Georgia ballot images made public after heated election | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Don’t trust the results of the election? For the first time, Georgia voters can check ballots for themselves. Digital images of ballots are now public records in Georgia, available for anyone to see upon request and payment of a fee to county election offices. A batch of 145,000 Fulton County absentee ballots cast in November’s election shows a picture of every ballot and bubbled-in oval, followed by a printed page verifying how voting machines counted each race. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the ballot images by paying a $240 records retrieval fee to Fulton County. There are many possibilities for how these ballot images could be used — or abused. Concerned citizens could recount ballots themselves. Candidates could identify voting patterns, such as split tickets among Democrats and Republicans. Those who believe an election was stolen could look for counting irregularities, highlighting potential errors.

Full Article: Your own election audit? In Georgia digital copies of voter ballots are now public records

Georgia absentee ID law has outsized impact on Black and metro voters | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Over 272,000 registered voters don’t have a driver’s license or state ID on file with election officials, meaning they’d have to submit additional documents to vote by mail under Georgia’s new voting law, state election records show. The ID requirements disproportionately affect Black voters, who are much less likely than white voters to have ID numbers matched to their voter registrations, according to election data. Voters who lack a driver’s license or state ID number linked to their registrations will have to verify their identities to vote absentee. Georgia’s voting law requires them to provide a utility bill, bank statement or other form of ID in future elections. Overall, about 3.5% of Georgia’s 7.8 million registered voters are missing a driver’s license or state ID number, according to records obtained from the secretary of state’s office under Georgia’s open records law. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzed the state’s list of voters without ID by comparing it with their registration information, including race, address and voting history. More than half are Black. Most live in large, Democratic-leaning counties. Some are homeless or poor. And roughly 80,000 of them actually may have IDs but their information isn’t yet matched to election data, an issue state election officials are working to correct.

Full Article: ID rule in Georgia voting law adds new hurdle for thousands of voters

Montana firm connected to controversial review of Arizona election results | Arren Kimbel-Sannit/Daily Montanan

Observers of a Legislature-sponsored review and recount of election results in Arizona’s largest county alleged last week that “copies of voting system data” were sent to an unnamed lab in Montana with little explanation, according to a summary of notes from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, which sponsored the observers. The observation reads that on May 24, Ken Bennett, a former Arizona Secretary of State working as a liaison from the state Senate, “confirmed that (the data) was sent to a lab in Montana” but “did not specify what security measures were in place, or what the lab in Montana will do with the data or how long it will be in possession of the copies.” Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Senate authorized an audit of election results and issued subpoenas for election systems from Maricopa County in April, encouraged by persistent but unfounded claims of voter fraud and impropriety by former President Donald Trump in the fallout of his loss — President Joe Biden defeated Trump by roughly 45,000 votes in the county, one of the country’s most populous. The review has been plagued by controversy, litigation and allegations of procedural errors and impropriety, though it has resulted in significant financial gains for the state GOP and boosted the political fortunes of current Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat and outspoken critic of the audit who recently announced her bid for governor of Arizona.

Full Article: Arizona election audit observer: County data could be under review at Montana lab – Daily Montanan

Nevada Secretary of state opens up about threats she received after no evidence of ‘widespread’ voter fraud found | Jannelle Calderon/Nevada Independent

Republican Secretary of State  opened up Wednesday about her experience on the job after the November presidential election sparked allegations of voter fraud in Nevada, as well as about threatening emails and phone calls she and her family and staff received. Cegavske’s appearance at the Hispanics in Politics monthly meeting in Las Vegas marked a rare public appearance by the secretary of state after the contentious election season in which she pushed back on allegations that there was widespread voter fraud. She told The Nevada Independent in an interview after her speech that the extent of the threats was “saddening” and was not something she wanted her staff to go through. She also said the level of threats, harassment and privacy concerns led her to unplug the phone landline in her home. When asked if she had been changed by the experience, Cegavske said the level of threats to family and staff, the involvement of national news and cyber security has taken a toll. The secretary of state also said that the fallout goes beyond threats. One website in particular (which The Nevada Independent is not naming for safety concerns) has targeted her along with other U.S. election officials through doxing, which is publishing otherwise private information with malicious intent. The website has been removed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation three times, Cegavske said.

Full Article: Secretary of state opens up about threats she received after no evidence of ‘widespread’ voter fraud found

New Hampshire Election Audit, part 1 | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

Based on preliminary reports published by the team of experts that New Hampshire engaged to examine an election discrepancy, it appears that a buildup of dust in the read heads of optical-scan voting machines (possibly over several years of use) can cause paper-fold lines in absentee ballots to be interpreted as votes. In a local contest in one town, preliminary reports suggest this caused four Republican candidates for State Representative to be deprived of about 300 votes each. That didn’t change the outcome of the election–the Republicans won anyway–but it shows that New Hampshire (and other states) may need to maintain the accuracy of their optical-scan voting machines by paying attention to three issues:

  • Routine risk-limiting audits to detect inaccuracies if/when they occur.
  • Clean the dust out of optical-scan read heads regularly; pay attention to the calibration of the optical-scan machines.
  • Make sure that the machines that automatically fold absentee ballots (before mailing them to voters) don’t put the fold lines over vote-target ovals. (Same for election workers who fold ballots by hand.)

