answered that others were searching for the bamboo ballots because “people in Southeast Asia … use bamboo in their paper processing” and “this is part of the mystery that we want to un-gaslight people about.”

Full Article: Arizona’s Republican-run election audit is looking for bamboo-laced “China ballots.”

National: Despite GOP rhetoric, there have been fewer than two dozen charged cases of voter fraud since the election | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

On Election Day last year, a man named Ralph Thurman allegedly walked into Sugartown Elementary School in Malvern, Pa., to cast his vote. He allegedly asked whether he needed to produce identification and was told he didn’t. He then allegedly asked if he could vote for his son and was told he couldn’t. He left. Forty-five minutes later, Thurman (again, allegedly) returned, wearing sunglasses. He claimed to be his son and asked for a ballot. Somehow, the people at the polling place saw through his scheme. Thurman faces felony fraud charges. Before 2020, this is how President Donald Trump claimed voter fraud worked: People would vote, leave, come back in a hat and vote again. There was never evidence that this happened with any regularity, particularly given the challenge of pulling it off (as Mr. Thurman can attest). There was even less evidence that there was somehow a secret cabal orchestrating widespread fraud that could swing a federal election, something Trump suggested had been responsible for his 2016 popular-vote loss. With the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic last year, Trump switched his focus. Out were the multiple-hatted fraudsters; in were vague allegations of fraud committed through absentee ballots. Out, too, was a casual, hand-wavey allegation of rampant fraud, replaced by a concerted, hyperactive insistence on it. That accelerated after Trump lost his reelection bid and continues even now, six months later: The 2020 election, he and his party claim, was riddled with illegal votes. Yet for all of those claims and even with the Republican Party’s concentrated focus on the idea during the past six months, there remains no credible evidence that any significant fraud occurred. There’s lots of putative evidence, sure, random affidavits in which nonexperts allege weirdness or claims about ballot nefariousness that is quickly debunked. But even after months and months and months of formal and informal scrutiny, there have been no demonstrated examples of systemic efforts to commit voter fraud.

Full Article: Despite GOP rhetoric, there have been fewer than two dozen charged cases of voter fraud since the election – The Washington Post

Arizona: Observers report ballots and laptop computers have been left unattended in recount, according to secretary of state | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

Ballots have been left unattended on counting tables. Laptop computers sit abandoned, at times — open, unlocked and unmonitored. Procedures are constantly shifting, with untrained workers using different rules to count ballots. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) on Wednesday sent a letter outlining a string of problems that she said observers from her office have witnessed at a Republican-led recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona’s largest county. In the six-page letter, Hobbs wrote that elections are “governed by a complex framework of laws and procedures designed to ensure accuracy, security, and transparency” but that the procedures governing the ongoing recount in Phoenix “ensure none of those things.” Former Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett (R), who is acting as a spokesman for the audit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the audit’s Twitter account, @ArizonaAudit, tweeted  that Hobbs’s allegations were “baseless claimes [sic].” “The audit continues!” read the tweet. On Wednesday, a top official in the Justice Department’s civil rights division wrote in a letter to the state Senate president that information reviewed by the department “raises concerns,” asking that the Arizona Senate provide information to ensure federal laws were not being violated. She wrote that reports suggested that ballots were “not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed.”

Full Article: Observers report ballots and laptop computers have been left unattended in Arizona recount, according to secretary of state – The Washington Post

Department of Justice asks Arizona Senate to respond to concerns about election audit | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is asking Arizona Senate President Karen Fann to respond to concerns the department has about the security of ballots and potential voter intimidation as the Senate’s contractors perform an audit of November’s presidential election in Maricopa County. In a letter sent to Fann on Wednesday, Pamela S. Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the division, asked for Fann’s response to its concerns with an explanation of “the steps that the Arizona Senate will take to ensure that violations of federal law do not occur” during the audit. The department’s concerns may have been prompted in part by a letter it received Thursday from three organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, asking the department to dispatch federal monitors to oversee the audit. That letter raised the same concerns that the department said it has, regarding the security of ballots and potential voter intimidation. The Arizona Senate got the county’s 2.1 million ballots, voting machines and private and public voter information last month after issuing subpoenas to the county that a court ultimately upheld. The Senate then handed over the ballots, machines and information to private contractors to perform the audit, which began at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 23 and is ongoing.

