Arizona: Republican-led ballot review grinds to rocky conclusion, with results expected next month | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

The Arizona Senate returned nearly 2.1 million ballots to the control of the state’s largest county Thursday as the GOP-led recount of votes cast in the 2020 presidential election drew to a rocky close, marked by upheaval that is likely to further undermine public confidence in its conclusions, set to be announced next month. A key audit official resigned Wednesday after voicing concerns about a lack of transparency by private contractors hired to lead the effort to scrutinize the ballots cast in Maricopa County — and then, hours later, took back his resignation, telling local reporters that he had negotiated better access to the process. Meanwhile, Twitter on Tuesday suspended a string of accounts that had been promoting the ballot review, including one that had been billed as the audit’s official handle, saying that they violated company policies on “platform manipulation and spam.” Also this week, a previously supportive Republican state senator announced that she believed the audit has been “botched” — the third member of a 16-member caucus to express reservations over a process that was ordered up by the chamber’s GOP leadership. The tumult provided a dramatic capstone to a widely criticized review of the 2020 election that has been decried by election experts and Maricopa County officials and has deeply divided Arizona Republicans.

 

Full Article: Republican-led Arizona ballot review grinds to rocky conclusion, with results expected next month – The Washington Post

Arizona: Why the Election Audit Circus Just Won’t End | Ed Kilgore/New York Magazine

Former President Donald Trump railed against the news media earlier this month for dismissing the “massive number of voter irregularities and fraud” that ostensibly took place during the 2020 election in Arizona. He was responding to an AP report that found fewer than 200 cases of potential voter fraud out of 3 million ballots cast in the state. As the outlet notes, this “align[s] with previous studies showing voter fraud is rare.” But Trump and his allies in Arizona have not been dissuaded by such independent findings, or their own failure to turn up any convincing evidence that Joe Biden only won the state through nefarious means. Since April, private parties answering to a faction of Republicans in the state Senate have been conducting an “audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results. The effort has been derided as incompetent and unwarranted by outside experts, the Justice Department, and even other local Republicans — yet the audit chugs on in self-induced darkness. While the tabulation of votes is supposedly complete, this week top Republicans in the Arizona Senate issued subpoenas demanding even more election materials from the county.

 

Full Article: Why the Arizona Election Audit Circus Just Won’t End

Arizona: Trump supporters raise $5.7M for election audit | Jonathan J. Cooper/Associated Press

Groups connected to prominent supporters of former President Donald Trump’s movement to cast doubt on the 2020 election results have raised $5.7 million for Arizona Republicans’ election audit. Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the little-known firm hired to lead the audit, ended months of silence about who was paying for it and how much it cost Wednesday night. The money from pro-Trump groups dwarfs the $150,000 contributed by the Arizona Senate, which commissioned the audit and hired Cyber Ninjas. Among those leading the fundraising groups are Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor; Sydney Powell, his attorney who filed a number of baseless lawsuits challenging election results; Patrick Byrne, a former chief executive of Overstock.com; and correspondents from the pro-Trump One America News Network. The confirmation that the audit is being overwhelmingly funded by groups promoting false narratives about the election will raise further questions about the validity of the final report. The audit has already been widely discredited by election experts who say Cyber Ninjas and other contractors are biased and using unusual procedures that won’t produce reliable results. “When the sources of the money, and the activity that’s being paid for, and the people being paid are all putting forth falsehoods … it’s incredibly troubling and problematic,” said Tammy Patrick, a senior adviser at the Democracy Fund and a former Maricopa County elections official.

 

Full Article: Trump supporters raise $5.7M for Arizona election audit

Georgia Republicans edge toward a takeover of elections in Fulton County, the state’s largest. | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

Republicans in Georgia’s General Assembly have requested a performance review of the top election official in Fulton County, the first step in a possible takeover of the county’s electoral process that could give the Republican-led legislature more control over an area with the largest concentration of Democratic voters in the state. The request, submitted in a letter on Tuesday by State Senator Butch Miller and signed by about two dozen other Republican state senators, calls for a panel review of Richard Barron, the county election director, over what the lawmakers described as a failure to properly perform risk-limiting audits, a process that helps ensure the correct results and security, after the 2020 election. “We do so as a measure of last resort, having failed to adequately assuage the concern that we, as elected officials, have regarding the integrity of the Fulton County elections process,” Mr. Miller wrote in the letter. Fulton County, which includes much of Atlanta, has a record of problems with its elections. Most recently, its June 2020 primary contest was marred by voting machine difficulties that were exacerbated by the small size and poor training of its staff, causing lines to stretch for hours across the county.

