Pennsylvania state department decertifies Fulton County voting machines after third-party audit | Nathan Layne/Reuters

Pennsylvania’s top election official has decertified the voting equipment of a rural county that participated in an audit of the 2020 election requested by a Republican state lawmaker and staunch ally of former President Donald Trump. Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid said on Wednesday that Fulton County violated the state election code by giving a third party access to its election databases and other certified equipment in an audit of the 2020 results. The audit was conducted in December at the request of Republican state Senators Doug Mastriano and Judy Ward, who asked county officials to allow Wake Technology Services Inc to probe the county’s results, according to media reports. Degraffenreid’s announcement was the latest salvo in a battle between Mastriano, a promoter of Trump’s false stolen-election claims who is now waging an effort to conduct a wider “forensic investigation” into Trump’s loss in the state, and the administration of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. “These actions were taken in a manner that was not transparent,” Degraffenreid said. “As a result of the access granted to Wake TSI, Fulton County’s certified system has been compromised.”

Full Article: Pennsylvania decertifies county’s voting machines after 2020 audit | Reuters

National: Eighteen states have enacted new laws that make it harder to vote | Fredreka Schouten/CNN

Eighteen states have enacted 30 new laws that make it harder to vote, according to a new tally by the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice that tracks state activity through July 14. Among the most common provisions, according to Brennan’s researchers: Measures in seven states that either expand officials’ ability to purge voters from the registration rolls or put voters at risk at having their names improperly removed. Those laws were enacted in Arizona, Iowa, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas and Utah, the center found. Three of the 18 states with new voting restrictions have passed sweeping, omnibus bills that cover a broad range of voting activity: FloridaGeorgia and Iowa. Republican attempts to pass an omnibus bill in Texas have been thwarted by Democratic state lawmakers who fled the state to deny Republican lawmakers from obtaining the quorum needed to conduct business. But their departure is likely to only delay action. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has promised to call more special sessions to advance Republicans’ election proposals. Brennan’s tally of individual statutes that restrict voting shows Arkansas and Montana leading the way, with four new laws apiece. Arizona was in second place with three new laws, including one that makes it harder to remain on the state’s absentee voting list.

Full Article: Voting rights: Eighteen states have enacted new laws that make it harder to vote – CNNPolitics

National: Sparse Voter-Fraud Cases Undercut Claims of Widespread Abuses | Blomberg Law

Prosecutors across the country found evidence of voter fraud compelling enough to take to court about 200 times since the November 2018 elections, according to a 50-state Bloomberg canvass of state officials. Republican and Democratic election and law enforcement officials contacted in 23 of the states were unable to point to any criminal voting fraud prosecutions since the November 2018 midterm elections. Despite the escalating claims from former President Donald Trump of rampant misdeeds, nearly all of the instances found by state officials were insignificant infractions during a timeframe when hundreds of millions of people participated in thousands of elections around the country. Yet, misinformation about the topic has become a driving force of political debate. Fabricated claims of fraud damages confidence in elections and can encourage partisans to demand that vote totals be changed to the outcome they want, said Edward Foley, an Ohio State University Moritz College of Law professor who studies disputed elections. If losing political parties feel emboldened to pressure elected officials to undo fair outcomes, then “we have to worry about the capacity to count votes honestly,” he said in an interview. The danger, he said, is “not that there will be any infinitesimal amount of dishonest ballots cast. The real risk is that due to partisan motivations people won’t count them honestly.”

Full Article: Sparse Voter-Fraud Cases Undercut Claims of Widespread Abuses

National: Tabletop exercise tests election security | GCN

Federal, state, local and officials recently participated in tabletop election security exercise with private-sector partners, working through hypothetical scenarios that might impact election operations and sharing best practices around cyber and physical incident planning, preparedness, identification, response and recovery and information coordination. The fourth annual Tabletop the Vote event, hosted by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in coordination with the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors, drew more than 1,000 participants. Attendees learned how to plan, prepare and respond to various situations through modules that helped them identify their election processes’ strengths and weaknesses.

 

Full Article: Tabletop exercise tests election security — GCN

Editorial: Bad-faith election audits are sabotaging democracy across the nation | Matthew Germer and Gowri Ramachandran/The Hill

