Florida: ‘Suppression’ or ‘security’? Uproar over GOP’s ‘rollback of voting rights’ | Dara Kam/Orlando Sentinel

Four months ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis bragged that other states should emulate voting procedures in Florida, where former President Donald Trump’s solid Election Day victory over President Joe Biden was done and dusted long before midnight. But the Republican governor, who will be on the ballot next year, and GOP legislative leaders are pushing changes to the state’s election process that Democrats are branding as “voter suppression,” county election officials “vehemently” oppose and experts say will “disproportionately” harm Black and Hispanic voters. “I have heard of no supervisors who are in support of this bill,” Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley told a Senate committee last week, before the Republican-controlled panel approved a measure that would make wide-ranging changes to voting by mail. State GOP leaders’ push to amend the elections process mimics efforts underway in other Republican-led states following Trump’s re-election defeat in November. Trump and his followers have repeatedly alleged that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen,” a claim without merit.

Full Article: ‘Suppression’ or ‘security’? Uproar over Florida GOP’s ‘rollback of voting rights’ – Orlando Sentinel

Georgia official clarifies earlier report on Trump call to a Georgia investigator | Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia elections officials said their description of a much-scrutinized phone call between Donald Trump and a top investigator wasn’t meant to be presented as a “word-for-word transcript” after a recording of the call revealed the former president was misquoted. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that the office’s initial report about the conversation between Trump and Frances Watson, the chief investigator, relied on Watson’s recollection. A recording of the conversation, located on a trash folder in Watson’s email account during an open records request, was released last week. It revealed that Trump told Watson she would find “dishonesty” if she scrutinized absentee ballots in Fulton County and that she had the “most important job in the country right now.” “When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,” Trump told Watson. Earlier reporting by the AJC and other news organizations misquoted the exact words that Trump used to urge Watson to act based on Fuchs’ account of the conversation. The former president did not urge Watson to “find the fraud” and did not promise she would become a “national hero.” “After hearing the tape, it’s clear that her recollection accurately portrayed the president’s assertions that there was fraud to uncover and that she would receive praise for doing so,” Fuchs said.

Full Article: Georgia official clarifies earlier report on Trump call to a Georgia investigator

Indiana: Evansville lawmaker named new secretary of state | Tom Davies/Associated Press

A legislator from Evansville who is the second-ranking officer in the state Republican Party was sworn in Tuesday as Indiana’s new secretary of state, taking over an office that oversees election issues statewide. Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his selection of Republican state Rep. Holli Sullivan for the position. Sullivan replaced outgoing Secretary of State Connie Lawson, who said last month she was resigning with nearly two years left to her elected term. Sullivan was first elected to the Indiana House in 2014 and won a new term in last November’s election. She has also been the state Republican Party’s vice chair since 2019. Lawson worked with Holcomb and other Republican leaders in allowing no-excuse mail-in voting for last year’s spring primary early in the coronavirus pandemic. But Lawson joined them in blocking a push by Democrats and voting rights groups to lift the mail-in ballot limits for the November election. Sullivan showed no divergence from that stance Tuesday, saying her top priority would be “free, fair, and secure elections, ensuring that all Hoosiers know that their vote counts.” Sullivan didn’t give any specifics when asked what steps should be taken to improve Indiana’s consistently low voter turnout, which was 65% of registered voters last fall.

Full Article: Evansville lawmaker named new Indiana secretary of state

Kentucky lawmakers advance bipartisan election reform bill | Bruce Schreiner/Associated Press

 In sharp contrast to bitter partisan battles being waged elsewhere over election laws, Republicans and Democrats in Kentucky moved closer Tuesday toward loosening the state’s voting access laws to make limited early voting a fixture. A measure overwhelmingly approved Tuesday in the state Senate would give Kentucky voters three days of no-excuse, early in-person voting — including a Saturday — before Election Day. But it backed off from the temporary, pandemic-related accommodations made last year that allowed widespread mail-in absentee balloting. The bill also seeks to strengthen election security protections. The legislation passed the Senate by a 33-3 margin, sending it back to the House to consider changes made to it. Republicans dominate both chambers, but Senate Democrats joined in voting for the bill. However, the measure didn’t come up for a potential final vote before the House adjourned shortly before midnight. That means supporters will have to wait until lawmakers reconvene for a two-day wrap-up session in late March to take up the measure. If it clears the legislature, it would be sent to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. “If it passes and becomes law, not only will it transform the way in which Kentucky elects its public officials, but also ensure that we have one of the best voter integrity laws in the country,” Republican Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said. Kentucky is accustomed to bare-knuckled partisan fights, but its top elections official noted the mild tone in the state, especially compared to the bitter debates on election law changes in other states. It echoed the tone set before last year’s primaries, when Beshear and Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams hashed out emergency voting measures during the pandemic that helped Kentucky largely avoid the long lines and other problems encountered elsewhere.