 

Full Article: Georgia G.O.P. Edges Toward Election Takeover in Fulton County – The New York Times

Georgia: Fulton County elections takeover would make history | Ben Brasch/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Experts say Georgia Republicans’ request to audit the elections of Democrat-heavy Fulton County is a historical first in the national story of partisanship invading elections management. A letter first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday shows two dozen state senators calling for a performance review of Fulton elections chief Richard Barron using provisions from Senate Bill 202. Republicans say they are trying to protect Fulton’s voters from the county’s decades of elections mismanagement. Democrats view this effort as a hostile takeover to alter elections results. Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts wrote a letter to Fulton’s legislative delegation leaders Thursday asking them to hold a hearing “to ascertain the legitimacy of this request.” “It is my ultimate fear that this request performance review could be occurring for political reasons and that Fulton County’s voters will be the ones who bear the cost,” Pitts wrote. Gabe Sterling, COO with the Secretary of State’s office, pushed back on that accusation at an Atlanta Press Club event Thursday. “The reality of it is not the state Legislature can come in and overturn results, and that’s what many people on the left side of the spectrum have said about the law,” Sterling said. “It’s simply not true.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Fulton has been “failing” at elections since 1993 and now Georgia has a method to ensure fair elections.

 

Full Article: Fulton elections takeover would make history

Michigan: Trump’s false election fraud claims fuel GOP meltdown | Nolan D. McCaskill/Politico

Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by more than 150,000 votes in Michigan last November. Trump and the Michigan Republican Party still aren’t over it. The outcome — and the former president’s obsessive efforts to dispute it — has left the state party in disarray, raising questions about the GOP’s focus as it looks to unseat Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a top battleground state next year. “From a staff and leadership perspective, I don’t know that top-notch professionals would want to go into this quagmire,” said Jeff Timmer, a former Michigan GOP executive director who opposed Trump. “Unless you’re going to talk crazy talk, they don’t want you there.” Much of the trouble can be traced to the 2020 presidential election results, which Trump and his allies have alleged were marked by fraud without providing evidence.

 

Full Article: Trump’s false election fraud claims fuel Michigan GOP meltdown – POLITICO

North Carolina makes long-awaited election system updates, sending data to the cloud | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

By the end of the summer, all 100 county boards of elections in North Carolina will be rid of the computer servers that hold voter registration data. The information will be stored in the cloud instead. This is an early step in what will be a yearslong and nearly $3 million process to upgrade state and county election systems to improve security, usability and efficiency, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections. The state will upgrade its voter registration and back-end data management, which are essential for running elections but little seen or understood by voters. The changes will not affect voting machines or the election equipment that makes, scans and counts ballots. Originally designed in 1998 and put in place statewide in 2006, North Carolina’s current election information management system is made up of a network of data servers in the state office and every county, woven together by a network of computer programs. That was “almost another geological era of cybersecurity risk management,” according to John Sebes, co-founder and chief technology officer at the nonprofit Open Source Election Technology Institute. Back then, election administrators were not worrying about computer hacks from foreign nations or even criminals looking to make a buck. “We have to recognize it’s not just the technology front that’s evolved so much; it’s the threat,” Sebes said. The scope of the projects shows how election administration has evolved since the turn of the century. Running elections now requires handling ever more data managed through increasingly complex voting technologies, all while protecting against the kinds of cybersecurity threats that challenge major corporations and the federal government.

 

Full Article: Sending data to the cloud, NC makes long-awaited election system updates – Carolina Public Press

Pennsylvania Republican blasts election audit, rebukes fraud claims | Nathan Layne/Reuters

A Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania has come out against his colleagues’ “forensic” audit of the 2020 election, becoming the party’s first statewide official to publicly call for an end to the effort and warn of electoral consequences. In an op-ed on Thursday, state Senator Dan Laughlin says that moves to investigate Donald Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden in the state are being made “absent credible evidence of fraud” and won’t change the outcome, as some voters hope. “The current attempt to discredit the 2020 election results runs headlong into an unmistakable truth,” wrote Laughlin, a centre-right Republican from Erie County. “Donald Trump lost Pennsylvania because Donald Trump received fewer votes.” His comments mark a rare public rebuke of Republican state Senator Doug Mastriano from within his own party. Mastriano has been arguing for a comprehensive “forensic” investigation involving the inspection of voting equipment, modeled on a contentious partisan probe ongoing in Maricopa County, Arizona. Mastriano, who has promoted Trump’s baseless stolen-election claims, launched the investigation earlier this month with requests to Tioga, Philadelphia and York counties for access to their voting machines. Mastriano has said he would subpoena the counties if they did not comply by July 31.