When Justice Louis Brandeis referred to the states as “laboratories of democracy” almost a century ago, he was looking at the way reforms can be tested in individual states, and the effective ones can spread throughout the country state-by-state. Unfortunately, when bad ideas spread in this fashion, they can be used to undercut democracy itself. Take, for example, the so-called “election audit” in Maricopa County, Arizona. While this partisan review of election results drags on, the effort to unearth nonexistent evidence of widespread voter fraud is spreading to other parts of the country. Under the guise of ensuring “election integrity,” Republican activists doggedly pursue new evidence that the 2020 election was stolen. They continue to contort science and logic on the taxpayer’s dime, even as we approach the Biden administration’s seventh month in office. This is madness. And it must stop. Yet recently, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) announced plans to conduct a Maricopa-style election review of his state’s 2020 election results, requesting access to ballots and election equipment from three counties, including Philadelphia. In fact, this would be the Senator’s second such partisan review this year. Just after the election, Mastriano hired Wake TSI, a company with no verifiable elections auditing experience, to review the ballots of Fulton County, Pennsylvania. Rather than proving election fraud, the investigation — funded by a group led by notorious Trump-affiliate Sidney Powell — found that the election was “well run.” Further, the so-called “auditors” mishandled the election equipment and taxpayers may now need to pay for new voting machines.

Full Article: Bad-faith election audits are sabotaging democracy across the nation | TheHill

Arizona’s vote ‘audit’ is based on ignorance and dishonesty | The Washington Post

Last week, the contractors conducting the Republican Arizona Senate’s 2020 presidential vote “audit” teased their preliminary findings. The discrepancies they described sounded damning. Former president Donald Trump and his acolytes embraced them as proof of major voting problems in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous. In fact, they illustrate that the Arizona Senate and its contractors have premised their audit on ignorance, dishonesty or, most likely, some toxic combination of the two. In that, they match Republicans throughout the country who are undermining faith in the nation’s system of government for partisan gain. “We have 74,243 mail-in ballots where there is no clear record of them being sent,” declared Doug Logan, the pro-Trump conspiracy theorist who heads Cyber Ninjas, the Florida firm with no apparent expertise in election auditing whom the Arizona Senate Republican majority hired to examine Maricopa’s ballots. Election experts immediately pointed out that this number represents the in-person early ballots that voters cast, which Maricopa County counts in its submitted ballot tally. Similarly, Mr. Logan’s claim that 11,326 people suddenly showed up on the voting rolls after Election Day reflects provisional voters, whose ballots only counted if they demonstrate after Election Day that they were eligible. Instead of publicly revealing any of these alleged discrepancies, Mr. Logan should have consulted someone with a rudimentary knowledge of election procedures. Nevertheless, Mr. Logan said that he might need to send inquisitors door-to-door asking people about their ballots, without explaining how households would be picked, a move the Justice Department previously warned might amount to voter intimidation.

Full Article: Opinion | Arizona’s vote ‘audit’ is based on ignorance and dishonesty – The Washington Post

California: Election officials ‘fast and furious’ as recall plans condense a year of prep into 70 days | Andie Judson/ABC10

Less than a year ago, the world waited with baited breath for the results of the 2020 presidential election. Now, just 10 months later, California is back in election season. And while it may feel all to familiar, this  special election is one of few and far between. “We have not had a gubernatorial recall since 2003,” said Sacramento County spokesperson Janna Haynes. “That’s the only one we’ve had in the history of California.” 18 years later, Sacramento County is prepping for our state’s second recall election. “Normally at this time of the year, we’d already be preparing for our June Primary in 2022,” Haynes said. “So, we are working fast and furious.” Compared to a general election, California election’s offices have had a very short time to prepare since the recall was announced. Haynes said they traditionally take more than a year for election prep, but for this recall, they have 70 days. Between preparing ballots, filler pages, envelopes, voter files and logistics, it’s a heavy lift. But the two things that are making it simpler for Sacramento’s Elections Office is that there will only be around 30 in-person vote centers compared to the 84 last November. That means less staff and overall workflow for elections officials.

Full Article: California Governor Recall: Elections officials prepping for race | abc10.com

Colorado: Judge in Denver-based Trump case denies lawyers another hearing on sanctions | Premium | Joey Bunch/The Gazette

A pair of local lawyers scolded by a federal magistrate over their lack of evidence of a stolen presidential election last Friday asked for and were denied another hearing Wednesday afternoon. “To be blunt, that train left the station last Friday,” U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter said in his order denying the request. “The sanctions motions have been argued and submitted.” A class-action lawsuit filed in December by Denver lawyers Gary D. Fielder and Ernest J. Walker sought $1,000 a voter for more about 160 million voters, a total of roughly $160 billion, against Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook and elected officials in four states, as well as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, on the list of 18 defendants plus “Does 1 to 10,000,” meaning yet unnamed defendants. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of conspiring to cost President Donald Trump last November’s election. Neureiter dismissed the original lawsuit in April, less than 24 hours after hearing arguments, citing the same procedural problem as dozens of similar failed voting integrity lawsuits: none of the plaintiffs could demonstrate how they were harmed, a dilemma lawyers call standing.

