Michigan: Judge will hear arguments on whether to dismiss Antrim County election lawsuit | By Mardi Link/Traverse City Record-Eagle

A 13th Circuit Court judge will hear arguments on whether to dismiss an Antrim County election-related lawsuit, after denying a motion by the plaintiff to adjourn an upcoming summary disposition hearing. The remote hearing is scheduled for May 10, although that could change depending on scheduling issues, officials said. “No doubt, given the desire of the parties to present their discovery and present their factual witnesses to the court, to the court writ large, and to the public, it would be an easy thing to want to move past the question of legal sufficiency,” said Judge Kevin Elsenheimer. “But the fact is, the court has an obligation to review legal sufficiency issues when they are raised,” Elsenheimer said. Bill Bailey, of Central Lake Township, sued Antrim County in November, accusing the county of violating his constitutional rights, after about 2,000 votes cast for then-President Donald Trump were temporarily and mistakenly assigned to challenger Joe Biden. Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy previously acknowledged errors by her office caused the mistake, which was corrected before the vote tally was certified. Yet in court filings Bailey’s attorney, Matthew DePerno of Portage, suggested the county’s Dominion Voting Systems machines could be intentionally fraudulent, and among other examples, pointed to the passage of a marijuana ordinance by a single vote, as possibly suspect.

Full Article: Judge will hear arguments on whether to dismiss Antrim election lawsuit | News | record-eagle.com

New Hampshire: Windham picks designee to work on forensic audit | Julie Huss/Eagle-Tribune

The town has chosen its official representative to help get answers about what happened with vote tally discrepancies after the general election last November. At a meeting Monday night, Selectmen voted 3-1 to choose Mark Lindeman and his team as the town designee for an upcoming forensic audit to determine what happened to cause major differences between the town vote count and a state recount in the Rockingham County District 7 race. Selectmen Ross McLeod, Heath Partington, and Roger Hohenberger all voted to support Lindeman as the top choice with Bruce Breton putting his faith instead behind another interested candidate, Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, as the town audit designee. Selectman Jennifer Simmons did not attend Monday night’s meeting. Candidates hoping to get the audit job presented information to Selectmen last week. Public input was also considered. Lindeman, an acting director of Verified Voting, came out on the top of the list for McLeod, Partington and Hohenberger, with all citing his level of expertise in this type of election audit work. In his presentation to Selectmen, Lindeman said Windham faced “a riddle” and added all the evidence will be scrutinized to “follow the facts and find out where they lead.”

Full Article: Windham picks designee to work on forensic audit | New Hampshire | eagletribune.com

Nevada: Upon even further review, claims of widespread voter fraud still false | Las Vegas Sun

The Nevada state Republican Party’s lie about massive voter fraud in last year’s presidential election is officially dead and buried. It lies beneath a mountain of proof revealed in a review headed by one of the party’s own leaders, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. In so doing, Cegavske reminded Nevadans that some members of the state’s GOP still have integrity, despite loathsome evidence to the contrary by important figures in the party. Honorable Republicans should rally around Cegavske. You’ll be able to spot the corrupt members of the party easily because they’ll be the ones attacking her. This past week, Cegavske announced that her office had completed its review and had found no evidence of the GOP’s allegations that tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots had been cast in the state. The autopsy revealed in detail what most Nevadans had expected all along — that the narrative about fraud was a toxic stew of mistruths and wild exaggerations. Or, as Deputy Secretary for Elections Mark Wlaschin wrote in a letter about the findings, the fable was “based largely upon an incomplete assessment of voter registration records and lack of information concerning the processes by which these records are compiled and maintained.” The outcome of the review wasn’t surprising, given that the GOP had lost legal cases stemming from its false claims in Nevada and in courts across the country. But it reveals just how outrageously and irresponsibly the Republican leadership acted in making the claim.

Full Article: Upon even further review, claims of widespread voter fraud still false – Las Vegas Sun Newspaper

Tennessee: Talks start over new Shelby County voting system compromise | Bill Dries/Daily Memphian

Two months after the Shelby County Election Commission approved a possible lawsuit against the County Commission over new voting machines, no lawsuit has been filed and both sides in the dispute are talking. “The talks are very preliminary,” Shelby County Election Commission Chairman Brent Taylor said on The Daily Memphian Politics Podcast. Taylor also discussed during the podcast changes to the election process considered by the Tennessee General Assembly. The podcast also includes an interview with Memphis Police Chief nominee Cerelyn ‘CJ’ Davis. “Right now, we are in discussions about trying to meet so we can discuss the contract and find out if there is any compromise,” Taylor said of the possible lawsuit. “Any way that we can come together and make sure that we balance the needs of the Election Commission with those of the County Commission.” The County Commission rejected this past October a $5.8 million contract approved by the Election Commission for a new voting system featuring updated touch screen voting machines and a paper readout of a voter’s selections. That system would allow the ballot to be put through a digital scanner and would then put the paper record in a sealed ballot box.