 

Full Article: Pennsylvania Republican blasts election audit, rebukes fraud claims | Reuters

Tennessee: Shelby County Commission shoots down ballot-marking machines | Dulce Torres Guzman/Tennessee Lookout

On Monday, Shelby County Commission members voted 8-2 against a resolution to purchase Election System & Software ballot-marking devices and software, citing concerns that the voting machines were vulnerable. Since the 2020 election, the commission has been in debate with the Shelby County Election Commission on how to create confidence in election results. Shelby County commissioners cited an Arizona audit led by Republican state senators who were  inspired by discredited claims that widespread voter frsaaud took the presidency from Donald Trump.  President Joe Biden won Arizona by 10,457 voters, leading some elected officials to ask how states can create irrefutable election results and avoid future allegations. For the 2020 state and federal elections, the Shelby County commission approved the temporary use of hybrid machines that allowed voters to choose between hand-marked ballots and digital technology. Initially, the election commission favored hybrid devices before settling on ES&S devices, the nation’s largest manufacturer of voting technology. The company currently faces lawsuits due to allegations of errors leading to erroneous election results but inquiries found minimal evidence of voter fraud during the 2020 election. This week, the commission made a bipartisan decision to shoot down the election commission’s recommendation to use ballot-marking devices despite the election commission’s threatening to sue.

 

Full Article: Shelby County Commission shoots down ballot-marking machines – Tennessee Lookout

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos does not want another election probe, says ‘forensic audit’ already happening in Wisconsin | Hope Karnopp/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A vow from the chairwoman of the Assembly elections committee to conduct a “comprehensive, forensic examination” of the 2020 election is getting pushback from the state’s top Republican and the chair of the state Elections Commission. Rep. Janel Brandtjen issued a statement Monday that her committee would request materials for an investigation “in the coming days,” but has not said what those would include or what the exact timeline would be. “Voters have made it clear that they want a thorough, cyber-forensic examination of tabulators, ballot marking devices and other election equipment, which I will be helping facilitate on behalf of the committee as the chair,” Brandtjen said. But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Tuesday that the state’s two ongoing investigations are enough and said he didn’t know what her investigation would prove. “I feel like my colleague Representative Brandtjen is misinformed about what we’re doing in Wisconsin because we are already doing a forensic audit,” Vos said. “Certainly, if she wants to add extra resources from her two staff people in the office to be able to assist the investigators that we have and the audit bureau and what they’re doing, we welcome everybody to offer whatever evidence that they have.”

 

Full Article: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos does not want 3rd Wisconsin election probe

GOP liaison to Arizona audit says he is resigning, won’t be ‘rubber stamp’ on final report | Allan Smith and Jane C. Timm/NBC

The Republican serving as liaison between the Arizona state Senate and the private company conducting a partisan ballot review said Wednesday he intends to resign, citing his inability to back the final product. Ken Bennett, a former Arizona secretary of state, said he made the decision after it became clear he would not regain access to the Phoenix fairgrounds where the private company, Cyber Ninjas, continues its examination of millions of ballots cast last November in Maricopa County. “Right now I’m the liaison in name only,” he told conservative radio host James Harris Wednesday. “I don’t know if that makes me a LINO or what.” Bennett, who has been the public face of the review, was first barred from entering the audit site Friday after he shared some results with outside election experts, according to The Arizona Republic. Those experts told the paper that what they reviewed indicated the auditors’ vote tally was in line with the results reported by the county. “I’ve always tried to act as a man of integrity and honesty and I’m sure I don’t accomplish that all the time, but I cannot put a rubber stamp on a product I am being locked out of its development,” he said Wednesday. “I’m going to step down today. I’ll issue a statement later for the press later this morning.” Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, said in a statement to NBC News on Wednesday that a liaison is no longer needed on-site because the tabulation of votes is complete and ballots will be returned to Maricopa County on Thursday.

 

Full Article: GOP liaison to Arizona audit says he is resigning, won’t be ‘rubber stamp’ on final report

National: ‘A hit man sent them.’ Police at the Capitol recount the horrors of Jan. 6 as the inquiry begins. | Luke Broadwater and Nicholas Fandos/The New York Times

One officer described how rioters attempted to gouge out his eye and called him a traitor as they sought to invade the Capitol. Another told of being smashed in a doorway and nearly crushed amid a “medieval” battle with a pro-Trump mob as he heard guttural screams of pain from fellow officers. A third said he was beaten unconscious and stunned repeatedly with a Taser as he pleaded with his assailants, “I have kids.” A fourth relayed how he was called a racist slur over and over again by intruders wearing “Make America Great Again” garb. “All of them — all of them were telling us, ‘Trump sent us,’” Aquilino A. Gonell, a U.S. Capitol Police sergeant, said on Tuesday as he tearfully recounted the horrors of defending Congress on Jan. 6, testifying at the first hearing of a House select committee to investigate the attack. One by one, in excruciating detail, Sergeant Gonell and three other officers who faced off with the hordes that broke into the Capitol told Congress of the brutal violence, racism and hostility they suffered as a throng of angry rioters, acting in the name of President Donald J. Trump, beat, crushed and shocked them. More than six months after the assault, the accounts of the four uniformed officers — as precise as they were cinematic — cut through a fog of confusion, false equivalence and misdirection that Republicans have generated to try to insulate themselves politically and placate Mr. Trump.