Full Article: Judge in Denver-based Trump case denies lawyers another hearing on sanctions | Premium | gazette.comFull Article: Judge in Denver-based Trump case denies lawyers another hearing on sanctions | Premium | gazette.com

Full Article: Judge in Denver-based Trump case denies lawyers another hearing on sanctions | Premium | gazette.com

Kansas altered software to hide election records, lawsuit claims | Roxanna Hegeman/Associated Press

A judge is considering whether Kansas’ Republican secretary of state ran afoul of the state’s open records law by ordering the removal of an election database function that generates a statewide report showing which provisional ballots were not counted — a decision civil rights advocates say will have far-reaching implications for government transparency. Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson heard arguments last week in a lawsuit filed by voting rights activist Davis Hammet, who is the president of Loud Light, a nonprofit that strives to increase voter turnout. The group helps voters fix any issues that led them to cast provisional ballots so that their votes are counted. Voters are given provisional ballots if they don’t appear to be registered, if they fail to present the required identification or if they are trying to vote at the wrong polling place. “We know there are deficiencies… where they aren’t counting votes that they should be counting and I think on some level there may be a resistance from the secretary of state to provide that data because it means we can highlight these deficiencies,” Hammet said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We can prove how there are votes that should have been counted that are not being counted.” That information can raise public awareness about problems in the elections system, leading to changes in state law. He noted the political outcry over the hundreds of discarded mail-in ballots statewide in the 2018 primary led to legislation a year later that requires election officials to notify voters before their mail-in ballots are thrown out because of problems with signatures.

Full Article: Lawsuit: Kansas altered software to hide election records

New Hampshire: The Price Tag to Audit Windham’s Election: $123,000 And Counting | Casey McDermott/New Hampshire Public Radio

The recent effort to investigate a nearly 400-vote discrepancy in Windham’s 2020 election results is poised to cost the state at least $123,000. But it’s not entirely clear how those and other outstanding expenses will be paid for, since the law authorizing the audit didn’t include any funding. “We knew it was going to be expensive,” Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards said. “We didn’t know what the total was going to be, and we still don’t know what the total is.” The $123,000 total so far includes broadcasting, security and facility expenses related to a three-week, in-person audit hosted at a New Hampshire National Guard facility in May. It doesn’t yet factor in any payments to three outside auditors who oversaw that process. It also doesn’t include other lingering technology and personnel expenses, so the final bill could be even higher. Once all of the invoices are in, Edwards said the Attorney General’s office plans to submit requests to the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee and the Executive Council to cover the costs. “When you’re hiring three experts to do this kind of work and you’re spending essentially three weeks in a facility with people working from eight o’clock in the morning until six, six-thirty, seven o’clock at night, that’s going to add up quickly,” Edwards said.

Full Article: The Price Tag to Audit Windham’s Election: $123,000 And Counting | New Hampshire Public Radio

Ohio: New Dominion voting machines start arriving in Stark County | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

Stark County’s new touchscreen voting machines are rolling into the Board of Elections. The past couple of weeks, warehouse managers have been accepting shipments of the Dominion Voting Systems ImageCast X machines – which have been a point of controversy in the county. Workers have been opening the boxes, inspecting the machines for damage and testing them. Travis Secrest, an administrative assistant for the Board of Elections, said the equipment so far has passed all of the tests. Many of the machines still had plastic film on their touchscreens as of last week. All 1,450 are expected to arrive by the end of August. They’re scheduled to be used for the Nov. 2 general election and during the in-person early-voting period. It’s been a major ordeal for the county to buy the equipment – including a legal fight between the elections board and county commissioners. In May, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled commissioners were required to fund the purchase. Dominion quoted a retail cost for the new voting equipment of $6.17 million upfront, plus $331,550 a year to cover the software license, the hardware warranty and some ballot printing. The state covered $3.27 million. Dominion extended a trade-in credit of $1.7 million, reducing Stark County’s upfront cost to $1.48 million.

Full Article: Stark workers are testing the new Dominion voting machines now

Pennsylvania: Threats rattle county targeted in election audit | Nathan Layne/Reuters

One of the Pennsylvania counties targeted in a Republican lawmaker’s “forensic investigation” into the 2020 election has beefed up security around its courthouse following threatening posts on social media, one of its commissioners told Reuters. The incendiary Facebook posts appeared targeted at members of Tioga County’s all-Republican board of commissioners after they decided not to comply with the lawmaker’s request to turn over their voting machines, Commissioner Erick Coolidge said. One individual, in an apparent reference to the county’s three commissioners, called them traitors and said there were “plenty of trees” in a nearby gorge to “hang ropes from,” according to a post viewed by Reuters on a Facebook page. In response, the law enforcement presence was strengthened around their offices at the courthourse in the town of Wellsboro, Coolidge said, without providing details. The Tioga County sheriff’s office did not reply to a request for comment. “We’ve kind of beefed up security around the courthouse,” Coolidge said. “I’m more concerned about our personnel than myself.” Pennsylvania has already conducted a so-called risk-limiting audit of the November election, and all counties also audited a sample of their votes as mandated by law. Neither effort turned up widespread fraud to put in question Donald Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden in the state by 81,000 votes.

