Pennsylvania State House committee hears suggestions on improving election laws, but will the Legislature listen? | Julian Routh/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Good government stakeholders and national advocacy groups told lawmakers in Harrisburg on Thursday that incremental changes to the election law can alleviate the burden on stressed-out county workers and make it easier for voters to participate in the process. Their testimony came as the House State Government Committee finished its series of election oversight hearings, intended to give members a firsthand look at what might be needed to tweak the election code in the coming months and years. As Democrats continued to express fears that the Republican-led committee and Legislature will use the hearings to justify a crackdown on voting accessibility and mail-in ballots, a majority of those who testified agreed that changes to the law should be procedural and bipartisan. “As has been noted repeatedly in these hearings, the vast majority of Pennsylvania election law is still from the 1930s,” Committee of Seventy President and CEO David Thornburgh said in written testimony to the committee. “Revamping the entire Election Code may not be possible at this juncture, but the General Assembly has yet another opportunity to substantially modernize Pennsylvania election procedures, maintain election integrity, and improve the customer service experience of eligible voters.” The biggest consensus appeared to be that county election officials need more time to pre-canvass and process the influx of mail-in ballots, something that counties have been calling for since well before last November’s general election.

Full Article: State House committee hears suggestions on improving Pa.’s election laws, but will the Legislature listen? | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Texas voting bills target Democratic strongholds, just like Georgia’s new laws | Jeremy Wallace/Houston Chronicle

After major corporations criticized Georgia for adopting voter restrictions in the wake of Democratic wins there, the spotlight is shifting to Texas as Republican lawmakers advance similar legislation. And just as Georgia Republicans sought to rein in Fulton County — a heavily Democratic county that includes the city of Atlanta — Texas Republicans are targeting large counties run by Democrats with measures that provide possible jail time for local officials who try to expand voting options or who promote voting by mail. That same push is happening in Arizona and Iowa, said Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law. “All of these bills share a common purpose: to threaten the independence of election workers whose main job should be to ensure fair elections free from political or other interference,” Norden said. The Senate is particularly intent on preventing a repeat of 2020, when the interim Harris County clerk, Chris Hollins, promoted novel approaches such as 24-hour voting sites and drive-thru polling places as safe alternatives to indoor voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Democrat-leaning county saw historic turnout that helped Joe Biden come within 5.5 percentage points of the incumbent, Republican Donald Trump.

Full Article: Texas voting bills target Democratic strongholds, just like Georgia’s new laws

Texas: Kolkhorst’s bill requiring a paper trail for all elections systems passes unanimously | Victoria Advocate

The Texas Senate unanimously passed a bill authored by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst to require a voter-verifiable paper audit trail for all elections systems, according to a Tuesday news release. Senate Bill 598 also prohibits any voting system from being connected to the internet and includes a risk limiting audit to ensure the accuracy of voting systems, according to the news release. The bill was passed in the Senate Monday. Texas will be considered to have one of the most accurate vote counting systems in the nation, said a news release from the state senator’s office. Texas is one of only three states that uses a paperless trail system in some areas. “In 2005, I filed one of the first bills calling for a paper ballot trail to combat election fraud,” said Kolkhorst, R-Brenham. “After many visits with so many concerned constituents and years of efforts I am glad to see this through. Elections are the bedrock of our republic and ensuring that our elections are conducted to the highest standards possible is a must.”

Full Article: Kolkhorst’s bill requiring a paper trail for all elections systems passes unanimously | Victoria |

Wisconsin Senate approves Republican election changes | Todd Richmond/Associated Press

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Senate moved Wednesday to change state elections based largely on false claims that the November election was tainted, passing bills that would make interfering with election observers a crime and barring polling officials from accepting private grants to aid with administration. The proposals are part of a larger package of GOP-authored measures addressing issues former President Donald Trump and his supporters raised following Joe Biden’s narrow win in the battleground state. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has complained about Republican attempts to make absentee voting more difficult, is almost certain to veto every one of them. The bills the Senate passed Wednesday don’t make major changes to the absentee voting system. That legislation, which includes limiting access to drop boxes, has yet to come to the floor in the Senate or Assembly. The most prominent bill the Senate took up addresses Trump supporters’ claims that they weren’t given close enough access to watch Wisconsin’s presidential recount. Under the bill, observers would have to stand within 3 feet of tabulators during a recount. Any election official who intentionally obstructs an observer’s access would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months behind bars and a $1,000 fine. Democrats complained that the bill would allow observers to intimidate tabulators by literally hanging over their shoulders and create fear among tabulators that if they ask an observer for space they’ll be thrown in jail.

