Arizona secretary of state asks for investigation into possible election interference by Trump, Giuliani | Melissa Quinn/CBS

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Wednesday called for the state’s attorney general to investigate possible efforts by former President Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others to pressure Maricopa County election officials during vote-counting in November. Citing a report in the Arizona Republic, Hobbs said in a letter to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich that the alleged conduct by Mr. Trump, Giuliani, conservative lawyer Sidney Powell and Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward may have violated a state law that prohibits interfering with election officials. “Arizona law protects election officials from those who would seek to interfere with their sacred duties to ascertain and certify the will of the voters,” Hobbs said. “At the polling place, this law protects the right to vote. At the counting center, it protects the accuracy of results, free from political interference. But what protection exists for officials who fulfill their duties despite threats of political retribution if the person empowered to enforce the law is unwilling to do the same?”

Full Article: Arizona secretary of state asks for investigation into possible election interference by Trump, Giuliani – CBS News

Georgia: Trump’s Revenge on Brad Raffensperger | Russell Berman/The Atlantic

To many Americans, Brad Raffensperger is one of the heroes of the 2020 election. Georgia’s secretary of state, who is a conservative Republican, refused then-President Donald Trump’s direct pleas to “find” the votes that would overturn his defeat in the state. “I’ve shown that I’m willing to stand in the gap,” Raffensperger told me last week, “and I’ll make sure that we have honest elections.” As he bids for a second term as Georgia’s top election administrator, however, Raffensperger is not so much standing in the gap as he is falling through it. A Trump loyalist in Congress, Representative Jody Hice, is challenging him in a primary with the former president’s enthusiastic endorsement, and the state Republican Party voted last month to censure him over his handling of the election. GOP strategists in the state give Raffensperger no chance of prevailing in next May’s primary. “I would literally bet my house on it. He’s not going to win it,” Jay Williams, a Republican consultant in Georgia unaffiliated with either candidate, told me. Another operative, speaking anonymously to avoid conflicts in the race, offered a similar assessment: “His goose was cooked the day Georgia’s presidential-election margin was 12,000 votes and Trump turned on him.” Besides the one at Foggy Bottom, secretaries of state are not supposed to be famous. The job at the state level isn’t high-stakes diplomacy but mostly mundane administration. Before Raffensperger, the last secretary of state to find the national spotlight was Katherine Harris, whose handling (or mishandling, depending on one’s perspective) of the disputed 2000 election in Florida earned her a few punch lines on Saturday Night Live and two unremarkable terms in Congress.

Full Article: Trump’s Revenge on Brad Raffensperger in Georgia – The Atlantic

Louisiana’s new voting machine selection process won’t please everyone | Business Report

Gov. John Bel Edwards, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Republican lawmakers have agreed to rework Louisiana’s method for selecting its next voting system, but the new law isn’t likely to end disputes over what technology to select and how to do the shopping. The new process, worked out in a bill by Senate GOP leader Sharon Hewitt, adds layers of legislative oversight and technical analysis, allows for more public input and requires an auditable paper trail for the voting system that can be chosen by Ardoin, the Republican who oversees elections in the state. Two recent efforts from the secretary of state’s office to replace Louisiana’s 10,000-plus voting machines collapsed in controversy. That has left the state continuing to scavenge for parts to keep some machines, many of which are decades-old, up and running properly. Lawmakers agree that a new voting system is needed. But on election issues, there’s simply no way to satisfy everyone. The changes included in Hewitt’s legislation won’t address all the disparate criticisms from supporters of former President Donald Trump who believe his claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Full Article: Louisiana’s new voting machine selection process won’t please everyone 

Michigan: Federal judge grills Sidney Powell’s legal team in elections sanctions case | Clara Hendrickson and Dave Boucher/Detroit Free Press

A Michigan federal judge grilled Sidney Powell and her team of lawyers for roughly six hours Monday in response to motions to sanction the attorneys in connection with their conspiracy-laden lawsuit claiming election fraud in the state.  U.S. District Judge Linda Parker heard arguments from lawyers for Detroit and Michigan for sanctioning Powell and her team, but spent most of the hearing scrutinizing the baseless allegations of fraud and misconduct leveled in the lawsuit, which involved several attorneys, including three from Michigan: Scott Hagerstrom, Stefanie Lambert Junttila and Greg Rohl. Parker repeatedly questioned whether the attorneys properly investigated the claims of fraud and misconduct presented in affidavits included in the lawsuit before submitting them to the court. “My concern is that counsel here has submitted affidavits to suggest and make the public believe that there was something wrong with the election. And that is what this is all about. That’s what these affidavits are designed to do, to show that there was something wrong in Michigan, there was something wrong in Wayne County,” Parker said.  The lawyers largely could not say they spoke with the people who provided the affidavits, something that appeared of concern to Parker, who used phrases such as “shocks me,” “a little surprising” and “problematic.” “I think it’s wrong for an affidavit to be submitted in support … if there’s been no kind of minimal vetting,” Parker said.

