National: Google expands election security aid for federal, state campaigns | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Google announced Tuesday it is expanding its efforts around election security by providing free training to state and federal campaigns in all 50 states. The company detailed the effort in a blog post, saying it will involve supporting nonpartisan virtual cybersecurity trainings for state and federal campaigns across the country and deploying a digital “help desk” to answer security-related questions for campaigns. The new effort marks an expansion of Google’s work with the nonprofit group Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC), which provides free or low-cost security services to campaigns to help defend against malicious hackers. “Keeping everyone safe online remains our top priority and we look forward to continuing our work in 2021 to make sure campaigns and elected officials around the world stay safe online,” Mark Risher, Google’s director of product management, identity and user security, wrote in the blog post. During the 2020 election cycle, Google worked with DDC to provide free two-factor authentication keys to more than 140 federal campaigns, along with promoting best cyber practices for campaign employees.

Full Article: Google expands election security aid for federal, state campaigns | TheHill

National: Center for Internet Security report highlights cyber risks to US election systems | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

Election systems in the U.S. are vulnerable to cyber intrusions similar to the one that hit federal agencies and numerous businesses last year and remain a potential target for foreign hacking, according to a report released Wednesday. The report by the Center for Internet Security, a nonprofit that partners with the federal government on election security initiatives, focuses on how hardware and software components can provide potential entryways for hackers. “We have to continue to get better,” said Aaron Wilson, a co-author of the report. “We have to improve our defenses, as those that are on the other side are likely honing their attack strategy, as well.” The 2020 election was deemed the “most secure” in history by a coalition of government cybersecurity experts and state and local election officials. There also is no indication that any election system was compromised as part of the hacking campaign that exploited an update of network management software from a company called SolarWinds. It was the largest cybersecurity breach of federal systems in U.S. history. Despite that, election systems are vulnerable to the same risks exposed by the SolarWinds hack, the report said. It describes the risk of such an attack, in which hackers might infiltrate the hardware or software used in election equipment. Even if voting results aren’t affected, such an attack could lead to confusion and undermine confidence in U.S. elections.

Full Article: Report highlights cyber risks to US election systems

Arizona Senate panel OKs bill requiring counties to disclose information on voting machines, systems | Howard Fischer/Arizona Daily Star

Facing defeats in court, Republican lawmakers are moving to change the law — retroactively — in a bid to eventually get their hands on voting equipment and ballots, even if it takes months. SB 1408 would spell out in statute that county election equipment, systems, records and other information “may not be deemed privileged information, confidential information or other information protected from disclosure.” The measure approved Thursday on a party-line 5-3 vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee declares that this information is “subject to subpoena and must be produced.” And it empowers judges to compel production of the materials and records. Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, who chairs the panel, made it clear the legislation has one purpose: to force the hand of Maricopa County officials who have so far refused to comply with a subpoena the Senate has issued. They have produced various records. But the supervisors contend the county is precluded from surrendering access to voting machines and the actual ballots to senators or the auditors they hope to hire. And so far the Senate’s efforts to get a court ruling compelling disclosure have faltered.

Full Article: Senate panel OKs bill requiring counties to disclose information on voting machines, systems | Latest News | tucson.com

Georgia: Fulton County’s DA opens criminal investigation into Trump attempt to overturn election | Christian Boone and Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As U.S. House managers made their case for the impeachment of Donald Trump, Fulton County’s top prosecutor on Wednesday launched a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the former president. The investigation by District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat entering her second month in office, centers on a Jan. 2 phone call to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump pleaded with him to “find” enough votes to overturn his narrow defeat in the state. “This letter is notice that the Fulton County District Attorney has opened an investigation into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election,” Willis wrote in correspondences delivered Wednesday morning to Raffensperger, Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Attorney General Chris Carr. Willis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that her office was best suited to handle the investigation since all other relevant state investigative agencies have conflicts. In her letter, Willis said her office “is the one agency with jurisdiction that is not a witness to the conduct that is the subject of the investigation.” “I don’t have any predetermined opinions” about whether a prosecution will even occur, she said. Willis would not say whether anyone else besides the former president is under investigation.

