Ohio county ordered to purchase disputed voting machines | Andrew Welsh-Huggins/Associated Press

ArticlThe Ohio Supreme County on Monday sided with a county elections board in a dispute over the purchase of voting machines tied to unfounded allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election. At issue before the high court was a rift between the bipartisan elections board in Stark County and that northeastern county’s GOP-dominated board of commissioners, involving Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems machines. Under a 2018 law approved by Ohio lawmakers, “the commissioners must acquire the voting machines selected by the elections board,” the Supreme Court said in a 6-1 ruling. Although the current selection process doesn’t allow commissioners to scrutinize the election’s board choice of voting machines, that’s a matter for state lawmakers, not the court, the justices said. Stark County commissioners respect the court’s ruling and will comply with it, said their attorney, Mark Weaver. He added that commissioners “remain disappointed that taxpayers were not given, and now may never receive, the information necessary to discern whether this proposed purchase is the best value and most effective.” Messages were left for for the elections board and for Dominion Voting Systems. Elections board officials argued that without an order from the high court forcing the purchase, the machines wouldn’t be available in time for the November election.

e: Ohio county ordered to purchase disputed voting machines

Oregon: Postmarks would count for ballot deadline under bill approved by State House | Chris Lehman/The Oregonian

Oregon voters could mail their ballots as late as Election Day and still have them count, under a bill approved Monday in the House. Since Oregonians were first given the option to vote by mail in local elections in the 1980s, and as elections transitioned entirely to the new system through the ’90s, the deadline to get a ballot to the county elections office have it counted has always been 8 p.m. on Election Night. Ballots that arrive by mail after that deadline aren’t added to the tally. While drop boxes are widely available for last-minute voters, the deadline has meant that people who want to send their ballots though the mail needed to take a guess at how long it would take for the postal service to deliver it to the county elections office. While the vast majority of Oregon voters have successfully met the deadline each election, elections officials in many states last year warned that delays in the postal system meant voters should mail their ballots at least a week before Election Day in order to ensure it was counted. House Bill 3291 would require county clerks in Oregon to accept ballots that arrive up to a week following Election Day, as long as the ballot is postmarked by Election Day. Ballots that arrive prior to the seven-day cut-off but without a clear postmark would be presumed to have been mailed by Election Day.

Full Article: Postmarks would count for ballot deadline under bill approved by Oregon House – oregonlive.com

Pennsylvania: Cause of Luzerne County ballot mislabeling identified | Jennifer Andes/Times Leader

Two reasons were given Monday for Luzerne County Republican ballots mislabeled as Democratic ones on electronic screens at polling places in the May 18 primary. Dominion Voting Systems Inc., which supplied and programs the devices, said “human error” caused the data entry typographical mistake in the heading at the top of the ballot, according to company executive vice president of operations Nicole Nollette. And county Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik acknowledged the county does not test the on-screen ballots after they are approved. The county leaves it up to Dominion to program them into the electronic ballot marking devices with no county examination before the machines are locked up for delivery, he said. The explanation came during a more than two-hour special meeting called by the county’s volunteer citizen Election Board solely to address the ballot mislabeling error. The incorrect ballot heading impacted all Republican ballots countywide. The mistake prompted many Republicans to question the accuracy of the ballot and voting process. Some Democrats also reported they incorrectly received Republican ballots on their screens because that ballot also had a Democratic heading. Election Board Chairwoman Denise Williams asked Dominion and the county administration what they will do differently to prevent this from happening again. Nollette said her company will improve its data entry proofing and work with the county. Parsnik said the county will do its own verification check. He already has created a list of everything that must be tested after programming, including the ballot header, and said he will assign an information technology staffer to review and sign off on each item before the machines are sealed. “We will learn from this, and we will move forward,” Parsnik said.

Full Article: Cause of Luzerne County ballot mislabeling identified | Times Leader

Pennsylvania: Wake Technology Services audited a Fulton County election as part of the #StopTheSteal movement | Jeremy Duda/Arizona Mirror

The company that is conducting a hand recount of nearly 2.1 million Maricopa County ballots conducted an election audit in rural Pennsylvania county at the request of a state senator who has been a prominent advocate of the “Stop the Steal” movement that has spread baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against Donald Trump. According to records and news coverage from Fulton County, Penn., state senators Doug Mastriano and Judy Ward asked county officials to allow Wake Technology Services Inc. to conduct an audit of the election. Ward, who represents the rural county in southern central Pennsylvania, told the Arizona Mirror that she passed the request on to county officials at Mastriano’s behalf. Mastriano has been a prominent supporter of the “Stop the Steal” movement and Trump ally. He helped organize a Nov. 25 hearing in Gettysburg where Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuiani and others aired baseless conspiracy theories that Trump lost Pennsylvania through “irregularities and fraud.” He said on Wednesday Trump recently urged him to run for governor. Wake TSI, an information technology company that has predominantly worked with clients in the health care sector, is now conducting a hand recount of all ballots cast in Maricopa County during the 2020 presidential election as part of an audit ordered by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott. The company is part of an audit team led by Cyber Ninjas, a cybersecurity company located in Florida. Fann and Cyber Ninjas cited Wake TSI’s experience in Fulton County as a qualification to participate in the Maricopa County audit.