Everything I write in this series will be based on public information, from the State of New Hampshire, the Town of Windham, and the tweets of the WindhamNHAuditors.

Full Article: New Hampshire Election Audit, part 1

New Hampshire Election Audit Shows Machine Error Gave Extra Votes To Local Democrat; Determines No ‘Fraud,’ ‘Bias’ | Amanda Prestigiacomo/The Daily Wire

Machine-tabulated 2020 election results in Windham, New Hampshire, were likely different from a later hand-recount because of the way the town folded absentee ballots before they were delivered to voters, an election audit has determined. The ballot folds caused election-day totals to mistakenly exclude some votes and count extra votes for a local Democratic candidate. The group conducting the audit, which was called for after Democratic state House candidate Kristi St. Laurent lost her race and a recount revealed discrepancies in the vote totals, emphasized that “no evidence of fraud or political bias” was found. … Mark Lindeman, an auditor and co-director of Verified Voting, said the audit uncovered “no evidence of fraud or political bias,” and also said that he hadn’t heard “a credible hypothesis of how fraud could account for what we found.” Lindeman added that they “have no reason to think that it’s a statewide or national issue, although it’s certainly possible that it occurred in other localities.”

Full Article: NH Election Audit Shows Machine Error Gave Extra Votes To Local Democrat; Determines No ‘Fraud,’ ‘Bias’ | The Daily Wire

Pennsylvania GOP leader rejects Arizona-style election audit, but others push for it | Marc Levy and Mark Scolforo/Associated Press

A key member of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives is flatly rejecting talk of any sort of audit of the 2020 presidential election, a day after three fellow Republican state lawmakers toured the Arizona Senate GOP’s audit. Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, who chairs the committee that handles election matters, said on Twitter on Thursday that the chamber “will not be authorizing any further audits on any previous election.” Two of those visiting lawmakers, Sens. Cris Dush and Doug Mastriano, say they want something similar carried out in Pennsylvania. They will have trouble getting anything through Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, who dismissed their trip to Arizona as an “effort to discredit the integrity of our elections” and “an insult to our county election workers and to Pennsylvania voters.” “As counties call on the General Assembly to act on election reform, GOP state lawmakers are chasing conspiracy theories across the country,” Wolf said on Twitter. Grove’s Senate counterpart in the Republican-controlled Legislature, Sen. David Argall, R-Schuykill, said in an interview Thursday that legislation or a resolution in the chamber to commission some sort of audit remains a possibility in June.

Full Article: GOP fight over 2020 election audit brews in Pennsylvania

Texas: ‘Die fighting on my feet.’ How Democrats executed a mass walkout that killed the elections bill | Lauren McGaughy/Dallas Morning News

Atop every member’s desk in the Texas House of Representatives sits a small round voting machine. In a slot at the edge of the shiny metal pad fits a key. This key usually stays in the unlocked position, allowing representatives to vote from their seats. When a member is absent, or doesn’t want a deskmate or colleague voting for them, the key is turned, locking the machine. When lawmakers want to be extra sure no votes are cast when they’re gone, they take the key. Late Sunday night, with just a few hours left to pass bills in the 2021 regular legislative session, Rep. Travis Clardy walked to the podium in front of the speaker’s dais and began debate on a controversial elections bill that had torn the chamber in two. Republicans like Clardy wanted to deliver a win for their party and Gov. Greg Abbott, who had called on them to pass a voting bill after the 2020 elections. Democrats said the bill was an overt attempt to discourage voters from going to the polls through scare tactics and new restrictions. Clardy knew the debate wouldn’t be pretty. Earlier discussions on the bill had devolved into ugly partisan slugfests. But as the minority party, Democrats had few options to kill it outright before a key deadline at midnight. Clardy thought, “We ought to be able to get this done.” After ending his opening remarks, Clardy handed the mic over to Rep. Briscoe Cain, the bill’s author, and dipped out of the chamber for some cold pork chops and mashed potatoes.

Full Article: ‘Die fighting on my feet.’ How Democrats executed a mass walkout that killed the Texas elections bill