Full Article: Metro Atlanta prosecutor investigating Trump attempt to overturn Georgia election

Georgia GOP ‘election confidence’ report splits state Republicans | Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia GOP released a lengthy list of recommendations to limit voting after bruising political defeats. But the 10-page report immediately divided Republicans and led to a scathing response from one of the state’s highest-ranking officials. Several of the proposals promoted by the “election confidence task force” on Monday echo the demands then-President Donald Trump made as he sought to illegally reverse his election defeat in Georgia despite the repeated insistence of top officials that there was no evidence of widespread fraud. The report calls for photo ID verification for mail-in ballots, eliminating ballot drop boxes, ending no-excuse absentee voting, banning third-party groups and state officials from sending ballot request forms, and preventing voters from being automatically registered when they get their driver’s licenses. It also urges lawmakers to replace newly installed software from Dominion Voting Systems that was approved in 2019 as part of a $107 million overhaul of the state’s election infrastructure. Another recommendation calls for the elections division to be moved to the state Elections Board, stripping Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of oversight of Georgia’s vote. Raffensperger infuriated Trump and his allies for refusing demands to “find” enough votes to overturn his November defeat in a call that factors into the Senate impeachment trial that opened Tuesday.

Full Article: Georgia GOP ‘election confidence’ report splits state Republicans

Louisiana: Voting machine bid process sparks concerns | Zach Parker/Ouchita Citizen

The state’s efforts to find a new vendor to replace 10,000 aging electronic voting machines needs a closer look to ensure no single vendor is favored over another, state lawmakers say. Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver, Colorado-based voting machine vendor, is expected to be one of the companies submitting a proposal to the state. Last month, 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. In late 2018, Ardoin awarded the same contract to Dominion after it submitted a $95-million proposal, but the Office of State Procurement nixed the deal, according to media reports. One of Dominion’s competitors had complained the documents seeking proposals unfairly favored Dominion by requesting hardware specifications only Dominion could provide. Ardoin defended the selection of Dominion but deferred the matter until the RFP process could be rebooted, as it was on Jan. 27. Ardoin’s office did not respond to The Ouachita Citizen’s request for comment. Since the RFP controversy in 2018, Dominion became the subject of national headlines following the presidential election last November. After losing the election to now-President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump claimed Dominion had perpetrated widespread election fraud, specifically that the vendor had switched votes from him to Biden. In response to those allegations, Ardoin and Dominion have each claimed the state’s use of Dominion’s voting equipment in recent elections was safe and secure. Area legislators say their constituents have not forgotten the Trump campaign’s complaints about Dominion. Concerning the mention of Dominion, state Rep. Michael Echols said, “My gut tells me that’s kind of a scary word in the political world, especially if you’re a Republican.”

Full Article: Voting machine bid process sparks concerns | Local/State Headlines | hannapub.com

Michigan: Costs rising in Antrim County election lawsuit | Mardi Link/Traverse City Record-Eagle

Costs are rising for Antrim County officials, who continue to defend against an ongoing election-related lawsuit and respond to security tasks, said County Clerk Sheryl Guy. “Since the election, we’ve probably spent $30,000 on legal fees and overtime for deputies,” Guy said Tuesday. “And we’re not done yet.” A Central Lake Township man, Bill Bailey, filed a lawsuit against the county Nov. 23, arguing his vote was “diluted,” and his constitutional rights violated. Bailey also accuses Antrim County of using what he claims were intentionally compromised Dominion voting equipment, that deliberately “switched” votes from Republican to Democratic candidates during the 2020 election. Such claims have been repeatedly debunked by Dominion CEO John Poulos, and by national, state and county election officials. Dominion, in response to claims made about its equipment and software, filed $1.3 billion defamation lawsuits against Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, attorneys on former President Donald Trump’s election-challenging legal team, and sent a cease and desist letter to Bailey’s attorney, records show.

Full Article: Costs rising in Antrim election lawsuit | News | record-eagle.com

North Carolina: Ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell served at home near Asheville with $1.3B Dominion Voting lawsuit | Joel Burgess and William Cummings/Asheville Citizen

After evading attempts for weeks by a civil process server that included being “pursued over state lines,” ex-Donald Trump lawyer Sidney Powell was served with a $1.3 billion lawsuit at her Biltmore Forest home, near Asheville, according to recently filed court papers by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion filed the defamation lawsuit against Powell Jan. 8 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. But attempts to officially serve the Texas-based attorney with the summons took until Jan. 28, said attorneys for the company. “Powell evaded service of process for weeks, forcing Dominion to incur unnecessary expenses for extraordinary measures to effect service, including hiring private investigators and pursuing Powell across state lines,” according to a Feb. 9 answer to Powell’s request for more time to respond to the complaint. She is being sued over her false claims that the company, which manufactured electronic voting machines used by some districts in the 2020 election, changed votes for then-President Trump to votes for then-President-elect Joe Biden.

