Delaware Republicans block bill to create no-excuse absentee voting | Sarah Gamard/Delaware News Journal

Despite many of them previously supporting the idea, Republicans have blocked a bill to allow no-excuse absentee voting in Delaware elections. They voted against House Bill 75, which would let voters cast absentee ballots without having to give an excuse for why they can’t do it in person, during a Thursday vote in the Democrat-controlled House. It’s the second time that lawmakers have voted on the measure in the past few years. In Delaware, constitutional amendments require lawmakers to pass one bill for two consecutive legislative sessions, which span two years. Nine Republicans voted for the bill in 2019, whereas none of them voted for it on Thursday. Constitutional amendments also require a two-thirds vote, which Democrats don’t have on their own in the 41-person House. They needed 28 votes, meaning two Republicans would have had to join all 26 Democrats in support. “From 2019 until now, nothing has changed about the efficacy, the security of absentee voting in Delaware and nationwide,”  bill sponsor Rep. David Bentz, D-Christiana, said just before the vote. “The only thing that has changed, unfortunately, is the rhetoric around it.”

Full Article: Republicans block bill to create no-excuse absentee voting in Delaware

Florida elections law draws another challenge | News Service Of Florida

As challenges to a new Florida elections law stack up, a case filed Monday in federal court alleges that part of the law placing requirements on voter-registration organizations is unconstitutional. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the groups HeadCount and the Harriet Tubman Freedom Fighters Corp., is the fourth challenge to the law, which was passed in April by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed in May by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The latest case is narrowly tailored to one section of the law that involves what are known as third-party voter-registration organizations. The law, in part, requires the organizations to inform voter-registration applicants that the organizations might not meet legal deadlines for delivering forms to elections officials. Also, the organizations are required to tell applicants how to register online. The challenge, filed in federal district court in Tallahassee, contends the law (SB 90) requires a “misleading warning” and violates First Amendment rights. “The mandatory disclaimer serves no legitimate governmental function or purpose, as there is no evidence that Floridians have been confused about the nature of community-based voter registration activity,” said the lawsuit, filed by attorneys for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Fair Elections Center. “There is no suggestion that plaintiffs or similar voter registration groups have regularly turned in late forms or that they would make anything other than their best efforts to timely submit forms.”

Full Article: Elections law draws another challenge

Louisiana: Lawmakers rewrite rules for voting system search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

In the final minutes of their legislative session, Louisiana lawmakers agreed to change the way the state shops for voting systems, to include more public vetting and require an auditable paper trail, after two recent efforts to replace the state’s voting machines failed amid controversy. The House voted 69-34 Thursday for the heavily rewritten bill by Senate Republican leader Sharon Hewitt, while the Senate backed it with a 27-10 vote. The proposal — which was negotiated with Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin — heads to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards for consideration. The measure would add new layers of legislative oversight and technical analysis, enact new requirements for the voting system that could be chosen and remove some decision-making from Ardoin, the Republican who oversees elections in the state. “It shifts our state from an outdated electronic voting system and shifts to a paper-based voting system, which is more secure, easier to audit and cheaper, most likely,” said Hewitt, of Slidell. A newly created commission that includes lawmakers, elections experts, a cybersecurity expert and others would analyze and make recommendations about the type of voting system that should be bought or leased. The commission would have to hold open meetings, giving the general public more points to offer thoughts before the bid solicitation begins. Louisiana’s new voting system would have to produce a paper record, unlike the current decades-old machines used on Election Day. The legislation also would mandate that Louisiana’s voting system can’t connect to the internet, already the practice today in the secretary of state’s office.

Full Article: Lawmakers rewrite rules for Louisiana’s voting system search

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice wants probe into late-arriving voting machines in Newark | David Wildstein/New Jersey Globe

The failure to deliver 33 voting machines in predominately Black wards of Newark before the polls opened on Tuesday have led 20 voting rights advocacy groups and grass roots organizations to call for a thorough investigation into a delay. The New Jersey Globe first reported on the morning of the primary that machines had been late in arriving and that Essex County Superintendent of Elections Patty Spango was aware of the delays before Election Day. Among the voters effected by the undelivered machines was Ryan Haygood, the president of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. Haygood arrived at his polling place at 7:30 AM – 90 minutes after voting opened – to find out that there were no voting machines. “I was told to return later and not offered a provisional ballot until I proactively requested one,” Haygood said. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have encountered voting obstacles in Newark. Running elections is a massive endeavor, but we must do better.” According to the organizations that signed the letter to Spango, multiple polling places in Newark did not open at 6 AM in the November 2020 general election, “once again forcing voters in the city to accommodate for these issues.” “Voters in much of the rest of Essex County do not encounter these issues, but voters in Newark – the state’s largest city and a majority Black city – regularly do,” the letter said.  “The unfortunate reality is that the election issues in Essex County are disproportionately felt by Black and Brown voters in Newark.”