Full Article: Wake Technology Services audited a Pennsylvania election as part of the #StopTheSteal movement

Texas: Polling places for voters of color cut under Senate’s version of voting bill | Alexa Ura, Chris Essig and Matthew Dong/The Texas Tribune

The number of Election Day polling places in largely Democratic parts of major Texas counties would fall dramatically under a Republican proposal to change how Texas polling sites are distributed, a Texas Tribune analysis shows. Voting options would be curtailed most in areas with higher shares of voters of color. Relocating polling sites is part of the GOP’s priority voting bill — Senate Bill 7 — as it was passed in the Texas Senate. It would create a new formula for setting polling places in the handful of mostly Democratic counties with a population of 1 million or more. Although the provision was removed from the bill when passed in the House, it remains on the table as a conference committee of lawmakers begins hammering out a final version of the bill behind closed doors. Under that provision, counties would be required to distribute polling places based on the share of registered voters in each state House district within the county. The formula would apply only to the state’s five largest counties — Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis — and possibly Collin County once new census figures are released later this year. A comparison of the Election Day polling locations that were used for the 2020 general election and what would happen under the Senate proposal shows a starkly different distribution of polling sites in Harris and Tarrant counties that would heavily favor voters living in Republican areas. In Harris County — home to Houston, the state’s biggest city — the formula would mean fewer polling places in 13 of the 24 districts contained in the county, all currently represented by Democrats. Every district held by a Republican would either see a gain in polling places or see no change.

Full Article: Polling places for voters of color cut under Texas Senate’s version of voting bill | The Texas Tribune

Texas: Did a ‘smooth and secure’ 2020 election cost the secretary of state her job? | Taylor Goldenstein and Jeremy Blackman/Houston Chronicle

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs announced her resignation Friday after Republicans in the Senate declined to confirm her appointment by Gov. Greg Abbott. While Republicans have not publicly expressed any lack of faith in Hughs, Democrats point to her office’s assertion that Texas had a “smooth and secure” election in 2020. “Apparently, that wasn’t what leadership wanted to hear,” said Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, in a tweet on Saturday. The “smooth and secure” line became a highlight of the Democrats’ fight against a slew of Republican voting restrictions in the ongoing legislative session. The Republican-led Senate is backing voting restrictions, saying they are needed to prevent fraud at the polls, despite no evidence of widespread cheating. In pushing against the legislation, Democrats pointed to testimony from one of Hughs’ top deputies, Keith Ingram, director of elections. “In spite of all the circumstances, Texas had an election that was smooth and secure,” Ingram told lawmakers in March, referring to the effect of the pandemic. “Texans can be justifiably proud of the hard work and creativity shown by local county elections officials.”

Full Article: Did a ‘smooth and secure’ 2020 election cost the Texas secretary of state her job?

Wisconsin election officials flagged just 27 possible voter fraud cases out of more than 3 million ballots cast | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

 Wisconsin election officials identified just 27 potential cases of voter fraud out of 3.3 million ballots cast in the November presidential election and forwarded them to local district attorneys for possible prosecution, based on documents obtained Friday by The Associated Press under the state’s open records law. More than half of the cases came in a single city, where 16 people had registered with their mailing address at a UPS store, rather than their residence as required by law. A search of online court records shows no charges have yet been filed against any of the 27 people. Also, future cases of potential fraud could always be forwarded to prosecutors. The identified potential cases of fraud to date are in line with suspected voter misconduct in past elections in the battleground state. They are also far below unsubstantiated accusations made by former President Donald Trump and his supporters of widespread fraud and abuse in the election won by more than 20,600 votes by President Joe Biden in the state. Trump attempted to toss out more than 221,000 legally cast ballots in Wisconsin, losing in multiple state and federal courts. Wisconsin Republican lawmakers are pushing more than a dozen bills this year that would make it more difficult to vote absentee in Wisconsin. The measures are making their way through the Legislature and any that pass are expected to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

Full Article: Voter fraud: Wisconsin election clerks flagged just 27 possible cases

I watched the GOP’s Arizona election audit. It was worse than you think. | Jennifer Morrell/The Washington Post