Full Article: Lawyer Powell served in NC with Dominion Voting lawsuit | Charlotte Observer

Ohio: As America Lurches Back Toward Reality, Stark County Confronts a Make-Believe Problem | Pete Kotz/Cleveland Scene

When Stark County’s voting machines grew so old it couldn’t find replacement parts, its election board reached a $6.45 million deal for new ones. Then a make-believe problem intervened. Residents pounded county commissioners with angry calls. They claimed that Dominion, the supplier whose machines are used in 26 states, was run by Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. And that its machines were programmed to change votes. They didn’t seem to notice that Chavez had been dead for seven years. Nor that Dominion is actually a Toronto firm founded to help blind people vote. Or that there’d never been any evidence of vote changing or the unauthorized use of magic. County commissioners were forced to put the deal on hold pending investigation of the fairy tale. Consider it the latest sign of America’s regression to a childlike state, where monsters lurk under every bed, and public officials must placate citizenry tethered to the make believe.  At Dodger Stadium last week, officials were forced to halt a Covid vaccination drive when protesters blocked the entrance, believing it a sorcerer’s potion. The feds wondered what to do about the stock market as investors bet on an obsolete game store thought to have hidden, magical powers. Meanwhile, President Bided halted work on the border wall. The Trump administration had spent $15 billion to pacify fears of a Mexican “rapist” invasion, though undocumented immigrants have half the crime rate of native-born Americans. CNN even revealed an imaginary plot to eat babies. “Once you get to baby eating,” says a White House spokesperson, “it’s like trying to govern in the middle of a German bedtime story.”

Full Article: As America Lurches Back Toward Reality, Stark County Confronts a Make-Believe Problem | Scene and Heard: Scene’s News Blog

Pennsylvania mail-in ballot registry isn’t as permanent as the word implies | Deb Bradley/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pennsylvania’s 2019 mail-in ballot law continues to create confusion as election officials across the state prepare for their first municipal primary under the new rules on May 18. The law that the GOP-controlled legislature passed by an overwhelming bipartisan margin in 2019 triggered a number of challenges and court clarifications last year as millions of Pennsylvania voters flocked to no-excuse mail-in voting for the first time in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic. Now, its wording is creating confusion anew for some. Many voters thought they had registered to receive a mail-in ballot in all future elections when they opted to be part of what the law termed a “permanent mail in ballot list.” But it turns out the list isn’t so permanent. In fact, many voters learned for the first time this month that it is, instead, an annual list that they must re-register for every year to continue to receive mail-in ballots. In fact, voters who registered to be on the “permanent list of mail-in voters” will be removed from the list if they don’t act now to re-register soon. Confused? Although the 2019 law that allowed Pennsylvanians to vote by mail without providing an excuse created a registry for those who opted to receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections, it added a provision that required those who chose that option to re-register annually.

Full Article: Pennsylvania mail-in ballot registry isn’t as permanent as the word implies | TribLIVE.com

Washington Senate Considers Election Worker Harassment Bill | Steve Jackson/Spokane Public Radio

The Washington Senate is considering a proposal that would protect election workers from harassment. The bill was prompted by threats reported nationwide, and in Washington following last November’s election.Secretary of State Kim Wyman spoke in favor of the bill in a Senate Law and Justice Committee hearing Monday. “Across the country and around the state there have been not only actionable credible threats, but in some cases, gunfire being shot through windows of election offices, and like I said the personal protection of some high-profile secretaries of state and election workers that require their state patrols to be with them 24/7. It’s a serious level I’ve never seen in 28 years of doing this work,” she said. The bill would expand existing protections to cover not just officials like Wyman, but also staff members in her office and in county auditors’ offices.

Full Article: Washington Senate Considers Election Worker Harassment Bill | Spokane Public Radio

Wisconsin Republicans order an audit of the 2020 elections | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Republican lawmakers launched an audit of Wisconsin’s elections Thursday, three months after Donald Trump lost at the ballot box and in a string of lawsuits. The review by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau will look at some issues that have faced scrutiny from courts and election observers, such as how the state maintains its voter rolls and when it allows voters to get absentee ballots without showing IDs. Rep. Samantha Kerkman, a Salem Lakes Republican and co-chairwoman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, said she wanted to make sure voters are confident that elections are fair. “It is the cornerstone of our government,” she said.  Her committee approved the audit along party lines Thursday after an hours-long hearing. The hearing included testimony from the state’s top elections official as well as lawmakers, young children who quoted from the Bible and a woman who read a computer’s IP address as she asked questions about the accuracy of electronic voting. No significant problems were found with Wisconsin’s voting machines after audits and recounts in 2016 and 2020. 