Full Article: Talks start over new voting system compromise – Memphis Local, Sports, Business & Food News | Daily Memphian

Texas Republicans Target Voter Access in Cities, but Not Rural Areas | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

Voting in the 2020 election presented Zoe Douglas with a difficult choice: As a therapist meeting with patients over Zoom late into the evening, she just wasn’t able to wrap up before polls closed during early voting. Then Harris County introduced 24-hour voting for a single day. At 11 p.m. on the Thursday before the election, Ms. Douglas joined fast-food workers, nurses, construction workers, night owls and other late-shift workers at NRG Arena, one of eight 24-hour voting sites in the county, where more than 10,000 people cast their ballots in a single night. “I can distinctly remember people still in their uniforms — you could tell they just got off of work, or maybe they’re going to work; a very diverse mix,” said Ms. Douglas, 27, a Houston native. Twenty-four-hour voting was one of a host of options Harris County introduced to help residents cast ballots, along with drive-through voting and proactively mailing out ballot applications. The new alternatives, tailored to a diverse work force struggling amid a pandemic in Texas’ largest county, helped increase turnout by nearly 10 percent compared with 2016; nearly 70 percent of registered voters cast ballots, and a task force found that there was no evidence of any fraud.

Full Article: Republicans Target Voter Access in Texas Cities, but Not Rural Areas – The New York Times

National: Senators squabble over voting rights, underscoring deep division on state efforts | Todd Ruger/Roll Call

A divisive Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday made it clear that Senate action on voting rights remains highly unlikely under the chamber’s current rules, as 47 states consider hundreds of proposed laws that would make it harder to vote. Democrats likened the push for new laws in the wake of the 2020 elections to Jim Crow-era laws, using as a main example a Georgia law that changed rules for mail-in ballots and early voting. It can take years and a lot of money for lawsuits to knock down provisions that target minorities, such as a South Carolina proposal to end early voting on Sundays that would effectively prohibit voting participation efforts favored by Black churches, testified Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The Justice Department used to be able to review new voting laws in states like Georgia that had a history of discriminatory voting laws, but the Supreme Court in 2013 gutted that enforcement provision of a landmark voting rights protection law. “This is not a model that can be sustained in a healthy democracy,” Ifill said. “We need Congress to act.” But several Republicans took exception to the “Jim Crow 2021” title of the hearing, and the hearing took a partisan and sometimes personal turn — a sign that the new Democratic majority might need to change filibuster rules if it wants to pass what Democrats consider one of their top priorities.

Full Article: Senators squabble over voting rights, underscoring deep division on state efforts – Roll Call

Arizona Republicans to begin auditing 2020 ballots in effort to undermine election results | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Nearly five months after Joe Biden was declared the official winner of the presidential race in Arizona, state Republicans are set to begin their own audit of millions of ballots, an unprecedented move many see as a thinly-veiled effort to continue to undermine confidence in the 2020 election results. The GOP-controlled state senate ordered the audit, set to formally get underway this week, which may be one of the most absurd and alarming consequences to date of Donald Trump’s baseless lies about the 2020 election. It will be executed by a private Florida-based company. It also reportedly will be supported from far-right lawyer Lin Wood and observers from the far-right news network One America News Network. The audit will be solely focused on Maricopa county, the largest in the state and home to a majority of Arizona’s voters. Biden narrowly defeated Trump in the county, a crucial battleground that helped the president win Arizona by around 10,000 votes. The audit will include a hand recount of all 2.1m ballots cast in the county, a process expected to take months. Trump and allies have claimed, without evidence, there was fraud in Maricopa county. But the county has already conducted two separate audits of the 2020 election and found no irregularities. The Republican decision to continue to investigate the results, months after they were certified by both county and state officials, extends the life of election conspiracy theories. The audit also comes as Arizona Republicans are advancing legislation in the state that would make it harder to vote by mail. “They’re trying to find something that we know doesn’t exist,” said Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, who serves as the state’s top election official. “It’s ludicrous that people think that if they don’t like the results they can just come in and tear them apart.”