When Arizona’s secretary of state asked me whether I would serve as an observer of the Arizona Senate’s audit of Maricopa County’s ballots, I anticipated that I would see some unusual things. Post-election audits and recounts are almost always conducted under the authority of local election officials, who have years of knowledge and experience. The idea of a government handing over control of ballots to an outside group, as the state Senate did when hiring a Florida contractor with no elections experience, was bizarre. This firm, Cyber Ninjas, insisted that it would recount and examine all 2.1 million ballots cast in the county in the 2020 general election. So I expected it to be unconventional. But it was so much worse than that. In more than a decade working on elections, audits and recounts across the country, I’ve never seen one this mismanaged. I arrived at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the morning of May 4. Security was conspicuously high: At three stations, guards checked my ID and my letter from the secretary of state. No bags were permitted on the floor, and I had to surrender my phone, laptop and smartwatch. I was allowed a yellow legal pad and red pen to take notes, and provided with a pink T-shirt to wear so I would be immediately identifiable. The audit observers hired by Cyber Ninjas, in orange T-shirts, followed me wherever I went and reported random things about me they found suspicious. Several times someone asked to test my pen, to ensure it really had red ink. Once, they even demanded that I empty my pockets, in which I carried that pen and a pair of reading glasses. I was allowed only to ask procedural questions of the Cyber Ninjas attorney; I couldn’t talk to anyone else performing the work. The atmosphere was tense.

Full Article: I watched the GOP’s Arizona election audit. It was worse than you think. – The Washington Post

National: GOP legislators shift from voting rights attacks to election interference schemes | Benjamin Barber/Facing South

Earlier this year the U.S. witnessed an attempt to overturn the results of last November’s presidential election, which was certified by all 50 states and deemed “the most secure in American history” by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. President Donald Trump lost resoundingly to Democrat Joe Biden in both the popular vote and Electoral College, but Trump refused to concede for weeks and allied himself with Republican leaders to continue spreading false claims of fraud — including during the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., where he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol. According to a recent national survey, six in 10 Republicans still believe the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, and they’ve had their beliefs reinforced by many Republican lawmakers including U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri. As they continue to stoke distrust in the U.S. electoral system, Republicans nationwide are working to erect new barriers to the voting process with bills that would restrict access to the ballot and give the GOP an advantage in future elections. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, state legislators have introduced 361 restrictive voting bills this year alone, many of them in Southern states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. The proposals would among other things implement stricter voter ID requirements, limit absentee voting, make voter registration more difficult, and allow aggressive voter roll purges. The Brennan Center calls what’s happening a “backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities.” Now Republicans are taking their attacks on democracy a step further with proposals that would undermine the integrity of election administration and vote counting itself. According to a recent report by Protect Democracy, Law Forward, and the States United Democracy Center titled “Democracy Crisis in the Making: How State Legislatures are Politicizing, Criminalizing, and Interfering with Elections,” GOP lawmakers this year have introduced at least 148 bills in 36 states that could lead to the manipulation of election results. Some of these measures have already been passed into law.

Full Article: GOP legislators shift from voting rights attacks to election interference schemes | Facing South

National: Inspired by Arizona recount, Trump loyalists push to revisit election results in communities around the country | Amy Gardner and Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

At a public meeting last week in Cheboygan County, Mich., a lawyer from Detroit told county commissioners that the voting machines they used in 2020 could “flip” votes and throw an election. She offered to send in a “forensic team,” at no charge to the county, to inspect ballots and scanners. In Windham, N.H., supporters of former president Donald Trump showed up to a town meeting this month chanting “Stop the Steal!” and demanding that officials choose their preferred auditor to scrutinize a 400-vote discrepancy in a state representative race. And at a board of supervisors meeting May 4 in San Luis Obispo County, on California’s Central Coast, scores of residents questioned whether election machines had properly counted their votes, with many demanding a “forensic audit.” The ramifications of Trump’s ceaseless attacks on the 2020 election are increasingly visible throughout the country: In emails, phone calls and public meetings, his supporters are questioning how their elections are administered and pressing public officials to revisit the vote count — wrongly insisting that Trump won the presidential race. The most prominent example is playing out in Arizona’s Maricopa County, where Republican state lawmakers have forced a widely pilloried audit of the 2020 vote. That recount is being touted as an inspiration by small but vocal cohorts of angry residents in communities in multiple states. “I think there is clearly a justification to do that type of audit that they’re doing in Maricopa County. That’s what I wanted to see done here,” said Ken Eyring, a local activist in Windham who recently appeared at a rally with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Eyring said his only goal is to make sure Windham’s machines are accurate.

Full Article: Inspired by Arizona recount, Trump loyalists push to revisit election results in communities around the country – The Washington Post

National: Election officials can fight fraud; fighting misinformation is tougher | Brooke Newman/Cronkite News

Maricopa County’s chief information security officer said the county was able to handle cyberthreats to the 2020 elections, but handling public perception of the results in the face of rampant social media misinformation has been more of a challenge. “We all saw in 2020 that the vast majority of what was communicated through media, social and traditional, just frankly wasn’t true, but it led itself toward giving the sense that there was fraud,” said Lester Godsey, the county CIO. “But there’s no evidence of that across the board.” Godsey’s comments were echoed by federal election security officials, who said the 2020 elections were secure but one of the lessons learned is that “perception is reality”: Government agencies will have to do a better job of fighting misinformation in the future, they said. “CISA (the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) will begin working with election officials specifically on how they are tracking information, and how they are being transparent about their election safety measures,” said Geoff Hale, a senior adviser to the federal agency, who was on the panel. The discussion was taped in early April but aired Thursday with Arizona embroiled in a feud between Maricopa County officials and the state Senate, whose Republican leaders have ordered a controversial, headline-grabbing audit of the county’s elections. This despite the fact that the results were verified in two separate forensic audits ordered by the county in February.