Full Article: Threats rattle Pennsylvania county targeted in election audit | Reuters

Rhode Island Election Security Legislation Stalls | Alex Malm/Newport This Week

Legislation that would authorize the Secretary of State and the Board of Elections to conduct an extensive cybersecurity assessment of the state’s election systems and facilities, and establish a cybersecurity review board, was introduced by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero this year. The legislation also creates a cybersecurity incident response group to adopt protocols in the event of any breaches of cybersecurity. “There is no finish line when it comes to cybersecurity; a recent Gallop poll shows that Americans rank cybersecurity as a top threat facing our country, with 98 percent saying it’s a critical issue,” said Ruggiero. “ Our world is very different today than it was five years ago. We saw firsthand in the 2016 elections how the democratic process and governance came under attack through social media and technology and how it perpetuated divisiveness amongst people.” After unanimously passing the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the legislation was sent to the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee last month. The committee didn’t vote it out of committee. Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton Fung, a Republican, sponsored the legislation. “If we learned anything from 2020, it’s that improving trust in the mechanics of our election process is so very important right now,” said Fenton-Fung. “This bill raises our game in terms of improving our cybersecurity infrastructure, and creates a comprehensive review and response team that includes the well-respected Rhode Island National Guard and Rhode Island State Police.

Full Article: Ruggiero Election Security Legislation Stalls | Newport This Week

Texas Democrats face hurdles as they hope Congress passes voting bill | Abby Livingston/The Texas Tribune

Texas Democrats slipped out of the state 10 days ago because they were out of options back home, powerless to stop the Republican majority in the Legislature from passing its priority voting bill. With Gov. Greg Abbott committing to call more special sessions until the legislation is passed, Democrats have said they’re pinning their hopes on Congress to take action to block the attempts to restrict voting access. Now in their second week hunkered down in the nation’s capital, the Democrats’ primetime TV interviews are slowing down and their meetings with members of Congress are spacing out. They are getting a crash course in Washington dysfunction and confronting the reality that their issues are not immune to legislative paralysis. “We are astute about Texas politics and the way Texas government works, but it’s been a learning curve to understand how things work in Washington,” said Democratic state Rep. Gina Hinojosa of Austin. The options ahead are fairly grim. “To state the obvious, Senate action on an elections bill would require some sort of waiver of the filibuster rule,” wrote Rich Cohen, the chief author of the Almanac of American Politics and a longtime congressional observer, in an email. “In itself, that likely will take additional time. With the Senate seemingly focused on infrastructure legislation for at least the next couple of weeks — and even with the prospect of some legislative work days in August—it’s hard to see that Democrats would come together on limiting the filibuster without pursuing extended internal discussions.” Last month, Republicans blocked the For the People Act, a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s elections, in the Democrat-controlled Senate thanks to a Republican filibuster.

Full Article: Texas Democrats face hurdles as they hope Congress passes voting bill | The Texas Tribune

Texas Republican lawmaker proposes forensic audit of 2020 election, but only in big counties that mostly backed Biden | Eva Ruth Moravec/The Washington Post

Support is growing among Texas Republicans for a push to audit the results of the 2020 election in a state that former president Donald Trump won handily. But the proposal, introduced in the House earlier this month, would only re-examine votes in Texas’s largest counties, most of which went for President Biden. The legislation, House Bill 241, calls for an independent third party appointed by the state’s top GOP officials to conduct a forensic audit of results in counties with more than 415,000 people. Of the 13 counties that meet that criteria, 10 voted for Biden last year. The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Steve Toth, said earlier this week that his constituents are concerned about fraud in the election. In an interview, Toth added that he also became convinced an audit was needed after a meeting earlier this year with U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.), who claimed to have evidence of vote fraud in a 2018 race that he lost. “No amount of fraud should be acceptable in our election system,” Toth said. “I think it’s important that we get to the bottom of this and make sure that people start to believe in their voting system.” But Democrats and some election officials say there is no need for an audit, pointing out that Republicans have not demonstrated any evidence of widespread fraud in the state. “We’re chasing ghosts. It has been proven, time and again, that there was no major election fraud. P.S.: Trump won Texas,” said Lorena Perez McGill, a Democrat who lost to Toth in the November election. “So I don’t understand what he seeks to accomplish with this.” For now, the bill is stalled as House Democrats continue to wait out a 30-day special session in Washington, D.C., denying Republicans a quorum to continue. But the effort is the latest attempt by state lawmakers across the country clamoring for audits following Trump’s false claims of mass voting fraud after his loss.