 

Full Article: Capitol Police Officers Testify As Jan. 6 Inquiry Begins – The New York Times

Tennessee: Commissioners reject ballot marking devices in voting machine contract for Shelby County | Katherine Burgess/Memphis Commercial Appeal

The Shelby County Commission rejected a resolution to purchase voting machines for a second time, sending a resounding message to the Election Commission that they still favor hand-marked paper ballots, not ballot marking devices. “I can understand their position tonight,” Election Commission Chairman Brent Taylor said. “Unfortunately, (the County Commission) is not charged with the responsibility of conducting elections. The Shelby County Election Commission is by statute charged with conducting elections by statute and we have said in order to conduct the elections in a free, fair, honest, open way we need these machines and it is the County Commission’s responsibility to fund them.” Commissioners later approved a resolution requesting that the county’s purchasing department assist with the procurement process for the purchase of voting machines and related software that support hand-marked paper ballots. The machines in the contract voted down Monday would have been for ballot marking devices, which permit voters to cast their ballots using a screen and producing a printout with a bar code. The county’s current machines don’t produce a paper trail to allow voters to review their decisions. Taylor said he will take the decision back to his body to assess what their options are, which could be anything from rebidding the request for proposal or going to Chancery Court to force the commission to fund ballot marking devices. It remains to be seen whether Monday’s vote means the old machines will be used in the 2022 election, Taylor said. It is possible that they could appear before Chancery Court on an emergency basis and have a ruling in enough time to purchase equipment before the election.

Full Article: Shelby County rejects ballot marking devices in voting machine contract

National: ‘A medieval battle’: Officers reveal horrors they faced defending Capitol on Jan. 6 | Nicholas Wu/Politico

Four police officers who defended the Capitol from a Jan. 6 riot by Donald Trump supporters spoke out Tuesday during the first hearing of the select committee investigating the attack, sharing harrowing details of their physical and mental trauma. As the riot fades from public memory amid a new wave of Republican revisionism, select panel members aimed to cast the hearing — the first time Congress has heard publicly from law enforcement on the front lines of the response to Jan. 6 — as a vivid reminder of what happened. “Some people are trying to deny what happened — to whitewash it, to turn the insurrectionists into martyrs,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the panel, said in his opening statement. “But the whole world saw the reality of what happened on January 6. The hangman’s gallows sitting out there on our National Mall. The flag of that first failed and disgraced rebellion against our union, being paraded through the Capitol.” Thompson was followed by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), appointed to the panel alongside Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) after top House Republicans shunned the committee. Cheney said the panel should pursue every facet of the facts about Jan. 6 but also dig into “every minute of that day in the White House,” a subtle but unmistakable shot at the former president who she lost her GOP leadership spot for criticizing. “I have been a conservative Republican since 1984,” Cheney said, and has “disagreed sharply on policy and politics” with all Democratic members of the select panel, but “in the end we are one nation under God.”

 

Full Article: ‘A medieval battle’: Officers reveal horrors they faced defending Capitol on Jan. 6 – POLITICO

National: DOJ tells former Trump officials they can testify about efforts to overturn election | Pete Williams/NBC

The Department of Justice has told several former Trump administration officials that they can answer questions from Congress about efforts by President Donald Trump or DOJ officials to challenge, stop the counting or overturn the results of the presidential election. The letters are being sent to former officials who were asked to testify or answer further questions from the House Oversight and Senate Judiciary committees, according to Justice Department and congressional officials. The Senate committee, for example, has notified witnesses that it is looking into reports of “an alleged plot between then-President Donald Trump and then-acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division Jeffrey Bossert Clark to use the Department of Justice to further Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.”

Full Article: DOJ tells former Trump officials they can testify about efforts to overturn election

National: Jan. 6 select committee to open investigation amid political chaos and controversy | Karoun Demirjian/The Washington Post

The House select committee envisioned to be the ultimate arbiter of what led President Donald Trump’s supporters to invade the U.S. Capitol in January is scheduled to begin its work this week under a cloud of controversy that threatens to compromise the investigation from the outset. Republican leaders, who declared a boycott after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week rejected two of their picks for the panel, have signaled to the GOP’s rank and file that there could be consequences for anyone who participates. As of Sunday, two have agreed to do so anyway, and Pelosi has hinted that there could be others. It’s unclear when a roster may be finalized, and Democrats running the committee have yet to articulate specific plans or timelines for their investigation. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, four police officers — two from the Capitol’s protection squad and two from D.C. police — are set to provide the first public testimony before the select committee. They are expected to testify about their experiences of both physical and verbal abuse on Jan. 6, as they tried to protect the Capitol from a swelling horde of demonstrators determined to stop Congress’s efforts to certify the 2020 electoral college results and declare Joe Biden the next president. Their stories will be familiar to those who have followed the riot’s fallout via related congressional investigations, ongoing federal court cases and Trump’s second impeachment trial. All four have given interviews about their experience. Some were even involved in lobbying members of Congress to create an independent commission to examine the attack — an effort that failed this spring, when the Senate fell shy of a filibuster-proof majority needed to impanel what was supposed to be bipartisan group of outside experts.