Full Article: Wisconsin Republicans order an audit of the 2020 elections

National: Activists complain of weakened EAC voting security standard | Frank Bajak/Associated Press

Leaders of the federal agency overseeing election administration have quietly weakened a key element of proposed security standards for voting systems, raising concern among voting-integrity experts that many such systems will remain vulnerable to hacking. The Election Assistance Commission is poised to approve its first new security standards in 15 years after an arduous process involving multiple technical and elections community bodies and open hearings. But ahead of a scheduled Feb. 10 ratification vote by commissioners, the EAC leadership tweaked the draft standards to remove language that stakeholders interpreted as banning wireless modems and chips from voting machines as a condition for federal certification. The mere presence of such wireless hardware poses unnecessary risks for tampering that could alter data or programs on election systems, say computer security specialists and activists, some of whom have long complained than the EAC bends too easily to industry pressure. Agency leaders argue that overall, the revised guidelines represent a major security improvement. They stress that the rules require manufacturers to disable wireless functions present in any machines, although the wireless hardware can remain. In a Feb. 3 letter to the agency, computer scientists and voting integrity activists say the change “profoundly weakens voting system security and will introduce very real opportunities to remotely attack election systems.” They demand the wireless hardware ban be restored. “They’re trying to do an end run to avoid scrutiny by the public and Congress,” said Susan Greenhalgh, senior advisor on election security for Free Speech for People, a nonpartisan nonprofit, accusing agency leaders of bowing to industry pressure. Seven members of the commission’s 35-member advisory board including its chair, Michael Yaki, wrote EAC leadership on Thursday to express dismay that the standards were “substantially altered” from what they approved in June. At the very least, the wrote, they deserve an explanation why the draft standards “backtracked so drastically on a critical security issue.”

Full Article: Activists complain of weakened voting security standard

National: Is Secure Online Voting Too Good To Be True? (For Voatz, It Might Be) | Chitra Ragavan/Swaay

When Amelia Powers Gardner won political office as county clerk and auditor in Utah County, Utah, in January 2019, she was determined to fix what she viewed as the county’s archaic and dysfunctional voting mechanisms. Around that same time, nearly 800 miles northwest, Christine Walker, the long-time county clerk in Jackson County, Oregon, had been deploying various hardware and software products to revamp her county’s voting technology and processes with little success. She was ready for something new.  Walker and Gardner don’t know each other. But when they each learned about a small Boston-based tech startup, called Voatz, that had built the first mobile voting app and platform secured by blockchain technology, they were immediately intrigued. And upon discovering that West Virginia and Colorado were already testing the app for absentee military voters overseas, the two election leaders were even more eager to put their counties on the map as trailblazers in online voting.  “I like to be the person that’s kind of setting the pace, not just following along,” says Walker, who prides herself on her tech-savvy leadership. Gardner, a former Caterpillar executive, automotive technologist, and business efficiency expert, is similarly technologically inclined. Noble intentions aside, Walker and Gardner’s vote of confidence in Voatz may be misplaced, say members of the cybersecurity community who have repeatedly warned the U.S. government that the app is vulnerable to hacking. These experts, along with several members of Congress, have criticized Voatz for its failures in transparency, lack of accountability, and refusal to release its source code so that it can be better tested for security flaws.

Full Article: Is Secure Online Voting Too Good To Be True? (For This Company, It Might Be)