Full Article: Justice Department asks Senate to respond to election audit concerns

New Hampshire: Third member named to Windham audit panel; members ask the public to observe the process, then draw conclusions | Josie Albertson-Grove/New Hampshire Union Leader

A statistics professor has been named as the third and final member of a panel facing a May 27 deadline to audit the November 2020 state representative election in Windham. “We will do our work in such a way that nobody will have to trust any of us,” Philip Stark of the University of California, Berkeley, said Wednesday. “They can look at what was done, rather than who did it.” A hand recount about three weeks after election night determined that the four Windham Republicans running for House seats each received about 300 more votes than were reported from automatic AccuVote counting machines. Gov. Chris Sununu last month signed the legislation that mandates the forensic audit. Stark was chosen by the two other members of the audit team — computer scientist Harri Hursti of Nordic Innovation Labs and Mark Lindeman of election technology policy group Verified Voting. All three have participated in election audits around the country, going back more than a decade. The attorney general and secretary of state chose Hursti together, and Windham’s Board of Selectman picked Lindeman. Hursti and Lindeman chose Stark to round out their team’s areas of expertise. Windham’s choice for the audit team has drawn attention from national conservative media personalities, including former Trump advisor Steve Bannon. On Monday night, about 500 people attended a selectmen’s meeting in Windham to protest the board’s 3-1 vote for Lindeman last month.

Full Article: Third member named to Windham audit panel; members ask the public to observe the process, then draw conclusions | Voters First | unionleader.com

National: Democrats tweak marquee voting bill as they seek path out of Senate | Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post

Congressional Democrats have tweaked their marquee voting-rights, campaign-finance and ethics bill ahead of a Senate committee vote next week, addressing concerns raised by elections administrators but forgoing a more radical rewrite of the legislation. The changes to the For the People Act come after the bill passed the House on a largely party-line vote in March and ahead of a critical vote Tuesday in the Senate Rules and Administration Committee that could advance the legislation to the floor. The legislation is meant to curtail state-level pushes to restrict voter access, such as the nationally controversial effort in Georgia, and President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have all called the bill one of the Democratic Party’s top legislative priorities. The For the People Act, however, presently has no viable route to enactment in the 50-50 Senate. The tweaks made Tuesday aren’t likely to change that. Republicans are uniformly opposed to the bill, meaning it will be unable to clear a Senate filibuster, which can be defeated only with a 60-vote supermajority. While many activists and some senators are eager to change the chamber’s rules to allow the bill to pass with a simple majority, multiple Democratic senators have expressed misgivings about doing so.

Full Article: Democrats change voting bill, HR1 – The Washington Post

National: Constitutional Challenges Loom Over Proposed Voting Bill | Adam Liptak/The New York Times

If the sweeping voting rights bill that the House passed in March overcomes substantial hurdles in the Senate to become law, it would reshape American elections and represent a triumph for Democrats eager to combat the wave of election restrictions moving through Republican-controlled state legislatures. But passage of the bill, known as H.R. 1, would end a legislative fight and start a legal war that could dwarf the court challenges aimed at the Affordable Care Act over the past decade. “I have no doubt that if H.R. 1 passes, we’re going to have a dozen major Supreme Court cases on different pieces of it,” said Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a law professor at Harvard. The potential for the bill to set off a sprawling constitutional battle is largely a function of its ambitions. It would end felon disenfranchisement, require independent commissions to draw congressional districts, establish public financing for congressional candidates, order presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, address dark money in political advertising and restructure the Federal Election Commission. The bill’s opponents say that it is, in the words of an editorial in The National Review, “a frontal assault on the Constitution” and “the most comprehensively unconstitutional bill in modern American history.”