Full Article: Jan. 6 select committee to open investigation amid political chaos and controversy – The Washington Post

National: Republicans poised to rig the next election by gerrymandering electoral maps | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Ten years ago, Republicans pulled off what would later be described as “the most audacious political heist of modern times”. It wasn’t particularly complicated. Every 10 years, the US constitution requires states to redraw the maps for both congressional and state legislative seats. The constitution entrusts state lawmakers with the power to draw those districts. Looking at the political map in 2010, Republicans realized that by winning just a few state legislative seats in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, they could draw maps that would be in place for the next decade, distorting them to guarantee Republican control for years to come. Republicans executed the plan, called Project Redmap, nearly perfectly and took control of 20 legislative bodies, including ones in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Then, Republicans set to work drawing maps that cemented their control on power for the next decade. Working behind closed doors, they were brazen in their efforts. In Wisconsin, lawmakers signed secrecy agreements and then drew maps that were so rigged that Republicans could nearly hold on to a supermajority of seats with a minority of the vote. In Michigan, a Republican operative bragged about cramming “Dem garbage” into certain districts as they drew a congressional map that advantaged Republicans 9-5. In Ohio, GOP operatives worked secretly from a hotel room called “the bunker”, as they tweaked a congressional map that gave Republicans a 12-4 advantage. In North Carolina, a state lawmaker publicly said he was proposing a map that would elect 10 Republicans to Congress because he did not think it was possible to draw one that would elect 11.

 

Full Article: Republicans poised to rig the next election by gerrymandering electoral maps | US voting rights | The Guardian

National: One-third of states have passed restrictive voting laws this year | Reid Wilson/TheHill

One in every three states across the nation have passed new laws restricting access to the ballot in the wake of the 2020 elections, a torrid pace that showcases the national battle over election reform. Voting rights experts and advocates say they have never seen such an explosion of election overhauls: Legislatures in 18 states have passed 30 bills that would in some way curtail a voter’s access, according to a tally maintained by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, a voting rights advocacy organization. “What is clear is that there is a wave of state laws that make it harder for Americans to vote, and in a really unprecedented manner. We haven’t seen the volume of these bills at all in a year,” said Eliza Sweren-Becker, counsel to the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “This is reflecting a real concerted effort in states across the country to make it harder for Americans to vote, to carve Americans out of the electorate rather than politicians trying to win over those voters.” The overhauls vary widely by state. Six states have shortened the time period during which a voter can request a mail-in ballot. Four states have limited the number or availability of mail ballot drop boxes. Seven states have given election administrators more leeway or new requirements in purging inactive voters from the rolls. Six states have limited the help someone can offer a voter in returning their ballot. The measures have sharply divided the two parties: Every new restriction has been passed in states where Republicans own total control of the legislature. All but four of the states where new restrictions have passed are also run by Republican governors, with the exception of Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada and Kansas.

 

Full Article: One-third of states have passed restrictive voting laws this year | TheHill

Editorial: Trust in U.S. Elections Is Slipping. It’s Time to Go on Offense. | William P. Crowell and Gregory A. Miller/Barron’s

The 2020 election was a wake-up call. Nearly half of voters expressed concern and even distrust in the voting process, due in no small part to the looming threat of foreign (and domestic) interference. That trust won’t come back on its own. We need to act to restore faith in election infrastructure and arm our election administrators for far better defense. Our election infrastructure includes the people who run elections, the people who oversee and validate the processes, and the technology that are used to conduct voting. The integrity of that infrastructure is critical to the functioning of our democracy. And yet, in many parts of this country, we have been witnessing attacks on the election system for decades. Some of the attacks are obviously politically motivated and intended to favor one political party or another. At the nonprofit OSET Institute, for 16 years we have focused most of our activities on developing new technology solutions that increase confidence in elections and their outcomes. We are deeply involved in the rethinking of the hardware, software, standards, and verification systems for election machines and processes. It would appear that is not enough. A robust campaign to strengthen our election infrastructure will require us to, first, disrupt and impede the spread of misinformation and disinformation about our election systems. The Internet has become the channel of choice for amplifying false information about voting, elections, candidates, and election integrity. Today we operate against offensive disinformation primarily using only defensive tools in cyberspace. A defense-only approach to disinformation is doomed to failure. Imagine if our military forces fought battles strictly by staying in their foxholes and never venturing out to engage the enemy. It would result in only one outcome: defeat. We need to balance our defensive efforts with offensive efforts that take advantage of the attackers’ weaknesses. We can use active means to counter false information. We can strike at the sources with cyber means of diminishing their outbursts.