Full Article: Groups want probe into late-arriving voting machines in Newark – New Jersey Globe

Pennsylvania Republicans eye voter ballot referendums to get past Tom Wolf vetoes | Marc Levy/Associated Press

Republicans who control Pennsylvania’s Legislature are increasingly looking to voter referendums to get around Gov. Tom Wolf and make policy that the Democrat cannot block with his veto pen. On Friday, Republicans unveiled a proposed constitutional amendment to expand Pennsylvania’s existing voter identification requirements, both for in-person voting and for mail ballots. Republicans also plan to introduce another proposal for a statewide referendum to repeal Pennsylvania’s expansive mail voting law that passed in 2019 with near-unanimous support from Republicans. Both have also been introduced as legislation, and Wolf has vowed to oppose both, seeing them as attacks on voting access spurred by former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 election. “So the governor’s going to veto that,” one of the sponsors, State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin), told the audience Friday at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, an annual conservative gathering. ”Aha! But the lesson from last year was we’ll then do a ballot question and I think any issue of how our election is conducted in Pennsylvania should be your decision in the end.” The lesson, it seems, was in last month’s primary election, when voters approved two Republican-penned proposals to greatly expand the power of lawmakers over a governor’s disaster emergency declarations. A governor cannot block a ballot question to change the constitution from going to voters.

Full Article: Pennsylvania Republicans eye voter ballot referendums to get past Tom Wolf vetoes

Tennessee and 6 other states still have bans on atheists holding office | Kristina M. Lee/Tennessee Lookout

Tennessee’s Constitution includes a provision that bars three groups from holding office: atheists, ministers and those engaging in duels. Efforts are under way in the state legislature to remove this exclusion for ministers, but not for duelists – or atheists. In January 2021, Republican Tennessee State Senator Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, proposed Senate Joint Resolution 55 to amend Article IX of the Constitution of Tennessee to rid it of a clause that states “no minister of the Gospel, or priest of any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either House of the Legislature.” No mention is made in Pody’s resolution about Section 2 of the same article: “No person who denies the being of God … shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.” Nor for that matter does the current bill mention Section 3’s objection to those who participate, aid or abet a duel. When Pody was asked why his resolution removes only the ban on ministers, his response was that it is best to clean up the constitution “one simple step at a time.” Tennessee is one of seven states that has an unconstitutional ban on atheists holding public office. Although superseded by Supreme Court rulings, such bans are important. As a scholar of religious and political rhetoric who focuses on the marginalization of U.S. atheists, I believe they reflect the normalization of anti-atheism that has yet to be truly dealt with, or rarely acknowledged, in the United States.

Full Article: Why it matters that 7 states still have bans on atheists holding office – Tennessee Lookout

Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers | Linda So/Reuters

Late on the night of April 24, the wife of Georgia’s top election official got a chilling text message: “You and your family will be killed very slowly.” A week earlier, Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had received another anonymous text: “We plan for the death of you and your family every day.” That followed an April 5 text warning. A family member, the texter told her, was “going to have a very unfortunate incident.” Those messages, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the continuing barrage of threats and intimidation against election officials and their families months after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s November election defeat. While reports of threats against Georgia officials emerged in the heated weeks after the voting, Reuters interviews with more than a dozen election workers and top officials – and a review of disturbing texts, voicemails and emails that they and their families received – reveal the previously hidden breadth and severity of the menacing tactics. Trump’s relentless false claims that the vote was “rigged” against him sparked a campaign to terrorize election officials nationwide – from senior officials such as Raffensperger to the lowest-level local election workers. The intimidation has been particularly severe in Georgia, where Raffensperger and other Republican election officials refuted Trump’s stolen-election claims. The ongoing harassment could have far-reaching implications for future elections by making the already difficult task of recruiting staff and poll workers much harder, election officials say.

Full Article: Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers

Election laws, 2024, and the future of US democracy | Peter Grier/CSMonitor

It’s November 2024. The U.S. presidential election is over. The battle over who won is just beginning. Ballot totals show the incumbent leading the national vote by a few percentage points. His margin in the Electoral College is smaller than in 2020, but seems clear. Still, the challenger and his supporters are mounting a furious challenge to an election they say was close enough to have been tipped by fraud. … Nationwide, an organized corps of partisan poll watchers, taking advantage of laws passed since 2020 that allow them greater access, have filed hundreds of affidavits claiming suspicious voter behavior. Georgia is an epicenter of this dispute. The State Election Board, with all members appointed by the Republican-controlled legislature, issues a statement saying populous Fulton County was “rife with fraud.” Nationwide, an organized corps of partisan poll watchers, taking advantage of laws passed since 2020 that allow them greater access, have filed hundreds of affidavits claiming suspicious voter behavior. Georgia is an epicenter of this dispute. The State Election Board, with all members appointed by the Republican-controlled legislature, issues a statement saying populous Fulton County was “rife with fraud.” Finally, Georgia’s new governor takes a momentous step. Given everything happening in the nation, he says, it seems clear that the challenger won a big victory. He asks state lawmakers to simply overturn the president’s narrow Georgia victory, saying he’s been assured that such a move is legal under the U.S. Constitution. Is this scenario far-fetched? Maybe.