Full Article: Federal judge grills Sidney Powell’s legal team in elections sanctions case

New York Senate Plans Statewide Hearings On Elections With Voters Taking Center Stage | Brigid Bergin/WNYC

After a tumultuous primary election season in New York City that is renewing perennial calls to overhaul how the state runs its elections, the head of the New York State Senate Elections Committee, State Senator Zellnor Myrie of Brooklyn, announced plans on Monday to hold a series of hearings across the state to gather input from voters about their experiences at the polls. “We’re going to go out to Syracuse and Rochester. We’re going to hear from Westchester, Hudson Valley, and Long Island voters about what they think should be changed,” said Myrie during an appearance on The Brian Lehrer Show. “So it won’t just be a panel of experts and folks who work in this space regularly. We’re going to hear from the voters,” he added. The announcement made good on a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins who described the recent errors on the part of the New York City Board of Elections when they released and then retracted faulty ranked-choice voting tallies as a “national embarrassment” and pledged to hold legislative hearings this summer to develop reform proposals. The first State Senate hearing is expected to take place at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn on July 28th with additional hearings scheduled for other localities in the final week of July and first week in August. Myrie said the process will culminate in Albany in September at a hearing that will also feature testimony from experts in election administration and good government. These State Senate hearings come in addition to one previously announced by the Assemblymember Latrice Walker, who chairs that chamber’s Election Law Committee, specifically on the topic of ranked-choice voting. That hearing is scheduled for Monday, July 19th at 250 Broadway in Manhattan.

Full Article: NY Senate Plans Statewide Hearings On Elections With Voters Taking Center Stage – Gothamist

Ohio refers 13 ballots — out of millions cast in 2020 — for investigation as possible voter fraud | Andrew J. Tobias/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Monday that voter fraud is “exceedingly rare” as his office announced it had referred 13 votes cast last year for further investigation as possible voter fraud. The 13 votes — or a tiny fraction of 1% of the 5.9 million votes cast during November’s presidential election — came from non-citizens who illegally cast a ballot, LaRose said. In Ohio, it is a felony for non-citizens to register to vote or to cast a ballot. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, will review the cases for potential prosecution. State officials regularly cross-reference voting records with BMV records, which list someone’s citizenship status on their driver’s license. LaRose said his office also referred 104 instances in which non-citizens registered to vote but didn’t cast a ballot. Democrats have criticized LaRose, a Republican, and his GOP predecessors for publicizing rare instances of voter fraud, saying it creates a false impression. But LaRose said he does so to emphasize how rare it is. “What Ohioans should know is that voter fraud is exceedingly rare in Ohio and when it occurs, we take it seriously,” LaRose said.

Full Article: Ohio refers 13 ballots — out of millions cast in 2020 — for investigation as possible voter fraud – cleveland.com

Pennsylvania Department of State directs counties not to turn over election equipment | John Finnerty/CNHI News Service

Two days after state Sen. Doug Mastriano announced that he’s requesting that three counties turn over election materials and equipment for a “forensic investigation,” the Department of State on Friday directed counties to refuse any requests for access to voting equipment by third-party groups. Acting Secretary of State Veronica W. Degraffenreid issued a directive prohibiting third-party access to electronic voting systems, addressing requests that counties allow outside entities not involved with the conduct of elections to review and copy the internal electronic, software, mechanical, logic, and related components of Pennsylvania’s voting systems. “Such access by third parties undermines chain of custody requirements and strict access limitations necessary to prevent both intentional and inadvertent tampering with electronic voting systems,” Degraffenreid said. “It also jeopardizes the security and integrity of the systems and will prevent electronic voting system vendors from affirming that the systems continue to meet Commonwealth security standards and U.S. Election Assistance Commission certification.” Mastriano, a Republican from Franklin County, sent his request to the boards of elections in Philadelphia, Tioga and York counties, directing them to turn over all cast ballots and balloting materials from the November 2020 general election and the May 2021 primary. The request also included unprecedented access to electronic voting equipment. Mastriano, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump who attended the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, was one of three state Republican lawmakers who traveled to Arizona to view the election audit commissioned by the Senate Republicans in that state. The others who made the Arizona trip were state Sen. Cris Dush of Indiana County and state Rep. Rob Kauffman of Franklin County.