Full Article: Texas Republican lawmaker proposes forensic audit of 2020 election, but only in big counties that mostly backed Biden – The Washington Post

Wisconsin: Following Warning By Trump, Vos Announces Former Justice Will Lead Assembly GOP Election Probe | Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio

A day after being attacked by former President Donald Trump, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told Wisconsin Republicans at their annual convention that former conservative state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman would oversee an investigation of the 2020 election. Gableman, Vos said, would oversee three retired police officers who were hired by the Wisconsin Assembly. Vos said the group is “looking into the shenanigans” that happened in the 2020 election, which Trump has repeatedly falsely claimed he won. “We wanted to make sure that you were the first people to know,” Vos told GOP activists. “Because you are the ones who have done everything possible to make sure that our conservative candidates win for the Legislature, from the county clerk all the way up to the presidency.” Gableman served a single 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court before stepping down in 2018. While he promised that his work on the election probe would not be partisan, Gableman’s Republican ties run deep, and GOP activists greeted him warmly Saturday. “I’m glad to be here — glad to see so many friends,” Gableman said. “When I fought evil every day at the state Supreme Court for 10 years, I fought for you.”

Full Article: Following Warning By Trump, Vos Announces Former Justice Will Lead Assembly GOP Election Probe | Wisconsin Public Radio

National: The fight for voting rights intensifies as the nation marks one year since John Lewis died | Nicquel Terry Ellis/CNN

The fight for voting rights intensified this week with a Black woman lawmaker being arrested while protesting, Texas House Democrats fleeing the state to block Republicans from passing voter restrictions, and Black civil rights leaders blasting President Joe Biden for falling short of their demand to discuss ending the filibuster in his speech. On Friday, 20 Black women organizers met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss their concerns about the nationwide assault on voting rights and the urgent need for support from the White House. The leaders of several Black civil rights groups met with Biden last week about the same issues. It all comes as the nation marks the one-year anniversary of the death of John Lewis, an icon who fought tirelessly for equal voting rights throughout his life. Civil rights leaders say Lewis’ life should serve as an example of how to win as activists push Congress to pass federal legislation that would protect voting access and counter the growing list of state-level laws that restrict voters. Lewis marched in the streets and fought in Congress for voting rights, but he never lost his patience or his faith, civil rights leader Andrew Young said. “He struggled with the same process, the same issues, but he never gave up, he never gave in,” Young said. “He never got angry.” Lewis will be honored Saturday at a candlelight vigil at Black Lives Matter Plaza in DC. Texas House Democrats who traveled there earlier this week to protest voter restrictions in Texas and lobby for federal laws are expected to attend. Members of the Texas Democratic Legislature submitted a letter to Biden on Friday requesting a meeting to discuss the attack on voting rights in their state.

Full Article: The fight for voting rights intensifies as the nation marks one year since John Lewis died – CNN

National: Voting Rights: A Legal Battle Is Under Way Across the U.S. as Election-Related Litigation Surges | Laura Kusisto/Wall Street Journal

Voting laws passed in the wake of the 2020 election are facing a wave of court challenges, setting up a series of legal battles this year that could help reshape the rules around voting for years to come. At least two dozen states have passed laws this year that either expand voting rules or tighten them, according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, a public-policy think tank. At least 30 lawsuits are aimed at laws in 11 states that opponents say restrict voting access with measures such as shortening the time period for mail-in and early voting, increasing verification requirements and placing limits on providing food or water to people waiting in line to vote. Mostly liberal groups have challenged these new bills on grounds that they violate aspects of the Voting Rights Act, the First and 14th Amendments and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In Georgia, which has become the epicenter of the fight, groups have filed nine lawsuits over legislation that was passed in late March, according to the Brennan Center. A lawsuit filed by the Justice Department last month against Georgia added firepower to the legal battle over the new voting laws.

Full Article: Voting Rights: A Legal Battle Is Under Way Across the U.S. as Election-Related Litigation Surges – WSJ

National: Why resolving election disputes in the U.S. is so much harder than in other developed democracies. | Joseph Klaver/The Washington Post

Former president Donald Trump and several Republican-led state legislatures continue to try to discredit the 2020 presidential election. Although many countries find it challenging to resolve electoral disputes, doing so is much more difficult and uncertain in the United States than elsewhere. That’s for several reasons. Congress has an unusual role and functions under a vague federal law. What’s more, the United States has a complicated web of local, state and national laws and practices that could make fairly adjudicating future disputes even more difficult. Here’s what you need to know about the rules of the game, here and abroad, for resolving contested elections. Formal disputes over election outcomes are common around the globe. Various academic projects regularly recognize numerous countries’ election systems as better-run than those in the United States — and even these regularly find their election results challenged. For example, Germany handled 275 disputes challenging the results of its 2017 legislative election, encompassing both complaints from one of its 299 electoral districts and complaints about the hundreds of seats distributed using proportional representation. In 2018 and 2019, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Costa Rica adjudicated 738 disputes about municipal and national elections. And in 2017, after the French National Assembly elections, voters and candidates filed hundreds of disputes, and the Constitutional Council invalidated the results of eight races. But French election results are often canceled and so were not unexpected. The process is orderly; that’s probably part of the reason the V-Dem Institute regards France’s electoral democracy more highly than that of the United States.

