National: State GOP lawmakers propose flurry of voting restrictions to placate Trump supporters, spurring fears of a backlash | Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

GOP state lawmakers across the country have proposed a flurry of voting restrictions that they say are needed to restore confidence in U.S. elections, an effort intended to placate supporters of former president Donald Trump who believe his false claims that the 2020 outcome was rigged. But the effort is dividing Republicans, some of whom are warning that it will tar the GOP as the party of voter suppression and give Democrats ammunition to mobilize their supporters ahead of the 2022 midterms. The proposals include measures that would curtail eligibility to vote by mail and prohibit the use of ballot drop boxes. One bill in Georgia would block early voting on Sundays, which critics quickly labeled a flagrant attempt to thwart Souls to the Polls, the Democratic turnout effort that targets Black churchgoers on the final Sunday before an election. States where such legislation is under consideration also include Arizona, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Proponents say the actions are necessary because large numbers of voters believe Trump’s false assertions that President Biden won the 2020 election through widespread fraud. “The goal of our process here should be an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our elections system,” said Barry Fleming, a state lawmaker from Evans, Ga., and the chairman of the newly formed House Special Committee on Election Integrity.

Full Article: GOP lawmakers propose flurry of voting restrictions to placate Trump supporters – The Washington Post

National: Dominion files defamation lawsuit against MyPillow’s Mike Lindell over false claims voting machines were rigged against Trump | Emma Brown/The Washington Post

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday filed a defamation lawsuit against Mike Lindell, chief executive of MyPillow, arguing that Lindell has refused to stop repeating false claims that the company’s voting machines were manipulated to rig the 2020 election against President Donald Trump. Dominion is seeking more than $1.3 billion from Lindell, a staunch Trump supporter. The company says Lindell contributed to a “viral disinformation campaign” about Dominion on social media, in broadcast interviews, at public pro-Trump rallies and in a two-hour documentary about election fraud — entitled “Absolute Proof” — that he created and paid to air on One America News. The 115-page complaint, filed in federal court in the District, alleges that Lindell, a “talented salesman,” used falsehoods about Dominion to promote MyPillow to fellow Trump supporters. It names both Lindell and his company as defendants and outlines several instances in which Lindell used appearances on conservative media to hawk his products. Dominion sent multiple letters to Lindell, warning that he was putting himself in legal jeopardy by spreading lies about the company. “Despite having been specifically directed to the evidence and sources disproving the Big Lie, Lindell knowingly lied about Dominion to sell more pillows to people who continued tuning in to hear what they wanted to hear about the election,” the complaint says.

Full Article: Dominion files defamation lawsuit against MyPillow’s Mike Lindell over false claims voting machines were rigged against Trump – The Washington Post

Arizona: Election lawsuit from GOP chair Kelli Ward denied hearing by U.S. Supreme Court | Maria Polletta/Arizona Republic

The U.S. Supreme Court will not consider Arizona Republican Party leader Kelli Ward’s claim she was denied due process when challenging the state’s presidential election results.Nor will justices review Ward’s constitutional challenge of the federal “safe harbor” deadline, the cutoff by which states must resolve election disputes to guarantee Congress will count their electors’ votes.The court announced its decision Monday without explanation. Ward did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Ward, chair of the state party and an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump, initially filed the lawsuit Maricopa County Superior Court, seeking to have a judge void President Joe Biden’s 10,457-vote win in Arizona.She questioned the signature verification process used by Maricopa County to authenticate mail-in ballots — as well as the duplication process election officials used to count ballots that tabulation machines couldn’t read — and asked to inspect thousands of Arizona ballots for irregularities. Superior Court Judge Randall Warner granted Ward only a limited review, as the federal “safe harbor” deadline for election challenges was fast approaching. Of the more than 1,700 ballots Ward’s team inspected, six contained errors that hurt Trump and two contained errors that hurt Biden. Over a day and a half of testimony and oral arguments, Ward’s team failed to prove anything beyond a handful of garden variety mistakes, the judge ruled. If the error rate identified in the sample held statewide, government attorneys said, Trump would’ve gained fewer than 200 votes.

Full Article: U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear Kelli Ward’s lawsuit on Arizona election

Georgia voters confront lawmakers over Sunday and absentee voting | Mark Niesse and David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An expansive bill that would end Sunday voting, limit drop boxes and require ID for absentee ballots moved closer to a vote after a Georgia House elections committee listened to nearly three hours of public comments Monday. Voting rights advocates told lawmakers the bill would reduce turnout and create new limitations on voting without doing much to improve election security. Skeptics of Georgia’s elections said they’re suspicious of absentee voting and encouraged legislators to pass stricter laws that would ensure only legitimate voters cast absentee ballots. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.3 million Georgia voters cast absentee ballots, but election officials, backed up by multiple recounts, have said there’s no evidence that widespread fraud occurred during the presidential election. The House Election Integrity Committee could vote on the sweeping legislation, House Bill 531, as soon as Tuesday, potentially setting it up for a vote in the full House of Representatives within days. Several people told lawmakers that restrictions on Sunday voting and absentee ballots would disproportionately affect Black voters who participate in ”Souls to the Polls” events after church during early voting. “Voter confidence is improved through community conversation and engagement, not through barriers to access to the voting booth,” said the Rev. James Woodall, president for the Georgia NAACP.