Full Article: Kentucky lawmakers advance bipartisan election reform bill

Michigan: Court invalidates rule on how to verify absentee ballot application signatures | Gus Burns/MLive.com

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson last year said local clerks should start with a presumption of validity when verifying signatures on absentee ballot applications, but a court ruling says that rule wasn’t properly established. A Michigan Court of Claims judge last week ruled that clerks no longer need to follow those instructions for determining whether to send an absentee ballot to applicants. According to the March 9 opinion and order issued by Judge Christopher M. Murray, Benson issued instructions that constituted “rules” without following the process for creating a formal rule under state and federal law. Murray wrote that “the guidance issued by the Secretary of State on October 6, 2020, with respect to signature-matching standards was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.” The Michigan Republican Party and Allegan County Clerk Robert Genetski, who jointly filed their complaint prior to the Nov. 3 election, claimed the signature standards allowed for “invalid” ballots to be counted. Murray noted in his opinion that Genetski, however, never claimed the “guidance caused him to accept a signature that he believed was invalid.”

Full Article: Court invalidates Michigan rule on how to verify absentee ballot application signatures – mlive.com

Nevada finds far fewer election complaints than GOP claimed | Rory Appleton/Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Nevada secretary of state’s office announced Tuesday it had sorted through several boxes allegedly containing about 123,000 unique voter complaints, collected by the Nevada Republican Party after the 2020 general election, but found fewer than 4,000 actual alleged election integrity violations. “While initial reports claimed that there were 122,918 unique voter complaints contained within the four boxes, a detailed review concluded that there was a total of 3,963 Elections Integrity Violation Reports, all filed by the chairman of the Nevada Republican Party — a number of which are already under investigation by law enforcement,” the office said in a news release. The office said it spent more than 40 hours labeling and evaluating the documents provided by state Republicans “to ensure a systematic assessment of the election complaints contained within.” “During the coming weeks, the staff will conduct a detailed examination of these reports,” the office said. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, the state’s lone Republican executive, was a frequent target of Republicans as they sought to reverse various 2020 election results up and down the ballot. She has maintained there was no evidence of widespread fraud in Nevada’s most recent election.

Full Article: Nevada finds far fewer election complaints than GOP claimed | Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Texas GOP is still furious about Harris County’s drive-thru voting | Abigail Rosenthal/Houston Chronicle

Texas Republicans aren’t going to let drive-thru voting go anytime soon, it seems. Several legislators have filed bills targeting drive-thru voting during this legislative session. The heftiest of the GOP’s “election security” bills, Senate Bill 7, bars tents, parking garages, parking lots or any “similar facility designed primarily for motor vehicles” for voting—venues many Harris County residents used to vote from their cars during the 2020 presidential, state and local elections. The bill also completely bans voting from cars unless the voter is “physically unable to enter the polling place” and only allows the voter and someone assisting the voter in the car. The assistant must also sign forms confirming the voter is unable to enter the polling place and explaining his or her relationship with the voter, why assistance was necessary, and what specific assistance was provided to the voter. Harris County implemented drive-thru voting during the 2020 election to expand voter participation during the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of residents were able to vote from their cars.

Full Article: The Texas GOP is still furious about Harris County’s drive-thru voting

What Utah officials told Pennsylvania about holding elections by mail | Dennis Romboy/Deseret News

Pennsylvania found itself at the center of controversy during the 2020 election. An onslaught of mail-in ballots prompted by a new law being tested for the first time amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed the state’s election officials, who were prohibited from counting the ballots before Election Day. President Donald Trump took direct aim at the Keystone State as his lead eroded and Joe Biden ultimately emerged as the winner by 81,000 votes, or about 1%. Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud led to lawsuits that Pennsylvania courts and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected. As a result, the Pennsylvania Senate created the bipartisan Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform. The nine-member panel is anticipated to make recommendations to lawmakers on how to improve the state’s election process. “I don’t think it’s any secret that the issues of the 2020 election have dominated the headlines, and this committee was formed to examine how we can do better,” said Pennsylvania state Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr., a Republican who heads the committee.