Full Article: Department of State directs counties not to turn over election equipment | News | meadvilletribune.com

Editorial: Pennsylvania Governor Wolf is right, election audit plan is a sham | Philadelphia Tribune

Gov. Tom Wolf says it is a “disgrace to democracy” that a Republican state lawmaker is trying to launch what he calls a “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election, similar to what is happening in Arizona. Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump and a likely gubernatorial candidate, sent letters last week to officials in Philadelphia, York and Tioga Counties seeking election-related equipment and materials “needed to conduct a forensic investigation” of the 2020 election and the 2021 primary. “We’re looking at three counties, and if sufficient evidence comes up with shenanigans and corruption or fraud, then we’ll have a second round with additional counties,” he said on the far-right, pro-Trump cable network OAN. Philadelphia officials confirmed that the city received the letter. Mastriano’s sweeping request includes election-related materials such as ballots, mail ballot applications, mail ballot envelopes, voting machines, ballot scanners, vote-counting equipment, ballot production equipment, poll books, and computer equipment used throughout the election process. Mastriano warns in his letter that the Senate committee he heads may issue subpoenas if counties don’t respond by July 31 with a plan to comply.

Full Article: EDITORIAL: Wolf is right, election audit plan is a sham | Editorials | phillytrib.com

Texas Democrats will stay out of Texas until Aug. 6 to block voting bill | Abby Livingston and Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Shortly after landing in Washington D.C. in an effort to deny the Texas House a quorum to block a voting restrictions bill, House Democrats indicated they plan to remain out of state until the end of the special legislative session that ends Aug. 6. Democrats’ Monday departure from the state upends the Legislature’s ability to turn any bills into law just days into a 30-day session that was called largely to advance GOP-backed legislation that would enact new restrictions on voting. Asked by a reporter what the caucus planned to do if Gov. Greg Abbott called another special session for the next day, state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, suggested that was the reason behind why they had decamped to the capital. “That’s our message to Congress,” said Turner, the Fort Worth Democrat who chairs the House Democratic caucus. “We need them to act now.” At least 51 of the 67 Democratic members of the Texas House — the number needed to break quorum — fled the state on Monday, most of them boarding two chartered planes that landed in D.C. around 7 p.m. Central time. Last month, a delegation of Democratic state representatives and senators traveled to the U.S. Capital to advocate for a pair of federal bills. The first would preempt significant portions of the Texas bills and set new federal standards for elections like same-day and automatic voter registration. The second would restore sweeping safeguards for voters of color by reinstating federal oversight of elections in states like Texas with troubling records of discriminating against voters of color. This time the group was much larger — at least two buses full of members as of Tuesday night — and state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, referred to the expanded numbers as “reinforcements.”

Full Article: Texas Democrats will stay out of Texas until Aug. 6 to block voting bill | The Texas Tribune

Editorial: The GOP’s violent rhetoric could make future elections much more dangerous | Ruth Ben-Ghiat/The Washington Post

In June, an anchor on One America News suggested that execution might be an apt punishment for the “tens of thousands” of “traitors” who, he claimed, stole the election from former president Donald Trump. A sitting member of Congress, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), told Americans in May that they “have an obligation to use” the Second Amendment, which is not about recreation but “the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary.” And at a recent rally, Trump called for the public naming of the Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 insurrection, claiming, “If that were on the other side, the person who did the shooting would be strung up and hung.” The uptick in violent rhetoric among the GOP and its propagandists previews America’s turbulent future. The Jan. 6 attack failed to keep Trump in office, but it showed Republican constituencies the potential of violence as a path to power. The history of authoritarianism suggests that the threat and reality of violence are likely to be integral to the right’s bid to transform the country into an electoral autocracy — a system in which the voting process is manipulated so the ruling party can remain continuously in office. This Republican culture of violence and threat builds on histories of racial persecution and on policing used as an instrument of terror against non-Whites. Habituation to such violence, reinforced by the presentation of non-Whites as an existential threat to the future of America (as in the “great replacement theory” that Tucker Carlson has referenced on Fox News) makes it easier for the public to accept violence around political events, like elections, as necessary to “save the country.” Tellingly, the participants in the January coup attempt, which was billed as just this kind of patriotic act, included 57 local and state GOP officials and at least 52 active and retired military, law enforcement, and government personnel.

Full Article: The GOP’s violent rhetoric could make future elections much more dangerous – The Washington Post

Arizona: ‘Isn’t the public entitled to know?’ judge questions secrecy of Cyber Ninjas’ audit records | Ryan Randazzo/Arizona Republic

An Arizona judge on Wednesday asked an attorney for the state Senate why the public should not have access to records involving Cyber Ninjas, the tech firm reviewing the 2020 Maricopa County presidential election. “Isn’t the public entitled to know who is paying for this, what (Senate) President (Karen) Fann referred to as a constitutional and legislative function, this important constitutional duty?” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp asked the lawyer for the Senate. The question came during a hearing in a lawsuit filed by a nonprofit group called American Oversight. The suit was filed after the Senate declined to turn over records requested through the Arizona Public Records Law. An attorney for the Senate responded that the documents are not covered under that law. The lawsuit names Sen. Fann, R-Prescott, Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, and the Senate at large as defendants.