National: Voting machines didn’t steal the election. But they’re a terrible technology. | Cory Doctorow/The Washington Post

onspiracy theories succeed by leveraging a grain of truth: There is usually some small connection to reality beneath even the most outlandish assertions. So while some people on the right-wing fringe spin crazed tales about a left-leaning cabal that indulges in pedophilia, there’s still the very real case of Jeffrey Epstein — showing that some rich predators do abuse teenage girls with impunity, while powerful friends look the other way. The unfounded conspiracy theories surrounding voting machines reveal the same dynamic at work. A popular right-wing talking point holds that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by nefarious actors who hacked machines from Dominion Voting Systems, which supplies many U.S. precincts. The conspiracy theory is rubbish: There’s no evidence that Dominion’s machines were hacked, and certainly no evidence that Dominion itself attempted to subvert the vote count. Each telling of the Dominion conspiracy is more unhinged than the last; small wonder that the company is suing Trump lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell for spreading their versions of the lie, asking for $1.3 billion in damages in each case. But although the conspiracy theories are nonsense, that doesn’t mean there’s anything unreasonable about mistrusting voting machines, about which experts have been sounding the alarm for years. Even before Bush v. Gore — with its disputes over missed votes and hanging chads — voting machines were a cesspool of low reliability and low security, not to mention profiteering. And they still are. State officials have striven to improve their voting systems in the past two decades, but substantial flaws remain. Something of a tech backwater, the voting machine industry has been sustained through inertia and sweetheart deals with local governments. One hurdle to reform is that the industry is dominated by three players — Election Systems & Software, which supplies half of the nation’s machines; Dominion Voting (30 percent); and Hart InterCivic (15 percent).

Full Article: Voting machines didn’t steal the election. But they’re a terrible technology. – The Washington Post

National: Trump’s election fraud falsehoods have cost taxpayers $519 million — and counting | By Toluse Olorunnipa and Michelle Ye Hee Lee/Washington Post

President Donald Trump’s onslaught of falsehoods about the November election misled millions of Americans, undermined faith in the electoral system, sparked a deadly riot — and has now left taxpayers with a large, and growing, bill. The total so far: $519 million. The costs have mounted daily as government agencies at all levels have been forced to devote public funds to respond to actions taken by Trump and his supporters, according to a Washington Post review of local, state and federal spending records, as well as interviews with government officials. The expenditures include legal fees prompted by dozens of fruitless lawsuits, enhanced security in response to death threats against poll workers, and costly repairs needed after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. That attack triggered the expensive massing of thousands of National Guard troops on the streets of Washington amid fears of additional extremist violence. Although more than $480 million of the total is attributable to the military’s estimated expenses for the troop deployment through mid-March, the financial impact of the president’s refusal to concede the election is probably much higher than what has been documented thus far, and the true costs may never be known.

Full Article: Trump’s election fraud falsehoods have cost taxpayers $519 million — and counting – Washington Post

Fox Says Coverage of Alleged Voting Machine Fraud Is Free Speech | Joel Rosenblatt/Bloomberg

Smartmatic Corp.’s defamation lawsuit accusing former President Donald Trump’s supporters of promoting claims of rampant election fraud violates free speech rights, Fox News Network said. Fox responded Monday to what Smartmatic describes as a disinformation campaign spread by the news organization, lawyer Sidney Powell and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who claimed its voting machines were manipulated in the 2020 election. The Trump campaign’s lawsuits pointing to the manipulation qualified as news, Fox said. “While many doubted those claims, no one doubted their newsworthiness,” Fox said in its court filing, referring to the campaign’s lawsuits. As the story unfolded, Fox said, Smartmatic was given ample opportunity to tell its side. Smartmatic’s suit should be thrown out because it can’t prove Fox knowingly or recklessly falsified its coverage about the machines, the broadcaster said. “The First Amendment provides its highest protection to coverage of and commentary on matters of public concern,” Fox said.

Full Article: Fox Says Coverage of Alleged Voting Machine Fraud Is Free Speech – Bloomberg

National: Cyber chief Chris Krebs: ‘You find out who your friends are’ | Kiran Stacey/Financial Times

If there is one upside to having been publicly fired by Donald Trump, Chris Krebs reflects towards the end of our lunch, it is that some of his neighbours have started talking to him again.  Picking over tapas outside an upmarket Spanish restaurant on a wintry Washington day, we have spent two hours dissecting Krebs’s past four years, which were tumultuous even by the heady standards of the Trump administration.  Joining the federal government in 2017, he was later appointed as its first cyber security tsar, in charge of defending the US against cyber attacks and disinformation, both foreign and domestic. Krebs is credited with helping companies keep working through the pandemic and overseeing two successful and secure national elections — the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election. But when he started to rebut the former president’s claims that last year’s vote had been rigged, he promptly found himself out of a job and facing death threats from Trump’s most ardent supporters. While the chaos is unlikely to subside in the immediate future — he is now suing the Trump campaign and others for defamation — at least the social stigma has begun to wear off. “It’s remarkable,” Krebs notes wryly. “You find out who your friends are . . . I had neighbours that hadn’t talked to me for a while because they found out I was in the Trump administration, and now they are. “Considering the current situation, I’m OK with that,” he adds. “Just as long as you’re not torching my house.”