Full Article: Election officials can fight fraud; fighting misinformation is tougher | Cronkite News – Arizona PBS

Editorial: Trump couldn’t steal the election in 2020. His allies are laying the groundwork to try again | Doyle McManus/Los Angeles Times

Donald Trump’s campaign to steal the 2020 election after clearly losing at the ballot box failed for a couple of reasons. His baseless claims of fraud were thrown out by virtually every court that heard them. Perhaps most important, many GOP officials refused to play along — including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who declined to “find” the 11,780 more votes Trump needed, and then-Vice President Mike Pence, who turned down a demand from the president that he block Joe Biden’s victory from being certified by Congress. But the former president and his allies aren’t done. Pro-Trump forces in dozens of states are now working to change election laws to make it harder for Democrats to win — and easier for Republicans to challenge the results if their candidate loses. If they’re successful, the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 election may only have been a rehearsal for a second round in 2024. “What was really scary about 2020 was how close we came to a meltdown,” Edward B. Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University, told me. “It’s not too early to worry about Jan. 6, 2025.”

Full Article: Column: Trump’s allies are prepping to steal 2024 election – Los Angeles Times

Arizona secretary of state says Maricopa County will need new voting machines after GOP’s audit | Jane C. Timm/NBC

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said Thursday that the voting machines Republicans turned over to private companies as part of their audit of the 2020 election are no longer safe for use in future elections. In a letter sent to Maricopa County officials and shared with NBC News, Hobbs, a Democrat, cited security concerns about losing the chain of custody over the equipment when it was handed over to the auditors and urged the county to get new machines. If it does not, her office would consider decertifying the equipment involved in the audit, she wrote. That would remove the machines from service. State Senate Republicans subpoenaed nearly 400 of Maricopa County’s election machines, along with ballots cast by voters in November’s election, to facilitate an unusual audit of the election results. The GOP hired private firms, led by the Florida-based cybersecurity company Cyber Ninjas, to do the work. “I have grave concerns regarding the security and integrity of these machines, given that the chain of custody, a critical security tenet, has been compromised and election officials do not know what was done to the machines while under Cyber Ninjas’ control,” Hobbs wrote in the letter to the county’s mostly Republican Board of Supervisors, which oversees the county elections. In Arizona, the secretary of state can decertify machinery in consultation with the state’s Election Equipment Certification Committee, a three-person panel appointed by Hobbs.

Full Article: Maricopa County will need new voting machines after GOP’s audit, Arizona secretary of state says

Arizona: Maricopa County’s $6M voting systems could be unusable after election audit | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

he Arizona Senate gave contractors unfettered and unmonitored access to Maricopa County’s vote-counting machines for an audit of the county’s general election results, raising the question of whether the equipment is safe to use for future elections. It could take a lot of time and money to determine that, due to strict federal and state laws along with local rules for certifying and protecting election equipment. For now, county officials are promising voters they will use only certified equipment for elections and not equipment “that could pose a risk to free and fair elections,” said Megan Gilbertson, spokesperson for the county’s Elections Department. Private companies and individuals having access to government-used voting machines are unprecedented in Arizona.

Full Article: Arizona audit: Are Dominion machines in Maricopa County unusable now?

Arizona: Voting Machines in Recount Should Be Replaced, Election Official Says | Michael Wines/The New York Times

Arizona’s top elections official on Thursday urged the state’s most populous county to replace hundreds of voting machines that have been examined as part of a Republican-backed review of the state’s November election. The request added fuel to charges by impartial election observers and voting rights advocates that the review, ordered in December by the Republicans who control the State Senate, had become a political sham. In a letter to officials of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, the elections official, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, said it was unclear whether companies hired to conduct the review had sufficiently safeguarded the equipment from tampering during their review of votes. Ms. Hobbs, a Democrat, recommended that the county replace its 385 voting machines and nine vote tabulators because “the lack of physical security and transparency means we cannot be certain who accessed the voting equipment and what might have been done to them.” The advisory, in a letter to the county’s board of supervisors, did not contend that the machines had been breached. But Ms. Hobbs wrote that she had “grave concerns regarding the security and integrity of these machines, given that the chain of custody, a critical security tenet, has been compromised.” She added that she had first consulted experts at the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the national authority for election security issues.