Full Article: Arizona election audit: Judge questions secrecy of Cyber Ninja records

National: In future elections, federal officials predict repeat of 2020 threats | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

Three federal cybersecurity officials told a roomful of county IT personnel Thursday that many of the threats to election security that manifested last year are likely to repeat themselves in future cycles. During a panel at the National Association of Counties’ annual conference at a hotel outside Washington, the officials — representing the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency and the FBI — reviewed findings released earlier this year by the intelligence community and federal law enforcement that showed that foreign governments attempted to wage online influence campaigns against voters, election officials and campaigns in 2020. While none of those efforts compromised the integrity of the election and the tabulation of ballots, they did run the risk of undermining both public trust in the voting process and the personal safety of election officials, said Geoff Hale, who runs the election security initiative at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He recounted an email campaign last October that sent intimidating messages to voters in Florida warning recipients to “Vote for Trump or else!” but that was quickly attributed to the government of Iran. “Iranian actors doxed a lot of election officials and targeted individuals as public servants to make them feel unsafe,” Hale said. “They need to rebuild trust as unbiased nonpartisan arbiters of process upholding our democracy.”

Full Article: In future elections, federal officials predict repeat of 2020 threats

New Laws Let Americans With Disabilities Vote Online. They’ve Also Resurrected The Debate About Voting Access vs. Election Security. | Kaleigh Rogers/FiveThirtyEight

Since the dawn of the internet, someone has inevitably raised this question every election cycle: Why can’t we vote online? (The question was particularly apt in 2020, when states had to grapple with how to run an election during a pandemic.) And every time, election security experts dutifully answer that there is currently no technological way to guarantee a secure online ballot. Despite that, some Americans are able to vote online — namely, military and overseas voters — and they have been for more than a decade. Now a handful of states have started expanding this access to include voters with disabilities. Colorado passed a law in May allowing voters with certain disabilities to return ballots online, Nevada passed a similar law in June and other states like West Virginia are piloting the option. Last month in North Carolina, a federal judge ordered the state to permanently expand access to online ballot return to voters with vision disabilities — access that was temporarily granted for the November 2020 election, after a coalition of groups including the North Carolina Council of the Blind filed a lawsuit against the state board of elections. These new laws have reinvigorated a longstanding debate over whether there should be exceptions to the no-online-voting stance. That debate gets at one of the core tensions in election infrastructure: Voting access and voting security are both essential for democracy, but prioritizing one often comes at the expense of the other.

Full Article: New Laws Let Americans With Disabilities Vote Online. They’ve Also Resurrected The Debate About Voting Access vs. Election Security. | FiveThirtyEight

National: Attempted Hack of R.N.C. and Russian Ransomware Attack Test Biden | Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger/The New York Times

Russian hackers are accused of breaching a contractor for the Republican National Committee last week, around the same time that Russian cybercriminals launched the single largest global ransomware attack on record, incidents that are testing the red lines set by President Biden during his high-stakes summit with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia last month. The R.N.C. said in a statement on Tuesday that one of its technology providers, Synnex, had been hacked. While the extent of the attempted breach remained unclear, the committee said none of its data had been accessed. Early indications were that the culprit was Russia’s S.V.R. intelligence agency, according to investigators in the case. The S.V.R. is the group that initially hacked the Democratic National Committee six years ago and more recently conducted the SolarWinds attack that penetrated more than a half-dozen government agencies and many of the largest U.S. corporations. The R.N.C. attack was the second of apparent Russian origin to become public in the last few days, and it was unclear late Tuesday whether the two were related. On Sunday, a Russian-based cybercriminal organization known as REvil claimed responsibility for a cyberattack over the long holiday weekend that has spread to 800 to 1,500 businesses around the world. It was one of the largest attacks in history in which hackers shut down systems until a ransom is paid, security researchers said.