Full Article: Why resolving election disputes in the U.S. is so much harder than in other developed democracies. – The Washington Post

National: Here is the latest baseless voter fraud allegation, brought to you by Trump and Tucker Carlson | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

In the long history of jarringly ironic comments made by on-air talent at Fox News, a pronouncement from Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night immediately vaulted into the upper echelon. “You can’t have a democracy if the public doesn’t believe election results,” Carlson said. “Increasingly, many people in this country don’t believe them. The solution to that problem, and it’s a significant problem, is not to scream at these people, call them lunatics or throw them in jail. The solution is to tell the truth about what happened.” It is absolutely true that the best way for the decline in confidence in elections to be combated is for trusted voices to tell the truth about the election. And then Carlson, a trusted voice to millions on the political right, proceeded to dump in their laps an array of unproven, irrelevant or obviously incorrect claims about the presidential election. It’s obviously the case that there’s a robust marketplace for this stuff. If Donald Trump were as adept at selling gilded Manhattan apartments as he is false claims about the 2020 election, he’d be the wealthiest real estate agent in human history. He’s deeply invested in the narrative that rampant fraud occurred for reasons of personal pride and that translates into a base of supporters eager for information bolstering his claims that then translates into demand for people like Carlson who have proven track records of prioritizing sensationalism over accuracy. (See here.) (And here.) (And here.) (And here.) (Among others.) So we get a revolving suite of claims that quickly fall apart before the whole enterprise moves to another state.

Full Article: Here is the latest baseless voter fraud allegation, brought to you by Trump and Tucker Carlson – The Washington Post

Editorial: Why easy voter access vs. election security is a false choice. Americans want both. | Will Friedman/USA Today

Last week, President Joe Biden referred to the pitched political battle underway between Republicans and Democrats on voting rights as the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.” In response, the president said, Democrats plan to work harder than ever to increase access, starting an effort to “register (people) to vote, and then get the vote out.” Republicans argue that voter fraud is the real threat to democracy, and that more restrictions and tighter security are the answer. This includes limiting the times and places where people can vote and rolling back systems put in place to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic. What’s interesting is that the American public reject this argument as a false dichotomy and have their own way of looking at what ought to be done to improve elections. In my role as a senior fellow at the nonpartisan organization Public Agenda, I recently co-led a survey of the American public on how to fix what’s ailing our democracy, discussed in our new report, America’s Hidden Common Ground on Renewing Democracy. On questions of voting reform, my colleagues and I decided not to ask whether the public favors one side or the other of the argument described above – plenty of pollsters were doing that already.

Full Article: Voter access vs. security is false choice: Hidden Common Ground

Arizona: Election officials call audit ‘bombshell’ a dud | Howard Fischer/Tucson Sentinel

Claims made about the election audit in Maricopa County that some have labeled a “bombshell” are really a dud, Maricopa County officials say. County officials have issued what they said is a point-by-point knockdown of the most serious charges leveled by Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by Senate President Karen Fann, and Ben Cotton founder of CyFir which bills itself as a digital forensics investigative company. But the county was not allowed to provide a response at Thursday’s hearing at the state Senate as they were not invited and public testimony was not allowed. All of this means that the issue is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. In fact, Jack Sellers, who chairs the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said he is prepared for a future legal fight. “Finish your audit, release the report, and be prepared to defend it in court,” he said in a prepared statement. On Thursday, Logan and Cotton presented their findings to date to Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, who chairs the Judiciary Committee. Democrats on the panel were not allowed to participate or ask questions. The two contractors said they are likely months away from a final report. Logan said it could even mean a door-to-door canvass to find certain voters. And they also claim they have not been provided with all the materials the Senate had subpoenaed, a claim that Sellers disputed. “Stop accusing us of not cooperating when we have given you everything qualified auditors would need to do this job,” Sellers said, taking a slap at the firms the Senate has retained.