Full Article: Arizona Republicans to begin auditing 2020 ballots in effort to undermine election results | Arizona | The Guardian

Arizona judge orders pause in Republican-backed recount of ballots cast in Maricopa County last fall | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

A judge in Arizona on Friday ordered a temporary pause in an extensive effort to recount ballots from the November election hours after the process began, citing concerns about whether a private vendor hired to review nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in the state’s largest county is complying with state laws governing election security. The recount of the ballots from Maricopa County is being conducted by Republicans in the state Senate to examine unsubstantiated claims that fraud or errors tainted President Biden’s win. Election officials and the courts have found no merit to such allegations, and the GOP-led county board of supervisors has objected to the recount. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury on Friday paused the audit from 5 p.m. Friday until Monday at noon in response to a suit filed by the state Democratic Party and the county’s only Democratic supervisor, who argued that the audit violates Arizona rules governing the confidentiality and security of ballots and voting equipment. “The lack of transparency around this ‘audit’ is astounding and we will not stand idly by as Senate President [Karen] Fann opens up our secure election to unqualified and completely unhinged actors who believe the ‘big lie,’ ” Raquel Terán, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said in a statement before the ruling. “This has gone far enough and we are hopeful that the courts will put an end to this embarrassing and dangerous circus.”

Full Article: Arizona judge orders pause in Republican-backed recount of ballots cast in Maricopa County last fall – The Washington Post

National: As Republicans Push Voting Laws, They Disagree on Strategy | Jeremy W. Peters/The New York Times

John Kavanagh, a Republican state representative in Arizona, recently ran through a list of what he called “bad election bills that were introduced by Republicans.” One would have allowed the Legislature to overturn the results of a presidential election even after they had been certified. Another would have required that early ballots be dropped off only at drop boxes that are attended. A third would have repealed the state’s hugely popular permanent early voting list, which allows voters to receive a ballot in the mail for every election. All three measures were also stopped by Republicans in Arizona, even as the party pushes other bills that would enact tighter regulations on early voting in the state — just a few months after President Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1996 to carry the Southwestern battleground. This G.O.P. resistance to certain voting legislation reflects an awkward and delicate dance within the party: As state lawmakers loyal to former President Donald J. Trump try to please him and his supporters by enacting new voting limits across the country, they are facing pockets of opposition from other Republicans who argue that some of the bills go too far or would hurt their own voters.

Full Article: As Republicans Push Voting Laws, They Disagree on Strategy – The New York Times

National: Lawmakers Debate Next Chapter of Voting Rights Act | Kaila Philo/Courthouse News Service

Two days after the Senate painted the growing crop of voting restrictions from Republican legislatures as “Jim Crow 2021,” House lawmakers dove into the fray Thursday, grilling leaders from opposite ends of the spectrum on the problem. Videoconferencing in to the hearing of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the Reverend William Barber II of North Carolina testified this morning that Jim Crow “dresses in a suit” in his home state of North Carolina, thanks to the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder. The 5-4 decision blithely gutted key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that identified states with histories of racial discrimination, and required states or counties with previous issues to get federal preclearance before changing election procedures or district lines. “Before the VRA, states and localities passed a host of voter suppression laws, secure in the knowledge that it may take many years before the Justice Department could successfully challenge them in court, if at all,” Congressman Jerry Nadler said Thursday. “As soon as one law was overturned, another one would be enacted, essentially setting up a discriminatory game of Whack-a-Mole. “Congress cannot keep letting these challenges to the VRA go unanswered,” he added. Reverend Barber told the committee that, since Shelby, North Carolina saw “the worst voter suppression laws since the days of Jim Crow.” He brought up North Carolina’s “monster” voting law, HB 589, which reduced early voting days, eliminated same-day voter registration, prevented counties from counting provisional ballots if the voter cast the ballot outside of their home precinct, and required photo ID.  The law was eventually struck down in the courts as intentionally racially discriminatory.