Full Article: Attempted Hack of R.N.C. and Russian Ransomware Attack Test Biden – The New York Times

National: The Chris Krebs case for including election systems as critical infrastructure | Asha Barbaschow/ZDNet

Cybersecurity expert and former United States CISA chief Chris Krebs has testified before an Australian security and intelligence committee, providing a case as to why policymakers should consider adding elements of the country’s election system to the list of what constitutes as critical infrastructure. “I think there are elements of the election administration function that should absolutely be considered critical infrastructure, and that is the administration element,” he said. “That’s the systems, the machines, the counting process, the protocols around it — I think it’s, at least in the US, a step too far to call the political parties themselves as part of the infrastructure, but they do have certainly a contribution and a piece involvement.” The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) is currently looking into Australia’s Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020, which, among other things, looks to bring more sectors into the definition of “critical infrastructure”. These are communications, financial services and markets, data storage and processing — including cloud providers — defence industry, higher education and research, energy, food and grocery, healthcare and medical, space technology, transport, and water and sewerage sectors. Krebs said Russian interference in the 2016 US election led the focus for the 2020 election to be on thwarting technical attacks and disruptions of election systems by ransomware attacks against voter registration databases, and of media outlet hacks, both on websites and television, such as changing the results on the live tally.

Full Article: The Chris Krebs case for including election systems as critical infrastructure | ZDNet

National: GOP-Led States Grab for More Control Over Election Disputes | Nic Querolo/Bloomberg

New limits on who can vote and how in the U.S. drew the most attention as Republicans rewrote voting rules after losing the presidential election. But a subset of those bills threatens to expose the ballot counting itself to an unprecedented level of partisan politics. In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp signed a measure increasing state lawmakers’ control of the election board. Arkansas shifted oversight of complaints from county clerks and local prosecutors to a mostly Republican group of appointees. Iowa gave its elected secretary of state more oversight over county officials and created criminal punishments for infractions like failing to maintain voting lists properly. The Republican push — such as curtailing mail-in voting — took on greater significance after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld two Arizona voting restrictions, rejecting claims that they discriminate against racial minorities. The ruling put new limits on the reach of the Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965 during a segregated era, and may intensify the voting-rights battles fought out at the state level. While determined voters may overcome restricted access to the polls, the oversight bills represent a more fundamental change: one that increases the likelihood that lawmakers caught up in fractious politics could sway election results. “There is no question that we are seeing an increased risk,” said Derek Muller, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law. “But it’s an open question about how it applies in the future.”

Full Article: How Republicans Are Grabbing Control With New State Laws on Voting Rights – Bloomberg

Arizona: Election consultants: Results of ballot recount will be inaccurate at worst, incomplete at best | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

When Maricopa County election workers loaded 1,691 boxes of ballots onto semitrucks in April and drove them to Veterans Memorial Coliseum, they didn’t send instructions with them. The Arizona Senate’s contractors cracked open the first box without a way of knowing how many ballots should be in each box, without a complete understanding of the complicated way the county tallies votes and stores ballots, without much to compare their results to and without a background doing this type of work. For the next seven weeks, six days a week, early in the morning and late into the night, a mostly volunteer crew of dozens of workers recounted the votes cast in the 2020 presidential and U.S. Senate race on nearly 2.1 million ballots. Four national election consultants called it an error-prone and ever-changing process. The contractors who designed the process, led by Florida-based cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas, lacked the information they needed from the county as well as the knowledge of elections to do the recount correctly, according to the consultants, who have been watching the process closely since it began. The final report on the hand count, they say, will be incomplete at best and inaccurate at worst.

Full Article: Experts question results from hand count in Arizona Senate audit

Arizona’s Maricopa County will replace voting equipment, fearful that GOP-backed election review has compromised security | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

Arizona’s Maricopa County announced Monday that it will replace voting equipment that was turned over to a private contractor for a Republican-commissioned review of the 2020 presidential election, concerned that the process compromised the security of the machines. Officials from Maricopa, the state’s largest county and home to Phoenix, provided no estimates of the costs involved but have previously said that the machines cost millions to acquire. “The voters of Maricopa County can rest assured, the County will never use equipment that could pose a risk to free and fair elections,” the county said in a statement. “As a result, the County will not use the subpoenaed equipment in any future elections.” The announcement probably reflects an added cost to taxpayers for a controversial review that has been embraced by supporters of former president Donald Trump, who has falsely claimed that the 2020 election was rigged in Arizona and other battlegrounds that he lost.

Full Article: Arizona’s Maricopa County will replace voting equipment, fearful that GOP-backed election review has compromised security – The Washington Post

Georgia voting law survives first court battle before federal judge | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge denied an effort to invalidate parts of Georgia’s voting law Wednesday, the first court ruling upholding new rules passed after last year’s elections. U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee wrote in his order that he wouldn’t “change the law in the ninth inning” amid for the state House. Boulee reserved judgment about future elections. The lawsuit by the Coalition for Good Governance, an election security organization, opposed new requirements that voters request absentee ballots at least 11 days before election day, a deadline that limited the time available to vote by mail in the runoffs. The case also asked for court intervention to prevent restrictions on election observation. “Election administrators have prepared to implement the challenged rules, have implemented them at least to some extent and now would have to grapple with a different set of rules in the middle of the election,” Boulee wrote in an 11-page order. “The risk of disrupting the administration of an ongoing election … outweigh the alleged harm to plaintiffs at this time.” The plaintiffs had sought an injunction to halt enforcement of the voting law, Senate Bill 202, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed March 25. Though Boulee ruled against the plaintiffs’ request for immediate action, the underlying lawsuit against Georgia’s voting law remains pending in federal court. The case is different from the voting rights litigation filed last month by the U.S. Department of Justice that opposes voter ID requirements, ballot drop box limits, provisional ballot rejections and a ban on volunteers handing out food and water to voters waiting in line. This lawsuit, one of eight filed against the voting law, opposed prohibitions on observing voters casting ballots on brightly lit touchscreens, reporting problems to anyone but election officials, estimating absentee ballots cast and photographing voted ballots.

Full Article: Georgia voting law survives first court battle before federal judge

Michigan Attorney General accepts GOP lawmaker’s request to investigate those peddling election lies | Clara Hendrickson/Detroit Free Press

Michigan’s chief law enforcement officer, along with state police, will launch an investigation into those who have allegedly peddled disinformation about the state’s Nov. 3 election for their own financial gain. A Republican-led report that found no evidence of widespread fraud recommended the probe. The Michigan Senate Oversight Committee report, written by state Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, and adopted by all the Republican members of the committee, called on the attorney general’s office to consider investigating those “utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.” Since Nov. 4, when a human error led to an inaccurate report of Antrim County’s unofficial election night results, the county that former President Donald Trump won with 61% of the vote has found itself at the heart of the false conspiracy theory that voting machines were intentionally designed to switch votes. After reviewing the oversight committee’s report, the attorney general’s office “accepted Sen. McBroom and the Committee’s request to investigate,” said Lynsey Mukomel, press secretary for Attorney General Dana Nessel. Nessel’s office will be assisted by Michigan State Police, Mukomel said.

Full Article: Attorney General to investigate Antrim election fraud claims

Why New York’s Election Debacle Is Likely to Fuel Conspiracy Theories | Maggie Astor/The New York Times

It has been one week since the New York City Board of Elections botched the release of preliminary ranked-choice tabulations from the city’s mayoral race, counting 135,000 dummy ballots that employees had used to test a computer system and then failed to delete. It was a stunning display of carelessness even from an agency long known for its dysfunction, and the reverberations will continue long after Tuesday evening, when Eric Adams was declared the winner of the Democratic primary race by The Associated Press. (You can follow the latest news here.) That’s because, while the mistake was discovered within hours and corrected by the next day, it provided purveyors of right-wing disinformation with ammunition as powerful as anything they could have invented. Some supporters of former President Donald J. Trump quickly suggested that the results of the 2020 election might also have been miscounted. (Exhaustive investigations have made it very clear that they weren’t.) Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, called ranked-choice voting “a corrupt scam” — even though problems at the Board of Elections far predate it — and tweeted: “How can anyone trust that a voter’s fourth-place choice was accurately tabulated on the eighth round of ranking? Look at the debacle in New York City right now.” Mr. Trump himself suggested falsely that the true results would never be known. “We had an election where we did much better than we did the first time, and amazingly, we lost,” Mr. Trump said at an event in Texas on Wednesday. “Check out the New York election today, by the way. They just realized it’s a disaster. They’re unable to count the votes. Did you see it? It just came out. They’re missing 135,000 votes. They put 135,000 make-believe votes in. Our elections are a disaster.”

Full Article: Why New York’s Election Debacle Is Likely to Fuel Conspiracy Theories – The New York Times

Rhode Island: Unknown Number of Emailed Ballots Counted by Board of Elections | GoLocalProv

Many believed that it was illegal for the Rhode Island Board of Election to accept and count ballots sent to the state by email in the 2020 election. The Board’s Executive Director Robert Rapoza and Miguel Nunez, Deputy Director of Elections, have confirmed to GoLocal that a significant number of ballots were accepted from overseas and military personnel from unsecure emails and those ballots were counted in the final tally. The acceptance of the ballots seems to have caught Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, as well as the former vice-chair of the Board of Elections and the top election watchdog in Rhode Island, off-guard. The number of ballots sent out was 3,072 and 2,732 were returned by overseas voters and members of the U.S. military. According to multiple sources, Gorbea, who has repeatedly raised concerns about non-secure email ballots was unaware that the Board of Elections accepted and counted email ballots in the 2020 election.