 

Full Article: Restoring Trust in U.S. Elections Will Require Going on Offense | Barron’s

Arizona GOP Audit Director Barred From Recount After Sharing Data Supporting Trump Loss | Jason Lemon/Newsweek

The Republican overseeing the controversial GOP-backed election audit in Arizona has reportedly been banned from entering the building where the recount process is ongoing, after he shared some data with experts that showed the results match the officially certified numbers in Maricopa County. The Arizona Republic reported on Friday evening that Ken Bennett, Arizona’s former Secretary of State who has been described as the audit’s “director,” was barred from entering the building on the state fairgrounds where the audit is moving forward. The newspaper reported that Bennett had shared some of the audit data with outside experts showing that the ballot recount was tracking “very closely” with Maricopa County’s certified results. Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company conducting the audit on behalf of the state’s Senate Republicans, told the publication that state Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, made the decision to block Bennett from the building. Newsweek reached out to Fann for further comment but did not immediately receive a response. Ryan Randazzo, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, summed up the situation in a Friday evening tweet: “The liaison for the Arizona election audit gave some data to outside experts who want to check the Cyber Ninjas’ work, and then he was locked out of the audit. Also it looks like the ninjas miscounted and the roof on the budget building is leaking.”

Full Article: Arizona GOP Audit Director Barred From Recount After Sharing Data Supporting Trump Loss

Arizona: Maricopa County weighs subpoena response, unlikely to turn over routers | Kevin Stone/KTAR

Maricopa County officials are weighing their response to a new subpoena from Arizona Senate Republican leaders over items related to the 2020 election, but it appears they will resist handing over network routers. “We just received this late yesterday,” Supervisor Bill Gates, one of four Republicans on the five-member board that governs the county, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News in his first of two Tuesday morning interviews with the station. “So we’ll convene as a body, will meet with our attorneys, go over this. If there are reasonable requests in here, of course we will turn those over.” The supervisors will meet with legal advisers Wednesday behind closed doors in an executive session that starts at 9 a.m. Monday’s Senate subpoena gave the county one week to produce certain items the Cyber Ninjas and other contractors hired to review the Phoenix-area general election say are needed to complete their final audit report.

 

Full Article: Maricopa County weighs subpoena response, unlikely to turn over routers – KTAR.com

Arizona Senate issues new subpoena for 2020 election audit | Jonathan J. Cooper/Associated Press

Two top Republicans in the Arizona Senate issued two new subpoenas late Monday for materials from the 2020 election as they look to continue their unprecedented review of former President Donald Trump’s loss in Maricopa County. The subpoenas issued by Senate President Karen Fann and Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen set up a new confrontation with the Republican leaders of Maricopa County, who have vowed to stop producing materials for the Senate’s review. They say the review is being run by incompetent grifters, and they’ve already provided everything needed to review the 2020 vote count. Fann and Petersen also, for the first time, sent a subpoena to Dominion Voting Systems Inc., which manufactured Maricopa County’s voting machines and has been the target of false conspiracy theories suggesting its machines were tainted by foreign interference. The new demands come days after Trump spoke to thousands of supporters in downtown Phoenix, using the Senate’s review to make a number of debunked claims to bolster his false narrative that President Joe Biden’s victory was illegitimate. Fann first issued a subpoena late last year as Trump and his allies were looking for materials to support their false claims of election irregularities before President Joe Biden’s victory was formally certified on Jan. 6. The subpoena was reissued early this year, and after a judge ruled it was valid, Maricopa County turned over 2.1 million ballots, hundreds of counting machines and terabytes worth of data. The materials were given to contractors hired by Fann for a sweeping audit of the election, which Trump narrowly lost. Fann says her goal is not to overturn the 2020 election but to see whether changes to state law are needed going forward. But the audit is being led by an inexperienced firm, Cyber Ninjas, led by a Trump supporter who has promoted conspiracy theories about the election. It’s become an obsession for many Trump supporters who hope it will turn up evidence supporting claims of fraud.

 

Full Article: Arizona Senate issues new subpoena for 2020 election audit

Florida: GOP state lawmaker demands forensic voting audit | Jake Dima/Yahoo News

A GOP lawmaker called for a forensic voting audit in Florida on Monday as he cited “significant irregularities” in similar inquiries in Georgia and Arizona. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, demanded the Florida secretary of state and local election authorities investigate the five most populous counties: Hillsborough, Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Orange. He also urged top leaders in the state Legislature to pass a bill allowing top authorities “any tools they need to ensure that audits are thoroughly conducted.” “A full forensic audit of the five counties must be done immediately,” Sabatini said. “Florida voters’ confidence in our elections is at an all-time low. Disturbing revelations in Arizona, Georgia and other states make clear that the Secretary of State needs to do more than attempt to secure future elections. They must also look back and ensure that laws already on the books were followed in previous elections.” “This is not a partisan issue and is a necessary step in ensuring voter confidence in future elections,” he continued, adding that “it’s about time” election officials “start showing some transparency.”