Push to review 2020 votes across US an effort to ‘handcuff’ democracy | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Conservative activists across America are pushing efforts to review the 2020 vote more than six months after the election, a move experts say is a dangerous attempt to continue to sow doubt about the results of the 2020 election that strikes at the heart of America’s democratic process. Encouraged by an ongoing haphazard review of 2.1m ballots in Arizona, activists are pushing to review votes or voting equipment in CaliforniaGeorgiaMichigan, and New Hampshire. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the powerful speaker of the state house of representatives recently hired ex-law enforcement officers, including one with a history of supporting Republicans, to spend the next three months investigating claims of fraud. At least one of the officers hired has a history of supporting GOP claims. The announcement also came after state officials announced they found just 27 cases of potential fraud in 2020 out of 3.3m votes cast. The reviews are not going to change the 2020 election results or find widespread fraud, which is exceedingly rare. Nonetheless, the conservative activists behind the effort – many of whom have little election experience – have championed the reviews as an attempt to assuage concerns the 2020 election was stolen. If the probes don’t turn up anything, they will only serve to increase confidence in elections, proponents say. But experts see something much more dangerous happening. Continuing to review elections, especially after a result has been finalized, will allow conspiracy theories to fester and undercut the authority of legitimately elected officials, they say. Once election results are certified by state officials, they have long been considered final and it is unprecedented to continue to probe results months after an official is sworn in. It’s an issue that gets at the heart of America’s electoral system – if Americans no longer have faith their officials are legitimately elected, they worry, the country is heading down an extremely dangerous path.

Full Afrticle: Push to review 2020 votes across US an effort to ‘handcuff’ democracy | US elections 2020 | The Guardian

New Hampshire: Ballot Folds, Not Fraud, Likely Culprit At Center of Windham Election Audit. Now What? | Casey McDermott/New Hampshire Public Radio

After spending the last three weeks carefully recounting ballots, inspecting the vote counting machines and otherwise examining discrepancies in the 2020 election results for the town of Windham, auditors haven’t found any evidence of fraud or other intentional tampering. Instead, they’ve settled on a more mundane explanation for why the results of a hand recount of Windham’s state representative race veered so far from the results tallied at the polls on Election Night. Here’s what they learned, and what happens next. Windham’s problems hinge largely, it seems, on folds in its absentee ballots. When ballots were folded to fit inside official envelopes provided by the state, the crease ran through the bubble for Democratic candidate Kristi St. Laurent. And when those ballots were fed through a counting machine at the polls, the machines read the folds on some of them as votes for St. Laurent. That’s why she appeared to have more votes on Election Night than when her race was recounted by hand a week later. But the folds aren’t the only factor. There’s also the fact that humans and machines can read the same marks, on the same ballot, very differently. If a voter didn’t fill in the bubble for their preferred candidate correctly, a machine might not interpret that as a valid vote — but a person looking at the same ballot would likely catch that mark and recognize the voter’s intent. And if a voter appeared to fill in too many bubbles — or, if the machine thought a voter filled in too many bubbles, because one of the bubbles had a fold line through it — it could also throw off the machine count.

Full Article: Ballot Folds, Not Fraud, Likely Culprit At Center of Windham Election Audit. Now What? | New Hampshire Public Radio

National: As G.O.P. Blocks Inquiry, Questions on Jan. 6 Attack May Go Unanswered | Luke Broadwater/The New York Times

In blocking the formation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Republicans in Congress have all but closed off the possibility of a full and impartial accounting for one of the most serious assaults on American democracy in history, leaving unanswered critical questions with broad implications for politics, security and public trust. Fearing political damage from any sustained scrutiny of the attack, Republicans united in large numbers against the inquiry, moving to shift an unwelcome spotlight away from former President Donald J. Trump, his election lies that fueled the attack, and the complicity of many G.O.P. lawmakers in amplifying his false claims of widespread voter fraud. The result is that key details about a shocking act of domestic extremism against the United States government are likely to remain shrouded in mystery, and anything new that may be revealed about the assault at the Capitol will most likely be viewed through a partisan lens, with a substantial proportion of the country rejecting the reality of what transpired. The public may never know precisely what Mr. Trump and members of his administration did or said as a throng of his supporters stormed the Capitol while Congress met to formalize President Biden’s victory, threatening the lives of lawmakers and the vice president. The full story may never be revealed of why security officials were so unprepared for the breach of the building, supposedly one of the most secure in the nation, despite ample warnings of potential violence. The extent of the role of Republican lawmakers closely allied with Mr. Trump in planning the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that spiraled into a brutal onslaught may remain unexplored.

Full Article: Key Questions on Jan. 6 Capitol Attack May Go Unanswered – The New York Times

National: Defense for some Capitol rioters: election misinformation | David Klepper/Associated Press

Falsehoods about the election helped bring insurrectionists to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and now some who are facing criminal charges for their actions during the riot hope their gullibility might save them or at least engender some sympathy. Lawyers for at least three defendants charged in connection with the violent siege tell The Associated Press that they will blame election misinformation and conspiracy theories, much of it pushed by then-President Donald Trump, for misleading their clients. The attorneys say those who spread that misinformation bear as much responsibility for the violence as do those who participated in the actual breach of the Capitol. “I kind of sound like an idiot now saying it, but my faith was in him,” defendant Anthony Antonio said, speaking of Trump. Antonio said he wasn’t interested in politics before pandemic boredom led him to conservative cable news and right-wing social media. “I think they did a great job of convincing people.” After Joe Biden’s victory in last year’s presidential election, Trump and his allies repeatedly claimed that the race was stolen, even though the claims have been repeatedly debunked by officials from both parties, outside experts and courts in several states and Trump’s own attorney general. In many cases, the baseless claims about vote dumps, ballot fraud and corrupt election officials were amplified on social media, building Trump’s campaign to undermine faith in the election that began long before November. The tide of misinformation continues to spread, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote Wednesday in a decision denying the release of a man accused of threatening to kill U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away,” Berman wrote in her ruling ordering Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr. to remain in custody. “Six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near-daily fulminations of the former president.”