Full Article: Cyber chief Chris Krebs: ‘You find out who your friends are’ | Financial Times

National: Smartmatic files $2.7 billion defamation suit against Fox News, hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro and lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell over bogus election-fraud claims | Jeremy Barr and Elahe Izadi/The Washington Post

An election technology company has filed a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News and several of the network’s most prominent commentators, alleging that they “decimated” the company’s business by falsely accusing it of helping to steal the Nov. 3 election from former president Donald Trump. Smartmatic filed the nearly 300-page lawsuit against the network and its parent company, Fox Corp., in New York State Supreme Court on Thursday, after weeks of legal threats against the network. “Fox is responsible for this disinformation campaign, which has damaged democracy worldwide and irreparably harmed Smartmatic and other stakeholders who contribute to modern elections,” Smartmatic chief executive Antonio Mugica said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. The company said it has identified “100 false statements and implications” about Smartmatic and its services made on Fox’s programs. The lawsuit singles out Fox News and Fox Business Network hosts Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro, as well as two guests who repeatedly appeared on their shows in the weeks around the election: Trump-affiliated lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani. Powell and Giuliani made a tour of conservative news outlets after the election, repeating Trump’s claims that nefarious actors had infiltrated the U.S. election and fabricated millions of votes for his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, who won the election. The two lawyers were also involved in lawsuits seeking to overturn election results in swing states, every one of which was either dropped or thrown out of court. “Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell needed a platform to use to spread their story,” the lawsuit states. “They found a willing partner in Fox News.”

Full Article: Smartmatic files $2.7 billion defamation suit against Fox News over bogus election-fraud claims – The Washington Post

National: Lawsuits Take the Lead in Fight Against Disinformation | Michael M. Grynbaum/The New York Times

In just a few weeks, lawsuits and legal threats from a pair of obscure election technology companies have achieved what years of advertising boycotts, public pressure campaigns and liberal outrage could not: curbing the flow of misinformation in right-wing media. Fox Business canceled its highest rated show, “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” on Friday after its host was sued as part of a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit. On Tuesday, the pro-Trump cable channel Newsmax cut off a guest’s rant about rigged voting machines. Fox News, which seldom bows to critics, has run fact-checking segments to debunk its own anchors’ false claims about electoral fraud. This is not the typical playbook for right-wing media, which prides itself on pugilism and delights in ignoring the liberals who have long complained about its content. But conservative outlets have rarely faced this level of direct assault on their economic lifeblood. Smartmatic, a voter technology firm swept up in conspiracies spread by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies, filed its defamation suit against Rupert Murdoch’s Fox empire on Thursday, citing Mr. Dobbs and two other Fox anchors, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, for harming its business and reputation.

Full Article: Lawsuits Take the Lead in Fight Against Disinformation – The New York Times

National: No evidence SolarWinds hack touched election systems, acting CISA chief says | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

The compromise of products made by software company SolarWinds that allowed hackers to gain access to a wide array of organizations, including federal agencies, Fortune 500 corporations and at least three state governments does not appear to have affected any systems involved with election administration, the acting head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said Wednesday. But speaking to the National Association of Secretaries of State winter conference, Brandon Wales, who became the agency’s leader last November, said there is still much more to be learned about the extent of the incident, which is believed to be the work of Russian intelligence agents conducting espionage on U.S.-based networks. “We have no evidence any election systems were compromised as part of this campaign,” Wales said. But, he said, U.S. intelligence still “does not have good information on all the victims.” While CISA continues to address the fallout of the SolarWinds operation, which the Biden administration has made its top cyber priority, Wales spent much of his conversation with secretaries of state recapping the agency’s role in the 2020 election. In particular, he praised efforts like a nationwide tabletop exercise last July that drew more than 2,100 participants from 37 states — against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the quick sharing of information in October that, within 27 hours, enabled U.S. officials to attribute an email campaign threatening voters to the government of Iran.