Full Article: Voting Machines in Arizona Recount Should Be Replaced, Election Official Says – The New York Times

Florida’s new election law hit with third legal challenge | Jim Saunders/Tampa Bay Times

Alleging discrimination against Black and Latino voters, a coalition of groups has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new Florida elections law that includes additional restrictions on voting by mail. The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. district court in Tallahassee is at least the third challenge to the law, which was passed last month by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis during an appearance on Fox News. The law (SB 90) was one of the most controversial issues of the 2021 legislative session and came after a relatively smooth 2020 election in Florida. Republican lawmakers contended the changes were needed to ensure election security and prevent fraud in future elections. But the lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of the groups Florida Rising Together, Faith in Florida, UnidosUS, the Equal Ground Education Fund, the Hispanic Federation and Poder Latinx, contends that the changes dealing with issues such as voting by mail could curtail voting by Black and Latino residents. “While SB 90 imposes unjustified burdens on all voters, it places disproportionate burdens on Black voters, Latino voters, disabled voters, and voters who face greater challenges in exercising the right to vote, even in the best of circumstances,” the 91-page lawsuit said. “SB 90 imposes specific obstacles on voters’ ability to cast ballots through in-person voting, mail voting, and the use of secure drop-boxes for early voting.”

Full Article: Florida’s new election law hit with third legal challenge

Georgia Trump supporter proposes election audit | John Bowden/The Hill

A Trump supporter running to replace Georgia’s governor in the state’s Republican primary came out in favor of an Arizona-style audit of Georgia’s 2020 election results on Wednesday. State Rep. Vernon Jones (R) vowed that he would call for an audit should he win the governor’s mansion next year in a statement first reported by CNN. “Georgians still have questions about irregularities found in the 2020 election and they deserve answers,” he said, according to the network. “We must get to the bottom of all of this and other irregularities to restore trust in our election process. If Mr. Kemp refuses to demand an audit, then I will when I am elected to replace him.” Jones is not yet officially endorsed by Trump, but his willingness to support the former president’s unproven claims about widespread election fraud in 2020 could easily change that. Georgia’s governor, Republican Brian Kemp, has refused to endorse such calls, and the state’s GOP secretary of state, Brian Raffensperger, also emerged as a top critic of the former president’s false claims in the days after the election.

Full Article: Trump supporter proposes election audit in Georgia | TheHill

Iowa Republicans pass new absentee ballot restrictions | David Pitt and Anthony Izaguirre/Associated Press

Iowa Republicans have approved strict limits on who can assist voters in delivering ballots in a surprise change to state election law hours before adjourning the legislative session. Legislators approved the restrictions in a party-line vote late Wednesday, just weeks after Iowa became one of the first Republican-run states to extensively rewrite election rules to tighten other aspects of voting, including when ballots can be turned in and how voter rolls are maintained. Republicans said the changes would enhance the security of voting, though have acknowledged that voting fraud is rare in Iowa and the last election had almost no problems. More than 1 million Iowans voted by absentee ballot in November, a record attributed in part to the pandemic and efforts by election officials to encourage voters to cast ballots at home. Officials have not released data on how often people other than voters return ballots in Iowa, and supporters of the new restriction didn’t offer examples of practices that have led to fraud.

Full Article: Iowa Republicans pass new absentee ballot restrictions – ABC News

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin tired of elections resolutions | Legislature | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin blasted Tuesday the number of resolutions being pursued by Republican legislators that hint at widespread voting irregularities are occurring in Louisiana elections. “I’m dead-dog tired of my staff and the clerks and the registrars and their staffs getting poked at,” Ardoin, a Republican, told the House & Governmental Affairs Committee during consideration of another legislative instrument concerning how elections are handled. House Concurrent Resolution 81 by Baton Rouge Republican Rick Edmonds directs the Legislative Auditor’s Office to review the State Department’s “policies, procedures, and practices and those of elections officials in this state regarding the integrity of elections.” Edmonds ran against Ardoin for secretary of state in November 2018 promising to root out election fraud. He came in fourth in the nine-candidate primary. Ardoin pointed out that his department’s performance already is scheduled to be reviewed and judged in 2022, as part of the legislative auditor’s routine analysis of every state agency. Edmonds’ resolution is superfluous.

Full Article: Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin tired of elections resolutions | Legislature | theadvocate.com

Michigan Judge Dismisses one of the last remaining lawsuits by Trump supporters challenging the 2020 election | Neil MacFarquhar/The New York Times

A Michigan state judge on Tuesday dismissed one of the last, high-profile court cases questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election, a case former President Donald J. Trump cited to claim fraud after unofficial results in one county initially assigned some votes for him to President Biden. The plaintiff, William Bailey, a local resident, and his lawyer, Matthew S. DePerno, had sought to use the case to cast doubt on the vote nationwide, suggesting that a flawed count by Dominion Voting System machines in Antrim County, Mich., meant that all such machines were open to manipulation and deliberate fraud. The suit was also an attempt to force another statewide audit. Although Mr. DePerno and the various experts he tapped to analyze the vote repeatedly said that various flaws with the voting machines left them open to hacking, they did not cite any specific evidence that it had occurred. A computer expert hired by the state also noted some security weaknesses, but said there was no indication that they had been exploited. Mr. Trump cited Antrim County in his speech on Jan. 6 in Washington claiming that the vote was corrupt and has continued to site the case as an example of “major” fraud. The critical mistake made by local election officials was readily evident right after the Nov. 3 vote. Unofficial results posted online by the county clerk indicated that Mr. Biden won the heavily Republican country with 7,769 votes versus 4,509 votes for Mr. Trump.