Full Argticle: Georgia lawmakers to decide on limits to Sunday and absentee voting

Georgia Republicans File Sweeping Elections Bill That Limits Early, Absentee Voting | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

Republicans in the Georgia House have released an omnibus elections bill that proposes tougher restrictions on both absentee and in-person early voting, among other sweeping changes to election laws after a controversial 2020 election. HB 531, filed by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) was introduced directly into the Special Committee on Election Integrity on Thursday, and the text of the bill was made available about an hour before the 3 p.m. hearing. Section 12 of the bill would provide “uniformity” to the three-week early voting period, Fleming said, requiring all counties to hold early voting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for three weeks before the election, plus a mandatory 9-to-5 period of voting the second Saturday before the election. It would allow counties to extend hours to 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., but would prohibit counties from holding early voting any other days — including Sunday voting popular in larger metro counties and a high turnout day for Black voters that hold “souls to the polls” events.

Full Article: Georgia Republicans File Sweeping Elections Bill That Limits Early, Absentee Voting | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Iowa bill shortening early voting period heading toward passage this week | Stephen Gruber-Miller/Des Moines Register

Iowa lawmakers spent an hour Monday night listening to members of the public criticize legislation to shorten the state’s early voting period. But the public comments are unlikely to slow the measure down. It is expected to pass the state House and Senate this week. Opponents of the legislation outnumbered supporters at an hourlong public hearing in the House Monday night. Hundreds of people also submitted comments about the legislation online, the vast majority of which were opposed. Some speakers said they were concerned that the legislation would make it harder for elderly and disabled Iowans to vote. Others praised the bill, which they said would increase the integrity and uniformity of Iowa elections. Companion bills in the House and Senate, House File 590 and Senate File 413, would shorten Iowa’s early voting period by 11 days, taking it from 29 days to 18. The legislation would also forbid county auditors from mailing absentee ballot request forms to voters or set  up satellite voting sites unless petitioned. And the bills would create new criminal charges for county auditors who disobey state rules.

Full Article: Iowans weigh in on bill, headed for quick passage, shortening early voting period

Kansas officials rack up $4M bill in defense of Kris Kobach’s baseless voter fraud law | Sherman Smith/The Kansas City Star

The American Civil Liberties Union and other attorneys want to be repaid more than $4 million for their five-year legal battle with Kansas officials who fought to restrict voter registration under the false pretense of widespread voter fraud. The proposed price tag adds a punctuation mark to the prolonged fight over former Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s signature law, which required new voters to prove their citizenship before registering to vote. Kobach suffered defeat during an embarrassing 2018 trial in federal court, and stiffed taxpayers with the bills when he was twice held in contempt and ordered to go back to law school. Nadine Johnson, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, said Kobach and others who were determined to defend an unconstitutional law were to blame for the cost. “That’s a choice they made,” Johnson said. “They can’t then come back and say that it’s our fault. They made that choice. You can’t throw up all these roadblocks, and then complain that we’re pushing through the roadblocks.”

Full Article: Kobach’s voter fraud bill costs Kansas millions | The Kansas City Star

Montana: ‘Our best chance to make our voices heard’: Bill for Native American Voting Rights Act introduced in committee | Nora Mabie Great Falls Tribune

Introduced in committee on Wednesday, a Native American Voting Rights Act bill will generally revise election procedures on reservations to reduce barriers to voting in Indigenous communities. Sponsored by Rep. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, D-Crow Agency, House Bill 613 would require at least two permanent satellite election offices for each federally recognized tribe and require precinct polling place notices to include locations on reservations. It would also authorize the use of nontraditional addresses for voters. “This (bill) is very important in the respect that it’s really looking at ensuring our rights as citizens are not undercut,” said Stewart-Peregoy. Keaton Sunchild, political director for Western Native Voice who worked closely with Stewart-Peregoy on the bill, said the HB 613 symbolizes progress. “This bill will do nothing but push us forward and make Montana one of the leaders in the United States in terms of Native voting rights. … For far too long, people in power have tried to silence the Native vote, and we think this is our best chance to make our voices heard,” he said. 