Full Article: Constitutional Challenges Loom Over Proposed Voting Bill – The New York Times

A town of 14,000 people in New Hampshire is now part of Trump’s post-election fantasia | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

The last time Windham, N.H., was at the center of presidential politics, it was because it was the proving ground for Corey Lewandowski’s style of smash-mouth politics. The campaign manager for Donald Trump’s 2016 sprint through the Republican primaries earned a write-up in the New York Times for his aggressive efforts to upend politics-as-usual in the 14,000-person town. Now Windham is central to Trump in a different way. The former president’s always-shifting efforts to prove that he didn’t lose the 2020 election, eternally encumbered by the fact that he did, have settled for the time being on an anomalous recount in Windham’s 2020 state representative race. “You’re watching New Hampshire,” he told customers at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., during an apparently spontaneous speech there last week. “They found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire just now. You saw that.” This, he said, was further evidence that the 2020 election was “rigged.” But the reality of the situation in Windham, perhaps predictably, is more complex than the former president suggests. The problem in Windham arose after a Democratic candidate named Kristi St. Laurent requested a recount in the race to seat four members of the state legislature. Eight candidates ran, four from each major party, with the top four winning election. After the votes were initially tallied, St. Laurent came in fifth, by a margin of 24 votes. After the recount, though, she lost by more than 400. How? Because the recount found that all four Republicans had actually earned about 300 more votes than were included in the initial tally — and that St. Laurent had been allocated 99 more votes than she deserved.

Full Article: A town of 14,000 people in New Hampshire is now part of Trump’s post-election fantasia – The Washington Post

National: G.O.P. Seeks to Empower Poll Watchers, Raising Intimidation Worries | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

The red dot of a laser pointer circled downtown Houston on a map during a virtual training of poll watchers by the Harris County Republican Party. It highlighted densely populated, largely Black, Latino and Asian neighborhoods. “This is where the fraud is occurring,” a county Republican official said falsely in a leaked video of the training, which was held in March. A precinct chair in the northeastern, largely white suburbs of Houston, he said he was trying to recruit people from his area “to have the confidence and courage” to act as poll watchers in the circled areas in upcoming elections. A question at the bottom corner of the slide indicated just how many poll watchers the party wanted to mobilize: “Can we build a 10K Election Integrity Brigade?” As Republican lawmakers in major battleground states seek to make voting harder and more confusing through a web of new election laws, they are simultaneously making a concerted legislative push to grant more autonomy and access to partisan poll watchers — citizens trained by a campaign or a party and authorized by local election officials to observe the electoral process. This effort has alarmed election officials and voting rights activists alike: There is a long history of poll watchers being used to intimidate voters and harass election workers, often in ways that target Democratic-leaning communities of color and stoke fears that have the overall effect of voter suppression. During the 2020 election, President Donald J. Trump’s campaign repeatedly promoted its “army” of poll watchers as he publicly implored supporters to venture into heavily Black and Latino cities and hunt for voter fraud.

Full Article: G.O.P. Seeks to Empower Poll Watchers, Raising Intimidation Worries – The New York Times

National: The slow, painful death of Trump allies’ voting-machine conspiracy theories | Aaron Blake/The Washington Post

Among the many wild conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, few rank as high when it comes to both baselessness and reach as those involving voting machines. The theory that voting machines were programmed to steal the election from President Donald Trump had the benefit, while being utterly without merit, of at least being simple and easy for people to grasp. There were big swings in the vote totals! (Because Biden did a lot better in mail balloting, which were often added to the totals en masse!) Unfortunately for its proponents, these theories carried one very significant drawback: legal liability. While broad claims of voter fraud are relatively unspecific and involve many potential perpetrators, there are relatively few voting-machine companies. Claiming such things means impugning them specifically and creating a situation in which your baseless claims can lead to calculable personal and business harm, which is important when it comes to suing someone for defamation. And sue they have. The result: Many if not most of the high-profile purveyors of such claims have since backed off. One by one, they’ve succumbed to legal pressure by issuing corrections, clarifications or apologies. While some true believers of these theories viewed such lawsuits as opportunities to prove malfeasance once and for all, through the discovery process, those facing penalties have repeatedly left them high and dry — almost as if these theories were completely baseless in the first place and they didn’t have a leg to stand on.