Full Article: Michigan Judge Dismisses Suit Questioning 2020 Election Result – The New York Times

Michigan GOP bills would embolden challengers and create election chaos, voting rights advocates say | Clara Hendrickson/Detroit Free Press

series of Republican bills that would dramatically expand the rights of poll watchers and election challengers would burden election administrators, cause delays for voters at polling locations, open the door to voter intimidation and re-create the chaos that unfolded last fall at Detroit’s TCF Center in future elections, according to election officials and voting rights advocates. Chris Thomas, who served as the Michigan director of elections for more than 30 years under Democratic and Republican secretaries of state, said the legislation introduced by Michigan’s Senate Republicans is seriously flawed. “They are terrible bills that are really written without forethought as to the result and really are written to satisfy one party’s faction,” he said. The GOP bills would significantly increase the number of challengers who can observe elections while eliminating nonpartisan challengers, allow poll watchers and challengers to film and photograph inside polling locations and counting rooms, and invite election monitors to challenge a voter’s ID, among other changes. Election officials and voting rights advocates warn that the changes would embolden challengers and embed partisan hostility and mistrust in the election process. Aghogho Edevbie, the Michigan state director for All Voting is Local, called the bill that lays out a challengers’ right to challenge a voter’s ID “a dangerous step.” “It is very clear that many poll challengers are not from the communities that they observe, so how they’re going to go about raising actual and good faith doubts about the identity of voters is beyond me,” he told the Senate Elections Committee during a May 12 hearing.

Full Article: GOP bills propose new rights for poll watchers, election challengers

New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office taking wait-and-see approach to fold glitch in vote scanning machines | John DiStaso/WMUR

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said Tuesday his office is taking a wait-and-see approach to the possibility that fold lines in absentee ballots may have caused scanning machines to misread the vote totals in the Windham state representatives’ election and that the problem could be widespread in the state. The forensic auditors investigating the discrepancy in the Election Day Windham vote totals and subsequent recount totals said Monday the AccuVote scanning machines in Windham may have misread fold lines that crossed through the oval vote “targets” as votes for Democratic candidate Kristi St. Laurent. She said her name happened to fall along the fold “most commonly.” Auditors said they had not reached a definitive conclusion on the question as of Monday but said that if the fold issue turns out to be the cause of the discrepancy, it could be a statewide concern. “Throughout New Hampshire, you’re using the same voting machines, the AccuVote, and in principle, it could be an issue,” auditor Phillip Stark told WMUR. “It really depends where the folds are in relationship to the vote targets.” The auditors said the matter would be tested extensively as the audit continued Tuesday and is expected to continue Wednesday. Scanlan told WMUR that about 200 polling places in the state – approximately two-thirds of the total number of polling places — use AccuVote scanners to count ballots, while about 100 polling places use paper ballots. n“I saw the comment (by the auditors) and at this point, it is speculation until they dig deeper into it,” Scanlan said. He said he and Secretary William Gardner are aware of the comments by the auditors.

Full Article: Secretary of State’s Office taking wait-and-see approach to fold glitch in vote scanning machines

Ohio: DC group founded by former Trump campaign staffers files open meetings lawsuit against Stark County Board of Elections | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

A group founded by former Trump campaign staffers has filed a lawsuit against the Stark County Board of Elections, alleging the board held an illegal private discussion before voting to buy Dominion voting machines. Look Ahead America is asking a Stark County Common Pleas judge to invalidate the board’s Dec. 9 vote to approve the purchase of 1,450 Dominion ImageCast X voting machines and other voting equipment. The other plaintiff in the case is listed as Merry Lynne Rini of Jackson Township. Look Ahead America is based in Washington, D.C. Look Ahead America’s 19-page complaint filed Tuesday alleges the Board of Elections’ minutes show the four-member body met in closed-door executive sessions to discuss the purchase of public property four times. The complaint lists the board meetings for Dec. 9, Jan. 6, Feb. 9 and March 15. State law allows public bodies to discuss in executive session the purchase of public property. But only “if premature disclosure of information would give an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage to a person whose personal, private interest is adverse to the general public interest,” the complaint said. The Board of Elections gave no indication that it was meeting in executive session to avoid revealing information to give someone an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage, Look Ahead America argues. Therefore, it says the executive sessions are illegal and by law any actions based on discussions in illegal executive sessions are invalid.