 

Full Article: GOP state lawmaker demands forensic voting audit in Florida

Georgia study finds 49% of voters checked printed-out paper ballots | Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia added paper ballots to in-person voting last year. Less than half of voters checked them for accuracy. That’s according to a study commissioned by the secretary of state’s office, which found that 49% of Election Day voters spent at least one second looking at their printed-out paper ballots, a feature of Georgia’s $133 million voting system. In the previous 18 years, votes in Georgia were stored on memory cards, with no paper ballots for recounts or audits. The findings show both the value and limits of voting touchscreens, called ballot-marking devices, which are connected to printers to create paper ballots. While paper ballots can help voters detect errors and the possibility of tampering, many Georgians didn’t bother looking at them. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the study by requesting it through the Georgia Open Records Act. “The more voters checking their ballots, the better. It would be good if that percentage kept going up,” said Trey Hood, a University of Georgia political science professor who co-wrote the study. “Half of any group is a large percentage, but it also shows you that there’s a whole other half who aren’t checking their ballots.”

 

Full Article: Georgia study finds 49% of voters checked printed-out paper ballots

Michigan: Lawyers cite Trump’s election ‘suspicions’ in fight against sanctions | Craig Mauger/The Detroit News

Six lawyers facing sanctions in Michigan over their attempt to reverse the state’s 2020 presidential election say “suspicions” about the vote in “the highest levels” of government are among the reasons they should not be penalized. Southfield attorney Donald Campbell, who’s representing Sidney Powell and other lawyers in Detroit U.S. district court, filed a brief Monday, levying a variety of arguments for why Judge Linda Parker should deny motions for sanctions. The document came two weeks after the judge in Michigan’s Eastern District held a high-profile, six-hour hearing on the subject. “In this case, the attorneys didn’t just have suspicions based merely on their own beliefs,” Campbell wrote Monday. “They had evidence that those working at the highest levels of the United States government shared their suspicions. “That context makes this case exceptional — and it is a reason for the court to deny their defendants’ and intervenors’ requests for sanctions.” Much of the debate has focused on whether the legal team that sought to have Trump named Michigan’s winner properly vetted affidavits from individuals who claimed they witnessed wrongdoing in the election and other analyses they submitted to try to bolster their effort. Trump lost Michigan to Democrat Joe Biden by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points. Despite unsubstantiated claims of fraud, a series of court rulings, dozens of audits by election officials and bipartisan boards of canvassers as well as an investigation by state Senate Republicans have reinforced the outcome.

 

Full Article: Lawyers cite Trump’s election ‘suspicions’ in fight against sanctions

North Carolina: Records suit against elections board over federal voter fraud probe can continue | Tyler Dukes/Raleigh News & Observer

A North Carolina judge ruled Monday that a nearly two-year-old lawsuit by a coalition of media organizations against state election officials over records connected to a secretive Trump administration voter fraud probe can continue — at least for now. The public origins of the case date back to the summer of 2018, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina dropped a set of sweeping subpoenas on state and county election boards demanding documents on every registered voter in the state going back years. Complying with the subpoenas would have required election officials to turn over millions of pages of records just days before the midterm election. Amid pushback, the U.S. Attorney’s Office quickly agreed to extend the deadline for production. But the demand also narrowed in scope with little explanation. Months later, the State Board of Elections quietly issued guidance to county boards to produce a much smaller trove of documents — this time focusing on about 800 specific voters. Voter registration data is public in North Carolina. But when a reporter requested the documents that election officials eventually turned over to federal investigators, the state refused to release them. They also refused to say why, noting they were “prohibited from providing a reason.” Agencies are required under North Carolina law to cite specific exemptions when denying requests for public records. So in September 2019, a coalition of media organizations, including The News & Observer, WRAL News and The Washington Post, filed suit against the State Board of Elections and their counterparts in Wake County, arguing they were “knowingly and intentionally” violating the state’s open records law.

 

Full Article: Secret Trump voter fraud probe: Records suit can continue | Raleigh News & Observer

Tennessee: Shelby County Election Commission chairman says County Commission not cooperating on voting machines | Bill Dries/Daily Memphian

The chairman of the Shelby County Election Commission says county commissioners waited until after he left their meeting Monday, July 26, to approve what amounts to an end run around the Election Commission in picking a new voting system. Brent Taylor told The Daily Memphian he will discuss with other election commissioners the move by county commissioners to take proposals on a new voting system on their own. “It was our hope to work with the County Commission to resolve this in the best interest of Shelby Countians,” Taylor said the day after the vote. “However, adding an item to the agenda, which effectively bypasses the Shelby County Election Commission in conducting elections after the members of the Election Commission have left the building, doesn’t indicate a willingness to work cooperatively for Shelby County voters.” That could mean the Election Commission takes the County Commission to Chancery Court in a lawsuit over which body gets to pick the county’s new voting system with 2022 elections less than a year away. County Commission Chairman Eddie Jones introduced the add-on item near the end of Monday’s agenda with no notice or discussion of the move in committee sessions last week. The resolution instructs the county purchasing department to begin taking proposals on a new voting system for local elections that are based in hand-marked paper ballots. “This is just to start that process up so we don’t get caught by other things happening,” Jones said. “If we do this now and start the process, it could be done by close to the end of September for what the majority of this body voted for. Earlier in Monday’s County Commission meeting, the body voted down a $3.9 million contract brought by the Election Commission for a new voting system that would have used updated touch screen machines like those used in local elections for the past 16 years.