Full Article: The slow, painful death of Trump allies’ voting-machine conspiracy theories – The Washington Post

National: Newsmax apologizes to Dominion employee Eric Coomer for falsely alleging he manipulated votes against Trump | Amy B Wang/The Washington Post

The conservative news network Newsmax has apologized to an employee of Dominion Voting Systems for baselessly alleging that he had rigged the company’s voting machines and vote counts against President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. In a statement Friday, Newsmax said it wanted to “clarify” its coverage of Eric Coomer, the director of product strategy and security at Dominion, who filed a defamation lawsuit against the right-wing network in December. After the election, misinformation about Coomer’s supposed role in manipulating the vote proliferated on right-wing sites, including Newsmax. Coomer said he had been forced into hiding after receiving death threats from Trump supporters, who believed Trump’s false assertion that the election had been stolen from him and that Coomer had played a role. On Friday, Newsmax said there was no evidence that such allegations were true. “There are several facts that our viewers should be aware of,” Newsmax’s statement read. “Newsmax has found no evidence that Dr. Coomer interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way, nor that Dr. Coomer ever claimed to have done so. Nor has Newsmax found any evidence that Dr. Coomer ever participated in any conversation with members of ‘Antifa,’ nor that he was directly involved with any partisan political organization.”

Full Article: Newsmax apologizes to Dominion employee Eric Coomer for falsely alleging he manipulated votes against Trump – The Washington Post

National: Senate Democrats agonize over voting rights strategy | Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine/Politico

Senate Democrats made a major commitment to muscle through Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ethics and voting reform bill. Yet many say they have no idea how to pass it and wonder what exactly the end game is for a signature Democratic priority. Democrats are preparing to kick off a sensitive internal debate over the issue this month as the Senate Rules Committee takes up the sprawling House package. But no Republicans support it, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) hasn’t signed on and at least a half-dozen Democrats have issues with the bill, according to senators and aides. That’s not to mention the constraints of the filibuster in a 50-50 Senate. “We know we’ve got to pass voting rights,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.). “We ought to have 10 Republicans … in that sense the ball is in their court. I’m not saying the outcome is in their court.” What’s at stake is not only the party’s promise on a key issue, but also potentially the future Democratic majorities. Many in the party privately worry that frontline Democrats, like Warnock or House Democrats vulnerable to redistricting, could lose their seats if Congress doesn’t send a federal election and ethics bill to President Joe Biden’s desk by this summer.

Full Article: Senate Dems agonize over voting rights strategy – POLITICO

Arizona: The obvious goal of the Maricopa recount: Injecting more doubt into the 2020 results | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

The reason it’s fun to lie back on a warm spring day and look for shapes in the clouds is that you can usually pick something out. When there are a lot of clouds, slowly swelling and shifting as they drift along, it’s not hard to apply a bit of imagination and see a marching elephant or a hot-air balloon. Humans are good at spotting patterns in chaos. I’m not an evolutionary scientist, so I’ll defer to them for an explanation of how this was advantageous. But our skill is obvious, even outside the context of lazy afternoons lying in the grass. Give us a big set of data and we can find some throughline. This ability has collided uncomfortably with the Internet. Give people an endless supply of information, not all of it legitimate, and people can build up entire ecosystems of belief only loosely bound to reality. The flagship example of this in recent months is the QAnon movement, a self-assembled community that has plunged deep into a surreal and dangerous world of belief. But the same can also be said of claims that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from President Donald Trump, a claim that itself depends on a flimsy latticework of cherry-picked dubious or debunked assertions. Give people a wide range of information and a motivation to find a particular pattern, and humans really shine. A subset of this tendency is underway in Arizona. There, the Republican-controlled state Senate authorized a recount of ballots cast in Maricopa County last year. Maricopa is not only the largest county in Arizona, but it accounted for more than 60 percent of the votes cast in the state in 2020. Joe Biden won the county by about 45,000 votes while eking out a statewide victory by about 10,000. So the value in undercutting the results in Maricopa is clear: Drop 10,458 votes from that total into the shadow zone of uncertainty and the results in the state overall fall into the same space. And then: Who knows what? This theory is ascribed to by none other than Trump himself. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes,” Trump told a crowd at Mar-a-Lago last week. “So we’re going to watch that very closely. And after that, you’ll watch Pennsylvania and you’ll watch Georgia and you’re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin. … Because this was a rigged election, everybody knows it.”