Full Article: Election laws, 2024, and the future of US democracy – CSMonitor.com

National: US Capitol attack was planned in plain sight, Senate report finds | David Smith/The Guardian

The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol was “planned in plain sight” but intelligence failures left police officers exposed to a violent mob of Trump supporters, a Senate investigation has found. The Capitol police intelligence division had been gathering online data since December about plots to storm the building on 6 January, including messages such as: “Bring guns. It’s now or never.” But a combination of bad communications, poor planning, faulty equipment and lack of leadership meant the warnings went unheeded, allowing the insurrectionists to overrun the Capitol and disrupt certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Five people died. The bipartisan investigation does not examine the causes of the riot, assess whether Donald Trump incited it by calling for his supporters to “fight like hell”, or even use the term “insurrection”. On the Senate floor on Tuesday, Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer said: “Just as glaring is what the report didn’t consider. Indeed, what it was not allowed to consider. The report did not investigate, report on, or hardly make any reference to the actual cause – the actual impetus – for the attack on 6 January.” But the senators do paint a portrait of bureaucratic flaws that left Capitol police scrambling to protect members of Congress and Vice-President Mike Pence. They also highlight the failure of the FBI to collect information on domestic extremists, despite a wealth of evidence on social media.

Full Article: US Capitol attack was planned in plain sight, Senate report finds | US Capitol breach | The Guardian

National: John Lewis voting rights bill faces bleak future in the Senate after McConnell deems it “unnecessary” – Grace Segers/CBS

Widespread Republican opposition to two major pieces of voting rights legislation is leading some Democratic lawmakers and activists to fear that Congress will be unable to pass either bill this year, even as several state legislatures enact restrictive voting measures. Later this month, the Senate is set to take up S. 1, or the For the People Act, an expansive but controversial voting and elections reform bill. The measure was already unlikely to pass, as Democrats hold a razor-thin 50-seat majority in the Senate, and 60 votes are required to advance most legislation. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin also announced Sunday that he opposes it, hammering another nail in its legislative coffin. But Manchin does support another voting rights bill, one that has yet to be introduced in this session of Congress — the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named for the late congressman and civil rights icon. This bill, also known as H.R. 4, would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. That provision required certain jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to receive approval, known as preclearance, from the federal government before making changes to their voting rules. The Voting Rights Act established a formula to determine which areas should be covered by Section 5, which required certain jurisdictions to submit any changes to the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges for approval. The law was reauthorized in 2006, but the formula for dictating which jurisdictions should be subject to preclearance had not been significantly updated.

Source: John Lewis voting rights bill faces bleak future in the Senate after McConnell deems it “unnecessary” – CBS News

National: The U.S. government is getting closer to having a national cyber czar | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Congress is getting closer to confirming the first-ever national cyber director as the government lurches from one cyber crisis to the next. President Biden’s nominee for the post, Chris Inglis, is facing a confirmation hearing this morning before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — the first step in what is likely to be an easy path to confirmation. If confirmed, he will be immediately responsible for some of the biggest cyber challenges ever to hit the government, including recovering from a massive Russian theft of data and a scourge of ransomware attacks against vital U.S. infrastructure. “He’ll be putting his boat in the middle of the rapids and immediately need to start paddling or get submerged,” Suzanne Spaulding, a top cybersecurity official during the Obama administration, told me. “On the plus side, in the middle of a crisis there’s an opportunity to get people on the same page. They tend to be ready to put all the jurisdictional tensions on the back burner and roll up their sleeves.”

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: The U.S. government is getting closer to having a national cyber czar – The Washington Post

National: Can Mike Lindell’s “secret agents” undo the 2020 election? Pillow king claims he’ll “harvest” data from voting machines; allies hint at secret raids on election facilities | Zachary Petrizzo/Salon.com

Fervent Trump acolyte and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, along with various associates, is accelerating his quixotic and/or terrifying quest to undo the 2020 presidential election. Over the past month Lindell has gone from unhinged tangents on various right-wing platforms — including his own semi-broken Frank Speech website — to alleged real-world actions that may include somehow acquiring voting machines and ordering a team of operatives to break into election facilities. In recent weeks, both in conversations with Salon and during media appearances on his Frank Speech site, Lindell has proudly boasted that he now possesses both Dominion and Smartmatic voting machines — and believes his team will soon “harvest” incriminating data from their innards. These claims echo earlier ones made by the pillow magnate on a May 8 segment of Steve Bannon’s podcast. “I’ll give Dominion a little scare this morning,” Lindell told Bannon. “We have machines now, I do. We have ES&S [Election Systems & Software] machines; we’ve got them all. We’re going to be putting out so much information over the next couple weeks, and this isn’t from Arizona, these are machines we actually have.” No “information” has emerged in the intervening month but Lindell’s claims have only intensified, including his vaporware proposal that former President Donald Trump will be reinstalled as president in August, by way of some unexplained mechanism and following a unanimous Supreme Court decision.