Full Article: Defense for some Capitol rioters: election misinformation

National: White male minority rule pervades politics across the US, research shows | Alexandra Villarreal/The Guardian

From county officials and sheriffs to governors and senators, white male minority rule pervades politics in the United States, according to a new report published on Wednesday. White men represent 30% of the population but 62% of officeholders, dominating both chambers of Congress, 42 state legislatures and statewide roles across the nation, the analysis shows. By contrast, women and people of color constitute 51% and 40% of the US population respectively, but just 31% and 13% of officeholders, according to the research by the Reflective Democracy Campaign, shared exclusively with the Guardian. “I think if we saw these numbers in another country, we would say there is something very wrong with that political system,” said Brenda Choresi Carter, the campaign’s director. “We would say, ‘how could that possibly be a democratic system with that kind of demographic mismatch?’” Two factors perpetuate white male control over virtually every lever of US government: the huge advantage enjoyed by incumbents, and the Republican party’s continued focus on mostly white male candidates.

Full Article: White male minority rule pervades politics across the US, research shows | US politics | The Guardian

National: The DNC Didn’t Get Hacked in 2020. Here’s Why. | Nicole Perlroth/The New York Times

As the country learns more about a broad Russian hijacking of American federal agencies and private companies and now another Russian hack, which was revealed on Thursday, it can look to the Democratic National Committee for a more positive development in the effort to prevent cyberattacks: Unlike four years ago, the committee did not get hacked in 2020. It’s worth remembering the D.N.C.’s outsized role in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, when a spearphishing email roiled the Democratic Party in the final months of the campaign. That March, Russian hackers broke into the personal email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, unlocking a decade’s worth of emails, before dribbling them out to the public with glee. The D.N.C. chairwoman, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, resigned after emails appeared to show her favoring Mrs. Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. A simultaneous Russian hack of the D.N.C.’s sister organization, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, tainted congressional candidates with accusations of scandal in a dozen other races. By the time Donald J. Trump was in the White House in January 2017, “The D.N.C.’s house was ablaze,” Sam Cornale, the committee’s executive director, said in an interview this week. That month, Bob Lord, an unassuming, bespectacled chief security officer at Yahoo, was still mopping up the largest Russian hacks in history: a 2013 breach of more than three billion Yahoo accounts and a second breach in 2014 of 500 million Yahoo accounts. Mr. Lord, who discovered the breaches when he took over the job, helped the Federal Bureau of Investigation identify the assailants. A courtroom sketch of Karim Baratov, one of the hackers in the Yahoo case, still hangs on his wall.

Full Article: The D.N.C. Didn’t Get Hacked in 2020. Here’s Why. – The New York Times

National: What We Know About The Apparent Russian Hack Exploiting USAID | Bill Chappell, Dina Temple-Raston and Scott Detrow/NPR

The same Russian hackers who carried out the SolarWinds attack and other malicious campaigns have now attacked groups involved in international development, human rights and other issues, according to Microsoft. The company said the breach began with a takeover of an email marketing account used by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Hackers sent malicious emails from the agency’s account. Screenshots show the note purports to be a special alert, highlighting the message, “Donald Trump has published new documents on election fraud.” News of the attack comes less than three weeks before President Biden is slated to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House said this week that Biden wants to “restore predictability and stability” in the two countries’ relationship. Press secretary Jen Psaki issued that statement on Tuesday — the same day the hackers sharply escalated their attack, according to Microsoft. Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov denied his country is involved, saying Microsoft was making an “unfounded accusation,” according to the Interfax news agency.

Full Article: What We Know About The Apparent Russian Hack Exploiting USAID : NPR

National: Fourteen states have enacted 22 new laws making it harder to vote | Janie Boschma/CNN

State lawmakers have enacted nearly two dozen laws since the 2020 election that restrict ballot access, according to a new tally by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. These 22 laws in 14 states mark a new record for restrictive voting laws since 2011, when the Brennan Center recorded 19 laws enacted in 14 state legislatures. Most of the new laws make it harder to vote absentee and by mail, after a record number of Americans voted by mail in November. In addition to the new laws, the Brennan Center’s latest report identified 61 bills that were advancing through 18 state legislatures as of May 14. Advancing bills include those that have either passed at least one chamber or have otherwise made progress at the committee level. More than half of the 61 advancing bills would restrict absentee and mail-in voting. About a quarter include provisions that target voter ID requirements and voter roll purges. Not every bill that is advancing will pass, or even reach a vote, though state lawmakers are likely to act quickly to attempt to get their bills over the finish line. All but 12 state legislatures plan to adjourn by June 30, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Overall, since the election, the Brennan Center has identified at least 389 bills introduced in 48 states that include provisions that would restrict voting access. The only two states where lawmakers have not yet introduced a restrictive voting bill are Delaware and Vermont.