Full Article: GoLocalProv | INVESTIGATION: Unknown Number of Emailed Ballots Counted by RI Board of Elections

Pennsylvania election results will stay delayed after Republican lawmaker rules out pre-canvassing | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Long waits for Pennsylvania election results are here to stay. The point person on election issues for state House Republicans says he’s done considering election legislation until 2023, after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last week vetoed the bill he wrote. “It is over until we get a new governor,” Rep. Seth Grove (R., York), chair of the House State Government Committee and author of the proposed Republican election overhaul, said in an interview late last week. That would leave the state’s election system effectively unchanged for next year’s nationally watched open-seat races for governor and U.S. Senate. And it leaves local elections officials in both parties across Pennsylvania without the two things they have consistently pleaded for: earlier processing of mail ballots, which would avoid prolonged vote counts as the world saw last year, and an extension of tight mail-ballot deadlines that don’t align with Postal Service standards and leave thousands of voters unable to return them on time. “We’ll still be in the same boat. We’ll just use the same paddles to row further,” said Karen Barsoum, the Chester County elections director. “It’s unfortunate that there were clear areas that could have been improved upon, that we had basically the whole year to prepare for the next big election.”

Full Article: Pennsylvania election results will stay delayed after Republican lawmaker rules out pre-canvassing

Pennsylvania Governor says Matriano’s election audit plan a ‘disgrace to democracy’ | Associated Press

Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday said it is a “disgrace to democracy” that a Republican state lawmaker is trying to launch what he calls a “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election, similar to what is happening in Arizona. Wolf, a Democrat, said on Twitter that the “sham election audit” being attempted by Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano is also a “profound waste of time and taxpayer money,” in addition to being a disgrace. Meanwhile on Thursday, Wolf’s administration issued a directive to counties, warning that they should not provide access for third parties to copy or examine state-certified electronic voting systems and election management systems or components. Wolf’s administration told counties that it would decertify any election equipment that is subject to any such third-party access, rendering it useless in an election, and that the state would not reimburse a county for the cost to replace the equipment.

Full Article: Election audit plan a ‘disgrace to democracy,’ governor says

Texas GOP begins hurried second try at thwarted voting laws | Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado/Associated Press

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday began a hurried second attempt to toughen election laws in Texas, weeks after Democrats’ dramatic walkout from the state Capitol thwarted one of America’s most restrictive voting measures. He demanded no specific voting changes to reach his desk this summer, but Republicans who fumbled their first try at passing a sweeping overhaul of Texas elections at the last minute in May are already promising to work fast, saying hearings will start this weekend. The haste reflects the usual time crunch of a normal special legislative session in Texas — which last just 30 days — but also the GOP’s eagerness to put behind them a rare and highly public defeat in America’s biggest red state over what has been a priority for the party since the November elections. Abbott, who is up for reelection in 2022, has already shifted his focus toward picking up Donald Trump’s mantle on immigration since the May walkout. Republicans are also backing away from the two most contentious issues that fueled Democrats’ dramatic quorum break just before a midnight deadline over the Memorial Day weekend. Still, Republicans are expecting many of the sunken bill’s provisions to return once the special session begins Thursday. “The Senate and the House are both eager to work on this issue and get it done,” said Republican state Rep. Jacey Jetton, who helped negotiate the final version of the sweeping elections bill that Democrats blocked.

Full Article: Texas GOP begins hurried second try at thwarted voting laws

National: After a Nightmare Year, Election Officials Are Quitting | Michael Wines/The New York Times

In November, Roxanna Moritz won her fourth term unopposed as the chief election officer in metro Davenport, Iowa, with more votes than any other candidate on the ballot. Five months later, she quit. “I emotionally couldn’t take the stress anymore,” she said in an interview. For Ms. Moritz, a Democrat, the initial trigger was a Republican-led investigation into her decision to give hazard pay to poll workers who had braved the coronavirus pandemic last fall. But what sealed her decision was a new law enacted by the Iowa legislature in February that made voting harder — and imposed fines and criminal penalties on election officials for errors like her failure to seek approval for $9,400 in extra pay. “I could be charged with a felony. I could lose my voting rights,” she said. “So I decided to leave.” Ms. Moritz is one casualty of a year in which election officials were repeatedly threatened, scapegoated and left exhausted — all while managing a historically bitter presidential vote during a pandemic. She has company. In 14 southwestern Ohio counties, one in four directors or deputy auditors of elections has left. One in four election officials in Kansas either quit or lost re-election in November. Twenty-one directors or deputies have left or will leave election posts in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, according to a tally by the reporting consortiums Spotlight PA and Votebeat. Some of those represent ordinary churn in a job where many appointees are nearing retirement, and others are subject to the vagaries of elections. In a survey of some 850 election officials by Reed College and the Democracy Fund in April, more than one in six said they planned to retire before the 2024 election.