Full Article: No evidence SolarWinds hack touched election systems, acting CISA chief says

Arizona Senate fails in attempt to hold Maricopa County supervisors in contempt over election audit | Andrew Oxford Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

An attempt by Republican state senators to hold the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt failed on Monday as lawmakers seek to conduct their own audit of the presidential election results. Breaking with the GOP caucus and casting the crucial vote against the measure, which could have led to the supervisors’ arrests, Sen. Paul Boyer said he wanted to give the county and Senate more time to work out their ongoing legal dispute over the Legislature’s proposed audit. “Today’s vote merely provides a little bit more time for us to work together charitably and amicably as friends,” Boyer, R-Glendale, told the Senate. Boyer said the Board of Supervisors does not have any policy disagreement with additional audits of the last election and that his vote was not intended as an end of the process. “My vote is about patience,” he said. The Senate issued subpoenas in December and January demanding copies of all the county’s mail-in ballots and access to voting machines. But county officials have not released the ballots or voting machines, contending that state law requires the ballots to be sealed unless a judge says otherwise.

Full Article: Arizona Senate vote on contempt for Maricopa County leaders fails

Georgia opens probe of Trump phone call asking to overturn Biden’s election victory | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia election officials opened an investigation Monday into Donald Trump’s phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger urging him to “find” enough votes to reverse the outcome of the presidential contest in the state. The investigation will review Trump’s Jan. 2 call when he pressured Raffensperger to overturn the election, said Walter Jones, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office. Raffensperger, a Republican, has repeatedly said there was no widespread fraud that could have changed the results of the election, which Joe Biden won by less than 12,000 votes in Georgia. He told Trump the “data you have is wrong” as he resisted the president’s false claims that he had won in Georgia. “The secretary of state’s office investigates complaints it receives. The investigations are fact-finding and administrative in nature. Any further legal efforts will be left to the attorney general,” Jones said.

Full Article: Georgia opens probe of Trump phone call asking to overturn Biden’s election victory

Georgia election is over, but lawsuits continue | David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The votes were counted, recounted and audited. President Joe Biden and Georgia’s two new U.S. senators took office weeks ago. The election, in short, is over — except in the courts. More than 30 lawsuits contested some aspects of the November presidential election or the January U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia. Most were tossed out by judges in short order. But others live on, and new lawsuits are still being filed. They will not change the outcome of those elections. But the lawsuits underscore the prospect that future elections may be decided in the courts as well as at the ballot box. Biden’s victory over Donald Trump sparked a wave of litigation in Georgia and other swing states. Trump and his supporters claimed widespread fraud cost him reelection — claims that were consistently rejected by the courts and the people who ran the elections.

Full Article: Georgia election is over, but lawsuits continue

Iowa: Miller-Meeks’ attorney looking for rejected ballots in contested U.S. House race | Tom Barton/Quad City Times

More than a month after Democrat Rita Hart identified 22 ballots she claimed were legally cast but not counted, an attorney for Iowa Republican U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is now looking for rejected ballots. Miller-Meeks was provisionally sworn in as a new member of Congress last month after state officials certified the election results. Hart has asked the U.S. House to investigate and overturn the race that state officials say she lost to Miller-Meeks by six votes following a district-wide recount in all 24 counties. Appanoose County Auditor Kelly Howard said an attorney for Miller-Meeks contacted the Appanoose County Auditor’s office Monday requesting copies of all rejected absentee ballot envelopes.

Full Article: UPDATED: Miller-Meeks’ attorney looking for rejected ballots in contested Iowa U.S. House race | Local News | qctimes.com

Louisiana Lawmakers plan review of voting machine search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana lawmakers intend a close watch as the state shops for new voting machines, a vendor search that comes in the aftermath of a divisive, partisan national uproar about the mechanics of casting ballots and the equipment used in that process. The solicitation for contractors went out last week, and lawmakers are planning a joint hearing of the House and Senate elections oversight committees on Feb. 19 to dig into the details of Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s effort to replace 10,000 decades-old voting machines. “We as legislators want to be able to tell our constituents that this is a good process and that we are confident in the vendor that was selected. I think part of our responsibility is rebuilding the public trust. I think some of the national issues have caused everyone to have doubts,” said Sen. Sharon Hewitt, the Slidell Republican who chairs the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee that oversees voting issues. Ardoin held a conference call Friday with GOP lawmakers to talk through the search he started Jan. 27 and what criteria a contractor must meet. The Republican elections chief has offered a similar briefing to Democrats, according to Ardoin’s spokesperson Tyler Brey. “As you can imagine, we’ve been getting a lot of calls from legislators who are getting constituent calls asking about voting issues,” Brey said. “We just wanted to provide some information that will maybe give peace of mind.” Voting machine contracts stretch over years, the deals are lucrative and only a few companies offer the equipment. Louisiana is expected to be the only state in the market for new machines this year, putting a spotlight on its work.