Full Article: Native American Voting Rights Act bill introduced in Montana

Michigan: U.S. Supreme Court won’t rule on Sidney Powell’s lawsuit | Beth LeBlanc and Craig Mauger/The Detroit News

The U.S. Supreme Court will not weigh in on a case brought by a group of Michigan Republicans seeking to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in the state. The nine justices on Monday denied the plaintiffs a writ of certiorari, meaning the case filed by Sidney Powell and other attorneys will not proceed. The King v. Whitmer lawsuit was filed in federal court in late November on behalf of three Republican Electoral College electors and three local GOP officials who cited conspiracy theoriesunproven claims of fraudulent election software and analyses to call into question Biden’s 154,000-vote win in Michigan. The Supreme Court’s action Monday “once and for all ends these frivolous election cases,” said David Fink, lead counsel for the City of Detroit, which had intervened in the litigation. “Every claim of election fraud in Michigan has been rejected,” Fink said. “It’s time for the attorneys who filed these baseless lawsuits to be held accountable for their actions.” The Republicans who filed the suit included Timothy King, Marian Sheridan and John Haggard, who would have been presidential electors had former President Donald Trump won the election. Sheridan was elected earlier this month to serve as grassroots chair for the Michigan Republican Party. 

Full Article: U.S. Supreme Court won’t rule on Powell’s Michigan lawsuit

New Hampshire: Sununu addresses Windham recount results that show Republicans were shorted votes | Paul Steinhauser/Concord Monitor

Gov. Chris Sununu says he won’t let “slip by” an apparent voting discrepancy in a state House of Representatives race in Windham – which has grabbed national exposure and even caught the attention of former President Donald Trump. “We’re not going to let that slip by. We’re going to attack it, at all levels, and make sure that we really get to the root of the problem,” New Hampshire’s three-term Republican governor said Thursday at a news conference. “And make sure that, even though it may have been a small problem, that it isn’t systematic across anything.” The saga began on Election Day last November when Democrat Kristi St. Laurent, a candidate for one of four seats to represent Rockingham District 7 in the state House, was just 24 votes shy of winning. The narrow margin triggered a recount of the ballots. Here’s where it gets interesting. The recount discovered that four long-serving AccuVote optical scanning machines that were used on Election Day shorted the four GOP candidates in the contest between 297 and 303 votes. Three other Democratic candidates were shorted 18 to 28 votes, but the recound showed St. Laurent was credited with 99 more votes than were cast for her. The result of the recount – which was witnessed by dozens of officials and observers – was, to say the least, puzzling. With state law only allowing for a single recount in political races, New Hampshire’s Ballot Law Commission accepted the recount’s results. But Republicans asked the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate the matter.

Full Article: On the Trail: Sununu addresses Windham recount results that show Republicans were shorted votes

New Jersey Senate passes early voting bill, a more than $30 million state mandate | Michelle Brunetti Post/Press of Atlantic City

The state Senate on Monday passed a bill that would require early voting by machine be available for the first time in New Jersey. If it passes the Assembly and is signed by the governor, the state would join about half in the U.S. to offer it. Voters could have access to machine voting 10 days ahead of the official Election Day, Nov. 2. Counties would need to buy electronic poll books and optical-scan voting machines that read hand-marked paper ballots, or other voting machines that produce a paper trail, according to the bill. Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, whose Assembly State and Local Government committee passed the bill in October, said it would be a mandate funded by the state. “It would be in the neighborhood of the upper $30 millions,” Mazzeo said of the cost statewide. The bill would require each county to set up at least three designated early voting locations, with the number based on population. Atlantic County would need five and Cape May and Cumberland counties would require three. Early voting would be available four days ahead of a nonpresidential primary, six days ahead of a presidential primary and 10 days ahead of a general election, under the bill.

Full Article: Senate passes early voting bill, a more than $30 million state mandate | Latest Headlines |

Pennsylvania: U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear mail-ballot deadline case | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it won’t hear several challenges to Pennsylvania’s 2020 election — including two appeals of the state’s mail-ballot deadline extension — denying a Republican attempt to severely limit courts’ ability to oversee how elections are run. The decision not to hear the legal challenges brought by top Republican state lawmakers and the state GOP ends litigation that prevented Pennsylvania from counting 10,000 mail ballots that arrived in the three days after Election Day and had remained in legal limbo. But one final legal challenge to those ballots remains before the high court, and the Pennsylvania Department of State isn’t counting them until that case is resolved. If counted, they would likely extend President Joe Biden’s 80,000-vote victory in the state. The decisions show how the campaign to challenge and undermine the election results by Donald Trump and his allies outlasted even his presidency, and are only now close to coming to an end after meeting near-universal defeat in state and federal courts. The decisions also set back a Republican push to significantly shift the election law landscape by essentially shutting out courts from making changes to election procedures. The U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the power to decide how elections are run, but that has long been understood to mean the normal legislative process, including sign-off from governors and judicial review of the law. The question of court oversight and state legislative power remains unresolved, in what one expert called “a ticking time bomb.” Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch dissented, saying they would have heard the two mail-ballot deadline extension cases. The court also decided not to hear a case brought by the Trump campaign that sought to overturn a number of Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions, and a case brought by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Pa.) and others that challenged the state’s mail voting law itself.