Full Article: Mike Lindell’s Mission Impossible: Can his “secret agents” undo the 2020 election? | Salon.com

National: A Growing Number Of Critics Raise Alarms About The Electoral College | Mara Liasson/NPR

It’s hard to make an intellectual argument in favor of the Electoral College. Most people feel that the person who gets the most votes should become president. After all, that’s how we run every other election in this country, says Jesse Wegman, the author of Let the People Pick the President. “If anything, representative democracy in the 21st century is about political equality. It’s about one person, one vote — everybody’s vote counting equally,” he said. “You’re not going to convince a majority of Americans that that’s not how you should do it.” Another way the Electoral College is unfair, says Harvard University political scientist Gautam Mukunda, is that each state gets electors based on its representation in the House and Senate, which means small states get extra votes. “The fact that in presidential elections people in Wyoming have [nearly four] times the power of people in California is antithetical at the most basic level to what we say we stand for as a democracy,” he said. But Brad Smith, who used to be on the Federal Election Commission, disagrees. Sure, the election may be decided by just a handful of states — swing states that can shift red or blue. But Smith, a Republican, says the battleground is diverse. “Those states include some of the states with the heaviest minority populations in the United States, some of the states with the fewest minority populations in the United States,” he said. “They include states from every region of the country, and that forces candidates to try to go out and have a platform that will appeal to the huge, diverse sections of America — or at least not grossly turn them off.”

Full Article: Here’s What Critics Say Is Wrong With The Electoral College : NPR

Alaska lawmaker takes state-paid tour of Arizona’s Republican-led election audit | James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News

One of Alaska’s most conservative state lawmakers toured a controversial audit of Arizona’s election results on Monday. The audit, organized by Arizona’s Republican-controlled Senate, is part of a nationwide search by Trump supporters for any evidence of fraud that could have changed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, said the visit will help determine whether any lessons learned by that state can be applied in Alaska. He said he’s visiting on behalf of his constituents and intends to pay for the trip out of his legislative office account. “I am grateful for the efforts that those in Arizona are making to increase confidence in their elections and hope we will be able to increase the confidence that Alaskans have in our elections as well,” he said. Former President Donald Trump lost last year’s presidential election, and public officials nationwide have found no evidence that widespread fraud or wrongdoing determined the result. The president has repeatedly said he believes otherwise, and many of his supporters have sought to find evidence of significant fraud. In Arizona, the state Senate subpoenaed ballots and voting machines from the state’s most populous county and hired a little-known firm to conduct an audit. The result has been chaotic at times. Some workers have taken to using UV lights and microscopes in search of evidence for a conspiracy theory that says ballots were illegally smuggled from Asia. Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, a Republican who oversees Alaska’s elections, said he had heard of Eastman’s trip and was “disappointed.”

Source: Alaska lawmaker takes state-paid tour of Arizona’s Republican-led election audit – Anchorage Daily News

Arizona audit: Election experts offer challenge to Cyber Ninjas: We can count ballots without opening boxes | Ryan Randazzo/Arizona Republic

Election experts — including the founder of a national auditing company and a prominent Pima County Republican — have a proposal to dispel conspiracy theories about fraud in the 2020 election in Maricopa County. They also have a message for Cyber Ninjas, the company running the Arizona recount effort: “Put up or shut up.” The experts made a formal offer to Senate President Karen Fann on Tuesday to prove the election was sound. The proposal is getting attention from those working at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Here’s the offer: The experts say that if the Senate selects a box of unopened ballots (any box), the team could within minutes provide an accurate count of each race on all 1,000 or so ballots inside — without ever opening it. They would do this, they said, using public data they obtained from Maricopa County, that includes spreadsheets on batches of ballots as they were tabulated in November. The proposal sounds like a card trick where a magician asks an audience member to think of a card and then pulls it from the deck. But there’s no sleight of hand involved, they say.

Full Article: Arizona audit: Election experts challenge Fann, Cyber Ninjas on count

Arizona ballot audit backed by secretive donors linked to Trump’s inner circle | Sam Levine and Anna Massoglia/The Guardian

Dark money groups tied to Donald Trump’s inner circle and backed by people who have spread baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election appear to be playing a key role in funding an unprecedented review of 2.1m ballots in Arizona. Republicans in the Arizona state senate, which authorized the inquiry, allocated $150,000 in state funds to pay for it – just a fraction of the projected overall cost, which is still unknown. The state senate had enough money in its operating budget to pay for the investigation, the Arizona Mirror reported in April, but chose not to pay the full price. Instead, the effort is being paid for by private donors, who remain hidden from the public, according to a review by OpenSecrets and the Guardian. Arizona Republicans and Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company overseeing the review, have refused to say who is providing the rest of the money. “It is wholly inappropriate that the Arizona state senate is hiding the mechanisms by which their sanctioned activity is being funded,” said Adrian Fontes, a Democrat who served as the top election official in Maricopa county, the target of the ballot review, until he lost his re-election bid last year. “The lack of transparency there is just grotesque.”