Full Article: The obvious goal of the Arizona recount: Injecting more doubt into the 2020 results – The Washington Post

Arizona: Antifa fears, UV lights: What the group running GOP’s election audit tried to keep secret | Jane C. Timm/NBC

The private companies hired by Arizona Senate Republicans to recount millions of ballots from the 2020 election are concerned about possible Antifa attacks and planned to use UV lights to hunt for fraud, internal documents released as part of a legal battle with Democrats revealed. State Senate Republicans and the companies also initially sought National Guard protection for their review of Maricopa County ballots but were turned down by Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, according to one of the documents, which was released Thursday by the Maricopa Superior Court over GOP objections. A judge ruled on Friday that the security document, which was posted publicly to the court’s electronic docket on Thursday night, could be sealed by agreement of the parties. The documents offer a detailed look at the conspiratorial thinking behind an extraordinary partisan hunt for fraud some six months after former President Donald Trump lost the election and began pushing the lie that it was stolen from him. “It would be comical if it weren’t so scary,” Rick Hasen, an election law expert and a professor at the University of California, Irvine, said of the audit.

Full Article: Antifa fears, UV lights: What the group running Arizona GOP’s election audit tried to keep secret

Arizona: Everything we know about who is funding the Maricopa election audit | By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror

The Arizona Senate’s audit of Maricopa County’s election results is still underway and a number of pro-Trump and conspiracy-minded groups are raising money for it, though it is unclear how much money has been raised, how much the audit will cost and who will receive that money. Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based firm heading up the audit team, has refused to say who is paying it and how much they are paying. The Senate agreed to pay the company only $150,000 — an amount that Senate President Karen Fann acknowledged she knew was far short of what it would cost — and let it raise the rest from private sources, even though the Senate is sitting on a $3.5 million nest egg it could have used to pay for the audit. Ken Bennett, the Senate’s liaison to the auditors, has said he will “fight” to get information about private funding released, but he has also chided the public for questioning where the money is coming from, telling reporters “it doesn’t matter who paid for it.” Likewise, Fann told the Arizona Mirror that she wants the information on who is funding Arizona’s audit made public, but may be unable to force Cyber Ninjas to do so. The Senate’s contract with the company doesn’t mention outside funding or require that the firm disclose that information.

Full Article: Everything we know about who is funding the Arizona election audit

Florida Republicans rushed to curb mail voting after Trump’s attacks on the practice. Now some fear it could lower GOP turnout. | Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

Republican operatives worth their salt remember well the Sunshine State’s 1988 U.S. Senate race. Floridians went to sleep that Nov. 8 believing that Democrat Buddy MacKay had prevailed with a slim lead of less than one percentage point. The television networks had called the race for him. The St. Petersburg Times published a story the…

With Florida Bill, Republicans Continue Unrelenting Push to Restrict Voting | Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein/The New York Times

The pleas from Florida election officials were direct and dire: Passing the state’s new voting bill would be a “grave security risk,” “unnecessary” and a “travesty.” The restrictions imposed by the new law, they warned, would make it harder to vote and hurt confidence in the balloting process. But their objections were brushed aside on Thursday night as the Legislature gave final passage to a bill that would limit voting by mail, curtail the use of drop boxes and prohibit actions to help people waiting in line to vote, among other restrictions, while imposing penalties on those who do not follow the rules. It was perhaps the clearest sign yet that Republicans are determined to march forward across state capitols to establish new restrictions on voting. The Republican effort puts added pressure on Democrats in Congress to find a way to pass federal voting laws, including a sweeping overhaul known as the For the People Act. But in Washington, just as in state capitols across the country, Republicans have remained united and steadfast against the Democratic efforts. Georgia Republicans in March enacted far-reaching new voting laws that limit ballot drop-boxes and forbid the distribution of food and water to voters waiting in line. Iowa has also imposed new limits, including reducing the period for early voting and in-person voting hours on Election Day. Next up is Texas, where Republicans in the legislature are trampling protestations from corporate titans like Dell Technologies and American Airlines and moving on a vast election bill that would be among the most severe in the nation. It would impose new restrictions on early voting, ban drive-through voting, threaten election officials with harsher penalties and greatly empower partisan poll watchers. The main bill passed a key committee in a late-night session on Thursday, and could head to a full floor vote in the House as early as next week. Bills to restrict voting have also been moving through Republican-led legislatures in Arizona and Michigan.

Full Article: With Florida Bill, Republicans Continue Unrelenting Push to Restrict Voting – The New York Times