Full Article: DC group alleges Stark County Board of Elections had illegal meetings

Pennsylvania: Northumberland County might replace faulty election machines, seek refund | Robert Inglis/The Daily Item

The Northumberland County Commissioners may seek a refund or replacement for the new election machines that have malfunctioned in the past three elections. Commissioner Chairman Sam Schiccatano said on Wednesday that Elections Systems and Software is looking into the latest issues that caused poll workers in 17 of 74 precincts to have difficulty closing down the machines on Tuesday, delaying the full results until Wednesday. The machines also malfunctioned when the paper ballots frequently jammed in the primary and general election in 2020, meaning there has not been an election where the machines have worked correctly. “I don’t know if it’s a refund or an exchange, but we need a remedy,” said Schiccatano. “We can’t have this every time we have an election. I’m on the phone with the state and everyone involved to work this out.” Following a state mandate, Northumberland County purchased 190 voting machines in 2019 from Elections Systems and Software with additional hardware, software and support services for $962,489 before reimbursement. The Wolf administration decertified all voting machines across the state, requiring the purchase of new systems with a verifiable paper trail beginning in 2020. It’s a settlement of a lawsuit brought by Green Party candidate Jill Stein in 2016, who sought a recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Four in five Pennsylvania voters used machines that lack an auditable paper trail, according to The Associated Press.

Full Article: Northumberland County might replace faulty election machines, seek refund | News | dailyitem.com

Texas: Appeal offers hope for woman facing five years for voting illegally | Sam Levine/The Guardian

For the last few years, I’ve been closely following the case of Crystal Mason, a Black woman in Texas who was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally voting in the 2016 election. The case has attracted national attention because of the severity of Mason’s sentence and because Mason has maintained that she had no idea she was ineligible to vote. Mason was ineligible to vote in 2016 because she was on federal supervised release – which is similar to probation – for a federal felony related to tax fraud. Texas, like some other states, prohibits anyone with a felony conviction from voting until they have finished their sentences entirely. But during a brief trial, the officials overseeing Mason’s probation testified that they never explicitly told her she couldn’t vote. Nonetheless, Mason was convicted of illegal voting in 2018 after prosecutors pointed to the fact that she signed a small-print affidavit on her provisional ballot swearing she was eligible to vote (Mason insists she never read it). Last year, a Texas appeals court upheld her sentence, writing “the fact that she did not know she was legally ineligible to vote was irrelevant to her prosecution.” In March, the Texas court of criminal appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, agreed to hear an appeal of that ruling and on Monday, Mason’s lawyers filed their opening brief.

Full Article: Appeal offers hope for Texas woman facing five years for voting illegally | US news | The Guardian

National: How The Republican Push To Restrict Voting Could Affect Our Elections | Geoffrey Skelley/FiveThirtyEight

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Republican lawmakers have pushed new voting restrictions in nearly every state. From making it harder to cast ballots early to increasing the frequency of voter roll purges, at least 25 new restrictive voting laws have been enacted, with more potentially on the horizon. The GOP has introduced such measures in the name of “election integrity,” but at the heart of this effort is former President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. “I liken it to a quack doctor holding up an X-ray, pointing to something going, ‘See, see, see?’ and getting the person to believe that there’s something really there on that X-ray that requires expensive and dangerous surgery,” said Carol Anderson, a professor of African American studies at Emory University, of Republican efforts to pass new voter restrictions even though there is no evidence of voter fraud in the election. “We had an election that was amazing in the midst of a pandemic. And instead of applauding themselves for it, they went with a Trumpian lie.” Understanding how new voting restrictions will influence our elections is difficult. Political science hasn’t found that these types of laws have that big of an effect, at least as individual measures. But, while laws that make it more taxing to vote are not new, the current onslaught of voting restrictions and changes to how elections will be administered is not something we’ve grappled with on this scale. Additionally, there is their nakedly partisan origins — nearly 90 percent of the voting laws proposed or enacted in 2021 were sponsored primarily or entirely by Republican legislators — and the fact that these laws are likely to have a greater impact on Black and brown voters, who are less likely to vote Republican. Republican efforts to pass new voter restrictions have been so aggressive and widespread that their effects are hard to predict. Elections, moreover, don’t run themselves; they’re run by people. And these new laws point to an even more troubling problem that threatens to undermine our democracy: the GOP’s eroding commitment to democratic values, like free and fair elections. In many ways, the most concerning change our elections face may not be any one law, but rather the GOP’s increased willingness to take such anti-democratic actions.