Full Article: Arizona ballot audit backed by secretive donors linked to Trump’s inner circle | US news | The Guardian

California: ‘They’re really on a rampage’: Departing San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder reflects on election conspiracies, racism | Lindsey Holden/San Luis Obispo Tribune

In a surprise move, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong on Friday announced he’s resigning his position and leaving the area — exactly one month after enduring hours of election misinformation and racism at a Board of Supervisors meeting. Gong, the first Asian American elected to countywide office, will move to Contra Costa County in July to start a new job as a deputy clerk-recorder. On Friday, he told The Tribune the decision to leave was primarily motivated by a desire to be closer to family in the Bay Area, although attacks on his office following the 2020 election “probably played a factor” in his choice. Prior to making his exit public, Gong sat down with The Tribune to discuss the impacts of election conspiracy-mongering and anti-Asian racism and how his office can move forward and instill faith in the county’s voting system. … During the meeting, one caller made an explicitly racist comment asking if Gong is “a member of the Chinese Communist Party.” “It was interesting because we were hearing all of the scripted comments and everything, and your mind kind of goes numb as you’re listening,” Gong said. “That one did stick out, I will say. I was like, ‘Did I hear that right?’ You know, (it) was a little surprising. And my staff was with me, and it was like, ‘Oh yeah, wow.’” Gong grew up outside of Modesto, where his family ran a local chain of grocery stores. When he was going into kindergarten, Gong’s mother warned him that children may “call you names” or make racist comments. Hearing the racism at the meeting made Gong think back to that time.

Full Article: SLO elections official talks racism, voting misinformation | San Luis Obispo Tribune

Georgia 2020 Election Deniers Setting Sights On Higher Office | Stephen Fowler and David Armstrong/Georgia Public Broadcasting

For the past seven months, a group of Republican lawmakers have engaged in efforts to cast doubt on Georgia’s election integrity and overturn the results of a 2020 presidential race that was counted three times — each count upholding President Joe Biden’s victory. Now, some are parlaying their election skepticism into bids for higher office, launching campaigns for Congress, the governor’s mansion and the office of the top election official in the state, according to a GPB News and Georgia News Lab analysis. There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, as confirmed by the original tally, a hand-counted risk-limiting audit of all the nearly five million votes for president, and a machine recount requested by the Trump campaign. But that hasn’t stopped prominent supporters of former President Donald Trump from promoting falsehoods about absentee ballot fraud, floating claims of illegal voting and parroting allegations of conspiracies that have been thoroughly debunked by election officials. Last month, a lawsuit backed by a well-known conspiracy theorist seeking to inspect 147,000 absentee ballots in Fulton County for evidence of counterfeits received the endorsement of former Sen. Kelly Loeffler and the state Republican Party. There is no evidence of counterfeit ballots or any other wrongdoing among Fulton’s absentee votes, and most of the allegations in the suit have long since been addressed by elections officials.

Full Article: Georgia 2020 Election Deniers Setting Sights On Higher Office | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Louisiana could change from voting machines to paper ballots after closed-door negotiations | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Louisiana will be moving to elections using paper ballots under legislation finally approved about 90 minutes before the Legislature adjourned Thursday at 6 p.m. Senate Bill 221, by state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, had been negotiated behind closed doors for about two weeks. Agreement came in the closing moments of the two-month-old legislative session. The result merged much of the language from two similar House-passed bills with the Senate measure. Current law requires Louisiana votes in machines. The legislation would now require a paper ballot that would be scanned to count. Louisiana’s current fleet of voting machines are aging and replacement parts aren’t easy to find. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has been trying to nail down a deal for new machines. Dominion Voting Systems Corp., an equipment and software company founded in Canada with headquarters in Denver, won the early phase of a bidding process that was successfully challenged as unfair by the losers. Work on a new bidding process is still ongoing. After the presidential election in November, Dominion became the target of widespread and specious rumors of being involved in the unproven claims of widespread fraud in presidential election. “The machines are outdated and it’s time to make change,” Hewitt said, adding that she had heard the worries of some voters voiced about voting machine vendors.