Full Article: Fourteen states have enacted 22 new laws making it harder to vote – CNNPolitics

Editorial: The GOP push to revisit 2020 – inspired by Trump’s ‘big lie’ – has worrisome implications for future elections | Dan Balz/The Washington Post

Donald Trump’s “big lie” has spawned a movement that under the guise of assuring election integrity threatens to do the opposite, potentially affecting the election process with questionable challenges that could block or delay the certification of results and undermine an essential pillar of democratic governance. Trump’s refusal to accept the 2020 results has kept alive the fiction that the election was stolen or the process was deeply corrupted. That fiction — fueled by conspiracy theories — has encouraged members of his party, elected officials and ordinary citizens, to take steps to address this; these actions could lead to worse outcomes in the future. For some Americans, the 2020 election isn’t over, as unsubstantiated claims of fraud or widespread irregularities prompt continuing efforts to reexamine ballots and voting machines. Most noted has been the audit in Arizona’s Maricopa County, which has become a template for people who have bought into the former president’s false claims. The recount, ordered by the Republican-controlled state Senate and conducted by an outside company, resumed last week amid acrimony over how it is being carried out. It has been condemned in the strongest possible terms by, among others, the Republican-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which urged that it be shut down.

Full Article: The GOP push to revisit 2020 — inspired by Trump’s ‘big lie’ — has worrisome implications for future elections – The Washington Post

Arizona: Ballot review could force Maricopa County to spend millions on new voting equipment | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

The third-party review of millions of ballots cast last year in Maricopa County, Arizona, could force the county to spend millions  of dollars on new voting technology if equipment exposed to the process can’t be re-certified for use in future elections, an election law expert said Thursday. During a briefing for reporters, David Becker, a former Justice Department official who now heads the Center for Election Innovation & Research, a nonpartisan group that works with election officials around the country, said Maricopa County taxpayers could be on the hook if an ongoing “audit” commissioned by Arizona Senate Republicans “contaminates” the county’s ballot-processing equipment. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs wrote in a letter to Maricopa officials last week that they should retire election technology assets that have been turned over to Cyber Ninjas, an once-obscure firm led by a supporter of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss and was hired by the Arizona Senate to inspect 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County, where President Joe Biden won en route to carrying Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. Hobbs’ office decertifying the equipment would prevent it from being used in future elections, forcing the county to buy or lease an entirely new inventory. So far, the Maricopa process has included a search for non-existent watermarks, a hunt for bamboo shards — that would allegedly insinuate that ballots were shipped in from China — and the ballots being moved from building to building on the state fairgrounds. “Indeed, such loss of custody constitutes a cyber incident to critical infrastructure—an event that could jeopardize the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of digital information or information systems,” Hobbs wrote in her letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the Republican members of which have also condemned the “audit.”

Full Article: Ballot review could force Maricopa County, Ariz., to spend millions on new voting equipment

For Georgia’s Outgoing Elections Director, Evidence And Communication Are Keys To Success | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

Outgoing Georgia Elections Director Chris Harvey speaks with GPB’s Stephen Fowler about his time running elections. When Chris Harvey first became Georgia’s elections director in 2015, things were a little awkward. Before stepping into the role of working with the state’s 159 county election supervisors, he was the Secretary of State’s lead investigator holding them accountable for voting problems. “It was interesting because as the chief investigator, I was kind of their chief antagonist,” he said. “I was the person that told all their sins to the State Election Board, and I think there was some concern … what’s this relationship going to be like now?” But as Harvey leaves his role next month to be the deputy director of the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, he said that the relationships with local elections officials has been the glue that has kept the state’s voting process together for the last six years. At one of the first meetings with county supervisors in August 2015, Harvey said he worked long and hard on a message that has guided his actions since then: My job is to make sure your job is easier. “I really made the decision that I was going to use whatever position I had to to make sure that they were able to do their jobs, because I recognized very quickly that that if they don’t get it done, we lose,” he said in an interview. “If one county has a bad experience, it’s going to reflect on everyone.”