Full Article: What Utah officials told Pennsylvania about holding elections by mail – Deseret News

Wisconsin: Republican election commissioner to stay on case over vote | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Republican election commissioner is declining to step aside from deciding whether Democratic Gov. Tony Evers properly affirmed last year’s presidential election. Commissioner Bob Spindell’s decision to remain on the case raises the possibility that the other members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission will consider forcing him off of it. It’s the latest development in an escalating fight over how Wisconsin officials confirmed Joe Biden had narrowly defeated Donald Trump in the state last year. The case can’t alter the state’s results, but it could change how state officials handle future presidential elections. Evers’ attorney this month asked Spindell to also step aside from the complaint involving the governor because Spindell joined a group of Republicans in December who claimed to be the state’s rightful members of the Electoral College even though Biden had narrowly won the state. Spindell’s participation in that meeting showed he had already concluded Evers had not properly named the state’s slate of electors, prejudicing him against the governor, according to Evers’ attorney, Jeffrey Mandell. (The meeting of Republican would-be electors is the subject of a separate complaint — filed with Mandell’s assistance — before the Elections Commission.) The complaints over how the election results were finalized are being handled by DeWitt, a law firm in Madison. Attorneys there will make recommendations to the commission in the coming weeks on whether to uphold or dismiss Knudson’s complaints.

Full Article: Republican election commissioner to stay on case over Wisconsin vote

China suspected of cyber attack on Western Australia’s Parliament during state election | Andrew Greene/ABC

Western Australia’s parliamentary email network was hit by suspected Chinese hackers earlier this month as part of a massive global cyber-attack involving Microsoft software. The ABC has confirmed the online strike, which was detected on March 4 in the middle of the state election campaign, prompted intervention from Australia’s cyber security watchdog in Canberra. “Please be advised that the Parliament mail server has been hit with a cyber-attack,” WA politicians were warned at the time. “Consequently, the mail server will be down until further notice,” a text message sent by the Department of Parliamentary Services advised. An investigation by Western Australia’s Parliamentary Services Department has since concluded no sensitive data was stolen in the attack. “As soon as we became aware of the attack, we immediately disconnected the email server,” WA’s Executive Manager of Parliamentary Services Rob Hunter told the ABC.

Full Article: China suspected of cyber attack on Western Australia’s Parliament during state election – ABC News

Venezuela: DOJ officially concludes dictator who died in 2013 did not rig election against Trump | Emily Singer/The American Independent

The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday released a report officially debunking the lie that foreign governments rigged voting machines to ensure Donald Trump lost — lies spread by Donald Trump, lawyers connected to his campaign, other Trump allies. “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 report says. The report appears to be referring to the wild conspiracy theory spread by former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell. Powell falsely said at a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters that Dominion voting machines were rigged against Trump by Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who has been dead since 2013. Trump later pushed the same lie about the Dominion voting machines, as did other Trump campaign lawyers such as Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. Dominion has now sued Powell and Giuliani for $1.3 billion, each.

Full Article: DOJ officially concludes dictator who died in 2013 did not rig election against Trump

National: Senators introduce bill to fund election official cybersecurity training | Maggie Miller/The Hill

ArticlSenate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Wednesday reintroduced legislation to designate funding to provide cybersecurity training to election officials. The Invest in Our Democracy Act would establish a $1 million grant program to cover up to 75 percent of the costs of tuition for cybersecurity or election administration training for state and local election officials, along with their employees. The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) would oversee the grant program, with EAC employees also eligible to receive funding for training. The bill was originally introduced in 2019 by Klobuchar and Collins but did not advance in the Senate. Klobuchar has been a key senator involved in spearheading election security legislation over the past several years, and before becoming chairwoman she served as the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections and other related issues. “Our intelligence officials have made clear that our election systems continue to be a target for foreign adversaries,” Klobuchar said in a statement on Wednesday. “While federal and state officials have agreed that the 2020 election was ‘the most secure in American history,’ we must continue to do everything in our power to protect our democracy from the ongoing threat of foreign interference.”

e: Senators introduce bill to fund election official cybersecurity training | TheHill

Ohio County Rejects Dominion Voting Systems After Trump Supporters Balk | Jaclyn Diaz/NPR