Full Article: How The Republican Push To Restrict Voting Could Affect Our Elections | FiveThirtyEight

Arizona: Republican chairman of Maricopa County calls state-led election review ‘dangerous’ as tensions rise over 2020 recount | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

A recount of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona’s largest county is becoming “dangerous,” the Republican chairman of the county board of supervisors declared in a fiery statement late Thursday, a sign of escalating tensions over the controversial election review commissioned by the GOP-led state Senate. In a statement issued after a lengthy closed-door meeting of the Maricopa County board, whose five members include four Republicans, Chairman Jack Sellers blasted allegations made this week by a private contractor hired to reexamine the election that the audit has already identified problems with the vote. Sellers said those claims, described in a letter by state Senate President Karen Fann (R), were “false and ill-informed.” “I know you have all grown weary of the lies and half-truths six months after the 2020 General Election,” he wrote. He added that the private contractors — led by a Florida firm called Cyber Ninjas, whose founder has promoted baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election — “are in way over their heads.” “This is not funny,” he wrote. “This is dangerous.” A spokesman for Fann did not immediately respond to a request for a response, nor did former Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett, who is acting as a spokesman for the audit. State Sen. Warren Petersen (R), chairman of the Senate’s judiciary committee, tweeted, “No real answers yet from the County, just angry deflections to President Fanns list of questions. I thought she asked nicely.” The widening division among Arizona Republicans comes as the GOP nationally has been convulsed by former president Donald Trump’s ongoing falsehoods that the election was rigged.

Full Article: Republican chairman of Arizona county calls state-led election review ‘dangerous’ as tensions rise over 2020 recount – The Washington Post

National: Sweeping election reform bill faces Senate buzz saw | Jordain Carney/The Hill

One of Democrats’ biggest priorities — a sweeping bill to overhaul elections — is facing long odds of passing the Senate. Democrats are set to meet Thursday to talk about the For the People Act, a roughly 800-page measure that would set national standards aimed at expanding access to voting. Progressives view the bill as a must-pass, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to bring it to the floor. Senate Democrats are tamping down expectations for Thursday’s meeting, characterizing it as largely educational after the Senate Rules Committee held an hours-long markup Tuesday full of high drama, and hope to use the gathering as a way to solidify unity around the bill. “My goal is … to convince everybody that we have to be together on this. We were the subject of a physical attack on Jan. 6 that was designed to disenfranchise 80 million people,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who has been spearheading the bill in the Senate, said the meeting will allow members who haven’t been involved with the legislation to ask questions. “It’s just a kind of a ‘let’s make sure we understand what this bill is,’ ” he said. “Between now and when we can get it to the floor, we’re totally open to other insights.” But Democrats face big challenges in the Senate, alongside intense pressure from their base, to make good on their promise to send the legislation to President Biden’s desk.

Full Article: Sweeping election reform bill faces Senate buzz saw | TheHill

National: Senate Panel Deadlocks on Voting Rights as Bill Faces Major Obstacles | Nicholas Fandos/The New York Times

A key Senate committee deadlocked on Tuesday over Democrats’ sweeping proposed elections overhaul, previewing a partisan showdown on the Senate floor in the coming months that could determine the future of voting rights and campaign rules across the country. The tie vote in the Senate Rules Committee — with nine Democrats in favor and nine Republicans opposed — does not prevent Democrats from moving forward with the 800-page legislation, known as the For the People Act. Proponents hailed the vote as an important step toward adopting far-reaching federal changes to blunt the restrictive new voting laws emerging in Republican-led battleground states like Georgia and Florida. But the action confronted Democrats with a set of thorny questions about how to push forward on a bill that they view as a civil rights imperative with sweeping implications for democracy and their party. The bill as written faces near-impossible odds in the evenly divided Senate, where Republicans are expected to block it using a filibuster and at least one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, remains opposed. With their control in Washington potentially fleeting and Republican states racing ahead with laws to curtail ballot access, Democrats must reach consensus among themselves on the measure, and decide whether to attempt to destroy or significantly alter the Senate’s filibuster rules — which set a 60-vote threshold to overcome any objection to advancing legislation — to salvage its chances of becoming law.

Full Article: Senate Panel Deadlocks on Voting Rights as Bill Faces Major Obstacles – The New York Times

National: House Panel Advances Bipartisan Postal Overhaul Measure, USPS Board Gets New Members | Eric Katz/Government Executive

Congress on Thursday took multiple actions to support the U.S. Postal Service, advancing legislation to relieve the agency of some of its financial burdens and providing it with additional leadership. The House Oversight and Reform Committee unanimously approved the 2021 Postal Reform Act after Republicans begrudgingly offered their support. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., co-authored the bill and emphasized at Thursday’s markup it represented a compromise. Virtually all Republicans who spoke on the measure said they were supporting it despite their significant reservations. Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said Comer was a “tough negotiator” and told colleagues it was the hardest she had ever worked on a bill. A Republican committee aide told Government Executive that the GOP side successfully fought to remove a provision Democrats had originally included to restrict USPS from altering its service standards. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is in the midst of implementing his business plan, which includes a slowing down of delivery for some mail. The negotiations also led to more thorough public reporting requirements on mail delays through regular, online postings, required updates to Congress on the implementation of DeJoy’s plan and a facilitation of his proposal to shift more mail delivery away from the air and toward ground transportation, the aide said. The core of the bill will shift more postal retirees to Medicare for their health care and require most postal workers to select postal-specific health care plans. It would take onerous payments toward health care benefits for future retirees off the agency’s balance sheets.

Full Article: House Panel Advances Bipartisan Postal Overhaul Measure, USPS Board Gets New Members – Government Executive