Full Article: Election officials call Arizona audit ‘bombshell’ a dud | Arizona and Regional News | tucson.com

Arizona audit muddles on with no clear end in sight | Tal Axelrod/The Hill

Arizona’s partisan election audit is muddling along with no end on the horizon as Republicans in the state Senate and Democratic outside groups battle over the process. The glacial pace of the audit — which state Senate Republicans kicked off in December — was put into sharp relief this week with each side complaining that the other had not provided needed documents related to the count. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp shot down a motion from the GOP to dismiss a lawsuit from liberal watchdog group American Oversight seeking documents related to the state Senate’s audit. Attorneys for the Republicans had argued that the information, which is currently in the possession of the private contracting firm Cyber Ninjas, is not obtainable under public disclosure rules. But Kemp rejected that argument Wednesday. “Nothing in the statute absolves Senate defendants’ responsibilities to keep and maintain records for authorities supported by public monies by merely retaining a third-party contractor who in turn hires subvendors,” the judge wrote. Kemp’s ruling also dismissed a GOP effort to combine the lawsuit from American Oversight with one also seeking public records brought by The Arizona Republic. American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers hailed the ruling, saying it was a key step in providing more transparency to Arizonans over the audit. “Starting now, the Arizona Senate is going to have to face real, public accountability,” Evers said.

Full Article: Arizona audit muddles on with no clear end in sight | TheHill

California recall candidate list draws confusion | Michael R. Blood and Kathleen Ronayne/Associated Press

The official list of who’s running in California’s recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom remained unsettled Sunday, with conservative talk radio host Larry Elder maintaining he should be included but state officials saying he submitted incomplete tax returns, a requirement to run. Elder’s next recourse is to go to court to get on the…

Georgia: Judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to overturn Senate elections | David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Henry County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn the runoff elections that gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. The lawsuit aimed to void the election of Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate. But Superior Court Judge Brian Amero rejected the effort at a hearing Monday. It’s the latest failure in a series of unsuccessful lawsuits that challenged Democratic victories in Georgia, including President Joe Biden’s narrow victory over former President Donald Trump. The latest lawsuit contested the Senate election results and sought a new election to be conducted on paper ballots. The plaintiff, Fulton County resident Michael Daugherty, said the senate election was marred by misconduct, raising doubts that Warnock and Ossoff were the true winners. He cited allegations of improper ballot counting at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on election night in November. Those allegations were investigated and debunked by the Secretary of State’s Office. Among other things, he also said the state’s Dominion Voting System machines did not accurately record the results — claims that election officials say are false and have led to defamation lawsuits against some of the attorneys who have spread them. The defendants in the lawsuit included Warnock and Ossoff, as well as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the State Election Board, and election boards in Fulton, DeKalb and Coffee counties. In court briefs and arguments, they said Daugherty’s arguments have already been rejected by judges in other lawsuits. They said the problems he cited occurred in November, not during the January runoff. They argued the election challenge was filed too late and that the lawsuit was not properly served on Warnock and Ossoff.

Full Article: Judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to overturn Georgia Senate elections

Georgia: U.S. Senate field hearing seeks momentum for election bills | Mark Niesse and Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Attempting to revive stalled federal voting rights bills, U.S. Senate Democrats built their case Monday in Georgia by using the state’s voting law as an example of the kinds of restrictions they’re trying to stop. The rare field hearing of the Senate Rules Committee collected testimony from voting rights advocates and Georgia’s two Democratic Party senators who spoke against new voter ID requirements for absentee voting, limits on ballot drop boxes and the possibility of Republican-led takeovers of local elections management. “They’re trying to find new ways to mess with the fundamental rights of citizens to vote,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota and chairwoman for the Senate Rules Committee. “The way you get at that, you’re supposed to find salvation from the Constitution and the federal government. This is that moment.” But the senators didn’t provide a path forward to break an impasse over voting bills that would impose national standards for election access and restore federal oversight of voting laws. Senate Republicans blocked debate on sweeping voting legislation last month, and Democrats have been unable to overcome filibuster rules that require a 60-vote threshold for measures to advance in the evenly divided chamber. Georgia is one of 17 states with Republican legislatures that have passed voting laws after last year’s election and Donald Trump’s false claims that there was widespread fraud. Three vote counts, both by machine and by hand, showed that Democrat Joe Biden won Georgia by about 12,000 votes. Republicans declined to participate in the hearing and instead shaped their own narrative about Georgia’s voting law.