Full Article: Wisconsin Senate approves Republican election changes

National: Donations Surge for Republicans Who Challenged Election Results | Luke Broadwater, Catie Edmondson and Rachel Shorey/The New York Times

Republicans who were the most vocal in urging their followers to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to try to reverse President Donald J. Trump’s loss, pushing to overturn the election and stoking the grievances that prompted the deadly Capitol riot, have profited handsomely in its aftermath, according to new campaign data. Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, who led the challenges to President Biden’s victory in their chamber, each brought in more than $3 million in campaign donations in the three months that followed the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia who called the rampage a “1776 moment” and was later stripped of committee assignments for espousing bigoted conspiracy theories and endorsing political violence, raised $3.2 million — more than the individual campaign of Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, and nearly every other member of House leadership. A New York Times analysis of the latest Federal Election Commission disclosures illustrates how the leaders of the effort to overturn Mr. Biden’s electoral victory have capitalized on the outrage of their supporters to collect huge sums of campaign cash. Far from being punished for encouraging the protest that turned lethal, they have thrived in a system that often rewards the loudest and most extreme voices, using the fury around the riot to build their political brands. The analysis examined the individual campaign accounts of lawmakers, not joint fund-raising committees or leadership political action committees. “The outrage machine is powerful at inducing political contributions,” said Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican congressman from Florida.

Full Article: Donations Surge for Republicans Who Challenged Election Results – The New York Times

National: How the corporate backlash to Georgia’s new voting law is shaping other fights around the country over access to the polls | Amy Gardner and Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post

Behind closed doors, aides to Georgia’s top Republicans and its leading business interests spent the final days of March hashing out new voting legislation in an effort to quell a growing outcry that GOP lawmakers were pushing measures that would severely curtail access to the polls. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and representatives of major corporations, including ­Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, worked directly with legislative leaders and the office of Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to exclude some of the more controversial proposals, according to people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Republicans agreed to drop, for instance, language barring most Georgians from voting by mail and curtailing early voting on weekends. They even expanded early-voting hours in the final bill. The hope of Republicans involved, according to a half-dozen people familiar with the process, was to pull off a delicate political balancing act: satisfying voters who believe former president Donald Trump’s false claims that he lost the 2020 election because of rampant fraud — while heading off accusations of voter suppression from the left.

Full Article: How the corporate backlash to Georgia’s new voting law is shaping other fights around the country over access to the polls – The Washington Post

California’s elections official exodus | John Myers/Los Angeles Times

If all politics is truly local, it should be huge news when someone like Kammi Foote decides enough is enough. As the registrar of voters for Inyo County, Foote spent 14 years on democracy’s front lines in a job that is equal parts educator and administrator. California gives wide latitude to its 58 counties in how to run elections, and a corps of veteran registrars call the shots across the state. But something has changed. Registrars with decades of experience are calling it quits, stymied by the ever-growing list of election mandates that come without the funding to make them a reality — made worse by the personal and professional threats made by voters amped up on partisan rage and destructive conspiracy theories. Now, months before a likely recall election followed by the 2022 campaign season where political maps will be redrawn and voters will need help navigating the changes, California finds itself in the midst of an election officer exodus. Foote stepped down Friday as Inyo’s chief elections officer, the eighth registrar across California to resign since last November’s election. At least one more registrar is expected to resign in the coming weeks. Some have been on the job for almost three decades. “I think, if anything, it’s just a sense of being worn down and tired,” Foote said about her decision to leave. “In 2020, we found ourselves working seven days a week, months on end, under tremendous pressure.”

Full Article: Essential Politics: California’s elections official exodus – Los Angeles Times

National: GOP Undercuts Vote-Security Push by Going Light on the Security | Ryan Teague Beckwith/Bloomberg

Republican lawmakers in 47 states have proposed measures to tighten voting laws in the name of electoral integrity, but some of them omit steps that security experts say would do the most to protect elections from equipment malfunctions, fraud, hacking or terrorism. While state lawmakers are largely focused on limiting vote-by-mail, people who study and run elections say they should be considering steps such as automatically registering voters, expanding early voting, using ID numbers to verify mail-in ballots, distributing more ballot drop boxes and processing mail-in ballots before Election Day. “It’s unfortunate that so many administrative processes that really make elections go more smoothly and accurately have become so polarized on partisan lines,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican. Georgia recently passed a controversial law that cuts voting days and limits ballot drop boxes, two steps voting rights experts say are counterproductive. But they also enacted a more generous voter ID requirement for mail-in ballots and sped up processing of ballots, two steps that experts recommend. Meanwhile, Republican-led Kentucky has expanded early voting and sped up ballot processing, while Maine sped up ballot processing. But dozens of other bills are still being actively considered that would limit early and mail-in voting or make other changes to election laws that experts say either won’t work or is unnecessary.

Full Article: GOP Undercuts Vote-Security Push by Going Light on the Security – Bloomberg

National: Corporate leaders plan new push on U.S. voting rights, will reconsider campaign donations | Jessica DiNapoli/Reuters

Most CEOs on a call to discuss a new push against U.S. state voting restrictions said in a poll they will reassess donating to candidates who fail to support voting rights, while many will consider holding back investments in states that restrict voting access, according to people familiar with the matter. Some business executives are putting together a new statement calling for the protection of U.S. voting rights, the latest corporate backlash against moves by Republican politicians to change election rules in Georgia and other states, the sources said. About 100 chief executive officers, investors, lawyers and corporate directors participated in a private Zoom call on Saturday organized by Yale professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld to discuss a new response to Georgia’s election law and voting restrictions contemplated by other states such as Texas and Arizona, according to the sources. All CEOs who participated in a poll during the call agreed they will re-evaluate political donations to candidates based on their track records on voting rights, while 48% said they might reconsider or reduce investments in states that restrict access to voting. Some one-quarter of CEOs refrained from voting on several questions in the poll.

Full Article: Corporate leaders plan new push on U.S. voting rights, will reconsider campaign donations | Reuters

National: The great capitulation of Trump’s voter fraud crusade | Aaron Blake/The Washington Post

The 2020 election is a case study in how unproved claims can be weaponized. For decades, former president Donald Trump’s party warned of significant voter fraud while successfully pushing policies such as voter ID. In 2016, Trump laid a predicate for contesting an election by suggesting there was massive fraud, even in an election he had won. By 2020, when Trump lost, it culminated in a huge portion of the electorate believing a “stolen election” theory for which there is vanishingly little actual evidence. Some have done more than raise questions, though. They, like Trump and often in search of his allies’ support, have alleged actual massive fraud. But now they’ve been asked to account for it. And crucially and increasingly, they have backed down. The most recent example came Friday night — a time routinely used to bury bad news. In a statement, former Trump lawyer Joe diGenova apologized to Christopher Krebs, a Trump administration official who had debunked Trump’s fraud claims and whose execution diGenova had endorsed. DiGenova had said Krebs “should be drawn and quartered” and “taken out at dawn and shot.” “On November 30, 2020, I appeared on the ‘Howie Carr Show.’ During the show, I made regrettable statements regarding Christopher Krebs, which many interpreted as a call for violence against him,” diGenova said. He added that “today I reiterate my public apology to Mr. Krebs and his family for any harm my words caused. Given today’s political climate, I should have more carefully expressed my criticism of Mr. Krebs, who was just doing his job.” DiGenova’s apology refers to a past apology made on Newsmax’s airwaves, but back then he went even further in downplaying his comments. He maintained at the time that it was a poorly chosen joke and said that he apologized “for any misunderstanding of my intentions.” The statement very notably comes months after Krebs announced in December that he was suing diGenova for defamation.

Full Article: The great capitulation of Trump’s voter fraud crusade – The Washington Post

National: Amid a Wave of Hacks, Biden Moves to Fill Key Cyber Posts | Dustin Volz/Wall Street Journal

President Biden intends to nominate two former National Security Agency officials to high-level cybersecurity positions, the White House said Monday, rounding out the administration’s personnel on an issue it has said is a priority in the wake of two recent hacks linked to foreign governments. Mr. Biden is planning to nominate Jen Easterly, a former senior counterterrorism and cybersecurity official at NSA with experience at the Obama White House, to lead the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. CISA is an arm of the Department of Homeland Security responsible for election security and protecting civilian government networks from hackers, as well as securing the nation’s critical infrastructure from both physical and cyber threats. Chris Inglis, the former deputy director of the NSA, has been tapped to be nominated as the first-ever national cyber director. The position, housed within the Executive Office of the President, was created through a provision in the annual defense policy spending legislation that passed Congress in January. The role is intended to coordinate cybersecurity efforts across the federal government and will include its own office with up to 75 staff. The structure generally resembles that of the Office of the United States Trade Representative. “If confirmed, Chris and Jen will add deep expertise, experience and leadership to our world-class cyber team,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. “We are determined to protect America’s networks and to meet the growing challenge posed by our adversaries in cyberspace—and this is the team to do it.” Mr. Biden will also name Rob Silvers, a partner at the international law firm Paul Hastings, as undersecretary for policy at DHS. Mr. Silvers, who focuses on cybersecurity and privacy issues in his practice and has experience with cybersecurity work at DHS during the Obama administration—including guarding the 2016 election from Russian interference—had for months been rumored to be in contention for the CISA job as well. His undersecretary job, if he is confirmed, will also focus heavily but not entirely on cybersecurity issues, the people said.

Full Article: Amid a Wave of Hacks, Biden Moves to Fill Key Cyber Posts – WSJ

National: First-of-its-kind meeting draws more than 100 corporate leaders to discuss state voting laws | Ed O’Keefe/CBS News

More than 100 of the nation’s top corporate leaders met virtually on Saturday to discuss ways for companies to continue responding to the passage of more restrictive voting laws across the country, a signal that the nation’s premier businesses are preparing a far more robust, organized response to the ongoing debate. With some CEOs chiming in from Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters golf tournament, attendees on the high-level Zoom call included leaders from the health care, media and transportation sectors and some of the nation’s leading law and investment firms. “The gathering was an enthusiastic voluntary statement of defiance against threats of reprisals for exercising their patriotic voices,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale University management professor who helped organize the confab. The corporate leaders “recognize that they need to step up to the plate and are not fearful of these reprisals,” he added. “They’re showing a disdain for these political attacks. Not only are they fortifying each other, but they see that this spreading of disease of voter restrictions from Georgia to up to possibly 46 other states is based on a false premise and its’ anti-democratic.”

Full Article: First-of-its-kind meeting draws more than 100 corporate leaders to discuss state voting laws – CBS News

National: How Voting Laws Suppress the ‘New South’ | Lisa Hagen and Susan Milligan/US News

Looking back in an election cycle or two, it may be that the political and economic fallout gripping Georgia today over its controversial new voter law proves to have been a sign of an inevitable march toward a very different electoral map. The next frontier in the battle over voting rights is already creeping toward other states across the South and the Sun Belt that have two things in common: They are all seeing a similar rapid demographic shift in their electorates that stands to reimagine the American political landscape. And they have entrenched political interests trying to stop it. After a year of record turnout, especially among voters of color in Southern states, and a barrage of unfounded fraud claims propagated by the former president, GOP-led state legislatures are leading the charge to challenge and amend voting laws. They saw their first big success last month in Georgia. That sweeping law among other things imposes identification requirements for absentee ballots, limits ballot drop boxes and shortens runoff elections. Measures with similar implications in Texas and Arizona, meanwhile, are now steadily gaining traction. Like Georgia, these once-reliably red strongholds have been dramatically reshaped in recent years and are likely to keep trending further away from Republicans. In 2020, Democrats clinched major victories at both the presidential and Senate levels in Georgia and Arizona last year, though Texas has moved toward them at a slower pace.

Full Article: How Voting Laws Suppress the ‘New South’ | The Report | US News

Voting Blogs: Juan Gilbert’s Transparent BMD | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy recently hosted a talk by Professor Juan Gilbert of the University of Florida, in which he demonstrated his interesting new invention and presented results from user studies. It’s well known that a voting system must use paper ballots to be trustworthy (at least with any known or foreseeable technology). But how should voters mark their ballots? Hand-marked paper ballots (HMPB) allow voters to fill in ovals with a pen, to be counted by an optical scanner. Ballot-marking devices (BMDs) allow voters to use a touchscreen (or other assistive device) and then print out a ballot card listing the voter’s choices. The biggest problem with BMDs is that most voters don’t check the ballot card carefully, so that if the BMD were hacked and misrepresenting votes on the paper, the voters wouldn’t notice–and even if a few voters did notice, the BMDs would have successfully stolen the votes of many other voters. One scientific study (not in a real election) showed that some process interventions–such as, “remind voters to check their ballots”–might improve the rate at which voters check their ballots. I am skeptical that those kinds of interventions will be consistently applied in thousands of polling places, or that voters will stay vigilant year after year. And even if the rate of checking can be improved from 6.6% to 50%, there’s still no clear remedy that can protect the outcome of the election as a whole. Instead of reminding the voter, Professor Gilbert’s solution is to force them to look directly at the printout, immediately after voting each contest. In this video, at 0:36, see how the voter is asked to touch the screen directly in front of the spot on the paper where the vote was just printed.

Full Article: Juan Gilbert’s Transparent BMD

Arizona audit leader Doug Logan wrote fraud claims on ‘kraken’ lawyer’s website | Jeremy Duda/Arizona Mirror

A document that conspiracy theorist attorney Sidney Powell posted on her website with various allegations against Dominion Voting Systems lists its author as Doug Logan, the man hired by Senate Republicans to lead the team that will audit the 2020 election in Maricopa County, including a thorough examination of that same company’s ballot tabulation machines. Powell is a one-time attorney for former President Donald Trump who became infamous for spreading false claims about election fraud and filing failed lawsuits attempting to overturn election results in several swing states that President Joe Biden won, including Arizona. She posted the document on a section of her website called, “Evidence of Fraud – 2020 Election.” The metadata for one of the documents, titled, “Election Fraud Facts & Details,” lists “Douglas Logan” as the author. Logan is the owner and CEO of Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity firm that Senate President Karen Fann chose to head up a team of companies that will conduct an audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, including a hand recount of all 2.1 million ballots cast. Among the various claims in the document is a debunked allegation that the “core software” used by Dominion originated with and is the intellectual property of Smartmatic, alleging the latter company was founded in Venezuela and has ties to Hugo Chavez, the country’s socialist dictator who died in 2013. It claims Smartmatic has been linked to election rigging in Venezuela, India and the Philippines. The paper that Logan authored alleges ties between Dominion and China, and repeats a discredited claim that the private equity firm that owns Dominion sold it to a Chinese-controlled securities company. Claims of ties between Dominion and Chinese investors were largely based on confusion between the similarly named New York and China-based subsidiaries of a Swiss securities company.

Full Article: Arizona audit leader Doug Logan wrote fraud claims on ‘kraken’ lawyer’s website

Arizona: He pushed lies to try to steal the election for Trump. Now he’s running an election audit. | Emily Singer/American Singer

Doug Logan, the man whose company Cyber Ninjas Arizona Republicans have tapped to oversee a third audit of the state’s 2020 election results, is the author of a lie-filled “fact” sheet that was intended for U.S. senators to use in justifying their objections to certifying President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in January. The Arizona Mirror reported that the document, titled “Election Fraud Facts & Details,” was posted on ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell’s website. The document contains multiple lies about the voting machine software companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic USA, falsely alleging that the companies had ties to dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and that they rigged the machines to switch votes from Trump to Biden. Powell is being sued for making that claim, which has been debunked multiple times, including in a joint report issued by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. “We — the Department of Justice, including the FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, including CISA — have no evidence that any foreign government-affiliated actor prevented voting, changed votes, or disrupted the ability to tally votes or to transmit election results in a timely manner; altered any technical aspect of the voting process; or otherwise compromised the integrity of voter registration information of any ballots cast during 2020 federal elections,” the departments reported. Logan told the Arizona Mirror that he did author the document that was on Powell’s website: “Some of it is based on my own research, but quite a bit is information I got from other people but personally vetted.” The selection of Cyber Ninjas by Arizona’s GOP Senate President Karen Fann to oversee the third audit of election results was announced on March 31. Two audits of the results have already found that there was no fraud.

Full Article: He pushed lies to try to steal the election for Trump. Now he’s running an election audit.

Georgia election disputes now in lawyers’ court | Jim Denery/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voting lawsuits have been keeping the state’s lawyers busy, but a federal judge recently lessened their load in case going back to the 2018 race for governor. Fair Fight, a voting organization that Democrat Stacey Abrams founded following her loss to Republican Brian Kemp in the governor’s race, filed the suit. The group hoped to make fundamental changes to elections, taking on voter registration purges, ballot cancellations and long lines. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones threw out many of Fair Fight’s claims, ruling against challenges to registration cancellations and ballot rejections involving problems such as mismatched signatures or missing information. He also rejected claims that too few voting machines were available and poll worker training had been inadequate. The case will still involve allegations concerning Georgia’s “exact match” voter registration policy, voter list accuracy and absentee ballot cancellations, for example, when a voter requests a mail-in ballot but then tries to cancel it when going to the polls to vote in person. The state’s “exact match” policy prevented 53,000 Georgians who tried to sign up to vote from having their registrations accepted before the 2018 election. Registrations were placed in “pending” status for several reasons, including a missing hyphen, an extra space or the use of a nickname in official government records.

Full Article: Capitol Recap: Georgia election disputes now in lawyers’ court

Illinois: McHenry County clerk releases new, corrected election results | Kelli Duncan/Daily Herald

The McHenry County clerk’s office has released corrected results for Tuesday’s local consolidated election. After a technical error with the office’s ballot tabulation devices led to a full recount of votes Thursday, the new results were posted to the county’s election results webpage just before 12:50 p.m. Friday. These results are still unofficial and will not be certified until two weeks after Tuesday’s election, according to state law. Late-arriving mail-in ballots and provisionally cast ballots could still be counted. Votes for write-in candidates also were not included in the new results posted Friday afternoon and will be posted to the county clerk’s website when they are fully counted, according to a statement posted on the election results page Friday. The candidates leading in five of the county’s competitive school board races — Huntley School District 158, Alden-Hebron District 19, McHenry District 15, Cary District 26 and Crystal Lake District 47 — changed after the release of the corrected results.

Full Article: McHenry County clerk releases new, corrected election results

Kentucky county clerks to authenticate via Yubikey | GCN

Kentucky is planning to equip all the commonwealth’s 120 county clerks with Yubikey devices to enable two-factor authentication that will better protect the state’s voter registration system from unauthorized access. Users insert a Yubikey token into the USB ports on their laptops and touch its button to verify they are a local human user and not a remote hacker. The Yubikeys will be made available thanks to a federal grant obtained via a joint partnership of the Kentucky Secretary of State, the mayor of Lexington, Ky., the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “In 2020, despite the pandemic, we had a successful election thanks to our state and local officials, who kept our citizens safe, while making secure voting more accessible and more convenient,” Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said in an April 7 announcement. “Now Secretary of State [Michael] Adams is taking the next step by helping us add another layer of security. We greatly appreciate his work. Free and fair elections are essential to our democracy.”

Full Article: Kentucky county clerks to authenticate via Yubikey — GCN

Michigan: Judge quashes Antrim County ‘fishing expedition’ subpoenas | Mardi Link/Traverse City Record-Eagle

A judge characterized subpoenas filed by a plaintiff’s attorney in an Antrim County lawsuit as a “fishing expedition,” as he ruled clerks in four Michigan counties do not need to provide election data as part of discovery in the case. “The plaintiff must have more than mere conjecture, more than speculation, to support its request to discover information from these other counties,” said 13th Circuit Court Chief Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, during a four-hour motion hearing Monday. The ruling is among the latest court action in an ongoing election-related lawsuit filed Nov. 23 by attorney Matthew DePerno, on behalf of a Central Lake Township man, Bill Bailey, who accuses the county of voter fraud and of violating his constitutional rights. “Without same, requiring non-parties to comply with requests like this would indeed be burdensome, would be tantamount to a fishing expedition,” Elsenheimer added, “and as I said, would be unnecessarily burdensome to the clerks.” In March DePerno subpoenaed clerks in eight Michigan counties — Barry, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland and Wayne — seeking their poll tapes, ballots, logs, tally servers, election management servers, election media, spreadsheets and canvasser notes from the 2020 election. DePerno contended in court filings that Michigan was among four “battleground” states that had implemented an “algorithm used to regulate and shift votes in the 2020 elections” and that data from the eight counties would be used as a “control group” to discern fraud in Antrim County.

Full Article: Judge quashes Antrim ‘fishing expedition’ subpoenas | News |

Michigan: How a Very Weird Quirk Might Let Republicans Limit Voting Rights | Reid J. Epstein and Trip Gabriel/The New York Times

At first glance, the partisan battle over voting rights in Michigan appears similar to that of many other states: The Republican-led Legislature, spurred by former President Donald J. Trump’s lies about election fraud, has introduced a rash of proposals to restrict voting access, angering Democrats, who are fighting back. But plenty of twists and turns are looming as Michigan’s State Senate prepares to hold hearings on a package of voting bills beginning Wednesday. Unlike Georgia, Florida and Texas, which have also moved to limit voting access, Michigan has a Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who said last month she would veto any bill imposing new restrictions. But unlike in other states with divided governments, Michigan’s Constitution offers Republicans a rarely used option for circumventing Ms. Whitmer’s veto. Last month, the state’s Republican chairman told activists that he aimed to do just that — usher new voting restrictions into law using a voter-driven petition process that would bypass the governor’s veto pen. In response, Michigan Democrats and voting rights activists are contemplating a competing petition drive, while also scrambling to round up corporate opposition to the bills; they are hoping to avoid a replay of what happened in Georgia, where the state’s leading businesses didn’t weigh in against new voting rules until after they were signed into law. The maneuvering by both parties has turned Michigan into a test case of how states with divided government will deal with voting laws, and how Republicans in state legislatures are willing to use any administrative tool at their disposal to advance Mr. Trump’s false claims of fraud and pursue measures that could disenfranchise many voters. The proposal puts new restrictions on how election officials can distribute absentee ballots and how voters can cast them, limiting the use of drop boxes, for example.

Full Article: How a Very Weird Quirk Might Let Michigan Republicans Limit Voting Rights – The New York Times

New Hampshire: Governor signs Windham election audit bill | Kevin Landrigan/Union Leader

A forensic audit of election results from Windham will begin later this spring after Gov. Chris Sununu signed legislation Monday aimed at getting to the bottom of a major ballot discrepancy. A hand recount three weeks after the Nov. 3 election found all four Republicans running for seats in the New Hampshire House had gotten about 300 more votes than were reported from automatic vote-counting machines on election night. Last month, Secretary of State Bill Gardner proposed a process to conduct the audit, which he said would be New Hampshire’s first in the 45 years he has been serving as the state’s top election official. “New Hampshire elections are safe, secure, and reliable,” Sununu said in a statement after signing the amended bill (SB 43). “Out of the hundreds of thousands of ballots cast this last year, we saw only very minor, isolated issues — which is proof our system works,” Sununu said. “This bill will help us audit an isolated incident in Windham and keep the integrity of our system intact.” Gardner and Windham conservative activist Ken Eyring came up with a process that would require a team of hand-picked forensic analysts to examine the four AccuVote machines used to count ballots in Windham. Among the potential analysts were two experts, Col. Phil Waldron and Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, who were involved in challenging the results of presidential voting in several states last fall.

Full Article: Sununu signs Windham election audit bill | State |

Ohio Supreme Court outlines deadlines for voting machine case | Cassandra Nist/The Canton Repository

The Ohio Supreme Court has laid out its calendar for hearing the Stark County Dominion voting machine dispute. There won’t be a ruling before the primary election on May 4 but Stark County Board of Election had hoped to buy the new voting machines in time for elections later this year. The elections board has until April 26 to file all its evidence and legal briefs. Stark County commissioners have until May 10 to file its briefs, then the BOE must respond by May 14. The Ohio Supreme court noted the clerk of court shall refuse to file any requests for a time extension. “Whether this case is heard quickly or on a normal timetable, we’re confident that the law and evidence support the position of the county commissioners. They have the ability and the duty to carefully review recommended expenditure to ensure taxpayers are getting the best value,” attorney Mark Weaver, who represents county commissioners, said Monday. The elections board filed the 69-page lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court, and a motion to expedite the case due to a “fast approaching election-related deadline of June 15, 2021.” The board is seeking an order from the Supreme Court directing county commissioners to acquire Dominion Voting Systems Image Cast X machines, The bipartisan elections board unanimously voted to buy the new machines for use in Stark County’s elections nearly four months ago. The machines, according to the complaint, are similar to the voting machines that the county has used since 2005 and competitive in price.

Full Article: Ohio Supreme Court outlines deadlines for voting machine case

Pennsylvania: Taxpayers footed the bill for election lawsuits. Costs went into the millions | Julia Agos/WITF

Two weeks after the 2020 presidential election was called for Democrat Joe Biden, and as President Donald Trump sought to overturn the results, Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey issued a statement accepting Biden’s win. The Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes handed Biden the White House. But they had become the target of an unprecedented effort by Trump and his allies to reverse what his Justice Department and eventually over 60 legal decisions would confirm was a free and fair election. On Nov. 21, U.S. Middle District Court Judge Matthew Brann, who is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, had just tossed out the Trump campaign’s efforts to invalidate all 7 million of Pennsylvania’s votes. Toomey, who voted for Trump, had seen enough. “President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania,” Toomey wrote. Four days later, Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican from Butler County and a fervent Trump backer, filed a lawsuit challenging Act 77, which allowed for no-excuse mail voting. Almost every Republican lawmaker voted yes when the state legislature passed it in 2019. Kelly was asking that all 2.5 million mail in votes be invalidated.

Full Article: Taxpayers footed Pa.’s bill for election lawsuits. Costs went into the millions | WITF

Texas GOP voting restrictions: Color blind or “Jim Crow in a tuxedo”? | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Two nights of voting in Houston, eight months apart, each occurring as midnight slipped by, lay bare the fault line cutting through Texas’ ongoing debate about voter suppression. First, the March 3, 2020, presidential primary. On the campus of Texas Southern University, a historically Black college, hundreds waited in a line that wrapped through a campus library and out into a courtyard for four hours, then five, then six after polls were supposed to close at 7 p.m. — the result of an unexpected surge of Democratic voters and a mismanagement of voting machines. Then in November, Houston residents — most of them people of color — were again voting after hours in the general election, but this time it was intentional. Harris County had set up a day of 24-hour voting to make it easier for voters, like shift workers, who face difficulty getting to the polls during traditional hours. The first scene was one of frustration and disenfranchisement, not unusual in a state with some of the strictest voting rules in the nation. The second felt celebratory, a moment when it seemed democracy went right and people were welcomed to the voting booth.

Full Article: Texas GOP voting restrictions: Color blind or “Jim Crow in a tuxedo”? | The Texas Tribune

Wisconsin Supreme Court says don’t purge voters from rolls | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state elections commission should not remove from the rolls voters flagged as possibly having moved, something Democrats fought and conservatives have wanted done for nearly two years. The court’s 5-2 ruling means about 69,000 people on the list of likely movers will not have their voter registrations deactivated. When the lawsuit was first brought in 2019, about 234,000 were on the list. Of those who remain, none voted in the 2020 presidential election, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. No voters had their registrations deactivated while the legal fight was pending. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative advocacy group, argued that the state elections commission broke the law when it did not remove voters from the rolls who did not respond within 30 days to a mailing in 2019 indicating they had been identified as someone who potentially moved. But the court said the job of removing voters from the rolls was up to local municipal elections officials, not the state commission. It ordered the case dismissed. Two of the court’s conservative justices, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Justice Brian Hagedorn, joined with liberal justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky in the majority. Hagedorn, who has sided with liberals in other high profile cases, wrote the majority opinion. Justices Rebecca Bradley and Annette Ziegler dissented. The two Bradleys are not related. The issue received a lot of attention before the presidential race. Because voters who moved were concentrated in more Democratic areas of the state, liberals argued that the lawsuit was meant to lower turnout on their side. Republicans countered that it was about reducing the likelihood of voter fraud and making sure that people who moved are not able to vote from their previous addresses. President Joe Biden carried Wisconsin by fewer than 21,000 votes, an outcome that withstood a two-county recount brought by former President Donald Trump and numerous lawsuits.

Full Article: Wisconsin Supreme Court says don’t purge voters from rolls

The next Georgia: Texas and Arizona emerge as voting rights battlegrounds | Sam Levine/The Guardian

As Georgia Republicans face backlash over new sweeping voting restrictions, activists in other states are escalating efforts to oppose similar restrictions advancing in other states. Texas and Arizona have emerged as two of the next major battlegrounds over voting rights. Texas Republicans last week advanced legislation that would limit early voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting and give partisan poll workers the ability to record voters at the polls, among other measures. In Arizona, Republicans are moving ahead with an audit of ballots from the presidential race while also advancing legislation that would make it harder to vote by mail. Nationally lawmakers have introduced 361 bills to limit access to the ballot in some way, according to a tally by the Brennan Center for Justice. Fifty-five of those bills are advancing in legislatures. After companies like Delta and Coca-Cola faced criticism for waiting too long to speak out against the Georgia legislation, advocates have been heartened by swift corporate condemnation of the Texas measure. American Airlines, which is based in Texas, said on Thursday it was “strongly opposed” to the Texas legislation. Microsoft and Dell also spoke out against the measures. Major League Baseball announced on Friday it was moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to Georgia’s sweeping new law. Joe Straus, the former speaker of the Texas house of representatives, also came out against the measures on Thursday, tweeting that businesses had “good reason” to oppose the bill. “Texas should not go down the same path as Georgia. It’s bad for business and, more importantly, it’s bad for our citizens,” he said.

Full Article: The next Georgia: Texas and Arizona emerge as voting rights battlegrounds | US voting rights | The Guardian

Protecting American Democracy Is No Crime – New Laws Could Make Election Officials Legal Targets | Lawrence Norden/Foreign Affairs

In the past 12 months, American election officials have been heralded for their courage and commitment in carrying out the most logistically challenging election in modern times—with record turnout, no less. They have also been attacked as villains by those who believe the Big Lie, that the election was somehow stolen from then President Donald Trump. Election officials—who before 2020 had been largely ignored by the Twittersphere and conspiracy theorists—became the targets of thousands of false accusations, protests at their workplaces, and even harassment and threats. Such mistreatment is now taking a new and possibly even more sinister form. Legislation in several states proposes to strip election officials of their power to act on behalf of voters and to criminalize various actions they might take in the course of performing their duties. These bills add the danger of arrest and prosecution to already challenging working conditions. They should be beaten back by all who are committed to preserving American democracy. The recently passed law in Georgia is just one example. The law has rightly been criticized for its suppressive provisions, such as one that makes it a crime for volunteers to provide in-person voters with water, even when they’ve been waiting in line for hours. Less noticed are provisions that take key powers away from election officials. SB 202 removes Georgia’s secretary of state—who stood up to Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 results—from the position of chair of the state election board and turns control of the board over to the state legislature. That newly constituted board is in turn given more power to intervene in the activity of local election boards, including by removing and replacing local board members. Reasonable people can disagree as to what is the best structure of a state election board, but all should be opposed to retaliating against an office for its holder’s refusal to bend to inappropriate and extreme political pressure.

Full Article: Protecting American Democracy Is No Crime | Foreign Affairs

National: How some states are expanding voting rights amid sweeping push to restrict access | Kendall Karson/ABC

The GOP’s rush to impose hundreds of voting restrictions in the aftermath of a bruising electoral loss comes as a burgeoning number of states are pressing ahead with an alternative ambition: making voting easier. The effort might seem like an outlier at a time when Republicans are scaling back voting access across the country and being condemned by Democrats for ushering in a new era of “Jim Crow.” In the aftermath of former President Donald Trump and his allies spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election, at least 361 bills aimed at restricting ballot access have been introduced as of March 24, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. But the push to embrace broadening access to the voting booth isn’t few and far between. In fact, lawmakers in at least 47 states are putting forward more than 800 bills to expand the right to vote. As the nation seems bitterly fractured over election rules, in the heart of Trump country, one red state appears to be the lone exception so far. Kentucky lawmakers agreed on a bipartisan and modest expansion of voting rights, melded with some new restrictions to address election security. The new law, which was signed by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday, sets tighter restrictions on who is eligible to vote-by-mail compared to the 2020 election, but it also provides three days for early voting, establishes vote centers to increase options for casting a ballot in-person, and creates an online portal for voters to request mail-in ballots.

Full Article: How some states are expanding voting rights amid sweeping push to restrict access – ABC News

National: Nation Has Georgia on Its Mind but Many States Are Making Voting Easier | Matt Vasilogambros/Stateline

During the waning days of the presidential election, Vermont Democratic state Sen. Cheryl Hooker got a desperate call from one of her constituents: The woman said she had forgotten to sign her name on the absentee ballot, it had been rejected by the town clerk and she couldn’t fix it. This was a familiar story around the country, as the pandemic forced voters and election administrators to take a crash course in mail-in voting. “People make mistakes,” said Hooker, who couldn’t help her constituent at the time. “They don’t sign the outside envelope, or they forget to put their name on it. Their vote would not count.” When Vermont’s legislative session began earlier this year, Hooker introduced a measure that would create a process for voters to “cure” signatures or other technical mistakes on mail-in ballots. Lawmakers added provisions that would allow the state to mail ballots to every active voter before general elections. The bill passed the state Senate, is on track to pass the state House, according to Hooker, and has support from Republican Gov. Phil Scott. The national conversation around voting rights this year has focused on new ballot restrictions in states such as Arizona and Georgia. Less noticed have been efforts by states such as Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont and Virginia to expand voting by mail, early voting and voter registration. Lawmakers, mostly in heavily Democratic states, aim to loosen restrictions on the voting process, hoping to continue the trend of record turnout that most states saw last year. Lawmakers in 47 states have introduced nearly 850 bills to expand early voting, restore voting rights for people with felony convictions and set up automatic voter registration, among other measures, according to a late March count by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. This is more than twice the number of restrictive voting bills introduced this session.

Full Article: Nation Has Georgia on Its Mind but Many States Are Making Voting Easier | The Pew Charitable Trusts