Full Article: Election Commission chairman says County Commission not cooperating on voting machines – Memphis Local, Sports, Business & Food News | Daily Memphian

Texas: In one quote, the core of the effort to undermine the 2020 election is revealed | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

It’s probably safe to assume that Donald Trump isn’t terribly concerned about undermining the results of the presidential election in Texas. After all, he won the state by six points and, so far, his flailing attempts to raise questions about his loss have centered on the states where he actually did. But Texas state Rep. Steve Toth (R) has very much taken his party’s rhetoric about voter fraud to heart. So the legislator from suburban Houston is proposing that there be a “forensic audit” of the results of the 2020 contest in his state. That science-ish-sounding term is very much in vogue at the moment, and we’ll come back to it. Toth’s proposal, though, is accompanied by a very important asterisk: It would only require investigation by counties with more than 415,000 people, as The Washington Post’s Eva Ruth Moravec reported on Thursday. There are 13 such counties in the state, 10 of which voted for President Biden last year. The 13th-most populous county, Cameron County, preferred Biden by a 13-point margin. If you kept going down the ranks of most-populous counties, incidentally, the next five most populous counties all preferred Trump. Convenient place to stop the review! But Toth is not shy about the convenience at play. Moravec spoke with him and he explained his thinking.

[W]hile Toth said he would support a statewide effort, he also argued the undertaking would be too expensive and time-consuming. Asked if he would consider including some smaller counties, Toth replied, “What’s the point? I mean, all the small counties are red.”

And that, right there, is the crux of the issue. No one in the United States has done more to undermine confidence in elections than Trump. But he didn’t invent the idea. That there is rampant fraudulent voting in the country attributable to Democratic criminals is a long-standing assumption on the right. Trump internalized and leveraged this line of rhetoric because it offered him a convenient defense against twice losing the presidential popular vote. It wasn’t that American voters preferred Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, it was that Democrats cheated, to the tune of 3 million and 7 million votes, respectively.

 

Full Article: In one quote, the core of the effort to undermine the 2020 election is revealed – The Washington Post

Wisconsin Republican vows ‘forensic examination’ of ballots despite no evidence of widespread fraud | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

The Republican head of the Wisconsin Assembly elections committee said Monday she will ensure there is a “comprehensive, forensic examination” of ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election at the same time the state’s nonpartisan audit bureau conducts a review. The broadened investigation comes amid pressure from former President Donald Trump and other national Republicans to take a closer look in Wisconsin, a state President Joe Biden won by just over 20,000 votes. There is no evidence of widespread fraud and courts rejected numerous lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies attempting to overturn the outcome. Democrats have derided calls for more investigations as feeding into conspiracy theories and lies that Trump actually won the state. One of the loudest critics of how the election was run is Rep. Janel Brandtjen, chair of the Assembly elections committee. She said in a statement Monday that her committee will request additional materials to conduct a deeper review. The committee’s investigation is in addition to a review ordered by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, being done by three retired police detectives and overseen by a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, and the independent review by the audit committee. Another separate, independent investigation is being done by several individuals convinced there was widespread fraud in Wisconsin, despite no evidence. That effort is being led by Peter Bernegger, who was convicted of mail fraud and bank fraud in federal court in Mississippi in 2009.

Full Article: Wisconsin Republican promises forensic election audit

National: Personal threats, election lies and punishing new laws rattle election officials, raising fears of a mass exodus | Fredreka Schouten/CNN

Maribeth Witzel-Behl had run elections in Madison, Wisconsin, for 15 years when the 2020 election arrived, bringing challenges like no other: a global pandemic, a crushing workload, lawsuits and a recount. Then the threats started. Wisconsin rules require the initials of the municipal clerk to appear on absentee ballots, but during a recount last November, people noticed her initials and seized on them as a sign that some kind of mischief must have occurred. An online discussion thread began weighing the weapons and ammunition to use against her, Witzel-Behl said. There was also discussion of lynching. So, when it came time to renew her employment contract, she struggled. “Every day for over a year, I just kept going back and forth,” the 47-year-old said recently. “Is it worth it? Is it time to do something else where there is less stress, more reasonable work hours and certainly no death threats?” Last month, Witzel-Behl decided to commit to another five years in her post. But her dilemma underscores the difficult choices election supervisors face as they increasingly become political targets in an era of widespread falsehoods about election fraud. Experts in the field fear a massive exodus of administrators that would change how elections are run — and threaten democracy itself. In all, more than 8,000 local officials oversee US elections, according to the Elections and Voting Information Center at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. There’s no central tally of departures, but researchers see warning signs.

Full Article: Personal threats, election lies and punishing new laws rattle election officials, raising fears of a mass exodus – CNNPolitics