The three person Board of Stark County Commissioners in Ohio rejected the purchase of more than 1,400 new Dominion voting machines. The county’s Board of Elections had recommended the purchase, but the three members voted to withhold the money for the purchase following pressure from supporters of former President Trump, who falsely accused the machines of manipulating vote tallies in President Biden’s favor. For months, local Trump supporters in Stark County, home to Canton, voiced their complaints and beliefs about Dominion voting machines. County Commissioner Bill Smith said in February that the response from local residents on whether to purchase new voting machines “far exceeded the response any of us have received on any topic to come before our board.” Commissioners Smith, Janet Weir Creighton, and Richard Regula voted against the Board of Elections recommendations to buy the machines on Wednesday, saying they had to weigh the long-term viability of the purchase. The commissioners’ resolution said, “Whenever there exists a potential cloud…or public perception or concern regarding a vendor’s long-term viability, regardless of the cause or reason, the County must take a vendor’s long-term viability into account” when spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money. Trump and many of his inner circle helped to create that cloud. His camp continued to spread the falsehood that Dominion machines changed votes even after multiple audits and recounts in several states and counties that used the company’s equipment showed there were no issues with the machines. Now it’s clear that disinformation campaign has had a direct impact on the company’s business. Officials in at least one other state, Louisiana, have backed off plans to purchase Dominion voting machines following pressure campaigns from residents, according to The Advocate.

Full Article: Stark County Commissioners Reject Dominion Voting Machine Buy : NPR

National: As GOP makes it harder to vote, few Republicans dissent | Steve Peoples, Jonathan J. Cooper and Ben Nadler/Associated Press

In Arizona, a Republican state senator worried aloud that his party’s proposed voter identification requirements might be too “cumbersome.” But he voted for the bill anyway. In Iowa, the state’s Republican elections chief put out a carefully worded statement that didn’t say whether he backs his own party’s legislation making it more difficult to vote early. And in Georgia, Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan left the room as Senate Republicans approved a bill to block early voting for all but the GOP’s most reliable voting bloc. Duncan instead watched Monday’s proceedings from a television in his office to protest. This is what amounts to dissent as Republican lawmakers push a wave of legislation through statehouses across the nation to make voting more difficult. The bills are fueled by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud and many are sponsored by his most loyal allies. But support for the effort is much broader than just Trump’s hard-right base, and objections from GOP policymakers are so quiet they can be easy to miss. “It’s appalling what’s happening,” said former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, who condemned the silence of the GOP’s elected officials. “There have been no provable, obvious, systemwide failures or fraud that would require the kind of ‘legislative remedies’ that Republican legislatures are embarking on. What the hell are you so afraid of? Black people voting?” Experts note that most changes up for debate would disproportionately affect voters of color, younger people and the poor — all groups that historically vote for Democrats. But Republicans are also pushing restrictions with the potential to place new burdens on GOP-leaning groups.

Source: As GOP makes it harder to vote, few Republicans dissent

National: Democrats rethink the U.S. voting system. What’s in the massive HR 1. | Jane C. Timm/NBC

House Democrats’ top legislative priority — the H.R. 1 For the People Act of 2021 — is 791 pages of big election changes. The legislation — a wish list of policies voting rights advocates have urged lawmakers to adopt for years — rethinks the entire voting process: how people register to vote, how ballots are cast and how states conduct elections. The goal is to improve access, particularly for voters of color. The bill would also create public financing systems for campaigns and ethics rules for candidates. “This is the next great civil rights bill,” said Elizabeth Hira, an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, who helped craft the bill in her previous job with the House of Representatives. Voting rights advocates say the legislation could help prevent gerrymandering and restrictive voting laws. Wendy Weiser, vice president of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, said H.R. 1 would “thwart” nearly all of the more than 200 restrictive voting proposals her group has identified in 43 states.

Full Article: Democrats rethink the U.S. voting system. What’s in the massive H.R. 1.

National: The Latest Strategy Against Viral Election Misinformation: The Courtroom | Bente Birkeland/Colorado Public Radio

Voting technology companies, like Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, are using billion-dollar defamation lawsuits to try to repair damage to their brands and bottom lines from conspiracy theories that alleged they were involved in stealing the 2020 election for President Joe Biden. Some see these legal fights as another way to take on viral misinformation, one that’s already starting to show some results. “This goes beyond hoping to stop the disinformation,” said attorney Steve Skarnulis. “The goal that we have is to hold people accountable.” Skarnulis represents Dominion employee Eric Coomer, who remains in hiding after being threatened and falsely accused of manipulating election results. Coomer filed the first defamation lawsuit related to the 2020 election. Skarnulis hopes that in addition to helping Coomer clear his name and return to a normal life, the suits will also serve as a warning. “I hope that it will shock media and other personalities who have the platforms they do, enough that they will be much more cautious about spreading disinformation.”

Full Article: The Latest Strategy Against Viral Election Misinformation: The Courtroom | Colorado Public Radio

National: How GOP-backed voting measures could create hurdles for tens of millions of voters | Amy Gardner, Kate Rabinowitz and Harry Stevens/Washington Post

The GOP’s national push to enact hundreds of new election restrictions could strain every available method of voting for tens of millions of Americans, potentially amounting to the most sweeping contraction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction, when Southern states curtailed the voting rights of formerly enslaved Black men, a Washington Post analysis has found. In 43 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee, according to data compiled as of Feb. 19 by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Even more proposals have been introduced since then. Proponents say the provisions are necessary to shore up public confidence in the integrity of elections after the 2020 presidential contest, when then-President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud convinced millions of his supporters that the results were rigged against him. But in most cases, Republicans are proposing solutions in states where elections ran smoothly, including in many with results that Trump and his allies did not contest or allege to be tainted by fraud. The measures are likely to disproportionately affect those in cities and Black voters in particular, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic — laying bare, critics say, the GOP’s true intent: gaining electoral advantage.

Full Article: Voting laws proposed by Republicans in 43 states would limit voter access – Washington Post

National: Postal Service Delivered Vast Majority Of Mail Ballots On Time, Report Finds | Brian Naylor/NPR

As Americans continue to complain of late-arriving bills, birthday cards and other deliveries, there has been one bright spot in the U.S. Postal Service’s performance in recent months: the 2020 election. The vast majority of mail-in ballots sent during the election arrived on time, according to a report by the Postal Service’s inspector general. The report says the Postal Service processed almost 134 million pieces of election mail — ballots and voter registration materials — sent to and by voters from Sept. 1 through Nov. 3. Of that, 93.8% was delivered on time to meet the agency’s service standard for first class mail of two to five days. That’s an increase of 11% from the 2018 midterm elections. It’s also, the inspector general noted, 5.6% better than on-time delivery rates for all first class mail, a standard the Postal Service has not met for five years. The Post Office’s goal for on-time delivery of first class mail is 96%. Mail advertisements for candidates and issues fared slightly worse, being delivered on time 91.9% of the time, a decrease of 3% from 2018.

Full Article: Majority Of Mail Ballots Delivered On Time By Postal Service : NPR

Arizona House Republican says party thinks ‘everybody shouldn’t be voting’ | Justine Coleman/The Hill

An Arizona House Republican said on Thursday that the state’s GOP is worried about sending ballots out automatically due to election security concerns, noting that “everybody shouldn’t be voting.” Arizona House Rep. John Kavanagh (R) told CNN that Republican lawmakers are concerned ballots sent without being requested to people who have died or moved could contribute to voter fraud, while accusing Democrats of being “willing to risk fraud” to get more votes. “There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans,” he said. “Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they’re willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote — but everybody shouldn’t be voting.” “Not everybody wants to vote, and if somebody is uninterested in voting, that probably means that they’re totally uninformed on the issues,” he said. “Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.” He also called out Democratic efforts to register voters and get those who haven’t turned in their ballots to do so, saying “you can greatly influence the outcome of the election if one side pays people to actively and aggressively go out and retrieve those ballots.”

Full Article: Arizona House Republican says party thinks ‘everybody shouldn’t be voting’ | TheHill

Arizona Senate working to set up Maricopa election audit | Bob Christie/Associated Press

Arizona’s Republican Senate president said Wednesday she has narrowed the search for a firm to do a full audit of the 2020 election results in the state’s most populous county and plans to invite Democrats to participate in the process. Still, nearly two weeks after a judge sided with the Senate in a fight over access to ballots and elections equipment from Maricopa County’s election, Senate President Karen Fann said there are many details to be worked out. They include just who the Senate will hire to do the audit, what exactly it will entail, how much it will cost taxpayers and where it will be conducted. “We’ve got to work out logistics based on who we select,” Fann said. “They need to give us guidelines for how much space they need, for how many people, how much time, so I can go back to the board of supervisors … and say this is what we need to do the audit.” A judge ruled Feb. 26 that the Senate was entitled to receive all 2.1 million voted ballots and access to vote tabulation machines and other equipment used in the election that saw Democratic President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump in the county and statewide. The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors had fought the Senate subpoenas for more than two months, arguing the ballots were by law secret, the vote machines would be compromised by unauthorized access, and that multiple audits, hand-count checks and other tests showed no issues with the vote tabulations. The judge ruled the Senate had the absolute right to oversee elections and could access the materials.

Full Article: Arizona Senate working to set up Maricopa election audit

Florida: Mail ballots of minority, young voters initially rejected at higher rate, study shows | Lawrence Mower/Miami Herald

Mail ballots submitted by minority voters and young people were initially rejected at a higher rate than other groups in Florida’s 2020 presidential election, but most were able to resolve the errors, a new study by University of Florida professor Dan Smith found. The ballots of younger voters were more than three times as likely as older voters to be initially rejected for signature issues, such as not including a signature on the outside of their ballot or the signature not matching the one on file with the county elections supervisor, according to the study. And the ballots of racial and ethnic minority voters who voted by mail were over 60% more likely than white voters to be initially rejected. The rejection rates were inconsistent across the state’s 67 counties, however, indicating that the problems were not necessarily the fault of the voters. “Why were these ballots cast by younger voters or Black and Hispanic voters being flagged for rejection at a much higher rate?” Smith wondered. “What is going on in that process?” The study, which Smith performed on behalf of the voting rights group All Voting is Local, looked at the 4.6 million vote-by-mail ballots received by county elections officials by the Nov. 3, 2020, deadline.

Full Article: Study: Ballots of minority, young voters rejected at high rate | Miami Herald

Georgia: Trump asked election investigator to find the ‘right answer’ | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Donald Trump asked Georgia’s lead elections investigator to uncover evidence of wrongdoing during an investigation of absentee ballot voter signatures in December that later found no fraud, according to audio of a phone call made public Wednesday. Trump told Frances Watson, chief investigator for the secretary of state’s office, that he hoped her investigation would help show that he had won reelection in the presidential race. Recounts and audits of election results found that Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump by about 12,000 votes in Georgia. Channel 2 Action News and The Wall Street Journal first reported the six-minute recording of the call from Dec. 23, the day after Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, made a surprise visit to Georgia to observe the investigation. “When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,” Trump told Watson. The release of the call comes as a Fulton County grand jury this month is reviewing whether Trump committed election fraud in Georgia. Trump called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, urging him to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s win. The December investigation of 15,000 absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County didn’t reveal a single fraudulent ballot.

Full Article: Trump called Georgia investigator during audit of absentee ballots

Louisiana Secretary of State withdraws RFP for electronic voting machines after complaints made against Dominion | Zach Parker/Ouachita Citizen

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin ditched his request for proposals to replace 10,000 aging electronic voting machines last week in the face of mounting protest about how his office was handling the request. In January, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin asked the Office of State Procurement to issue a request for proposals, or RFP. The contract could be worth some $100 million. Since then, the state received complaints the RFP was drafted to favor Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver, Colorado voting machine vendor that became the target of national headlines alleging the company’s machines switched votes from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden last November. The company has denied the allegations. “I am in complete support of Secretary of State Ardoin’s decision to withdraw the current procurement process for new voting machines in Louisiana,” said state Senate President Page Cortez. “I believe this will bring an opportunity for full transparency on the purchasing process and election systems for all levels of government.” In a Feb. 26 letter to the state, a law firm representing Election Systems & Software LLC, a Omaha, Nebraska voting machine vendor, protested Ardoin’s RFP, suggesting only Dominion could meet the RFP’s demands. Hart InterCivic, an Austin, Texas election equipment vendor, objected to the RFP on Feb. 12. “This RFP seeks to replace the current system with a system virtually identical to the current system—a self-contained electronic voting system but adding only a specific type of paper backup,” stated the ES&S letter. “Dominion, the incumbent, is the only election system vendor that provides a product that fully meets all of the RFP criteria.

Full Article: Ardoin withdraws RFP for electronic voting machines after complaints made against Dominion | Local/State Headlines | hannapub.com

Massachusetts post-election audit found few tabulation errors | Statehouse News | Chris Van Buskirk/Berkshire Eagle

A post-election audit of randomly selected precincts in Massachusetts found minimal errors in ballot counting during the 2020 presidential election, offering more evidence to contrast with allegations of widespread fraud stemming from the use of mail-in voting. Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, embarked on a massive mail-in voting experiment to boost turnout for the presidential election amid the worst public health crises in modern history. The results: a record 76 percent of registered voters casting ballots during the last presidential election cycle. Municipalities are advocating for the extension of the measures through June as over 250 towns have scheduled elections between April 1 and June 30. The House and Senate are advancing a voting reform extension bill, with the Senate unamimously approving its version on Thursday. In the lead up to the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump and many of his political allies denounced mail-in voting, baselessly alleging a nationwide conspiracy of fraud “specifically focused on big cities, and specifically focused on, as you would imagine, big cities controlled by Democrats,” said Rudy Guiliani, the former lawyer for Trump. “How come every time they count Mail-In ballot dumps they are so devastating in their percentage and power of destruction?” Trump tweeted a day after the Nov. 3 election. All told, 41 percent of Massachusetts residents who voted in the general election opted to use mail-in voting and another 23 percent voted early in-person, according to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office.

Full Article: Mass. post-election audit found few tabulation errors | Statehouse News | berkshireeagle.com

Nevada: State proposes new system to potentially speed up voter verification during elections | Jannelle Calderon/Nevada Independent

The secretary of state’s office wants to transition from a county-led to a state-led top-down voter registration system that could speed up the time-consuming process of verifying that people who take advantage of a new same-day voter registration law haven’t already voted in the same election. The elections division has requested from the Legislature $1.5 million to start the process, although officials say the new system likely won’t be up and running for a few years – possibly even after the 2024 election. The agency’s push for a new top-down approach began about a year before the 2020 election, but it became evident after the November election just how inefficient the current bottom-up system can be. Nevada was the subject of jokes nationally because it took several days to count and clear tens of thousands of provisional ballots (those set aside to allow for verification of a voters’ eligibility), making it difficult to quickly project the winner of the presidential race. Currently, each of the state’s 17 counties control and maintain their own voter registration databases, while the secretary of state’s office maintains yet another voter registration database consisting of all records compiled from each of the counties and updated daily. Details of the budget request were publicly discussed during a joint budget hearing last month. A top-down voter registration system would provide a centralized statewide database and election management system with real-time voter information. Election officials say it would make fixing errors, checking for duplicate registrations and verifying voter eligibility faster and “seamless.”

Full Article: State proposes new system to potentially speed up voter verification during elections

New Hampsire House Election Law Committee approves detailed forensic audit of Windham election results | John DiStaso/WMUR

The House Election Law Committee on Wednesday approved and sent to the full House legislation outlining a full, detailed forensic audit by a team of experts of the Nov. 3 election results in the town of Windham. The panel on a 20-0 vote signed off on a completely rewritten Senate Bill 43. Responding to pleas from Windham residents, and supported by Secretary of State William Gardner, the bill now direct the performance of an audit of the ballot counting machines and their memory cards and the hand tabulations of ballot for the election in the southern New Hampshire community. The bill calls for the formation of a “forensic election audit team” of three people – one designated by the town, one designated jointly by the secretary of state and attorney general and one person selected jointly the other entities. These may well be national experts. It is the latest development to address a controversy that arose after a recount of the Rockingham District 7 House seat showed four of eight candidates each receiving an additional 300 votes and three others with much smaller increases more typical of a recount, while the candidate who requested the recount, Democrat Kristi St. Laurent, losing 99 votes. St. Laurent appealed to the Ballot Law Commission, which upheld the results of the recount in certifying the four people seated by the House, but requested an investigation by the attorney general’s office, which has now been undertaken.

Full Article: House Election Law Committee approves detailed forensic audit of Windham election results

New Jersey: Already stressed election officials urge caution in rush to early voting | Michelle Brunetti Post/Press of Atlantic City

Election officials are warning that the stress put on them by the state’s first mostly vote-by-mail elections in 2020 has taken a toll on their staffs that will make it more difficult to quickly handle another first for the state — early voting. “Please understand unequivocally that we support early voting and believe in improving New Jersey’s elections,” the executive committee of the New Jersey Association of Election Officials said in a letter sent Tuesday to Tahesha Way, New Jersey’s secretary of state, who oversees elections. “Our growing concern, however, is in the rapid pace of new legislation introduction (and eventual laws) and the limited timeframe to review, recommend amendments and implement the new laws,” said the letter. “It has become a challenge to address our current responsibilities and simultaneously plan for changes in uncertified technology we have not tested in real time.” The Legislature is expected to soon finalize passage of an early-voting bill, and Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign it. It would require in-person early voting by machine be available 10 days ahead of the November general election. A version of the bill has passed both houses, but a final version must be voted on again in the Senate after changes in the Assembly. The earliest that vote could happen is March 25 under the current Legislative calendar.

Full Article: Already stressed NJ election officials urge caution in rush to early voting | Govt-and-politics | pressofatlanticcity.com

Ohio: Stark County commissioners reject Dominion voting machine purchase | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

The Stark County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to reject funding the purchase of 1,450 new Dominion touch-screen voting machines. Commissioners Bill Smith, Richard Regula and Janet Weir Creighton, all Republicans, voted against accepting a recommendation by the Stark County Board of Elections to fund the purchase. None of them commented during the teleconference meeting. All of them said from December to February that dozens to hundreds of Trump’s supporters in Stark County contacted the commissioners, who have to approve all major spending by the county, urging them to block or scrutinize the purchase more closely. Then-President Donald Trump and his allies have alleged without credible evidence that the Dominion voting machines were hacked or counted votes inaccurately and contributed to him losing the election. While the resolution the commissioners voted down said Dominion had a “potential cloud” over its “long-term viability” apparently due to the unsubstantiated allegations, the resolution avoided delving into those allegations and instead raised questions about whether Dominion’s price quote was superior to competitors. The resolution said, the commissioner have “to conduct the business of the county with due diligence when spending (citizen’s) hard-earned money, without rubber-stamping recommendations that come before it, and to seriously investigate the cost, trustworthiness, long-term viability, and other aspects of any voting system to be purchased to ensure Stark county is obtaining the best value.” On Wednesday, county’s budget director, Chris Nichols, said that cost figures provided by the Board of Elections did not give a full picture of the price quotes for voting equipment by Dominion and its competitor Elections Systems & Software. The Board of Elections said ES&S voting machines would cost the county $2.02 million more than Dominion’s, mainly due to a $1.7 million trade-in credit Dominion was offering. The county cost would be $1.48 million for Dominion and $3.5 million for ES&S.  But Nichols said the Board of Elections’ numbers did not include the cost of maintenance, support and software licensing over 10 years. “I was unable to get my numbers to match up,” Nichols said.

Full Article: Stark County commissioners reject Dominion voting machine purchase

Texas ballot paper trail bill advances to elections committee | KTRE

A bill requiring electronic voting machines to produce a traceable paper ballot has moved forward to its committee assignment. Filed by Rep. James White (R-Woodville) in February, H.B. 1708 advanced to the Elections committee on Wednesday. If passed as-is, White’s bill would require the disclosure of ownership interest with voting devices. Now, the legislator has filed a measure to require a paper record after voting on electronic machines. “There are times when we have very hotly-contested elections, and they come out very close results,” White said. “That’s not a problem. Instead of just hitting a button and having some program just spit out the same data, we want to be able to have, throughout the state, paper ballots; a paper trail.” House Bill 1708 authored by District 19 State House Representative James White (R) calls for a voter-verifiable paper record from electronic voting machines. “When our laws allow for candidates to call for recounts, there’s something to recount,” White said. “There’s a paper ballot trail where our county clerks and other stakeholders can do a recount.”

Full Article: Rep. White’s ballot paper trail bill advances to elections committee

Wisconsin Republicans Renew Attack On Election Grants Funded By Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg | Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio

A Republican attorney who tried unsuccessfully to overturn the results of Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election told GOP lawmakers Wednesday that newly released emails showed a group with ties to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had too much influence over the voting process in Green Bay last year. While the latest development sparked calls for investigations from GOP lawmakers, Democrats accused Republicans of revisiting a debunked conspiracy theory by rehashing a failed court case involving an election they already lost. Green Bay was one of several Wisconsin cities that received grant money in 2020 from a group called the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), an organization funded by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. In July, Wisconsin’s five largest cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine — announced they would share $6.3 million in CTCL grant funding to help run the election during the pandemic. CTCL said it awarded grants to a total of 221 counties, cities, towns and villages in Wisconsin as part of more than 2,500 election grants handed out nationwide. Erick Kaardal, an attorney for the conservative Thomas More Society and a former secretary and treasurer for the Republican Party of Minnesota, filed two lawsuits challenging the grants on behalf of a group called the Wisconsin Voters Alliance. Kaardal lost both cases, one in state court and one in federal court. He also filed and lost similar lawsuits in other swing states. The Wisconsin grants received renewed attention this week when emails uncovered through an open records request showed former Green Bay municipal Clerk Kris Teske raised issues with the funding, suggesting that a private contractor hired by the city was making decisions that should be her responsibility.

Full Article: Republicans Renew Attack On Election Grants Funded By Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg | Wisconsin Public Radio