Full Article: For Georgia’s Outgoing Elections Director, Evidence And Communication Are Keys To Success | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Iowa flap raises fears of politicized local election offices | Thomas Beaumont and Anthony Izaguirre/Associated Press

 It had been eight years since a Republican candidate even stepped forward to challenge Democrat Roxanna Moritz as the top elections official in Scott County, Iowa. Running unopposed in 2016 and 2020, Moritz had become, over her four terms as auditor, the top vote-getter ever in this swing-voting county along the Mississippi River, the third most-populous in the state. Moritz’s abrupt resignation last month came after months of tension that degenerated into personal attacks and threats of violence. Her departure and partisan moves since then are signs that an office long viewed as nonpartisan is now fair game in the political fight about trust in the nation’s elections. “We took a lot of crap in my office, all of us,” Moritz said in an interview, describing angry, sometimes threatening calls from the public accusing her of fixing the 2020 election. “It was all partisan intimidation.” Republicans who control the Scott County Board of Supervisors said politics played no part in their criticism of Moritz’s handing of a county finance matter last year that led to calls from voters for her resignation. She is accused of falsifying working hours for poll workers to justify paying them more before the June 2020 primary when the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult to recruit help. The state auditor, Democrat Rob Sand, is investigating. But the issue festered with a number of Republican voters in Scott County who were upset with the outcome of the presidential election nationally, even though Republican Donald Trump handily won Iowa over Democrat Joe Biden in his bid for a second term.

Full Article: Iowa flap raises fears of politicized local election offices

Nevada lawmakers pass bill that would make it first presidential primary state | Mychael Schnell/The Hill

The Nevada state Senate passed a bill on Monday that calls for making the state the first to hold a presidential primary in the 2024 election. The Nevada Senate passed the bill in a 15-6 vote, after the state House cleared the legislation five days earlier, 30 to 11. It now heads to Gov. Steve Sisolak‘s (D) desk. If signed into law, it would switch Nevada’s contest from a caucus to a primary and move the state up in the nation’s election calendar, passing the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary for the first slot. Proponents of the bill are arguing that Nevada would be a better state to cast ballots first because of its diversity and population that reflects the demographics of the nation, instead of Iowa and New Hampshire, which are overwhelmingly white. The bill, however, will have to garner the support of national political parties to officially shake up the 2024 voting calendar, The Associated Press reported. The legislature’s consideration of the bill comes as a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign, spearheaded by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada), jockeys support for moving the state’s contest up in the calendar.

Full Article: Nevada lawmakers pass bill that would make it first presidential primary state | TheHill

New Hampshire Auditors Find No Fraud in Disputed Windham Election | Michael Casey/NBC Boston

There is no evidence of fraud or political bias in a controversial New Hampshire election where a recount and audit has drawn the interest of former President Donald Trump, auditors concluded Thursday. Rather, auditors investigating the election in the town of Windham believe a folding machine used by the town to try to accommodate the numbers of absentee ballots in the November election is responsible for mistakenly adding to vote counts for candidates in four legislative seats. “We found no evidence of fraud or political bias,” Mark Lindeman, one of the three auditors and the acting co-director of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, said. “I have heard no one actually articulate a credible hypothesis of how fraud could account for what we found.” The town used the machine to fold the absentee ballots before sending them to voters. After they were returned, the ballots were fed into a counting machine. Because the folds on some ballots went through a Democrats name, the ballot was either not counted or a vote was wrongly given to the Democrat. The audit, mandated by the legislature and started earlier this month, finished Thursday. It was called by lawmakers from both parties after a recount requested by a losing Democratic candidate in one of the legislative races showed the Republicans getting hundreds more votes than were originally counted. No matter the audit findings, the results won’t change. The discrepancy drew the attention of Trump and his supporters in their effort to find evidence of his wider claim of election fraud from 2020. Trump’s cheerleading of skeptics in Windham shows how his search for evidence to support his false claims of election fraud have burrowed into American politics, even at the local level.

Full Article: Windham, NH Recount: Election Audit Begins Tuesday – NBC Boston

Ohio embracing more efficient way to audit state election results | Tyler Buchanan/Ohio Capital Journa

As lawmakers debate proposed changes to Ohio’s election system, the Secretary of State’s Office is planning ahead on ensuring future election results are accurate. County boards of elections conduct General Election audits in midterm and presidential years, in accordance with state law. The results announced on election night are “unofficial” until they are officially certified by elections workers. The audits help to make sure Ohio reports the correct winners through comparing a sample of paper ballots with the results produced by tabulation machine. Ohio has traditionally used a system wherein elections officials choose certain voting precincts and review five percent of the total votes cast in a given county. States are now embracing a more efficient way to conduct these audits using sophisticated computer software. This new “Risk-Limiting Audit” system considers the margin of victory in a given race. To put it simply, officials don’t need to spend as much time auditing a large sample of ballots to verify a blowout election result. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are a handful of states that have switched to conducting audits this way. NCSL sums it up this way: “If the margin is larger, fewer ballots need to be counted. If the race is tighter, more ballots are audited.” The software does much of the work, taking the election margin and spitting out a corresponding number of ballots necessary to check in order to conclude the result was correct with a high degree of confidence. With a number of ballots in mind, the program selects individual paper ballots at random for elections workers to check.

