Texas: Her Ballot Didn’t Count. She Faces 5 Years in Prison for Casting It. | Christina Morales/The New York Times

On Election Day 2016, Crystal Mason went to vote after her mother insisted that she make her voice heard in the presidential election. When her name didn’t appear on official voting rolls at her polling place in Tarrant County, Texas, she filled out a provisional ballot, not thinking anything of it. Ms. Mason’s ballot was never officially counted or tallied because she was ineligible to vote: She was on supervised release after serving five years for tax fraud. Nonetheless, that ballot has wrangled her into a lengthy appeals process after a state district court sentenced her to five years in prison for illegal voting, as she was a felon on probation when she cast her ballot. Ms. Mason maintains that she didn’t know she was ineligible to vote. “This is very overwhelming, waking up every day knowing that prison is on the line, trying to maintain a smile on your face in front of your kids and you don’t know the outcome,” Ms. Mason said in a phone interview. “Your future is in someone else’s hands because of a simple error.” Her case is now headed for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest state court for criminal cases, whose judges said on Wednesday that they had decided to hear it. Ms. Mason unsuccessfully asked for a new trial and lost her case in an appellate court. This new appeal is the last chance for Ms. Mason, 46, who is out on appeal bond, to avoid prison. If her case has to advance to the federal court system, Ms. Mason would have to appeal from a cell.

Full Article: Her Ballot Didn’t Count. She Faces 5 Years in Prison for Casting It. – The New York Times

Texas: GOP voting bills draw business opposition, much to Dan Patrick’s displeasure | Chuck Lindell/Austin American-Statesman

Protecting business from government obstacles is a political priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but the conservative Republican is not a fan when businesses become obstacles to his hard-charging agenda. Patrick lashed out at American Airlines after the nation’s largest air carrier announced that it is “strongly opposed” to Senate Bill 7, a Patrick priority that passed the Senate on Thursday — with Republicans praising it for improving election integrity, while Democrats, civil rights groups and other opponents called it a naked bid to suppress voting rights. “As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote,” American Airlines said Thursday in a statement. “At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society — not create them.” Patrick issued his own statement, saying he was stunned by the Fort Worth-based airline’s stand. “Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy.” he said. “The majority of Texans support maintaining the integrity of our elections, which is why I made it a priority this legislative session.”

Full Article: GOP voting bills draw business opposition in Texas

Wisconsin: Advocates For The Blind, Visually Impaired Say State’s Absentee Ballots Are Not ADA Compliant | Courtney Everett/Wisconsin Public Radio

Election Day is Tuesday and advocates for those who are blind and visually impaired are pushing for changes to the state’s absentee ballots. Wisconsin voters can request an absentee ballot, but the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired says the state does not have a ballot for absentee voting that is compliant with the American Disabilities Act. Denise Jess, who is blind, voted absentee in November which required having someone read the ballot aloud and mark her ballot. She said her ability to vote privately and independently is sacrificed when she votes by mail. “Absentee ballots are sent out on paper, so imagine holding a piece of paper folded in an envelope, you pull it out, and you have no way to interact with that piece of paper, because you can’t see it,” said Jess, executive director of the council. In Wisconsin, Jim Denham, access technology specialist with the council, says there is technology for individuals who are blind and visually impaired who want to vote in person. There is accessible voting equipment at every polling site, which is required by federal law. Some sites have what is called an ExpressVote machine, known as a ballot-marking device. An individual who is blind or visually impaired uses a game controller with arrows on it to move through the ballot electronically while wearing headphones. The person can hear the name of each candidate while scrolling through the ballot.

Full Article: Advocates For The Blind, Visually Impaired Say Wisconsin’s Absentee Ballots Are Not ADA Compliant | Wisconsin Public Radio

Michigan: Dominion Voting Systems accuses ex-senator of ‘disinformation campaign’ | Craig Mauger/The Detroit News

Dominion Voting Systems is demanding that Patrick Colbeck, a former Michigan lawmaker, retract “false claims” he’s been making about the company in PowerPoint presentations. Dominion sent Colbeck, who’s from Canton, a letter on Friday, according to a document obtained by The Detroit News. The company says Colbeck is waging a “disinformation campaign” while touring Michigan to give presentations entitled “Case for MI Decertification,” which blames Dominion for “stealing the election” from former President Donald Trump. “You are knowingly sowing discord in our democracy, all the while soliciting exorbitant amounts of money — totaling over $1 million so far — from your audiences paid directly to your personal business,” says the letter signed by attorneys Thomas Clare and Megan Meier. At one point, the letter vows, “Make no mistake — Dominion will hold you accountable for these lies.” Colbeck didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday. The former lawmaker is an influential figure among conservative GOP groups in Michigan. He came in third place in the GOP primary race for governor in 2018 with 13% of the vote. Then-Attorney General Bill Schuette received 51%, and then-Lt. Gov. Brian Calley got 25%.