Full Article: Louisiana could change from voting machines to paper ballots after closed-door negotiations | Legislature | theadvocate.com

Massachusetts House passes measure making no excuse mail-in voting permanent | Matt Stout/The Boston Globe

The Massachusetts House on Thursday passed a provision that would permanently allow every registered voter to cast a ballot by mail in state primaries, general elections, and some municipal races, extending what had been embraced as a pandemic-era option. Lawmakers tacked the measure onto a supplemental spending bill that easily passed the House on Thursday. The vote on the amendment, filed Wednesday, fell almost exclusively along party lines, with all 30 Republicans in the House opposing it, along with two Democrats. House Speaker Ronald Mariano, who previously said lawmakers would move to codify expanded voting by mail, said before the vote that he “conceptually supports” the proposal, bolstering its passage. The sudden emergence of the amendment puts the House somewhat at odds with the Senate. While Democratic leaders in both chambers support continuing to make voting by mail available to all voters, the Senate on Thursday passed a separate bill that would extend the measure temporarily to mid-December, signaling senators were still mapping out a more permanent option. record 3.6 million ballots were cast in Massachusetts in November’s general election, with more voters embracing mail-in ballots — nearly 42 percent — than any other option. Before lawmakers passed a law amid the pandemic allowing every registered voter to cast an absentee ballot by mail, state law had limited absentee balloting to those who had specific reasons for not being able to make it to the polls, including if they are disabled or would be out of town on Election Day.

Full Article: Massachusetts House passes measure making mail-in voting permanent – The Boston Globe

Michigan Republicans demand ‘forensic audits’ of 2020 election, but party leaders say it’s time to move on | Malachi Barrett/MLive.com

Members of the Michigan Republican Party are working with activists to demand another audit of the 2020 election, but party leaders and top GOP lawmakers argue it’s time to move on from relitigating the results. Activists are collecting thousands of signatures on affidavits pressuring Republicans in control of the state House and Senate to request a “forensic audit” of the 2020 results. Michigan election officials already completed audits of the election, but former President Donald Trump’s supporters are unsatisfied. Seven months after Trump’s defeat, they’re looking for evidence that the race was “stolen.” Trump and his supporters hope other states will follow the lead of Arizona, where the Republican-controlled state Senate ordered an audit of the swing state’s most populated county. The former president told supporters the audit will spark reviews in other battleground states he lost. Some Trump supporters believe the audits could lead to Biden being ejected from the White House. A new Politico-Morning Consult poll published this week found 29% of Republican respondents believe Trump will be reinstated. MIGOP Executive Director Jason Roe said that’s not going to happen. “It is absolutely nutty for anyone to believe that Trump is going to be reinstated,” Roe said. The Michigan audit drive has support from grassroots organizers within the MIGOP who worked on Trump’s campaign in 2020. Meanwhile, Roe said “the data just doesn’t show a massive fraud conspiracy.” Roe said Republicans should focus on election reform bills and beating Democrats in 2022.

Full Article: Michigan Republicans demand ‘forensic audits’ of 2020 election, but party leaders say it’s time to move on – mlive.com

Pennsylvania Republicans’ proposed election overhaul includes stricter voter ID, in-person early-voting | Jonathan Lai and Marie Albiges/Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania Republicans proposed a sweeping overhaul of the state’s election system Thursday, with lawmakers in the state House calling for stricter voter identification requirements, in-person early voting, signature verification of mail ballots, and other major changes. State Rep. Seth Grove (R., York), chair of the House State Government Committee and House Republicans’ point person for election legislation, introduced the bill after months of hearings with elections administrators, experts, and voting-rights activists. The legislation is sure to draw intense scrutiny and faces steep obstacles as GOP leaders, who control both chambers of the legislature, try to keep their party unified while also winning the approval of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. For example, Republicans have long pushed stricter voter ID rules, saying they would prevent fraud. But there’s no evidence of widespread fraud, especially involving fake identities, and such rules can raise barriers for low-income and older voters, among others. Wolf said earlier this week that new voter ID requirements would be a nonstarter. A Wolf spokesperson on Thursday called the bill “an extremist proposal” meant to undermine trust in elections and make voting more difficult. Election administration has become a highly charged political issue in Harrisburg and across the country, with Democrats accusing Republicans of seeking to weaponize election rules to disenfranchise voters. Several GOP-controlled legislatures have sought to tighten voting laws in the aftermath of the 2020 election and former President Donald Trump’s lies about fraud and election rigging.

Full Article: Pennsylvania Republicans’ proposed election overhaul includes stricter voter ID, in-person early-voting

Rhode Island Lawmakers Push Election Cybersecurity Assessment | Katya Maruri/Government Technology

Conducting a cybersecurity assessment of Rhode Island’s election systems could soon fall to the secretary of state, if Gov. Daniel McKee signs a recently proposed bill by state lawmakers. According to Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D-74, the bill aims to create a proactive plan to prevent future ransomware and cyber attacks against the state’s election systems and provide training to canvassers to deal with cyber incidents. “This bill is timely and relevant as it allows the secretary of state and the board of elections to take actions to enhance our election security,” Ruggiero said. “We saw firsthand in the 2016 election how the democratic process came under attack — through social media and technology.” During the 2016 presidential election, issues such as bots posing as social media users to spread false information and the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee finding that Russia employed over 1,000 people to create fake accounts to spread anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric raised cybersecurity concerns. Because of incidents like these, she said, cybersecurity has become an adversary that’s everywhere, impacting various industries throughout the country, including businesses, education and government. However, in Rhode Island’s case, no cyber incidents have been reported.

Full Article: Rhode Island Lawmakers Push Election Cybersecurity Assessment

Texas State bar investigating Attorney General Ken Paxton over Trump election lawsuit | Jake Bleiberg/Associated Press

The Texas bar association is investigating whether state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud amounted to professional misconduct. The State Bar of Texas initially declined to take up a Democratic Party activist’s complaint that Paxton’s petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to block Joe Biden’s victory was frivolous and unethical. But a tribunal that oversees grievances against lawyers overturned that decision late last month and ordered the bar to look into the accusations against the Republican official. The investigation is yet another liability for the embattled attorney general, who is facing a years-old criminal case, a separate, newer FBI investigation, and a Republican primary opponent who is seeking to make electoral hay of the various controversies. It also makes Paxton one of the highest profile lawyers to face professional blowback over their roles in Donald Trump’s effort to delegitimize his defeat. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Paxton’s defense lawyer, Philip Hilder, declined to comment. Kevin Moran, the 71-year-old president of the Galveston Island Democrats, shared his complaint with The Associated Press along with letters from the State Bar of Texas and the Board of Disciplinary Appeals that confirm the investigation. He said Paxton’s efforts to dismiss other states’ election results was a wasteful embarrassment for which the attorney general should lose his law license. “He wanted to disenfranchise the voters in four other states,” said Moran. “It’s just crazy.” Texas’ top appeals lawyer, who would usually argue the state’s cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, notably did not join Paxton in bringing the election suit. The high court threw it out.

Full Article: AP Exclusive: State bar investigating Texas attorney general

Vermont: Bucking national trend, Republicans back sweeping vote-by-mail expansion | Quinn Scanlan/ABC

When the Vermont legislature voted to mail ballots to every active voter for the pandemic general election, state Sen. Joe Benning, a Republican, was not on board. Neither was his local town clerk, also a Republican. “Not that either one of us believed there’s going to be widespread fraud but certainly [it] invited the opportunity by placing all of these live ballots out in the world with no restrictions,” Benning told ABC News. But then, he said, “a funny thing happened.” It was the election. The ballots did go out to active voters. Vermont, like the nation, saw record turnout. “I ended up with more votes than I had ever received before,” Benning said. “I attribute that to the fact that a whole lot of Republican voters who had been complacent about going to the voting booth, suddenly had a live ballot sitting on their kitchen table, and they decided to use it.” That, plus the lack of widespread fraud claims, which Benning said “was examined quite heavily,” changed his mind. “There just wasn’t any reason to look at it in any other way than to say it was providing more people with the opportunity to vote,” he said.

Full Article: Bucking national trend, Republicans in Vermont back sweeping vote-by-mail expansion – ABC News

Wisconsin Republican lawmakers plan trip to observe Arizona recount | Molly Beck Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A group of Republican state lawmakers plan to fly south to observe a controversial review of 2020 ballots in Arizona — an overnight trip that comes as legislative leaders launch an investigation of Wisconsin’s presidential contest. Six GOP lawmakers and one legislative staff member requested permission this week to take a trip to Phoenix on Friday and return Saturday to observe the review of ballots in Maricopa County, meet with lawmakers and talk to vendors who facilitated the review. “The point of the trip is to observe a large-scale recounting process using volunteers and contracted vendors to determine ballot integrity and possible reconstruction of the Dominion machine programming,” Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, said in a Wednesday letter to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester seeking approval for the trip. Vos approved the request, according to a spokeswoman. Brandtjen said the trip will be paid for by a group called Voices and Votes, self-described as an organization aimed at “protecting free speech from cancel culture.” The review of ballots in Maricopa County has drawn attention and criticism from around the country, including the county’s Republican-led board of supervisors, which last month called the project a “sham” and a “con.” Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-West Point, called the lawmakers “paranoid nuts” for taking the trip. “They are feeding into the biggest lie this country has ever seen … I hope they bring their tinfoil hats,” he said Thursday.

Full Article: Wisconsin Republican lawmakers plan trip to observe Arizona recount

Editorial: Congress Needs to Defend Vote Counting, Not Just Vote Casting | The New York Times

Republican-controlled state legislatures are whittling away at the integrity of electoral democracy in the United States, rushing to pass laws that make it harder for Americans to vote and easier for partisans to tamper with election results. It is a legislative assault motivated by the failure of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and justified by baseless allegations about the legitimacy of his defeat. Mr. Trump and his supporters pursued indiscriminate lawsuits to overturn the results and then, urged on by Mr. Trump, some of his supporters stormed the Capitol to halt the completion of the election process. Now they are seeking to rewrite the rules to make it easier for Republicans to win elections without winning the most votes. This effort is inimical to the most basic principles of free and fair elections: that all who are eligible should have an equal opportunity to vote, that all votes should be counted and that the losing side should accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. In the face of these threats, Democrats in Congress have crafted an election bill, H.R. 1, that is poorly matched to the moment. The legislation attempts to accomplish more than is currently feasible, while failing to address some of the clearest threats to democracy, especially the prospect that state officials will seek to overturn the will of voters. Because there is little chance the bill will pass in its current form, Democrats face a clear choice. They can wage what might be a symbolic (and likely doomed) fight for all the changes they would like. Or they can confront the acute crisis at hand by crafting a more focused bill, perhaps more palatable for more senators, that aims squarely at ensuring that Americans can cast votes and that those votes are counted.