Full Article: Lawmakers Debate Next Chapter of Voting Rights Act – Courthouse News Service

National: US, Russian officials discuss sanctions | Tal Axelrod/The Hill

U.S. diplomats met with Russian officials Wednesday to discuss a recent spate of sanctions between the U.S. and Russia as the Biden administration looks to take a tough stance on Moscow. “U.S. embassy officials in Moscow met today with Russian officials to discuss various bilateral topics, including the Russian response to our announcement last week,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday at a briefing. “We expect these discussions will continue in the coming days. We’ll review the details of the Russian actions as we were notified officially of some elements today. At the same time, we continue to believe that the best way forward is through thoughtful dialogue and diplomatic engagement going forward.” Price also said the U.S. has received a formal list of diplomats Russia is expelling in response to Washington’s penalties, though he declined to identify which people are being kicked out of Moscow. The U.S. last week slapped a slate of sanctions on Russia over malign behavior, including its cyber espionage operations, election meddling and hostile actions toward Ukraine. The sanctions will block U.S. financial institutions from purchasing bonds from Russia’s Central Bank, National Wealth Fund or Ministry of Finance after June 14 and from lending funds to these institutions. The U.S. is also expelling 10 personnel from the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington.

Full Article: US, Russian officials discuss sanctions | TheHill

Alaska Borough gets go-ahead on ADA-compliant Dominion voting machines | Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula Borough will go through with purchasing and leasing several ADA-compliant voting machines, six years after a complaint from a vision-impaired Homer man triggered a reassessment of voting accessibility on the peninsula. The plan to buy several Dominion Voting Systems machines and lease over two dozen others was primarily a response to that complaint. But it became controversial when former President Donald Trump and his followers made Dominion a target late last year, claiming the 2020 election was rigged. Rigorous audits across the U.S. have found Dominion machines to be accurate. And the borough actually already uses Dominion machines — they’re just not ADA compliant. Borough IT Systems Manager Ben Hanson said the new machines are largely the same on the backend. “The biggest difference as far as what we’re looking to implement is the ADA-compliant piece,” he said. “The ADA-compliant machine — which the vast majority of people will not use, the vast majority of people will likely still fill out a paper ballot — that ADA-compliant machine allows for the multiple methods of access.”

Full Article: Borough gets go-ahead on ADA-compliant voting machines | KDLL

Arizona: ‘You want to see a temper tantrum?’: Republican sides with Democrats, blocks voting bill | Jane C. Timm/NBC

A bill that would stop some voters from getting a ballot automatically mailed to them each election failed unexpectedly in Arizona’s state Senate Thursday after a single Republican joined Democrats in voting against the legislation. GOP state Sen. Kelly Townsend explained her surprise “no” vote on the state Senate floor amid a tense episode that saw the senator get into a heated confrontation with the bill’s sponsor. “I am for this bill, but I am not voting for it until after the audit,” she said, referring to an audit orchestrated by Senate Republicans of ballots in Maricopa County reportedly set to get underway this week and last through mid-May. The audit is a continuation of GOP efforts to question the results of the 2020 election in a state President Joe Biden won by over 10,000 votes. His narrow victory prompted many Republicans to embrace former President Donald Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud. Some called for the Legislature to overrule Biden’s win and seat electors who would deliver the state to Trump instead. (State GOP leaders said the Legislature did not have that power, and Biden’s Electoral College victory was certified. In 2016, Trump won the key state of Michigan by about 10,000 votes.)

Full AQrticle: ‘You want to see a temper tantrum?’: Arizona Republican sides with Democrats, blocks voting bill

Arizona GOP prepares another audit of 2020 election in state’s largest county | Kristine Frazao/WCTI

Arizona was a state President Joe Biden wasn’t sure he’d win in the 2020 election. But in the end, Arizona voters chose him over former President Donald Trump by over 10,000 votes, a result determined by two independent audits in Maricopa County – the largest county in the state. Another audit is set to begin this week at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum to once again count the 2.1 million ballots and search for discrepancies. But five months after the election, critics continue to warn the effort is highly partisan and a threat to democracy. “So really this audit only seems to serve to stoke the spires of conspiracy and partisan gamesmanship to be quite honest,” said C. Jay Coles, with Verified Voting, one of the four national voting rights groups to voice concern, particularly about the Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas that was hired to lead the recount.

Source: Arizona GOP prepares another audit of 2020 election in state’s largest county | WCTI

Arkansas counties seek polling tech upgrades | Tom Sissom/Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Election officials in Benton and Washington counties are considering upgrading the electronic poll books used to check in voters during elections, with a cost of about $250,000 per county. The Washington County Election Commission on Wednesday authorized Jennifer Price, election director, to prepare a request for funding from the Quorum Court. Price said the county has 166 electronic poll books that have been used since 2016. In the 2020 election, problems with the poll books included failure to maintain a charge, inability to stay connected to Wi-Fi and voter signature pages freezing. Price said the new poll books should solve those problems and will offer new features. “There are several updates that will be beneficial to the voters and election officials,” Price said. “The poll books we have were received by the county in 2016 so they’re reaching the end of their useful life.” Price said the new poll books have screens that are easier to use for both voters and poll workers, and will directly scan driver’s licenses and other state IDs. The computers can issue provisional ballots that will not be scanned by the county’s vote counting machines until approved by the Election Commission and can generate reports the older poll books can’t.

Full Article: Counties seek polling tech upgrades

California: Improve the State’s Election Infrastructure, Urges Little Hoover Commission | YubaNet

California’s elections are free, fair, and secure, but the state can do more to improve its election infrastructure, the state’s independent government watchdog recommends in a new report. In California Election Infrastructure: Making a Good System Better, the Little Hoover Commission recommends creation of an open source voting system and the statewide use of risk-limiting audits. “The 2020 election was the most secure election in history,” says Chair Pedro Nava. “But California cannot be complacent and should take steps to improve its election infrastructure in order to keep up with evolving technology and knowledge.” The Commission held a hearing on this topic in 2019 and released a letter to the Governor and legislative leadership to consider important questions related to elections security, such as the need for funding to improve equipment. This report builds on the Commission’s past work and adds specific policy recommendations. In its report, the Commission finds that California relies on a for-profit model for election equipment security. The Commission recommends that the state develop and adopt an open source elections system, which would be more transparent, save money, increase versatility for counties, and aligns with a state goal to use open source software across government.

Full Article: Improve the State’s Election Infrastructure, Urges Little Hoover Commission – YubaNet

Connecticut: Funding for Election Upgrades Won’t Change How State Votes | Nicole McIsaac/CTNewsJunkie

Connecticut has a total of $8.5 million in state and federal funds to upgrade its election structure, but it will be up to lawmakers to improve access to the ballot. “It is time for us to put aside our very restrictive voter access laws and move forward,” Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said Wednesday. The financial investment, according to Bysiewicz, will ensure that elections remain free, fair and accessible to all eligible voters. Specific changes focus on modernizing the central voter registration system, election management system, and other pieces of infrastructure that have been in place for two decades. “The right to vote is the most precious civil right that we have,” Bysiewicz said. “COVID-19 proved that we had a lot of obstacles in making sure people were safe when they went to vote.” Connecticut has one of the oldest voter registration systems in the country and the current system is nearing the end of its functional life, according to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. “When we applied for this funding, we knew it was time to make some changes to modernize some of our election’s infrastructure,” Merrill said. State officials said the replacement of the central voter registration system as a way to enhance functionality and security, improve experience of voters and officiate flexibility when managing potential changes in future elections.

Full Article: Funding for Election Upgrades Won’t Change How Connecticut Votes | CTNewsJunkie

Florida voting restrictions bill advances in state legislature | Tal Axelrod/The Hill

A bill that would impose new voting restrictions in Florida cleared a key hurdle Tuesday after it was approved in a state Senate committee, setting up a possible floor vote on the legislation in the coming weeks. The bill, known as S.B. 90, passed the Senate Rules Committee by a 10-7 vote, with only one Republican joining every Democrat in opposing it. The legislation was rolled back to eliminate some of the most stringent restrictions, including a ban on drop boxes and a requirement for there to be a physical signature on file rather than digital signature for identification verification. It still includes additional identification requirements for absentee voting, new powers for observers to oversee vote tabulation, limits on who can drop off ballots and new requirements for voters to request absentee ballots. Republicans have said the bill is necessary to ensure the state’s elections are secure, though no fraud was found in any of Florida’s 2020 races. “Things could happen,” state Sen. Dennis Baxley, who introduced the legislation, said Tuesday when discussing the possibility of fraud. Critics have lambasted the bill as a solution without a problem, rebutting GOP arguments about election security and highlighting a lack of local support for fears of fraud. “I need to put on the record that to my knowledge, not one Republican supervisor of elections in the state of Florida supports this bill in its current form,” said state Sen. Jeff Brandes, the lone Republican on the Rules Committee to vote against the legislation.

Full Article: Florida voting restrictions bill advances in state legislature | TheHill

Illinois elections board director to retire from elections board after becoming victim of online extortion attempt | Dean Olsen/State Journal-Register

The executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, the victim of an online extortion attempt in late March or early April, will resign and retire, effective June 30. Board chairman Charles Scholz said at the end of Tuesday’s regular board meeting that Executive Director Steve Sandvoss has announced his retirement. Scholz didn’t comment further except to commend Sandvoss, 55, for 32 years of service to the board. Sandvoss, a lawyer from Rochester, has been on paid administrative leave from his $162,000-a-year job since the board voted unanimously on April 5 to place him on leave. He will remain on paid leave through June 30, board spokesman Matt Dietrich said. An Illinois State Police investigation into the extortion attempt continues, ISP spokeswoman Beth Hundsdorfer said. Sandvoss has declined requests for interviews.

Full Article: Elections board director, victim of attempted extortion, to retire

Louisiana Senators Back Bill to Modify Voting Machine Search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana would rework the way it shops for voting machines, under legislation that started moving forward Tuesday in the state Senate after two failed efforts to replace the state’s voting system ended in controversy. The proposal by Senate Republican leader Sharon Hewitt would add new layers of legislative oversight, broaden the types of voting systems allowed and remove some decision-making from Louisiana’s secretary of state. The measure would create a commission to analyze and select the type of voting system that could be bought or leased, rather than the secretary of state. The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Hewitt chairs, sent the bill to the full Senate for debate without objection. Hewitt, of Slidell, said her proposal would offer “a much more open, fair, transparent and accountable process for securing voting systems.” She said it would give the general public more points in the process to offer thoughts before the bid solicitation begins. Still, several people who repeated baseless allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election said Hewitt’s legislation, while well-intentioned, did not do enough to address their concerns. They said they wanted the bill to require paper ballots and more clear public input on the voting system selection.

Full Article: Louisiana Senators Back Bill to Modify Voting Machine Search | Louisiana News | US News

Louisiana: Proposals to change voting machine-buying process, audit elections move forward | Sam Karlin/The Advocate

A Louisiana Senate panel on Tuesday backed a proposal to make a host of changes to how Louisiana buys new voting machines, after a recent effort to procure machines fell apart amid uproar from some voters who believe the 2020 election was rife with fraud. The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee backed the legislation by Chairwoman Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, after lengthy testimony from concerned citizens and a Republican official who clamored for “secure paper ballots” and trashed Dominion Voting Systems, the company that currently provides Louisiana’s voting machines. The committee also backed Senate Bill 220 by Sen. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek, to require the Louisiana legislative auditor to conduct a review of Louisiana’s election processes. The bills are among the first in a wave of election-related proposals that are expected to be heard during the legislative session that began last week. The push for voting changes come amid a national battle over efforts to tighten voting laws in the wake of the 2020 election. Hewitt’s Senate Bill 221 would set up several layers of oversight of Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s effort to buy new voting machines. Under the measure, Ardoin would be required to use input from lawmakers to create a set of standards for new machines. It would also create a new commission to evaluate voting systems.

Full Article: Proposals to change voting machine-buying process, audit Louisiana’s elections move forward | Elections | theadvocate.com

Montana election law changes spark lawsuit | Alex Sakariassen/Montana Free Press

The Montana Democratic Party is attempting to block changes to voting rights laws signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte. The changes would create more stringent identification requirements for voters and end same-day voter registration in the state, which Montana voters approved on the 2004 ballot. The suit was filed in District Court in Yellowstone County shortly after Gianforte’s bill signing Monday and requested that a judge immediately bar Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen from enforcing the new laws. In its complaint, the Democratic Party argues that same-day voter registration has been “critical to protecting the voting rights of tens of thousands of Montanans.” It specifically cites testimony from legislative proceedings earlier this year highlighting the geographic and transportation challenges faced by rural, elderly, disabled and Native American voters — challenges the party maintains have been alleviated for the past 16 years by voters’ ability to register, update their voter information and cast a ballot in a single trip. Democrats also argue that more stringent identification requirements will burden college students and low-income voters. Under the new law, individuals without a government-issued photo ID or a Montana concealed carry permit must produce non-government photo ID plus a second identifying document, such as a utility bill, in order to register or to receive a ballot at the polls.

Full Article: Election law changes spark lawsuit | Montana Free Press

Nevada secretary of state finds no ‘evidentiary support’ for GOP election fraud claims | Stephanie Becker and Paul LeBlanc/CNN

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske‘s office told the state Republican Party on Wednesday that an investigation had found no “evidentiary support” for its allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. “And while the NVGOP raises policy concerns about the integrity of mail-in voting, automatic voter registration, and same-day voter registration, these concerns do not amount to evidentiary support for the contention that the 2020 general election was plagued by widespread voter fraud,” said the letter, addressed to the Nevada Republican Party. Cegavske, the only statewide Republican office holder, said in the letter that elections staff had inventoried and labeled four boxes of materials that had been delivered to the state Capitol on March 4 — and then to her office — and had investigated the accompanying allegations of voter fraud. Of the 122,918 records to support the accompanying allegations filed by members of the Nevada GOP, Cegavske’s office narrowed down the list of unique “Election Integrity Violation Reports” to 3,963, some of which were already under investigation. An accompanying report fleshed out why many of the complaints were unsubstantiated.

Full Article: Nevada secretary of state finds no ‘evidentiary support’ for GOP election fraud claims – CNNPolitics

Ohio GOP lawmakers propose election changes, limiting drop boxes and allowing online ballot requests | Jessie Balmert/Cincinnati Enquirer

Proposed changes to Ohio election law would eliminate voting on the day before Election Day, limit drop boxes and allow voters to request absentee ballots online. The changes, which will soon be introduced as a bill by Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township and Rep. Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth, would eliminate in-person voting on the Monday before Election Day so county election officials could prepare for Tuesday. However, those hours of in-person voting could be reallocated to another day. The Ohio Association of Election Officials has been requesting the change. The proposal would also limit drop boxes for mail-in ballots to 10 days before Election Day instead of the entire early voting period. Each county board of elections could have three receptacles on their premises. Boards could have one drop boxfor the entire early voting period during a pandemic or emergency. Ohio lawmakers approved the use of drop boxes during the COVID-19 pandemic when Ohio’s primary shifted to mail ballots rather than in-person voting. Several judges ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was allowed to set rules on how drop boxes were used, but he deferred to lawmakers.

Full Article: Ohio election bill: Limit drop boxes, allow online ballot requests

Ohio Supreme Court takes case over Dominion voting machines purchase | Andrew Welsh-Huggins/Associated Press

A dispute over the purchase of voting machines tied to unfounded allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election has reached the Ohio Supreme Court. At issue before the high court is a feud over the purchase of Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems machines between the bipartisan elections board in Stark County and that northeastern county’s GOP-dominated board of commissioners. Dominion machines became a flashpoint during the election because of unfounded allegations that the company changed votes through algorithms in its voting machines that had been created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late dictator Hugo Chavez. Dominion has pushed back against these allegations, including in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed last month against Fox News, arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed that the voting company rigged the 2020 election in an effort to boost faltering ratings. Because of such claims promoted by on-air Fox personalities, the company is now widely targeted by conservatives who falsely believe it manufactured former President Donald Trump’s defeat, the lawsuit said. This conspiracy theory even reached Stark County, the elections board alleged in its complaint to the Ohio Supreme Court last month.

Full Article: Ohio Supreme Court takes case over voting machines purchase

Wisconsin: Report finds Green Bay properly handled 2020 elections despite GOP criticism | Haley BeMiller/Green Bay Press-Gazette

City officials had “all-hands on deck” as they managed last year’s elections but didn’t do anything to distort the integrity of the process, according to a new report from the city attorney. Attorney Vanessa Chavez reviewed the August and November elections amid allegations from Republican lawmakers that Green Bay’s use of grant money and private consultants tainted the process. Former City Clerk Kris Teske resigned in December after clashing for months with the mayor’s office, which she accused of taking over election planning. A group of Green Bay residents filed a complaint to the Wisconsin Elections Commission earlier this month claiming that the Center for Tech and Civic Life illegally dictated how Green Bay ran its election when it provided the city with $1.6 million to facilitate voting during the coronavirus pandemic. The nonprofit distributed grants to over 200 municipalities across Wisconsin. “The 2020 Election season was one like no other, due in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chavez wrote. “Following the failures the City experienced in April 2020, the City committed to taking all actions necessary to ensure that the voting experience improved for the Green Bay electorate moving forward.” The City Council is expected to discuss the report’s findings during its May 4 meeting. Here are some key takeaways.

Full Article: Green Bay election: What city attorney report says about November

National: Secretaries of state ask DHS to expand anti-disinformation fight | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

A bipartisan group of 11 state election chiefs last week asked the Department of Homeland Security to do more in coming elections to push back against foreign disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining the U.S. democratic process. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Brandon Wales, the acting director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the officials thanked the agency for its efforts fighting false claims during the 2020 election — such as the Rumor Control website, on which CISA published rebuttals of foreign, and later domestic, disinformation and misinformation about voting procedures and election equipment. But the election officials also said that the heavy circulation of these rumors sowed distrust that continues today. “There have been some good and bad days in the election community since November. On one hand, election officials successfully ran multiple elections during a pandemic,” the letter reads. “The general election was the most secure in recent history. On the other hand, because of disinformation, some Americans now lack confidence in the electoral process.” The letter was led by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, and signed by Griswold’s fellow Democratic secretaries of state in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont. Two Republicans also signed on: Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections there.

Full Article: Secretaries of state ask DHS to expand anti-disinformation fight

Republicans Say They Care About Election Fraud. Here’s How They Could Actually Prevent It. | Kaleigh Rogers/FiveThirtyEight

Republicans care a whole lot about election security these days. Fueled in part by the “Big Lie,” the baseless claim that there was widespread fraud in last year’s election, Republican lawmakers around the country have made an aggressive push to pass new laws to prevent what they saw as a nightmare scenario from happening again. While the motivation to improve election security is spurious, the ostensible goal isn’t — everyone would agree that a secure election is important for democracy. Experts say there’s one very effective way for state legislatures to make the voting process more secure: pass legislation to update voting machines. But instead of prioritizing this effort, many Republicans are instead focused on limiting voter access. “It would be terrific to see the focus on election security lead to more investments in better, more trustworthy systems,” said Mark Lindeman, co-director of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election security organization. The gold standard for voting security is hand-marked paper ballots, according to security experts. That’s because a paper ballot eliminates the risk of technical difficulties or certain kinds of malicious acts (think hacking) that could change or destroy your vote, and any concerns can be addressed with a recount. Because of that, most states currently use hand-marked paper ballots or have voting machines that generate paper records for verification. But in six states — Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Tennessee and Texas — some or all voters still cast ballots on machines that have no paper record whatsoever, according to data from Verified Voting. While there’s no evidence that these machines have ever been hacked during an election, it’s technically possible, and they’re also prone to all kinds of undesirable malfunctions, including losing votes. With no paper backup to audit, these machines are the kind of election security liability that politicians say they’re invested in fixing.

Full Article: Republicans Say They Care About Election Fraud. Here’s How They Could Actually Prevent It. | FiveThirtyEight

National: White House appoints voting rights adviser in federal elections bill push | Dartunorro Clark/NBC

The White House named Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt to be its voting rights adviser Monday in its push for federal legislation that would make sweeping changes to the nation’s elections. “Levitt will assist the President in his efforts to ensure every eligible American has secure, reliable access to a meaningful vote; to provide equitable representation in federal, state and local government; to restore trust in a democracy deserving of that trust; and to shore up and expand the avenues by which all Americans engage in robust civic participation,” said a release announcing his appointment. Levitt, who began teaching at the school in California in 2010, worked on voting rights issues as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration. Democrats are pushing to pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021, a 791-page measure that would make sweeping changes to the electoral process. The legislation, a wish list of policies that voting rights advocates have urged lawmakers to adopt for years, rethinks the voting process: how people register to vote, how ballots are cast and how states conduct elections.

Full Article: White House appoints voting rights adviser in federal elections bill push

National: MyPillow Sues to Counter Dominion Voting Systems’ Defamation Claims | Alexa Corse/Wall Street Journal

MyPillow Inc. sued voting-machine maker Dominion Voting Systems on Monday, a counter move after Dominion sued the bedding company and its Donald Trump-supporting chief executive for defamation over his unproven claims that its voting machines had rigged the presidential election for Joe Biden. In a suit seeking more than $1.6 billion in damages, the privately held company said it is suing to protect freedom of speech and to rectify the injury the company said it has suffered from Dominion’s own legal campaign, which the complaint said included losing business and harassment and death threats against employees. “Dominion is using the legal process as a weapon to suppress free speech,” the suit in federal district court in Minnesota stated. “This lawsuit is brought in support of the marketplace of ideas and to remedy the grave harm that has been suffered by MyPillow as a result of Dominion’s suppression of speech and attacks on the Company.” The company also noted that it was its founder and CEO Mike Lindell, rather than the company, who spoke against Dominion. “In making these statements, Lindell spoke for himself, not MyPillow,” the suit said. “MyPillow has not engaged in discussion about the 2020 election. However, as an American company supporting American constitutional values, MyPillow unreservedly supports Lindell’s right to exercise his First Amendment freedoms concerning the matters of critical public concern, like election matters.” In February, Denver-based Dominion sued MyPillow and Mr. Lindell in federal court in the District of Columbia. Dominion’s suit alleged that Mr. Lindell had defamed the company with accusations that it had rigged the 2020 election for President Biden, and asked for more than $1.3 billion in damages.

Full Article: MyPillow Sues to Counter Dominion Voting Systems’ Defamation Claims – WSJ