Full Article: Dominion Voting Systems accuses ex-Michigan senator of ‘disinformation campaign’

Big Lies vs. Big Lawsuits: Why Dominion Voting is suing Fox News and a host of Trump allies | Jen Wieczner/Fortune

On Dec. 9, Nicole Nollette, an executive at Dominion Voting Systems, was driving home from a doctor’s appointment when she noticed she’d missed a call from one of her customers. The client, an elections official whose jurisdiction uses Dominion’s voting machines, had also sent her a link to a website. Nollette pulled up the site on her phone and saw her own photo—overlaid with bright red crosshairs, as though she were in the sights of a sniper’s rifle. The website, which bore the moniker “Enemies of the People,” also included an address in Nevada, showing aerial views of that property beneath Nollette’s picture. That alarmed Nollette even more, because she doesn’t live in Nevada but in Colorado, where Dominion is based. The address was for the home of her retired parents. Months later, the Navy veteran remembers the fear in her mother’s voice over the phone as her parents loaded the website: “They have a picture of the house,” her mom gasped. Nollette was one of more than a dozen people, ranging from other Dominion employees to Trump administration officials, whose photos were posted on the website. The site accused them all of playing a role in an elaborate conspiracy to rig November’s presidential election by “flipping” votes for Donald Trump to Joe Biden—and relying on Dominion’s machines, which are in use in 28 states, to do it. Later that day, the FBI showed up on Nollette’s parents’ doorstep to alert them to the menace. Soon, Nollette herself received death threats—including one sent to her personal email address, warning, “Your days are numbered.” She still doesn’t know who sent them, though the FBI later notified Dominion and others that its intel had linked the hit list to Iran. The threats have tapered in the months since President Trump left the White House. But Nollette, who lives alone, still watches for suspicious cars around her street. And while she once made a daily habit of taking walks before sunrise and after sunset, she now goes out only in the light of day. “This is the first time since I left the military that, at least in terms of security and threats, I’ve had to engage that military training,” she says.

Full Article: Why Dominion Voting is suing Fox News and a host of Trump allies | Fortune

Why Are Republicans Promoting Gratuitously Cruel Election Restrictions? | Ed Kilgore/New York Magazine

Of all the numerous potholes on the path to the ballot box that Georgia Republicans dug in their recent “election security” legislation, one of the oddest, which has earned its sponsors much criticism (from the president of the United States, among others) is a ban on anyone giving food or water to citizens standing in line to vote. It seems gratuitously cruel, particularly given Georgia’s reputation for long voting lines during both early voting and on Election Day, especially in large urban precincts that skew heavily Black and Democratic. Defenders of Georgia’s new law argue that it only bans campaigns from bribing voters with food and drink and encourages poll workers to provide water. But a very close neutral analysis of the provision makes it clear that, at most, it allows for the establishment of unattended “self-service” water containers but doesn’t mandate them or make them necessarily convenient. It’s precisely the perception that it will negatively affect one party’s voters more than the other’s that may be fueling such new laws. (Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature is considering a similar restriction.) Whether or not hungry or thirsty voters in long lines will grow discouraged and go home, Republicans seem to think they may, and the alleged boost to the GOP’s election results is all the rationale that’s needed. Indeed, before the latest session of the Georgia General Assembly, Republican secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had been warning about food and water distribution in Georgia’s January 5 runoffs, arguing (erroneously, I believe) that existing laws aimed at keeping campaigns or other political organizations from rewarding voters with food or drink after they voted could be interpreted as creating a no-consumption zone around polling places. That is presumably why the hateful language found its way into Republican legislation — to make sure the hunger and thirst of Black and Democratic voters in places like metro Atlanta were not being slaked.

Full Article: Why Are Republicans Promoting Cruel Election Restrictions?

National: The States Where Efforts To Restrict Voting Are Escalating | Alex Samuels, Elena Mejía and Nathaniel Rakich/FiveThirtyEight

One of the biggest battlegrounds has been Georgia, where last Thursday a controversial package of new voter restrictions was signed into law. Among its many provisions: Absentee voters will now be required to prove their identity, people are prohibited from handing out food and water to voters waiting in line, and the state board of elections is empowered to remove local election officials. Legislators in Michigan and Wisconsin have also deemed “election integrity” a priority and introduced a raft of legislation to prohibit election administrators from proactively sending out vote-by-mail applications, tighten voter-ID requirements and more. But the push to restrict voting rights expands beyond just a few states. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a voting rights advocacy group, 253 bills to restrict voting access had been introduced in 43 state legislatures as of Feb. 19. And according to our own tracking, at least 53 additional bills have been introduced since then.1 Of these 306 bills, 89 percent were sponsored entirely or primarily by Republicans, according to the bill-tracking service LegiScan. Notably, the four states where the greatest number of voting-restriction bills have been filed — Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania — were some of the closest states in last year’s presidential election. They also all voted for President Biden — the first time Georgia and Arizona voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in over two decades — and have Republican-controlled legislatures, making them especially fertile ground for new voting restrictions.

Full Article: The States Where Efforts To Restrict Voting Are Escalating | FiveThirtyEight

National: Election bills surge nationwide as 47 states consider restrictions | Jane C. Timm/NBC

Lawmakers introduced 108 restrictive voting bills in less than five weeks this spring, according to an analysis of the scope and momentum of election limits being considered across the country. By March 24, lawmakers had introduced 361 restrictive election bills in 47 legislatures, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which has been tracking the legislation. That’s 108 more than in the center’s last count, on Feb. 19, a 43 percent increase. Former President Donald Trump’s stolen election lie has inspired an avalanche of election-related bills nationwide. By all accounts, the 2020 election was secure and the results were accurate. Trump’s attorney general William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the results failed in courtrooms around the country. But that hasn’t stopped states from reducing access to the ballot box.

Full Article: Election bills surge nationwide as 47 states consider restrictions

National: Corporate pressures suggest new dynamics on voting rights | Rick Klein, Averi Harper , and Kendall Karson/ABC

It might look like it all came a week late. But it might be that the shifting corporate dynamics around voting rights are happening at the moment they will matter most. Delta Air Lines and the Coca-Cola Co., two Atlanta-based behemoths that issued vague statements supporting voting rights but did not publicly oppose Georgia’s new voting law before it passed, came out Wednesday with top executives blasting the law signed by the state’s Republican governor late last week. “This legislation is unacceptable. It is a step backwards,” Coca-Cola’s CEO said. His counterpart at Delta similarly called the law “not acceptable,” telling ABC’s “GMA3”: “Our Black communities’ voices need to be heard on this topic.” The revised corporate statements came on the same day that a coalition of Black business leaders, the Black Economic Alliance, ran an open-letter ad in The New York Times calling on corporate America to “support our nation’s fundamental democratic principles and marshal its collective influence.” It’s too late for Georgia businesses to help rewrite their state’s voting laws this year. But the Democratic Party of Georgia welcomed the statements, inviting the companies to join lobbying efforts for federal legislation pending on Capitol Hill.

Full Article: Corporate pressures suggest new dynamics on voting rights: The Note – ABC News

National: Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century | Jane Mayer/The New Yorker

In public, Republicans have denounced Democrats’ ambitious electoral-reform bill, the For the People Act, as an unpopular partisan ploy. In a contentious Senate committee hearing last week, Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, slammed the proposal, which aims to expand voting rights and curb the influence of money in politics, as “a brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats.” But behind closed doors Republicans speak differently about the legislation, which is also known as House Resolution 1 and Senate Bill 1. They admit the lesser-known provisions in the bill that limit secret campaign spending are overwhelmingly popular across the political spectrum. In private, they concede their own polling shows that no message they can devise effectively counters the argument that billionaires should be prevented from buying elections. A recording obtained by The New Yorker of a private conference call on January 8th, between a policy adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell and the leaders of several prominent conservative groups—including one run by the Koch brothers’ network—reveals the participants’ worry that the proposed election reforms garner wide support not just from liberals but from conservative voters, too. The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill’s provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn’t worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress. Kyle McKenzie, the research director for the Koch-run advocacy group Stand Together, told fellow-conservatives and Republican congressional staffers on the call that he had a “spoiler.” “When presented with a very neutral description” of the bill, “people were generally supportive,” McKenzie said, adding that “the most worrisome part . . . is that conservatives were actually as supportive as the general public was when they read the neutral description.” In fact, he warned, “there’s a large, very large, chunk of conservatives who are supportive of these types of efforts.”

Full Article: Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century | The New Yorker

National: Think tank launches cybersecurity training for state officials | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

The nonprofit National Cybersecurity Center on Monday kicked off a new initiative to offer training sessions on cyber hygiene and IT security to elected officials in state governments and their staff members. The program will feature virtual briefings, on-demand workshops and other materials addressing not only good online safety measures, but also an overview of the many different cyberthreats state and local government face. “Cybersecurity is more important than ever with businesses, government, and private individuals falling victim to digital attacks everyday,” Forrest Senti the director of business and government initiatives at the Colorado Springs, Colorado, think tank said in a press release. The training series is backed in part by Google, which recently expanded its election-security products — such as physical multi-factor authentication keys — to state and local election administrators, after offering them to campaigns and candidates last year. Two secretaries of state, Republican Frank LaRose of Ohio and Democrat Jena Griswold of Colorado, also signed on Monday to be emissaries for the training program in their states, the National Cybersecurity Center said. “Americans must have confidence in their elections. That can’t happen if we aren’t vigilant in our defense of the digital systems that make up our election infrastructure,” LaRose, who last year became the first statewide elections chief to launch a vulnerability disclosure program, said in the press release. In an interview last month, Senti said the point of the training will be to provide state legislators, who are responsible for funding IT and cybersecurity policies, with information from industry experts from Senti’s organization as well as its industry partners, such as Google and Microsoft.

Full Article: Think tank launches cybersecurity training for state officials

National: NIST framework focuses on election cybersecurity | Justin Katz/FCW

The National Institute of Standards and Technology on Monday published a draft framework to help local election officials prepare for and respond to cyber threats. The framework takes NIST’s pre-existing cybersecurity best practices and applies them to election infrastructure such as polling places, voter registration databases and voting machines. “The guide can help these officials reduce the risk of disruptions to the major tasks they must perform in the process of an election,” according to NIST. “These range from the immediate concerns of an election day, such as vote processing or communicating the details of a problem or crisis, to longer-term efforts, like maintaining election and voter registration systems.” The new draft framework is the first time NIST has combined election security and cybersecurity in one of its playbooks, according to one of the authors.

Full Article: NIST framework focuses on election cybersecurity — FCW

Arizona Senate hires a ‘Stop the Steal’ advocate to lead 2020 election audit | Jeremy Duda and Jim Small/Arizona Mirror

The audit team that Senate President Karen Fann selected to examine the 2020 general election in Maricopa County will be led by a company owned by an advocate of the “Stop the Steal” movement who repeatedly alleged on social media that the election was rigged against former President Donald Trump. Fann announced on Wednesday that she’d selected four companies to participate in an extensive audit and recount of the election, led by Cyber Ninjas, an Florida-based cybersecurity company. Cyber Ninjas is owned by Doug Logan, who has been an active promoter of baseless conspiracy theories alleging widespread election fraud last year, including in Arizona. “I’m tired of hearing people say there was no fraud. It happened, it’s real, and people better get wise fast,” read a tweet from a since-suspended account that Logan retweeted on Dec. 31.  Logan was also listed as an expert witness by a man who filed a lawsuit alleging election fraud in Antrim County, Mich., which was the focus of early conspiracy theories due to a human-caused software error that briefly swapped vote totals between Trump and Joe Biden in the heavily Republican county. Among the other expert witnesses were Russell Ramsland and Phil Waldron of Texas-based Allied Security Operations Group, which Fann attempted to hire to conduct the audit, despite an extensive track record of making groundless or demonstrably false allegations about the fraud in the election.

Source: Arizona Senate hires a ‘Stop the Steal’ advocate to lead 2020 election audit

Arizona Senate hires firm that spread election lie to audit Maricopa County results | Reid Wilson/TheHill

Arizona Senate Republicans have chosen a firm headed by a security consultant who spread baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections to oversee an audit of election results from Maricopa County. State Senate President Karen Fann (R) said Wednesday that the state would retain four firms to conduct a forensic audit of county election results. The company that will lead the audit, Cyber Ninjas, is owned and operated by Doug Logan, a Florida man who helped spread lies about the election’s results last year. Logan retweeted conspiracy theorists such as Ron Watkins, a former administrator of the 8chan network who some believe is the man behind QAnon, and Michael Flynn, former President Trump’s first national security adviser, according to a Twitter archive first reported by The Arizona Mirror. Logan himself posted false claims about Dominion Voting Systems, the company that has sued attorney Sidney Powell and Fox News after it became the target of Trump-backed conspiracy theories. He was listed as an expert witness in a lawsuit challenging the validity of one Michigan county’s counts. Logan has since deleted his Twitter feed.

Full Article: Arizona Senate hires firm that spread election lie to audit county results | TheHill

Florida Republicans considering new election bill that would effectively ban giving voters water | Jane C. Timm/NBC

Florida Republicans are considering a bill that would effectively make it a crime to give voters food or drink, including water, within 150 feet of polling places. According to the text of an elections bill introduced last week, state law currently prohibits offering voters assistance within 100 feet of polling locations; H.B. 7041 proposes expanding that zone to 150 feet and includes a prohibition on giving “any item” to voters or “interacting or attempting to interact” with voters within that zone. State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a Republican from Spring Hill, said in a committee meeting last Monday that the ban would include “food or beverages.” The proposal is similar to a measure in Georgia’s sweeping new election law that bans giving water, food or gifts to voters waiting in line, among many other restrictions. President Joe Biden, in condemning Georgia’s law as “outrageous” and “Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” singled out that provision as evidence of suppressive intent in a state he flipped blue for the first time in decades. “If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they pass a law saying you can’t provide water for people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote,” he said on Friday. Georgia Republicans have said the state’s election laws needed tightening to improve voter confidence. For years, campaigns and other groups have distributed water, sent food trucks and had pizza delivered to voters waiting in long lines to cast a ballot. Amid a nationwide effort by Republican lawmakers to tighten voting laws in the wake of an election their nominee lost, the practice has come under fire.

Full Article: Florida Republicans considering new election bill that would effectively ban giving voters water

Editorial: Heavy hand of Heritage Foundation guides Florida’s election overhaul | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

It’s bad enough that the Republicans who run the Florida Legislature want to make it harder to vote. But as with so much that goes on in Tallahassee, it’s even worse than it looks. GOP legislators are following a script written by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that wants to institutionalize voter-suppression policies under the myth of “election integrity.” Never mind that Florida’s 2020 election had a record turnout and was a model for the nation with timely results and surprisingly few spoiled ballots. It also produced big Republican victories. For The Heritage Foundation and its allies in Florida’s Capitol, too many Democrats voted. They want to erect barriers — especially for black and brown people, who like the convenience of voting by mail and who overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates. “Election integrity” is code for keeping Democrats home. As The New York Times reports, Heritage Action for America, a partner of The Heritage Foundation, supported the highly controversial voting restrictions that recently became law in Georgia, a state that voted blue in 2020. Heritage Action said the effort was by volunteers. Fresh from that victory, Heritage Action has set its sights on Florida, one of eight states targeted for changes with Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Texas and Wisconsin. The Heritage Foundation’s in-house elections specialist is Hans von Spakovsky, an Alabama lawyer and member of the arch-conservative Federalist Society who served on President Trump’s short-lived Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Heritage Action officials have confirmed to the Sun Sentinel editorial board that the group is working with Florida legislators. Heritage Action for America’s Florida lobbyist, Karen Jaroch, disclosed the group’s interest in shaping a House election bill, and Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, confirmed he has discussed voting-law changes with Heritage staffers.

Full Article: Heritage Foundation shapes revamp of Florida voting laws – South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Georgia Elections officials fear law could politicize voting operations | Julia Harte and Joseph Ax/Reuters

Election officials in conservative and liberal parts of Georgia say a new law allowing a Republican-controlled state agency to take over local voting operations could make the process too partisan. Voting rights advocates have also warned that the provision, part of sweeping voting restrictions signed into law last week by Governor Brian Kemp, targets Democratic bastions such as Atlanta’s Fulton County that helped deliver the party control of the White House and Congress in recent elections. The new law has mostly gained attention for its measures to strengthen absentee ballot identification requirements, curtail ballot drop box use and penalize members of the public who offer food and water to voters in line. Months after former Republican President Donald Trump falsely claimed voter fraud in the 2020 elections, Republican backers say Georgia’s law is needed to restore confidence in election integrity. Civil rights groups have filed three lawsuits asserting the law illegally restricts voting rights, particularly for minority voters. The legislation authorizes the Republican-majority legislature to appoint the state election board’s majority while demoting the elected secretary of state, Georgia’s top election official, to a non-voting position.

Full Article: Elections officials fear Georgia law could politicize voting operations | Reuters

Georgia voting restrictions challenged again in third federal lawsuit | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Another federal lawsuit is challenging Georgia’s new voting law, the third court effort to stop election rules that plaintiffs say will make it harder for all voters to cast their ballots, especially African Americans. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by the African Methodist Episcopal Church and other plaintiffs, is aimed at many parts of the voting law, including absentee ID requirementsdrop box restrictions, absentee ballot request deadlines and a ban on volunteers handing out food and water to voters waiting in line. “Simply put, this new law not only seeks to suppress the votes of Black and brown people, but it is also racist and seeks to return us to the days of Jim Crow,” Bishop Reginald Jackson of the AME Church’s Sixth District, which includes Georgia, wrote in a letter to parishioners. Republican defendants in the suit, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, have said the voting law will increase confidence in Georgia’s voting system after then-President Donald Trump falsely claimed he had won the election. Election officials say there’s no evidence of widespread fraud, and recounts verified the results.

Full Article: AME Church sues in federal court to block Georgia’s new voting law

Kentucky: How GOP-dominant state passed bipartisan election reforms | Adam Brewster and Caitlin Huey-Burns/CBS News

State legislatures across the country have been embroiled in high-profile, partisan fights over elections laws since the ballot boxes were put away after the 2020 elections. Kentucky is one of the states where a Republican supermajority voted to change its voting laws, but unlike most GOP-dominant states, lawmakers here sent a sweeping bipartisan bill expanding voting access to the governor’s desk. The secret to their success? During the pandemic, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear and Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams worked together to try to give voters more options to cast ballots. That led to a record number of voters in November, with more than 2.1 million Kentuckians voting. The turnout benefited Republicans, who expanded their majorities in the state House and Senate and saw former President Trump carry the state by 26 points. And the secretary of state’s office found the counties with the highest proportion of early voting were the most Republican counties. As it turned out, voters and local officials alike welcomedthe changes, and encouraged lawmakers to make some overdue reforms to the state’s voting laws. “Everyone agreed it was a successful election. It wasn’t an accident…given how we approached it in a bipartisan way,” Adams told CBS News. “I’m proud we are expanding access when other states are not…sensitive both to access and security, you can have both at the same time.”

Full Article: How GOP-dominant Kentucky passed bipartisan election reforms – CBS News

Iowa Democrat Rita Hart, claiming ‘toxic campaign of political disinformation,’ withdraws election challenge in Iowa’s 2nd District | Brianne Pfannenstiel/Des Moines Register

Iowa Democrat Rita Hart is withdrawing her challenge to U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller Meeks’ election in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District following what she claimed was a toxic disinformation campaign, she announced Wednesday. The move puts an end to a bitter partisan fight that has rippled across the country and that threatened to drag on through the summer. The sudden reversal also takes pressure off moderate and vulnerable Democrats who have appeared to grow increasingly uncomfortable with the possibility of voting to overturn a state-certified election. But even as she ended her official challenge, Hart made clear Wednesday that she stands by her claims. “Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans,” Hart said in a statement announcing the decision. “It is a stain on our democracy that the truth has not prevailed and my hope for the future is a return to decency and civility.” Miller-Meeks, who has been seated in Congress provisionally since January, issued a statement Wednesday thanking Hart for the decision. “I know how extremely difficult it is to lose an election, but for the people to have faith and confidence in the election system and Iowa laws, it was gracious of her to concede at this time,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to work to represent the people of Iowa’s Second District.”

Full Article: Iowa’s 2nd District: Democrat Rita Hart drops her U.S. House challenge

Michigan expert debunks infamous report on Antrim County election | Craig Mauger/The Detroit News

A University of Michigan computer science expert says the much-discussed December 2020 report by supporters of Donald Trump on election results in Antrim County “contains an extraordinary number of false, inaccurate or unsubstantiated statements.” The Michigan Department of State last week released a 54-page analysis of what went wrong in Antrim County’s election by J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan. Halderman details how human errors — the failure to properly prepare ballot scanners and ballots themselves — jumbled initial results to show Democrat Joe Biden winning the conservative northern Michigan county. The incorrect unofficial results were quickly noticed and eventually fixed but led to a wave of conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems, the technology used to tabulate votes in the 23,000-person county. The professor also examined claims made in a Dec. 13 report from Allied Security Operations Group. The report gained national attention among conservative media outlets and alleged Dominion software was “intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.” The report, written by Russell James Ramsland Jr., who is part of the group’s management team, said the group found an “error rate” of 68% when examining “the tabulation log” of the server for Antrim County. That “error rate” figure was touted by Trump supporters who unsuccessfully sought to discredit and overturn the election results in Michigan and other battleground states.

Full Article: Michigan expert debunks infamous report on Antrim County election

Michigan voting rights battle looms as Republicans plan to side-step Whitmer veto | Eric Bradner/CNN

Michigan is emerging as the latest battleground in Republicans’ nationwide push to restrict voting rights, with GOP officials planning to end-run Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s all-but-certain veto of proposed restrictions and progressives beginning to mobilize to stop them. The GOP attempt to circumvent Whitmer relies on a quirk of Michigan law: If Republicans gather 340,000 signatures in a petition drive, the House and Senate can enact legislation without the governor having the power to veto it. It’s the latest escalation in a years-long and increasingly ugly effort to undercut Whitmer and two other Democratic women who are statewide office-holders: Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel, all of whom are up for reelection next year. In a speech last week, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser — who laid out the plan to implement new voting restrictions in time for the 2022 election — called Whitmer, Benson and Nessel “three witches” and said Republicans must ensure “they are ready for burning at the stake.”

Full Article: Michigan voting rights battle looms as Republicans plan to side-step Whitmer veto – CNNPolitics

Ohio: Stark County commissioners refuse demand to fund Dominion voting machines | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

Facing the threat of an imminent lawsuit from the Stark County Board of Elections, county commissioners stated they would not be complying with the board’s demand to approve funding by Wednesday for new Dominion voting machines. Commissioner Bill Smith, president of the three-member board of commissioners, read a statement shortly before the board adjourned at the conclusion of its regular Wednesday meeting. “Since March 10th, the Board of Elections has not submitted any new information, or new analysis to the commissioners. What has been missing during this process, or at least it has never been shared with the commissioners and the public, is a comprehensive and transparent review of all the available and state-approved voting systems, including a side-by-side comparison and analysis of the pros and cons of each voting system. Back in December, the commissioners requested much of this information, but it was never provided. Also missing has been any kind of vigorous negotiation by the Board of Elections with voting systems vendors to ensure Stark County taxpayers are getting the best bargain for their money,” the statement said. “Regrettably, none of these things have changed since March 10th, therefore, this board (of commissioners) will not be taking any new action today.” Neither Board of Elections Chairman Samuel Ferruccio nor the Board of Elections’ Columbus-based election law attorney, Don McTigue, could immediately be reached for comment. An email seeking comment was sent to Dominion. The commissioners issued their statement a day after meeting either in person or by teleconference with attorneys in executive session to discuss pending or imminent court action.

Full Article: Stark commissioners refuse to comply with voting machines demand

Ohio: Stark County Board of Elections chair responds to commissioners’ refusal to fund voting machines | Robert Wang/ The Canton Repository

The Stark County Board of Elections isn’t going to back down in its dispute with county commissioners over the purchase of Dominion voting machines. That was the indication Thursday morning from Samuel Ferruccio, chairman of the Stark County Board of Elections. The board has threatened to file a lawsuit against commissioners over the issue. He read a statement at the end of the regularly scheduled Board of Elections’ meeting: “The Board of Elections appreciates the Stark County commissioners’ duties and responsibilities under the law. The Board of Elections also has a responsibility under the law to make purchases and selections of many items during the year. Protect the rights of our citizens to vote in a fair, efficient and impartial manner. This includes selecting voting equipment. I believe the evidence will show if we cannot resolve this matter that we have made our selection in a bipartisan and transparent manner.” The Board of Elections has two Republicans and two Democrats, and all votes on the Dominion machines issue have been unanimous. The commissioners’ Columbus-based attorney, Mark Weaver, issued this statement by email in response:

Full Article: Stark County Board of Elections chair responds in Dominion dispute

Texas court to hear appeal from woman sentenced to prison for voting while ineligible | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Texas’ highest criminal appeals court said Wednesday it would hear an appeal from a Texas woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for voting while inadvertently ineligible in 2016. The case has attracted national attention because of the severity of the sentence and the woman, Crystal Mason, said she did not know she was ineligible to vote at the time. Many saw the severe sentence as an obvious effort to intimidate Black voters. The case also comes amid an aggressive effort by Texas prosecutors, including attorney general Ken Paxton, to prosecute even election crimes. Mason was serving on supervised release – which is similar to probation – for a federal felony conviction at the time, and Texas prohibits people with felony convictions from voting until they have completed their sentences entirely. Officials overseeing Mason’s supervised release testified at her trial that they never informed her she was ineligible to vote. An appeals court in Fort Worth upheld Mason’s conviction last year, saying “the fact that she did not know she was legally ineligible to vote was irrelevant to her prosecution”. The Texas court of criminal appeals, the highest criminal appellate court in Texas, said Wednesday it would hear the case.

Full Article: Texas court to hear appeal from woman sentenced to prison for voting while ineligible | Texas | The Guardian

Virginia: Audit overwhelmingly confirms State’s election results | Graham Moomaw/The Daily Progress

A statewide audit of Virginia’s 2020 election results verified President Joe Biden’s victory in the state, finding only a 0.00000065117% chance the state’s voting system could have produced an inaccurate outcome. “Election officials are over 99% confident in the reported outcome,” Karen Hoyt-Stewart, voting technology manager at the Virginia Department of Elections, told the State Board of Elections as she presented the audit report Wednesday. The only way to reach 100% certainty would be for officials to manually review every ballot cast in the state. In other words, the audit found there’s almost zero chance a full recount would show a different outcome. The risk-limiting audit, more of a mathematical exercise than an expansive investigation into how ballots were cast and counted, involved checking a random sample of paper ballots against the results reported by scanner machines. Local officials throughout the state pulled a total of 1,372 ballots to measure statistical confidence in the reported results. Biden received 756 of those votes, former President Donald Trump received 572, Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen received 25 and eight ballots were cast for write-in candidates, according to the report.

Full Article: Audit overwhelmingly confirms Virginia’s election results | Govt. & Politics | dailyprogress.com

Wisconsin: Trump’s Effort to ‘Hijack’ State’s Election Could Cost Him | Erik Larson/Bloomberg

Donald Trump should be ordered to pay Wisconsin $145,000 to cover the legal expenses the state racked up defending against the former president’s “haphazard” election-fraud lawsuit, the state told a judge. Trump’s attempt to overturn the will of the state’s 3.3 million voters was so weak and time-consuming that he and his lawyers should both be punished for squandering taxpayer resources, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said in a filing Wednesday in federal court in Milwaukee. Evers also filed a motion in a separate case seeking $106,000 in fees from former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, whose suit alleging voter fraud in the state included wild claims about corrupt Democratic election workers, hacked voting machines and foreign agents. “There is no reason for Wisconsin taxpayers to bear the cost of this attempt to hijack the democratic process,” Evers said in the filing. The suits were among more than 60 unsuccessful cases brought by Trump and his allies trying to overturn election results in battleground states like Wisconsin, which narrowly went for Joe Biden. A federal appeals court affirmed the rejection of Trump’s Wisconsin case, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied review. The false claims ultimately helped trigger a deadly assault on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.

Full Article: Trump’s Effort to ‘Hijack’ Wisconsin Election Could Cost Him – Bloomberg

National: Sidney Powell’s legal defense: ‘Reasonable people’ wouldn’t believe her election fraud claims | Jane C. Timm/NBC

Ex-Trump attorney Sidney Powell’s weekslong campaign to invalidate the results of the 2020 election was not based in fact, her lawyers said Monday. “No reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact,” Powell’s attorneys said in a court filing defending her against a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, the manufacturer of the election equipment she claimed was involved in the conspiracy to steal the election. Powell, who for a time was part of former President Donald Trump’s legal team fighting the election results, repeatedly and baselessly claimed that votes were illegally switched on Dominion voting machines. Election experts and officials, as well as top law enforcement officials, have said the 2020 election results were accurate and there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S. The filing Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia claims Powell’s statements were so absurd they couldn’t be taken seriously. “Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as ‘wild accusations’ and ‘outlandish claims,'” her lawyers wrote. “They are repeatedly labeled ‘inherently improbable’ and even ‘impossible.’ Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support defendant’s position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.”

Full Article: Sidney Powell’s legal defense: ‘Reasonable people’ wouldn’t believe her election fraud claims

Georgia: Why the G.O.P.’s Voting Rollbacks Will Hit Black People Hard | Richard Fausset, Nick Corasaniti and Mark Leibovich/The New York Times

After record turnout flipped Georgia blue for the first time in decades, Republicans who control the state Legislature moved swiftly to put in place a raft of new restrictions on voting access, passing a new bill that was signed into law on Thursday. The law will alter foundational elements of voting in Georgia, which supported President Biden in November and a pair of Democratic senators in January — narrow victories attributable in part to the turnout of Black voters and the array of voting options in the state. Taken together, the new barriers will have an outsize impact on Black voters, who make up roughly one-third of the state’s population and vote overwhelmingly Democratic. The Republican legislation will undermine pillars of voting access by limiting drop boxes for mail ballots, introducing more rigid voter identification requirements for absentee balloting and making it a crime to provide food or water to people waiting in line to vote. Long lines to vote are common in Black neighborhoods in Georgia’s cities, particularly Atlanta, where much of the state’s Democratic electorate lives. The new law also expands the Legislature’s power over elections, which has raised worries that it could interfere with the vote in predominantly Democratic, heavily Black counties like Fulton and Gwinnett.

Full Article: Why the Georgia G.O.P.’s Voting Rollbacks Will Hit Black People Hard – The New York Times

National: US intelligence report says election fraud claims ‘will almost certainly’ spur more violence by domestic extremists | Zachary Cohen and Geneva Sands/CNN

US intelligence agencies believe that “narratives of fraud in the recent general election” and “the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol” will “almost certainly” spur domestic extremists to try to engage in additional acts of violence this year, according to the unclassified summary of a new joint assessment released Wednesday. That warning was included in a comprehensive classified assessment of domestic violent extremism produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, which was ordered by the White House in January. The full report was transmitted to the White House and Congress. The summary was released on the same day that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers domestic violent extremism is the “greatest threat” to the US — a clear reminder that federal officials remain very concerned about the potential for more violence in the coming months. “Newer sociopolitical developments — such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence — will almost certainly spur some (domestic violent extremists) to try to engage in violence this year,” the unclassified summary says.

Full Article: US intelligence report says election fraud claims ‘will almost certainly’ spur more violence by domestic extremists – CNNPolitics