Full Article: Ohio embracing more efficient way to audit state election results – The Highland County Press

Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers threaten to impeach Philadelphia elections officials over undated mail ballots | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Top Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature threatened Friday to impeach Philadelphia elections officials if they count undated mail ballots from last week’s primary, a major escalation in ongoing legal and political fights over how elections are run. Four of the seven justices on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said in a decision last year that voters must sign and date envelopes when returning mail ballots. Republicans pointed to that case, saying counties must reject the undated ballots. In a letter to city commissioners Lisa Deeley and Omar Sabir, the two Democrats who voted this week to count them, the lawmakers demanded they “immediately rescind your endorsement of this unlawful action.” “So there can be no misunderstanding — failure to promptly conform to Pennsylvania law will leave us no choice but to seek your removal from office using the authority vested to the House of Representatives,” the legislative leaders wrote. It’s extremely rare to impeach elected officials and attempt to remove them from office. Any lawmakers can introduce impeachment resolutions — just this month, three lawmakers tried to launch an impeachment probe of a Schuylkill County commissioner. Such efforts usually go nowhere. Top legislative leaders publicly threatening impeachment is an extraordinary move likely to further inflame partisan conflict and the voting wars that have taken center stage in Harrisburg and elsewhere since the 2020 election and the false claims of widespread fraud that followed it.

Full Article: Pa. Republican lawmakers threaten to impeach Philadelphia elections officials over undated mail ballots

Texas Democrats block voting bill by abandoning House floor vote | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

The sweeping overhaul of Texas elections and voter access was poised from the beginning of the session to pass into law. It had the backing of Republican leaders in both chambers of the Legislature. It had support from the governor. Democrats who opposed the bill, chiding it as a naked attempt of voter suppression, were simply outnumbered. But on Sunday night, with an hour left for the Legislature to give final approval to the bill, Democrats staged a walkout, preventing a vote on the legislation before a fatal deadline. “Leave the chamber discreetly. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building,” Grand Prairie state Rep. Chris Turner, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a text message to other Democrats obtained by The Texas Tribune. Senate Bill 7, a Republican priority bill, is an expansive piece of legislation that would alter nearly the entire voting process. It would create new limitations to early voting hours, ratchet up voting-by-mail restrictions and curb local voting options like drive-thru voting. Democrats had argued the bill would make it harder for people of color to vote in Texas. Republicans called the bill an “election integrity” measure — necessary to safeguard Texas elections from fraudulent votes, even though there is virtually no evidence of widespread fraud.

Full Article: Texas Democrats block voting bill by abandoning House floor vote | The Texas Tribune

How the Texas voting bill would have created hurdles for voters of color | Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

Texas Democrats late Sunday headed off passage — at least for now — of one of the most restrictive voting bills in the country, a 67-page measure with a slew of provisions that would have made it harder to cast ballots by mail, given new access to partisan poll watchers and imposed stiff new civil and criminal penalties on election administrators, voters and those who seek to assist them. While Senate Bill 7 would have had wide-ranging effects on voters across the state, it included specific language that critics say would disproportionately affect people of color — particularly those who live in under-resourced and urban communities. House Democrats blocked the bill by walking out of their chamber Sunday night, but Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has said he plans to add the bill to a special session he plans to call later this year. Republican backers of the measure have denied that it is aimed at disenfranchising voters of color. During debate in the House earlier this month, state Rep. Briscoe Cain dubbed it a voting “enhancement” bill, insisting that it was designed to protect “all voters.” The legislation was pushed through in the final hours of the Texas legislative session by Republicans who argued it is necessary to reassure voters their elections are secure, a response to former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 White House race was corrupted by fraud. But by all accounts, the 2020 election ran smoothly — and no evidence has emerged of fraud or other irregularities in sizable enough quantities to alter an outcome in Texas or other states.

Full Article: How the Texas voting bill would have created hurdles for voters of color – The Washington Post

Wisconsin: Ex-cop hired to probe election has partisan ties | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

One of the retired police officers hired by a top Wisconsin Republican to investigate the presidential election in the battleground state has ties to the GOP and previously led a probe into voter fraud in Milwaukee, work that prosecutors disavowed and that a federal judge said was not trustworthy. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos this week said he was hiring three retired police investigators to look into the election results. On Thursday, during an interview with conservative talk radio host Dan O’Donnell, Vos confirmed that one of those he hired is Mike Sandvick, a retired Milwaukee police detective . “In all honesty, he has Republican leanings,” Vos told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday, without naming Sandvick. “He’s been active in the Republican Party.” A 2008 report Sandvick wrote about the 2004 presidential election recommended that Wisconsin election laws be changed in light of what he said was voter fraud. That report has been referenced by conservatives since then as evidence there is unchecked fraud in the state. However, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI all disavowed the report. In 2013, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman did not allow the report to be admitted as evidence in a lawsuit over Wisconsin’s voter ID law, saying it was not trustworthy. Sandvick later did work on an “election integrity” committee established by the Wisconsin Republican Party and was briefly state director for True the Vote, a Texas group focused on voter fraud that is aligned with the tea party movement.