Full Article: Opinion | Congress Needs to Defend Vote Counting, Not Just Vote Casting – The New York Times

National: Mike Lindell’s ‘fraud’ allegations are even more ridiculous than you might think | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

If you were familiar with Mike Lindell a year or two ago, it was probably because you watch Fox News and had seen the ubiquitous ads for his company, MyPillow. Lindell appears in those ads to hype his pillows with Billy Mays levels of gruff enthusiasm. Over the past six months, though, Lindell’s become better known as a salesperson for something far less comforting: former president Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Lindell’s wealth has made him a particularly loud voice among those clamoring about the election. He has the resources to hire various dubious “investigators” and to produce shakily constructed videos detailing what they’ve found. He also has the resources to respond to a 10-figure defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, not by acquiescing to having spread unverifiable claims but, instead, with a countersuit of his own in which he repeats and elevates those claims. That countersuit, filed this week, is the written version of Lindell’s “documentaries,” melodramatic, glitchy, sweeping and deeply flawed in both obvious and non-obvious ways. Central to the effort are those claims that the election was stolen, a claim that the suit reiterates explicitly as an exculpatory point for Lindell’s assertions about Dominion’s voting machines. “Fact,” the suit states at one point: “Direct and circumstantial evidence demonstrates that, during the 2020 General Election, electronic voting machines like those manufactured and sold by Dominion were manipulated and hacked in a manner that caused votes for one candidate to be tallied for the opposing candidate.” This is, of course, not a fact, since it isn’t true. But this claim — that Lindell can prove or has proved that fraud occurred — is meant to bolster his public assertions about the company. After all, if rampant fraud occurred in places where Dominion’s machines were used, how could he be to blame for saying that they made that possible? The catch here is that Lindell offers very little that’s actually intended to serve as direct evidence of malfeasance. There is a lot of hand-waving about questions that had been raised about Dominion’s machines and lots of ad hominem assertions about the company and its employees, but the suit introduces very little that might be considered actual, direct evidence that votes were manipulated.

Full Article: Mike Lindell’s ‘fraud’ allegations are even more ridiculous than you might think – The Washington Post

National: Rejecting Biden’s Win, Rising Republicans Attack Legitimacy of Elections | Reid J. Epstein and Lisa Lerer/The New York Times

A Republican House candidate from Wisconsin says he is appalled by the violence he witnessed at the Jan. 6 rally that turned into the siege at the Capitol. But he did not disagree with G.O.P. lawmakers’ effort to overturn the presidential election results that night. In Michigan, a woman known as the “MAGA bride” after photos of her Donald J. Trump-themed wedding dress went viral is running for Congress while falsely claiming that it is “highly probable” the former president carried her state and won re-election. And in Washington State, the Republican nominee for governor last year is making a bid for Congress months after finally dropping a lawsuit challenging his 2020 defeat — a contest he lost by 545,000 votes. Across the country, a rising class of Republican challengers has embraced the fiction that the 2020 election was illegitimate, marred by fraud and inconsistencies. Aggressively pushing Mr. Trump’s baseless claims that he was robbed of re-election, these candidates represent the next generation of aspiring G.O.P. leaders, who would bring to Congress the real possibility that the party’s assault on the legitimacy of elections, a bedrock principle of American democracy, could continue through the 2024 contests.

Full Article: Rejecting Biden’s Win, Rising Republicans Attack Legitimacy of Elections – The New York Times

National: The Republicans’ Wild Assault on Voting Rights in Texas and Arizona | Sue Halpern/The New Yorker

Afew hours after Michael Flynn, the retired three-star general and former national-security adviser and convicted felon, told a group of QAnon conspiracists who met in Dallas over Memorial Day weekend that the Biden Administration should be overthrown by force, Democratic legislators in the Texas statehouse, two hundred miles away in Austin, did something remarkable: they stopped their Republican colleagues from passing one of the most restrictive voting bills in the country. Flynn’s pronouncement and the Republicans’ efforts rely on repeating the same untruth: that the Presidency was stolen from Donald Trump by a cabal of Democrats, election officials, and poll workers who perpetrated election fraud. No matter that this claim has been litigated, relitigated, and debunked. Based on data collected by the conservative Heritage Foundation, the incidence of voter fraud in the two decades before last year’s election was about 0.00006 per cent of total ballots cast. It was negligible in 2020, too, as Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, acknowledged at the time.

Source: The Republicans’ Wild Assault on Voting Rights in Texas and Arizona | The New Yorker