Full Article: U.S. Senate field hearing in Georgia seeks momentum for election bills

Michigan sheriff enlists private eye to grill clerks in vote fraud probe | Jonathan Oosting/Bridge Michigan

A Michigan sheriff investigating the 2020 election is using a private investigator to question clerks, an unorthodox arrangement that baffles local officials in a region former President Donald Trump dominated last fall. Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, a Republican who plotted to seize voting machines after the November election and was in communication with allies to Trump at the time, is now working with a private investigator named Michael Lynch, a former security official for DTE Energy in Detroit. Leaf did not answer calls or respond to a text message from Bridge Michigan. The Hastings Banner newspaper reported that the sheriff said Lynch was recommended to him by Stefanie Lambert Junttila, a Detroit-area attorney facing potential sanctions related to the “Kraken” lawsuit that sought to overturn President Joe Biden’s election win. Lynch and a sheriff’s deputy have visited at least six township clerks, according to Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer, a Republican who criticized what she called a secretive investigation that has frightened local officials. “I was told by my clerks that they were told not to say anything to each other or to me,” Palmer recalled. “So I don’t know what (Leaf and his team) are trying to hide. I’m told by the investigator that they’re doing this under the element of surprise.”

Full Article: Michigan sheriff enlists private eye to grill clerks in vote fraud probe | Bridge Michigan

Michigan: Attorney appeals dismissal decision in Antrim County election lawsuit | Mardi Link/Traverse City Record-Eagle

An attorney for a local man who accused Antrim County of voter fraud is appealing a judge’s dismissal of an election-related lawsuit, records filed in 13th Circuit Court show. Matthew DePerno, who on Thursday announced his candidacy for Michigan Attorney General, filed the claim of appeal Wednesday on behalf of Bill Bailey, of Central Lake Township. Bailey filed suit Nov. 23, accusing the county of voter fraud and of violating his constitutional rights, after initial results of the 2020 Presidential election showed about 2,000 votes cast for then-President Donald Trump had mistakenly been assigned to then-challenger Joe Biden. Bailey acknowledged her office’s human error, an assertion backed by the state’s Senate Oversight Committee, which last month released a 55-page report rejecting claims of widespread election fraud in Antrim County and in Michigan. Bailey also accused the county of diluting his vote, after a marijuana proposal, allowing a single dispensary in the Village of Central Lake passed by a single vote. Records show Bailey is registered to vote in Central Lake Township, and only voters registered in the Village of Central Lake received ballots which included the marijuana proposal.

Source: Attorney appeals dismissal decision in Antrim election lawsuit | News | record-eagle.com

North Carolina GOP 2020 election audit plan focuses on voting machines | Will Doran/Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina Republican politicians hoping to conduct their own audit of the 2020 elections don’t want to resort to legal action to try to force the State Board of Elections to let them have their way, they said Thursday. The lawmakers could try to force their will on elections officials by issuing subpoenas, for instance. But Rep. Keith Kidwell, a Beaufort County Republican who leads the far-right Freedom Caucus in the N.C. House of Representatives, said he’d rather not. “We honestly don’t want to have to go that route,” he said. “I think a spirit of cooperation is all we seek.” The News & Observer reported Wednesday that state elections officials, behind the scenes, have been blocking the Freedom Caucus in its efforts to take apart voting machines that were used last year. Caucus members want to look for illegal, internet-connected modems that may have been inserted into the machines to let someone remotely change vote counts. But they also admit they have no evidence that any such modems exist. “I’m very hopeful and very confident that there’ll be nothing,” Kidwell said. But now that the elections board won’t let them open the machines, Kidwell and the Freedom Caucus have begun questioning whether state elections director Karen Brinson Bell or others are trying to hide something. So on Thursday morning, they called a press conference.

Full Article: NC GOP 2020 election audit plan focuses on voting machines | Raleigh News & Observer

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia sees $40 million in possible costs from Trump ally’s election probe | Nathan Layne/Reuters

Philadelphia could face $40 million in costs to replace voting machines if forced to comply with a “forensic investigation” into the 2020 election launched by a Republican state lawmaker and ally of former President Donald Trump, a city commissioner told Reuters. The estimate by Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, highlights the potential burden on taxpayers from state Senator Doug Mastriano’s attempt to gain access to election equipment from Philadelphia and at least two other counties for inspections, similar to costs that have arisen out of a contentious Republican-led audit of the vote in Arizona. After Mastriano announced his probe last week, the Pennsylvania Department of State issued a directive to the state’s 67 counties warning it would decertify any equipment handed over to third parties because the chain of custody would be broken.  Democratic President Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by about 81,000 votes, four years after Trump’s victory there helped propel the Republican to the presidency. Republicans in Pennsylvania and other swing states won by Biden have pursued audits of the November election, repeating Trump’s baseless claims that widespread fraud cost him a second White House term. Schmidt, who has repeatedly defended the integrity of the vote count in heavily Democratic-leaning Philadelphia, said Mastriano’s request for a wide array of equipment could force the city to replace some $30 million worth of voting machines and an additional $10 million in central programming and tabulation equipment. “We just got all our new voting equipment in 2019, so replacing it would be very expensive for taxpayers,” Schmidt said on Monday.

Full Article: Philadelphia sees $40 mln in possible costs from Trump ally’s election probe | Reuters