Full Article: Ex-cop hired to probe Wisconsin election has partisan ties

New Hampshire auditors see no sign of fraud — as Trump claims otherwise | Sara Murray/CNN

Outside a nondescript building, guarded 24/7 by state troopers, the leaders of Windham’s election audit field questions on the type of tape they’re using to seal boxes, why the livestream briefly failed and whether any ballot boxes have gone missing. Unlike audits of 2020 election results that have popped up in Arizona and Georgia, New Hampshire’s audit arose from a tangible gap in vote tallies in a race for state representative. Auditors have said their early assessment reveals no sign of fraud and instead points to human errors that they don’t believe are pervasive statewide. Even so, the bipartisan audit has become a flashpoint in this small town. And some conservatives are clinging to claims that the issue in Windham could point to broader election integrity problems throughout New Hampshire or even beyond. Harri Hursti, an expert in electronic voting security and part of the three-man team leading the audit, said he’s been surprised at the level of “malicious misinformation” swirling around the audit. “I’m a little bit surprised at the level of confusion and the level of deliberate trolling,” Hursti said. “The level of this is more than I expected. Nevertheless, we have to get the truth out. We have to make sure that people have the facts.” While the Windham audit wraps up this week, the 2020 election conspiracy theories are sure to persist. Among those amplifying them: former President Donald Trump and his allies. In a statement Monday night, Trump seized on the errors auditors are uncovering in New Hampshire and then claimed — without any supporting evidence — that Democrats were somehow behind it.

Full Article: New Hampshire auditors see no sign of fraud — as Trump claims otherwise – CNNPolitics

Post-Election Audits Are Normal. What’s Happening In Arizona Is Anything But. | Kaleigh Rogers/FiveThirtyEight

The day after the November 2020 election, the chairs of the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties of Maricopa County, Arizona, initiated a routine but important process to safeguard our democracy: a post-election audit. Per state law, after almost every countywide election in Arizona,1 a multiparty audit board must conduct a hand count of ballots from a sample of randomly selected voting precincts and compare them with the results from voting machines. The hand counts in Arizona’s most populous county, home to Phoenix, started the Saturday after the election and wrapped up two days later. Not a single discrepancy was found. Six-plus months later, Maricopa County’s ballots are still being counted — but by another group entirely. For the past five weeks, workers from Cyber Ninjas, a small private cybersecurity company based in Sarasota, Florida, have gathered in an arena to re-recount all the ballots — nearly 2.1 million — at the behest of the state’s Republican senators. Auditors have reportedly scanned ballots with UV lights to look for secret watermarks that conspiracy theorists believe then-President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security placed on legitimate ballots to differentiate them from fraudulent ones; they’ve also inspected ballots for traces of bamboo to determine if they were imported from Asia. The process was supposed to be completed by May 14, but workers were unable to finish the count in time, so the state Senate has extended its lease at the arena through the end of June. Audits and recounts are an essential part of our voting system, but what’s happening in Arizona isn’t. The state Senate that ordered the process is calling it an audit, and all the ballots are being recounted, but it’s not really an audit or a recount — it’s a partisan inquisition. Conducted by a company founded by an election-fraud conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter, the process is funded mostly by Trump loyalists and fails to meet any of the standards required for official recounts or audits by state law. The process indulges the fantasies of the most extreme political fringe while ignoring the fact that there is zero evidence of any election fraud to warrant such intense scrutiny. The result will almost certainly not be the greater transparency Republican state senators claim they seek. The review — and others like it — may instead further erode trust in our elections.

Full Article: Post-Election Audits Are Normal. What’s Happening In Arizona Is Anything But. | FiveThirtyEight

National: When it comes to ad hoc election investigations as in Arizona and Wisconsin, elevating doubt is the point | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

You are by now certainly familiar with the QAnon extremist ideology. It holds, in its more extreme iterations, that there is a secret group of prominent celebrities and Democratic politicians who engage in child abuse and cannibalism as part of their adherence to Satanism. It is, in short, as obviously extreme a conspiracy theory as can be imagined and one for which there is no evidence that doesn’t involve investigatory techniques such as picking every third letter off the back of a Cheerios box or interpreting a senator’s greeting of “hello” as being his attempt to say the word “hell.” Despite how extreme and obviously ludicrous the above formulation is, millions of Americans say they believe it. New polling from the Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core finds that 15 percent of Americans claim to believe specifically that a Satan-worshipping pedophile ring controls the world, with more than a fifth of Republicans somehow expressing that opinion. Perhaps those numbers are overstated, but that’s still a lot of people willing to publicly express confidence in one of the more demented ideas that’s ever emerged. So how do we combat the spread of this idea, one that’s already led to multiple acts of violence? Well, one way is to do our best to avoid treating it as in any way serious or legitimate or, ideally, to avoid giving it any oxygen at all. That is tricky for news organizations, for obvious reasons. Perhaps the worst way to combat what QAnon adherents say is to treat it as something falsifiable. That is, we wouldn’t want to simply assume it’s true or has obviously true components that we then work to validate or discredit. There’s no reason to believe it’s true, and even just launching an investigation suggesting that it might be lends it credence.

Full Article: When it comes to ad hoc election investigations as in Arizona and Wisconsin, elevating doubt is the point – The Washington Post