Full Article: U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear Pennsylvania mail-ballot deadline case

Pennsylvania: US Supreme Court won’t take up challenge to presidential election results | Robert Barnes/The Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Monday turned away Republican challenges to the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, refusing to take up a months-long dispute over extending the deadline in that state for receiving mail-in ballots. It was part of a purge of sorts. The high court formally dismissed a range of suits filed by Donald Trump and his allies in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona — all states won by Democrat Joe Biden. The court’s intent in most of those had been signaled when it refused to expedite consideration of them before Biden was inaugurated as president. The case about deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots was different, though. Three justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — said it deserved the court’s attention, even though the number of votes at issue would not call into question Biden’s victory. “A decision in these cases would not have any implications regarding the 2020 election,” Alito wrote. “But a decision would provide invaluable guidance for future elections.” It takes the votes of four justices to accept a case for review. Although changing election rules because of the pandemic has been a theme of Republican challenges in the wake of Trump’s defeat, the rest of the conservative majority was silent. Neither Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. nor two of the three justices nominated by Trump signed on to dissents from Thomas and Alito. Besides Gorsuch, Trump chose Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Full Article: Supreme Court won’t take up challenge to Pennsylvania presidential election results – The Washington Post

Virginia localities participating in statewide voting audit | Brian Brehm/Winchester Star

Jurisdictions in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and throughout Virginia are taking part in a risk-limiting audit (RLA) of local voting machines. Review boards in each of the commonwealth’s 133 localities will check a sampling of ballots from the Nov. 6 presidential and senatorial elections to make sure local voting machines accurately recorded the results. Each review will be open to the public, but capacities will be limited in each jurisdiction due to social-distancing requirements necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Frederick County will conduct its RLA at 5 p.m. today in the Board of Supervisors meeting room in the county government’s administration building, 107 N. Kent St., Winchester. Winchester and Clarke County will each convene a review board at 10 a.m. Thursday. Winchester’s will meet in Winchester Circuit Court chambers in the Joint Judicial Center, 5 N. Kent St.,Winchester, and Clarke County’s will meet in Clarke County Circuit Court chambers, 102 N. Church St., Berryville. The statewide RLA is not connected to the “Stop the Steal” controversy stirred by former President Donald Trump following his Nov. 6 loss to President Joe Biden, which cast suspicions upon the accuracy of ballot results across the entire country. Rather, the audit was initiated in 2018 by the Virginia Department of Elections and incorporated into state code by the General Assembly. According to section 24.2-671.1 of the Code of Virginia, “The Department of Elections shall coordinate a post-election risk-limiting audit annually of ballot scanner machines in use in the commonwealth. … The purpose of the audits shall be to study the accuracy of ballot scanner machines.” Each locality in Virginia is being told by the state Department of Elections how many paper ballots must be matched to voting machines in order to ensure that each machine accurately recorded the votes.

Full Article: Localities participating in statewide voting audit | Winchester Star |

Wisconsin: U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Trump’s election challenge and the attorney in another case could be sanctioned | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In the final blows to attempts to overturn Wisconsin’s presidential results, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review one case and a judge has ruled an attorney bringing another one could face professional sanctions for making baseless claims. The twin rulings stamp out the last efforts to reverse President Joe Biden’s win in the Badger State. Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it would not review a 4-3 decision against Trump by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The majority in that ruling found one of Trump’s challenges to Wisconsin’s results was without merit and his others were brought far too late to be considered by the state justices. The Wisconsin Supreme Court decision was one of several it issued in December that upheld Biden’s narrow win over then-President Donald Trump. Separately, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Friday asked a court committee to consider reprimanding the attorney for two Wisconsin lawmakers and others who challenged the results. He determined their lawsuit was meritless and consisted of political grandstanding.

Full Article: Supreme Court declines to hear Trump election challenge in Wisconsin

National: Despite 2020 successes, election officials’ disinformation fight continues | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

While the execution of the 2020 general election went off with relatively few bumps, election officials and industry experts said Thursday that the rampant disinformation that spread on cable news and social media during and after the campaign still leaves them with challenges in winning voters’ trust. “2020 was best administered election I’ve seen of my career,” Ben Hovland, the chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, said during a panel on election security hosted by the Mitre Corporation. “Election officials around the country put in countless hours and did the work.” That work, Hovland and others said, included expanding their absentee and early voting options in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, recruiting and training younger poll workers to replace seniors who withdrew over coronavirus concerns, implementing new post-election audits and conducting tabletop exercises at the national, state and local levels. Yet the election community still found itself fighting back one of the strongest tides of disinformation about mail-in voting and voting machines that grew so extreme that it prompted death threats against election officials and, eventually, the pro-Donald Trump mob that staged a deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. One of those officials who had to put up with those threats was Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who told the Mitre event that Joe Biden’s narrow win over Trump in his state — the first by a Democrat since 1992 — prompted “questions about the accuracy of the election.”

Full Article: Despite 2020 successes, election officials’ disinformation fight continues

National: Massive breach fuels calls for US action on cybersecurity | Ben Fox and Alan Suderman/Associated Press

Jolted by a sweeping hack that may have revealed government and corporate secrets to Russia, U.S. officials are scrambling to reinforce the nation’s cyber defenses and recognizing that an agency created two years ago to protect America’s networks and infrastructure lacks the money, tools and authority to counter such sophisticated threats. The breach, which hijacked widely used software from Texas-based SolarWinds Inc., has exposed the profound vulnerability of civilian government networks and the limitations of efforts to detect threats. It’s also likely to unleash a wave of spending on technology modernization and cybersecurity. “It’s really highlighted the investments we need to make in cybersecurity to have the visibility to block these attacks in the future,” Anne Neuberger, the newly appointed deputy national security adviser for cyber and emergency technology said Wednesday at a White House briefing. The reaction reflects the severity of a hack that was disclosed only in December. The hackers, as yet unidentified but described by officials as “likely Russian,” had unfettered access to the data and email of at least nine U.S. government agencies and about 100 private companies, with the full extent of the compromise still unknown. And while this incident appeared to be aimed at stealing information, it heightened fears that future hackers could damage critical infrastructure, like electrical grids or water systems. President Joe Biden plans to release an executive order soon that Neuberger said will include about eight measures intended to address security gaps exposed by the hack. The administration has also proposed expanding by 30% the budget of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, or CISA, a little-known entity now under intense scrutiny because of the SolarWinds breach.

Full Article: Massive breach fuels calls for US action on cybersecurity

National: EAC Chairman urged Congress to guarantee election security funding | Tonya Riley/The Washington Post

A top official urged Congress yesterday to ensure dependable funding for the Election Assistance Commission, an independent government body that allocate grants for states to improve their election security. The funding is essential to making sure that states can make critical election security improvements ahead of the 2022 election, said the group’s head. “The nature of cybersecurity threats, the ongoing nature of those threats and the fact that it is a national security issue means there’s real value to having a piece of federal funding that is dependable that can be planned around,” EAC Chairman Benjamin Hovland told members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. The hearing comes as a Democrat-led Congress tees up a new round of efforts to improve election security in the aftermath of a fiercely disputed 2020 election.  Democrats have made passing a sweeping elections package a priority now that they control the Senate. The package includes permanently authorizing the EAC’s budget as well as new requirements for states to update their voter registration systems and additional funding to make upgrades possible. “The fact these dedicated election officials were able to achieve this feat amid a global pandemic is even more remarkable. However, now is not the time to proclaim “mission accomplished,” said subcommittee Chair Mike Quigley (D-Ill.). “The threats to our democracy are constant and ever evolving. Our enemies will not be taking a break, so neither can we.”

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: A top official urged Congress to guarantee election security funding – The Washington Post

National: Mail Voting Boosted Turn Out for Voters With Disabilities. Will Republican Lawmakers Let It Continue? | Abigail Abrams/Time

Republican state lawmakers are advancing a wave of new voting restrictions aimed at reversing the slew of pandemic-inspired election flexibilities, including expansions of mail voting, that most states adopted last year. But new evidence shows that those voting options likely led to significantly higher turnout among Americans with disabilities, a group that is equally as likely to vote Republican as Democrat. Just 11% of voters with disabilities said they experienced difficulties in voting in 2020, down from 26% in 2012, according to a study on voting accessibility published Wednesday by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Among disabled voters who used mail ballots, just 5% reported experiencing difficulties, while 18% of disabled voters who opted for in-person voting encountered difficulties. Those numbers mark a major change from previous election cycles, according to experts on political participation. “Anything that makes it easier, that provides more options to people with disabilities, is good for the turnout of people with disabilities,” says Douglas Kruse, a professor at Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations who co-authored the EAC study. But in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s election loss and the subsequent Jan. 6 riots incited by his claims of a stolen election, Republican state lawmakers are doubling down on bills that require Americans to jump through more hoops to cast a vote. A recent analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice found that this year, lawmakers have already filed 165 bills to restrict voter access in 33 states. Many of the bills would limit mail voting, add new voter ID requirements, make it tougher to register to vote and easier for states to kick people off voter rolls if they don’t vote in every election. States that were closely contested in 2020 have seen the most legislative action, with Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia leading the pack on new voting restriction proposals. Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan have indicated they may also pursue similar bills.

Full Article: Mail Voting Boosted Turn Out for Voters With Disabilities | Time

National: New guide on election system supply chains aids risk evaluations | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

new report by the Center for Internet Security aims to simplify the process for election technology vendors securing the supply chains they use in developing the products they sell to state and local officials. Although the guide, published last week, had been in the works for months, its authors said it takes on added relevance in the wake of the so-called SolarWinds hack, a suspected Russian espionage operation that breached the software supply chains of numerous federal agencies, corporations and state governments. So far, there has been no evidence the SolarWinds hack affected any U.S. election systems, the acting head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said Feb. 3, but the sheer amount of hardware and software used in the voting process leaves it vulnerable to similar compromises, said Aaron Wilson, a senior director for election security at CIS and one of the report’s authors. “The election space is a lot like the rest of our technology space where the supply chain has inherent risks,” he told StateScoop. Modern elections are conducted on an elaborate assembly of technologies, including voter registration systems, electronic pollbooks used when voters check in, ballot-marking devices, optical scanners that collect and tabulate ballots and election night results websites where unofficial counts are posted. And each of those are made up of their own, sometimes complex chain of components, the CIS report explains. That means election officials need to be confident that their vendors have assessed and mitigated any risks with their third-party suppliers, Wilson said. While the larger vendors in the election technology market have large and sophisticated technical staffs, he said, there are also smaller companies that may need direction on how to avoid incidents that could undermine public confidence in an election.

Full Article: New guide on election system supply chains aids risk evaluations

National: What comes next for top election administrators | Zach Montellaro/Politico

2020 was a tumultuous year for the election administrators of America.And while running a presidential election is never an easy job, it is often a low-profile one — which was distinctly not the case last year. “It was one of those scenarios that we we practice in tabletop exercises, that seems totally unrealistic, but that’s what we were facing,” New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat and the president of the bipartisan National Association of Secretaries of State, said in an interview with Score. Election officials dealt with the dual threat of the pandemicand misinformation. And while one will (hopefully) be a distant memory by the next national election, fighting misinformation will be a role that secretaries will have to embrace going forward — and one that secretaries will increasingly have to lean on each other to combat. Toulouse Oliver stressed that voter-education will be important: “The longer term challenge, that I think we as election officials acknowledge that we’re going to have to figure out a way to deal with this better, is to better educate the public,” she said, citing states pushing for more transparency in the system and making sure information is more “digestible” to the average person not steeped in the process. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican and the co-chair of NASS’ elections committee, stressed the importance of trying to get as many people involved in the process as possible in an interview, saying elections were a “breeding ground” for “mythology.” But he also noted the speed in which results, even unofficial, are known is critical. “We’re never going to sacrifice accuracy for speed. But we’ve all gotten accustomed to being able to deliver our numbers pretty quickly on election night,” he said. He nodded to the fact that the Buckeye State allows election officials to process mail ballots much earlier than other battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which created the time needed in those states for conspiracy theories to ferment. (I’ll note that the Republican-controlled legislatures in those states balked at giving an extended window, despite early warnings about what could happen.)

Full Article: What comes next for top election administrators – POLITICO

National: Despite Security Concerns Online Voting Advances | Matt Vasilogambros and Lindsey Van Ness/Stateline

This past year showed that unexpected events can upend traditional, in-person voting. The rush to mail-in voting during the pandemic also exposed the challenges that voting by mail poses for certain residents, including those with disabilities who may not be able to independently fill out and mail a paper ballot. But election security experts say electronic voting poses significant risks. Personal devices such as smartphones and laptops are often littered with malware. A ballot could be tampered with on the voter’s device, on its way to a server or on the server of the election authority. Hostile foreign countries or other organized groups could surreptitiously change votes before they’re counted. The threat from malicious foreign actors was recently highlighted in the Russian hack of U.S. government and corporate systems in the widespread SolarWinds attack. Most election security experts prefer paper ballots or ballot-marking devices that have a paper trail, which allow state and local election officials to back up their results. Some online voting methods allow both the voter and the election official to print out a receipt that shows the vote was transferred. But that’s not good enough for security experts, who point out that the vote could have been corrupted in transfer. “There’s not much that we can do to be able to detect that a problem has occurred,” said J. Alex Halderman, director of the Center for Computer Security and Society at the University of Michigan. He co-authored an analysis last year that found there is a “severe risk” to using Seattle-based voting technology company Democracy Live’s online voting platform.

Full Article: Despite Security Concerns Online Voting Advances | The Pew Charitable Trusts

National: Truth and consequences – Lawsuits arrive for networks and lawyers who backed Donald Trump | Steve Mazie/The Economist

During his first campaign for the American presidency in 2016, Donald Trump said he wanted to “open up our libel laws” to make suing news outlets easier. Those plans did not materialise. But in the aftermath of Mr Trump’s extraordinary challenges to his re-election loss and amid his second impeachment trial, defamation law is back in the headlines. Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, both voting-technology companies, have sued or are gearing up to sue three right-wing cable news networks, some of their hosts and two of Mr Trump’s lawyers for claiming their devices were used to steal the election for Joe Biden. Such claims are a central element of the false voter-fraud theory that fuelled the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, resulting in the deaths of five people. Dominion has launched a pair of $1.3bn lawsuits against Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, Mr Trump’s legal advisers—with more to come. On February 4th Smartmatic filed its own 276-page suit against Fox and three of its commentators (Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro), as well as Mr Giuliani and Ms Powell, for $2.7bn. Whether potentially defamatory statements are written (“libel”) or spoken (“slander”), the aggrieved party has to clear a high bar in America, where the constitution’s First Amendment protects free speech and freedom of the press. In Britain defendants must usually show their utterances were true or amounted to fair comment. In America it is plaintiffs who have the burden of proof; they lose unless they can prove the defendant’s statements were false but presented as claims of fact. Establishing defamation also means showing the speaker was negligent and damaged the plaintiff’s reputation.

Full Article: Truth and consequences – Lawsuits arrive for networks and lawyers who backed Donald Trump | United States | The Economist

Arizona leads nation in proposals to suppress votes, groups say | Laura Gómez/Arizona Mirror

Local and national civic advocacy groups are paying close attention to a laundry list of proposed legislation in Arizona that would make it harder for voters to participate in elections. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Arizona leads the nation in “proposed voter suppression legislation in 2021.” In a press call Tuesday morning, Stand Up America — a progressive organization working to increase voter participation — echoed this finding. “What is going in Arizona right now is particularly insidious,” said Christina Harvey, managing director of Stand Up America. Harvey said 33 state legislatures have proposals that would make it harder for voters to cast their ballot. States like Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania — all battleground states with Republican legislatures that former President Donald Trump narrowly lost in November — are awash with restrictive voting measures, Harvey said. “Republicans, seeing that they increasingly cannot win free and fair elections, are trying to make it harder to vote for those who may not support them, rather offering a vision of America that might appeal to those voters,” Harvey said. “Arizona, a state Donald Trump lost by only 10,000 votes, leads the nation in the number of proposed voter suppression bills.” Arizona community organizations and voting rights groups have identified approximately 40 bills introduced by Republican lawmakers that would purge eligible voters from early voting lists, make it harder for election officials to send out ballots over the mail, eliminate Arizona’s Permanent Early Voting List, change how Electoral College electors are selected and even allow legislators to overturn election results. “These are extremely dangerous proposals, and even if some of them may not make it out, even though some of them may not pass, they are evidence of a level of fanaticism and megalomania that is very disconcerting,” said Alex Gulotta, state director for All Voting Is Local Action Arizona. “They are designed to let less voices be heard.” 

Full Article: Arizona leads nation in proposals to suppress votes, groups say

Florida: Voting by mail was a success, so why do Florida Republican legislators want to make it harder? | Mary Ellen Klas/Miami Herald

Bypassing the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” question, Florida Senate Republicans agreed Tuesday that Florida’s vote-by-mail process worked smoothly in the last election cycle but still needed a change. They want to erase all standing requests for mail-in ballots in 2022 and require voters to start over. “It’s not that big of a change. Some people are nervous about change,” said Sen. Dennis Baxley, a Republican from Ocala who sponsored the bill. “Why not try this? It may invigorate participation.” After a record 4.8 million Floridians voted by mail in November, the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee approved SB 90 along party lines to limit vote-by-mail applications to one election cycle and require everyone who signed up for mail ballots in 2020 to reapply to get them in 2022. Current law allows voters who ask for a mail-in ballot to have their request remain current for two general election cycles unless they opt out. The bill also moves up the starting time for counting vote-by-mail ballots from 22 days before an election to 35-40 days before an election, putting into statute a portion of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order from 2020. The change to the mail-in ballot dates was opposed by both Democrats and Florida’s nonpartisan election supervisors, who last week warned lawmakers about tinkering with Florida’s election laws after the state conducted the first election in years that wasn’t marred by problems.

Source: Florida Republicans vote to add hurdle for mail-in voting | Miami Herald

Georgia Senate committee votes for absentee voting restrictions | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Bills requiring an excuse and an ID number for absentee voting in Georgia cleared their first committee Wednesday, creating new restrictions after last year’s presidential election. A Senate subcommittee voted 3-2 along party lines to approve the bills, which now advance to the full Ethics Committee. Georgia law has allowed any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot since 2005, but Senate Bill 71 would limit absentee voting to people who are over 75, have a physical disability or are out of town. Democrats said the bill would stop people from voting from home if they’re worried about their health, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. “COVID isn’t choosy,” said state Sen. Sally Harrell, a Democrat from Atlanta. “We are all vulnerable. We don’t know which person this virus is going to kill.” The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, said voters should have to provide a reason to vote outside a polling place, as they had to before the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s made it available to everyone 16 years ago.

Full Article: Georgia Senate committee votes for absentee voting restrictions

Iowa: It might just be game over for the Iowa caucuses | David Siders and Elena Schneider/Politico

The siege of Iowa and New Hampshire has begun. The two states with privileged places on the presidential primary calendar are finding their roles more threatened than ever before — most recently in the form of a bill introduced in Nevada this week to move that state’s nominating contest to the front of the line in 2024. On its own, the Nevada encroachment would mean little. For years, Iowa and New Hampshire have successfully defended their one-two position from states eager to jump ahead. But the combination of Iowa’s botched 2020 caucus and increasing diversity in the Democratic Party’s ranks has made the whiteness of Iowa and New Hampshire all the more conspicuous, putting the two states on their heels and throwing the 2024 calendar into turmoil. “There’s no reason in the world that those states should go forward so early, because they’re not representative of what 90 percent of the country’s all about,” said former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who remains influential in party politics. “America looks different than it did 50 years ago, when these traditions were put in place, and the Democratic electorate looks really different.” He added, “It’s no longer palatable, as far as I’m concerned, for those states to take precedence over states like South Carolina and Nevada.”

Full Article It might just be game over for the Iowa caucuses – POLITICO

Louisiana Elections Chief Asks to Resume Voting Tech Search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana’s top elections official is pushing to resume his voting machine replacement effort, telling the state’s chief procurement officer that her temporary hold on work to hire a contractor “needlessly upended” the process. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin lambasted the decision by Louisiana’s chief procurement officer Paula Tregre, whose office in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration oversees the bidding process. Tregre stopped the voting machine shopping work after one of the interested vendors, Texas-based Hart InterCivic, complained the contractor solicitation was drawn too narrowly and could sideline it and other qualified voting technology firms. The secretary of state’s office said Wednesday that suggestions from the company that the bid solicitation wasn’t being inclusive to vendors “is absurd.” Ardoin sent a letter to Tregre on Sunday saying she “injected confusion” into the replacement effort. “By jumping the gun and declaring a stay of (request for proposals), we cannot even evaluate the concerns raised in Hart’s letter,” Ardoin wrote. It wasn’t clear when the contractor search will resume. Ardoin, a Republican, launched the search for a voting machine vendor on Jan. 27. Bids from companies interested in the contract were supposed to be due at the end of March. Louisiana’s contract is estimated to be worth up to $100 million. Ardoin wants to have the first new early voting machines in some parishes by the spring 2022 elections. Hart InterCivic CEO Julie Mathis said several of the secretary of state’s requirements for contractors — including the type of voting system sought, the machines’ screen size and the phased approach to rolling out new machines — could arbitrarily keep some election technology from being considered.

Full Article: Louisiana Elections Chief Asks to Resume Voting Tech Search | Louisiana News | US News

Michigan regent denounces ‘cynical lies’ about 2020 election | Craig Mauger Kim Kozlowski/The Detroit News

Defeating individuals who reject truth and democracy is “the struggle for our time,” University of Michigan regent Jordan Acker declared during a speech at a Thursday board meeting. Acker, a Democrat, addressed the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and unsubstantiated claims of fraud focused on the Nov. 3 election. He contended that people cannot reject others they simply disagree with but have to reject “those who disdain democracy.” “We must all live in the same basic truth: The election of 2020 was not stolen, the insurrection was not a hoax, and that our government can only endure when the losers of an election accept the legitimacy of defeat,” Acker said. The election’s results, including Democratic President Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in Michigan, are “not matters of opinion” but are facts, Acker said during his speech at the beginning of the meeting. “No man or woman can lead who denies objective truths,” he said. “We cannot claim we are a democracy while standing with those who would reject it for conspiracy-laden minority rule.” Acker’s speech did not reference fellow regent Ron Weiser, the new chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. But Weiser, an Ann Arbor businessman, has been criticized for choosing GOP activist Meshawn Maddock as his co-chair. Maddock supported efforts to overturn the results of the election last year as former President Donald Trump levied unproven claims of widespread election fraud.

Full Article: Michigan regent denounces ‘cynical lies’ about 2020 election `

New York: Oneida County elections commissioners resign after NY-22 mistakes | Mark Weiner/Syracuse Post-Standard

Oneida County’s two elections commissioners have decided to resign from their jobs amid mounting pressure over a series of mistakes in the 22nd Congressional District election. Carolanne Cardone, the Democratic elections commissioner, submitted her resignation on Tuesday, Oneida County Legislature Chairman Gerald Fiorini said today. Rose Grimaldi, the Republican elections commissioner, plans to submit her resignation on Wednesday, Fiorini said. Both commissioners received a letter this week requesting their resignations from the state Board of Elections in Albany. Otherwise, the state board would have asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to fire them, Fiorini told Cardone and Grimaldi did not respond to requests for comment. Former Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, has called for an independent investigation of the Oneida County Board of Elections after a series of errors and other problems were exposed during a three-month legal battle over dispute ballots in the election. Brindisi conceded to Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, last week, saying he didn’t want to continue a months-long battle that could further divide the community. Brindisi and voting rights advocates were outraged after Oneida County election clerks revealed in court that they failed to process more than 2,400 applications from new voters who had properly registered at the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Full Article: Oneida County elections commissioners resign after NY-22 mistakes –