Full Article: 2020 Election Spurs Resignations and Retirements of Officials – The New York Times

National: What’s keeping democracy experts up most at night? An overturned election | Benjy Sarlin/NBC

Congress is just beginning a new investigation into the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, but the movement behind it remains as active as ever. Former President Donald Trump is frequently repeating false claims of victory, plotting revenge against politicians who opposed his efforts to overturn the election, attacking key Republicans who refuse to back him up now and hinting at a return to power, either through another presidential run or some other means. There’s no legal avenue for Trump to reverse the 2020 results. But a half-dozen scholars who study democracy and election laws told NBC News they are increasingly worried that 2024 could be a repeat of 2020, only with a party further remade in the former president’s image and better equipped to sow disorder during the process and even potentially overturn the results. “Obviously the insurrection was horrific in its violence and assault on democracy, but it didn’t disrupt the true winner of the election,” said Edward B. Foley, a professor at Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University who researches election law. “What you don’t want is it to have been a rehearsal.”

Full Article: What’s keeping democracy experts up most at night? An overturned election

National: They kept the wheels on democracy as Trump tried to steal an election. Now they’re paying the price | Jess Bidgood/The Boston Globe

Bill Gates, a Republican member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, never used to feel like persona non grata in the party that’s long been his political home. A nuts-and-bolts functionary who can expound upon issues like air quality and animal control, he has a 10th-floor office adorned with mementos that show his many years of devotion to the GOP, including a taxidermied “jackalope” given to him by a Koch brothers-backed organization, and a framed photograph of him greeting George W. Bush in front of Air Force One. But then he and his colleagues on the board certified the 2020 election in their county, performing their ministerial function over the screams of angry Donald Trump supporters outside. Since then, Gates’s once-mundane job has taken a nightmare turn. He has been deluged with violent threats, named in Trump’s and his allies’ lawsuits and called by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, asking him to “get this thing fixed up.” He even found himself and his colleagues one vote short of being held in contempt by the state Senate — an outcome he feared could lead his most unhinged detractors to detain him. He wants to keep his job, hard as it’s been, and run for reelection in 2024. But he knows his decision to defy his party’s leaders and stand by the election results could doom his chances. “You’re like, OK, is there a place for me? Is there a place for someone who does — who tries to do — the right thing? Who speaks truth, who isn’t willing to follow the current Republican talking points?” Gates asked last month. “It’s just not what I believe in,” he said. “I don’t believe in the big lie.”

Full Article: They kept the wheels on democracy as Trump tried to steal an election. Now they’re paying the price – The Boston Globe

National: In ramp-up to 2022 midterms, Republican candidates center pitches on Trump’s false election claims | Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

A candidate to be Arizona’s top elections official said recently he hopes a review of 2020 ballots underway in his state will lead to the reversal of former president Donald Trump’s defeat there. In Georgia, a member of Congress who used to focus primarily on culturally conservative causes such as opposing same-sex marriage has made Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen a central element of his bid to try to unseat the current secretary of state. And in Virginia last month, a political novice who joined Trump’s legal team to try to overturn his 2020 loss in court mounted a fierce primary challenge — and won — after attacking a Republican state House member who said he had seen no evidence of widespread fraud in the election. “He wasn’t doing anything — squat, diddly,” Wren Williams said in an interview about his primary opponent. “He wasn’t taking election integrity seriously. I’m sitting here fighting for election integrity in the courts, and he’s my elected representative who can legislate and he’s not.”

Full Article: In ramp-up to 2022 midterms, Republican candidates center pitches on Trump’s false election claims – The Washington Post

Editorial: The Supreme Court clearly won’t protect voting rights. But Congress can. | Sean Morales-Doyle/The Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a severe blow to a crowning achievement of the civil rights movement and the nation’s best defense against racially discriminatory voting laws, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The court’s ruling in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee makes it substantially harder for voters to challenge such laws, hacking away at federal courts’ powers to protect Americans from efforts to impede their access to the ballot box. It’s the latest sign that if the voting rights of all Americans are to be defended, Congress, not the nation’s highest court, will have to provide that defense. The case concerns two provisions of Arizona’s voting laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. One of these said that someone who cast their vote at the wrong precinct would have their entire ballot tossed out, even for races such as president or governor, where precinct would not be a factor. The other restricted the circumstances under which vote-by-mail ballots could be turned in on behalf of a nonrelative neighbor or friend. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found both policies to be discriminatory because of the way they interact with the real-life conditions for minority voters in the state. For example, a brief filed by the Navajo Nation noted: “Arizona’s ballot collection law criminalizes ways in which Navajos historically participated in early voting by mail. Due to the remoteness of the Nation and lack of transportation, it is not uncommon for Navajos to ask their neighbors or clan members to deliver their mail.”

Full Article: The Supreme Court clearly won’t protect voting rights. But Congress can. – The Washington Post