Full Article: Lawmakers plan review of Louisiana’s voting machine search

Michigan: Gateway Pundit video doesn’t show election fraud in Detroit | Clara Hendrickson/Detroit Free Press

An article from the conservative news website The Gateway Pundit claims that a video from the TCF Center where Detroit election workers counted absentee ballots cast by the city’s voters “shows late night deliveries of tens of thousands of illegal ballots 8 hours after deadline.”The article claims that the video is “proof of fraud in Detroit.” The video appears to show a white van at the TCF Center early in the morning on Nov. 4 containing ballots that were unloaded and brought into the counting room at the TCF Center. There is no evidence of anything nefarious. In Michigan, voters had until 8 p.m. on Election Day to return absentee ballots. The deadline was for casting ballots, not delivering or counting them.  A sworn affidavit written by Christopher Thomas, the former Michigan Director of Elections who worked at the TCF Center, in response to a lawsuit against the city says that no late-arriving ballots were ever counted. “No absentee ballots received after the deadline of 8 p.m. on November 3, 2020, were received by or processed at the TCF Center. Only ballots received by the deadline were processed,” Thomas wrote. 

Full Article: Gateway Pundit video doesn’t show election fraud in Detroit

New York: Claudia Tenney certified winner, Anthony Brindisi concedes | Steve Howe/Utica Observer-Dispatch

More than three months after Election Day, the race in New York’s 22nd Congressional District is over.  A little more than two hours after the state Board of Elections certified Republican Claudia Tenney as the winner by 109 votes, Democrat Anthony Brindisi conceded the race in a statement. The double announcements Monday brought an abrupt end to the last contested House of Representatives race in the nation.  “Today I congratulated Claudia Tenney and offered to make the transition process as smooth as possible on behalf of our community,” Brindisi said. “I hope that she will be a Representative for all the people of this district, not just those that agree with her point of view, and work with members of both parties to heal the deep divisions that exist in our Country.”

Full Article: NY-22: Claudia Tenney certified winner, Anthony Brindisi concedes

Ohio: Uproar over Dominion voting machines in Stark County shows Trump’s falsehoods linger | Hannah Knowles/The Washington Post

Late last year, amid rampant false claims of a stolen presidential election, officials in a Trump-loving county in Ohio took a stand: They voted 4 to 0 to buy Dominion voting machines. It was a good deal for the county, years in the making, says Board of Elections Director Jeff Matthews, who heads the Stark County GOP as well. It was also a step into a firestorm — Donald Trump’s supporters were incorrectly accusing Dominion Voting Systems of helping to rig the 2020 results. “We knew exactly what we were getting into,” said Matthews, who has worked on the elections board for 30 years. Two months later, Stark County has yet to replace its aging voting equipment while May primaries loom. The all-GOP board of commissioners has fielded an unprecedented deluge of upset callers and spent a recent meeting peppering election staff with doubts and questions. Matthews says officials could go to court to push commissioners to make the purchase. A former Trump campaign strategist’s video urging people to “warn” Stark County authorities against moving ahead just fueled a new round of complaints, Matthews said, many of them from out of state.

Full Article: Purchase of Dominion voting machines in Stark County draws a backlash – The Washington Post

Pennsylvania’s voting laws likely to change, but not in a big way | Julian Routh/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As last year’s ultra-litigious presidential election magnified nearly every aspect of Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting laws, stakeholders say incremental clarifications to the law are more likely in the coming years than sweeping, foundational changes. While other states float complete overhauls of their systems, Pennsylvania’s political arena is more conducive to passing small changes to the election code that result from bipartisan consensus, observers and stakeholders say. They cite the veto power of a Democratic governor over the Republican-controlled Legislature as well as support for vote by mail by the general public and many members of both parties. “I think there’s more common ground [on election reform] than areas we can’t agree on,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said of Democrats and Republicans in Harrisburg. But there’s always the possibility of political theater in a state that saw Republicans mount numerous legal attacks on the intricacies of Act 77, the Legislature’s 2019 overhaul of the voting system that garnered bipartisan support and allowed voters to cast ballots by mail.

Full Article: Pennsylvania’s voting laws likely to change, but not in a big way | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette