National: ‘An existential threat’: Violent harassment over the 2020 election haunts election workers, but few perpetrators have been held accountable | Grace Panetta/Business Insider

Ruby Freeman was among the tens of thousands of Americans who helped serve the need for more election workers in her community in 2020, joining her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a full-time employee in the Fulton County, Georgia elections office, to process and count absentee ballots in the November election. Just two months later, Freeman was the target of a relentless online harassment campaign over the election lies perpetuated by former President Donald Trump and his allies. Freeman and Moss, represented by the nonprofit group Protect Democracy and their co-counsels, are now suing the popular right-wing website The Gateway Pundit, its founder Jim Hoft, and his brother and Gateway Pundit writer Joe Hoft, for defamation and intentional inflection of emotional distress. As Trump invoked her name over a dozen times on the January 2 phone call pressuring Georgia officials to “find” enough votes to win him the election, Freeman fled her home on the advice of the FBI at the beginning of January, staying in Airbnbs and avoiding using credit cards that could be used to trace her. The lawsuit outlines how online conspiracy theories can upend the lives of relatively low-level election workers. The suit also highlights how little protection besieged election workers currently receive from law enforcement, and how few people have been held accountable for threatening election officials.

Full Article: Lawsuit Shows Few Consequence for Those Who Threaten Election Workers

National: Federal Funding Sought to Protect Threatened Election Officials | Kenneth P. Doyle/Bloomberg

Federal election officials are seeking expedited legal guidance from the Government Accountability Office on whether funds allocated to states for election administration can be used to pay for personal security purposes. That’s one of the steps to improve the safety of state and local election officials that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission outlined in a letter responding to an inquiry last month from Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and ranking member Roy Blunt(R-Mo.). The senators expressed concern for officials who’ve faced increased threats of violence since the 2020 elections. The commission is asking whether funds directed to states through the 2002 Help America Vote Act that are already being used to pay for securing election offices can also be used for physical personal protection. “HAVA election security grants were made available to states to improve the administration of elections for Federal office, and physical security falls under that umbrella,” the four commissioners said in a Dec. 3 letter obtained by Bloomberg Government. “We await a response from the GAO but stand ready to prepare guidance as soon as an opinion is issued,” they added. The commission hopes to allow states to use money leftover from funds Congress appropriated for the 2020 and 2018 elections.

Full Article: Federal Funding Sought to Protect Threatened Election Officials | Bloomberg Government

National: Trump allies are angling for election jobs up and down the ballot. That could have consequences in 2024 | Sara Murray and Jeremy Herb/CNN

As former President Donald Trump prepares for a potential comeback bid in 2024, his allies are flocking to election jobs all the way down to the local level in key battleground states, raising new concerns that the election officials who blocked Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election won’t be there the next time around. Trump himself has endorsed candidates for secretary of state and attorney general — statewide races that play a crucial role in administering elections — who have spread his lies about 2020. But in addition to statewide roles, Trump’s acolytes are pursuing local election posts, even trickling down to the precinct level, and seeking to gain more prominent roles in state GOP parties and state legislatures ahead of the 2024 presidential campaign. In Michigan, for instance, several new Republican appointees to county canvassing boards who have said they wouldn’t have certified the 2020 election are replacing the GOP members who did certify the election result. One appointee in Macomb County urged Trump after the election to invoke the Insurrection Act and suspend the Electoral College meeting to set up military tribunals to investigate claims of election fraud. Michigan is a microcosm of a broader, nationwide strategy being carried out by Trump allies like Steve Bannon, who has advocated for Trump’s backers to infiltrate local Republican Party positions as well as election posts. “We’re taking over the Republican Party through the precinct committee strategy. We’re taking over all the elections,” Bannon said on an episode of his “War Room” podcast last month.

Full Article: Trump allies are angling for election jobs up and down the ballot. That could have consequences in 2024 – CNNPolitics

National: Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun |  Barton Gellman/The Atlantic

Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect. The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already. Who or what will safeguard our constitutional order is not apparent today. It is not even apparent who will try. Democrats, big and small D, are not behaving as if they believe the threat is real. Some of them, including President Joe Biden, have taken passing rhetorical notice, but their attention wanders. They are making a grievous mistake. “The democratic emergency is already here,” Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at UC Irvine, told me in late October. Hasen prides himself on a judicious temperament. Only a year ago he was cautioning me against hyperbole. Now he speaks matter-of-factly about the death of our body politic. “We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024,” he said, “but urgent action is not happening.” For more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party’s national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft. Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election. They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject. They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.

Full Article: How Donald Trump Could Subvert the 2024 Election – The Atlantic

National: Sidney Powell’s Defending the Republic raised more than $14 million as she spread election falsehoods | Emma Brown, Rosalind S. Helderman, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey/The Washington Post

In the months after President Donald Trump lost the November election, lawyer Sidney Powell raised large sums from donors inspired by her fight to reverse the outcome of the vote. But by April, questions about where the money was going — and how much there was — were helping to sow division between Powell and other leaders of her new nonprofit, Defending the Republic. On April 9, many members of the staff and board resigned, documents show. Among those who departed after just days on the job was Chief Financial Officer Robert Weaver, who in a memo at the time wrote that he had “no way of knowing the true financial position” of Defending the Republic because some of its bank accounts were off limits even to him. Records reviewed by The Washington Post show that Defending the Republic raised more than $14 million, a sum that reveals the reach and resonance of one of the most visible efforts to fundraise using baseless claims about the 2020 election. Previously unreported records also detail acrimony between Powell and her top lieutenants over how the money — now a focus of inquiries by federal prosecutors and Congress — was being handled. The split has left Powell, who once had Trump’s ear, isolated from other key figures in the election-denier movement. Even so, as head of Defending the Republic, she controlled $9 million as recently as this summer, according to an audited financial statement from the group. The mistrust of U.S. elections that she and her former allies stoked endures. Polls show that one-third of Americans — including a majority of Republicans — believe that Trump lost because of fraud.

Full Article: Sidney Powell’s Defending the Republic raised more than $14 million as she spread election falsehoods – The Washington Post

National: Voting Battles of 2022 Take Shape as G.O.P. Crafts New Election Bills | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

A new wave of Republican legislation to reshape the nation’s electoral system is coming in 2022, as the G.O.P. puts forward proposals ranging from a requirement that ballots be hand-counted in New Hampshire to the creation of a law enforcement unit in Florida to investigate allegations of voting fraud. The Republican drive, motivated in part by a widespread denial of former President Donald J. Trump’s defeat last year, includes both voting restrictions and measures that could sow public confusion or undermine confidence in fair elections, and will significantly raise the stakes of the 2022 midterms. After passing 33 laws of voting limits in 19 states this year, Republicans in at least five states — Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma and New Hampshire — have filed bills before the next legislative sessions have even started that seek to restrict voting in some way, including by limiting mail voting. In over 20 states, more than 245 similar bills put forward this year could be carried into 2022, according to Voting Rights Lab, a group that works to expand access to the ballot. In many places, Democrats will be largely powerless to push back at the state level, where they remain overmatched in Republican-controlled legislatures. G.O.P. state lawmakers across the country have enacted wide-ranging cutbacks to voting access this year and have used aggressive gerrymandering to lock in the party’s statehouse power for the next decade. Both parties are preparing to use the issue of voting to energize their bases. Democratic leaders, especially Stacey Abrams, the newly announced candidate for governor of Georgia and a voting rights champion for her party, promise to put the issue front and center. But the left remains short of options, leaving many candidates, voters and activists worried about the potential effects in 2022 and beyond, and increasingly frustrated with Democrats’ inability to pass federal voting protections in Washington.

Full Article: Voting Battles of 2022 Take Shape as G.O.P. Crafts New Election Bills – The New York Times

Editorial: Republicans in Congress Should Update the Electoral Count Act Before It’s Too Late | Benjamin L. Ginsberg/National Review

Donald Trump should want the Electoral Count Act of 1887 amended. And he should want it done even though his some of his Democratic opponents may want the same thing. Designed to govern Congress’s tabulation of Electoral College votes — including disputes between the chambers — the aged law is a swamp of ambiguity. Its byzantine, vague, and muddled provisions do not provide sufficient answers to crucial questions that could arise in a genuinely close election. Despite the fact that the former president’s attempts to exploit those shortcomings failed in 2020, he and all Republicans should be haunted by the blueprint that he has created for his opponents if he were to run for office again in 2024. Republicans should not deceive themselves by thinking the current state of this law automatically works to their advantage. While many of them used it offensively on January 6, 2021, they did so because they were trailing in Electoral College votes. They poked at real flaws, and while not successful because the vice president rebuffed Trump’s legally unsupportable command that the states’ certifications be rejected, Republicans did show how the system can be maneuvered. Republicans should be in favor of clarifying the system now, if for no other reason than they will not be in as strong a position as they were in 2020. For starters, a Democratic vice president will be presiding over the Senate when the Electoral College votes are opened. Suppose Trump runs again, and wins. Now, suppose Vice President Harris believes that Trump’s reelection represents an existential threat to the county and does what Trump couldn’t persuade Mike Pence to do.

Full Article: Electoral Count Act: Congress Should Update | National Review

Colorado’s top elections official seeks security protection | Associated Press

Colorado’s Democratic secretary of state is asking lawmakers for $200,000 annually for guards and other security-related measures after receiving escalating threats over her advocacy of elections security. Jena Griswold has consistently debunked claims, both locally and on national media, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. She’s also sued a Republican county clerk in western Colorado who is under federal investigation for allegedly breaching security protocols involving voting machines and has become a leading elections conspiracy figure popular with the right. With the online threats escalating, Griswold’s office is seeking $200,000 annually from the Legislature to “address election-related concerns” from the threats. The funds would pay for a vendor to track threats on social media and for guards for Griswold and some staff at public events, The Colorado Sun reported Wednesday. Griswold and local elections officials across the country have faced escalating harassment and threats in the aftermath of the 2020 election, which then-President Donald Trump and supporters contend was stolen by Democrat Joe Biden. No evidence of tampering has been found, and a flurry of lawsuits by Trump and his supporters challenging the result were tossed out of court.

Full Article: Colorado’s top elections official seeks security protection | AP News

District of Columbia: There’s A New Push For Mobile Voting In DC | Martin Austermuhle/DCist

You can pay bills, swipe into a Metro station, order a car, and do countless other things on your phone. And now venture capitalist and former political operative Bradley Tusk wants D.C. residents to be able to use their phones to vote. Tusk Philanthropies is bringing its mobile voting project to D.C., hoping to make the nation’s capital the first place in the country where residents can use phones and computers to cast ballots. Tusk, a former campaign advisor to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and one-time Uber official, has in recent years funded mobile-voting pilot programs across seven states — including WashingtonWest Virginia, and Oregon — largely to support overseas and military voters. But his effort in D.C. would represent the first push to make mobile voting a permanent part of elections for all voters. … Still, skeptics of mobile voting abound. They say that just like hackers can steal someone’s bank information or take over their social media accounts, they could wreak havoc on the civic exercise that makes democracy tick. “Study after study has found that internet voting has fundamental security vulnerabilities that simply haven’t been resolved at this point. And a lot of them are almost impossible to overcome given the current implementation of the internet, because the internet was never really designed with security in mind,” says Mark Lindeman, an expert on voting security and audits with Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group that focuses on elections and technology. Four federal agencies concluded as much in a May 2020 assessment, saying that “securing the return of voted ballots via the internet while ensuring ballot integrity and maintaining voter privacy is difficult, if not impossible, at this time.”

Full Article: There’s A New Push For Mobile Voting In DC

Florida: How Orange County’s election office solved authentication challenges | Kimberly Johnson/GCN

The volume of ransomware attack attempts in the first half of 2021 was 150% higher than the same time in 2020. Despite this alarming increase, many local governments lag behind other organizations in adopting modern cybersecurity practices, leaving them woefully unprepared for the onslaught of attacks they face. Government agencies have been particularly susceptible to ransomware attacks. Over 40% of central government organizations were targeted in 2020 because their data stores are highly tempting to cybercriminals who want citizens’ sensitive data for phishing and identity theft. Attackers may also be attempting to steal classified data and undermine citizen confidence. Smaller cities and agencies face a unique set of challenges that make them especially vulnerable to attacks. They operate with decentralized budgets and security operations, while large federal, state and local government agencies have the reach, budget and personnel to deliver higher security. The nation’s smaller cities, municipalities, counties and agencies unwittingly offer a wide array of attack options to cybercriminals. Some government agencies, however, have begun preventing attacks by taking a more active approach to threats. Florida’s Orange County Election Office, whose staff comprises a broad spectrum of full- and part-time employees and volunteers, is one such example. The OC Office needed a cybersecurity solution to protect voter data and files to prevent vote tampering and fraud, while also ensuring easy access for its employees.

Full Article: How a Florida county’s election office solved authentication challenges — GCN

Georgia Republicans purge Black Democrats from county election boards | James Oliphant and Nathan Layne/Reuters

Protesters filled the meeting room of the Spalding County Board of Elections in October, upset that the board had disallowed early voting on Sundays for the Nov. 2 municipal election. A year ago, Sunday voting had been instrumental in boosting turnout of Black voters. But this was an entirely different five-member board than had overseen the last election. The Democratic majority of three Black women was gone. So was the Black elections supervisor. Now a faction of three white Republicans controlled the board – thanks to a bill passed by the Republican-led Georgia legislature earlier this year. The Spalding board’s new chairman has endorsed former president Donald Trump’s false stolen-election claims on social media. The panel in Spalding, a rural patch south of Atlanta, is one of six county boards that Republicans have quietly reorganized in recent months through similar county-specific state legislation. The changes expanded the party’s power over choosing members of local election boards ahead of the crucial midterm Congressional elections in November 2022. The unusual rash of restructurings follows the state’s passage of Senate Bill 202, which restricted ballot access statewide and allowed the Republican-controlled State Election Board to assume control of county boards it deems underperforming. The board immediately launched a performance review of the Democratic-leaning Fulton County board, which oversees part of Atlanta. The Georgia restructurings are part of a national Republican effort to expand control over election administration in the wake of Trump’s false voter-fraud claims. Republican-led states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona have enacted new curbs on voter access this year. Backers of Trump’s false stolen-election claims are running campaigns for secretary of state – the top election official – in battleground states. And some Republicans in Wisconsin are seeking to eliminate the state’s bipartisan election commission and threatening its members with prosecution.

Full Article: Georgia Republicans purge Black Democrats from county election boards | Reuters

Louisiana’s the final state with a paperless voting system | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

More than five years after Russian interference troubled the 2016 election, Louisiana still hasn’t transitioned to a paper ballot system for its voters. While the state legislature committed to switch to a paper-based system this year, it won’t be ready before the 2022 election and may not be ready in time for 2024, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) tells me. The big picture: That means the state is still falling short of what federal officials say is the single most important protection to secure elections against hacking from Russia or elsewhere. In at least the next election, its voters will cast ballots on machines called direct recording equipment that experts say make it far easier for hackers to change votes undetected. “We’re going to have a paper-based system. The point is we can’t rush into it without looking at all of the changes that need to be made … and educating voters, as well as educating elected officials,” Ardoin told me. “It’s a dramatic shift from where we are today.” Louisiana is an extreme case. It’s the only remaining state where all in-person voters cast ballots on paperless machines. But there are five other states where at least some voters are still casting ballots on such machines, according to a map maintained by the group Verified Voting. The state highlights the supreme difficulty of making even some of the most basic election security reforms, which can cost millions in taxpayer dollars and run into hot political tensions. Ardoin is a paper advocate. He’s been pressing since he first took office in 2018 to replace the state’s more than 10,000 paperless voting machines with a paper-based system. 

Full Article: Louisiana’s the final state with a paperless voting system – The Washington Post

North Carolina: Watauga County Board of Elections releases statement on modems in voting machines | Watauga Democrat

It has recently come to the attention of the Watauga County Board of Elections that modems were removed from ballot-counting machines used by the Board in county elections, the board announced in a Dec. 9 press release. Before being removed, these modems had never been used. Given the importance of a fair and transparent election process, the board stated it wished, with this announcement, to make relevant information promptly available to the public. Since 2002, the Board has used M100 ballot scanners to count ballots. The Board voted unanimously to purchase this equipment. The scanners were purchased from Printelect, a North Carolina company. The Board owns 31 M100 ballot scanners. They have been used in every election since their initial purchase. On Nov. 9, Karen Brinson Bell, the Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, hosted a Microsoft Teams meeting with election staff from the six counties that still use M100 ballot scanners. In addition to Watauga, these counties include Graham, Macon, Moore, Montgomery, and Swain. Director Bell informed them that Printelect would be undertaking annual preventative maintenance and would remove any modems found in the machines.

Full Article: Watauga Board of Elections releases statement on modems in voting machines | Local News | wataugademocrat.com

Utah Lt. Gov. calls election integrity claims ‘destructive’ | Lindsay Whitehurst/Associated Press

The leader who oversees Utah elections said Wednesday that new efforts questioning the integrity of the state’s voting system are “destructive” and “very concerning.” The comments from Republican Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson come after a panel of majority-GOP lawmakers approved an audit into the election system. There are also separate efforts to get a forensic audit on the ballot and her office has gotten a report about people knocking on doors asking residents about their votes. Former President Donald Trump handily won the state in 2020. “From all of the things that I have seen, the endgame here is to fundamentally destroy the voting system we have here in the state of Utah,” she told The Associated Press. “Where there are challenges and problems, let’s work together to solve them and overcome them. But let’s not deliberately spread lies, falsehoods, misinformation and do it in a way that ensures that certain people don’t have access to the ballot. My question to those elected officials is, why are you afraid to let people vote?” The questions in conservative Utah echo those in states like Arizona, where an outside firm was hired to conduct a review after Trump falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen. That review, though described by experts described as riddled with errors, bias and flawed methodology, confirmed Democrat Joe Biden’s win in the state. In October, some 200 people rallied at the Capitol building and packed a legislative meeting room calling for a similar review in Utah. The audit approved Tuesday in Utah, by contrast, will be carried out by nonpartisan legislative auditors.

Full Article: Utah Lt. Gov. calls election integrity claims ‘destructive’ | AP News

Wisconsin: Trump-tied group pushing for voting changes | Scott Bauer and Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press

A group formed to support former President Donald Trump’s agenda is working with Wisconsin Republicans on a ballot measure that would bypass the state’s Democratic governor to change how elections are run in the battleground state. The effort represents a new escalation in the ongoing Republican campaign to alter voting laws in response to Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. It comes as Wisconsin has become the epicenter of this year’s voting wars, with Republicans trying to dismantle the election system they themselves put in place several years ago — and figure out how to do that with a Democratic governor still in office. The backing for a possible route around Gov. Tony Evers was revealed during a private meeting on elections hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which advocates conservative policies to state lawmakers in voting and other areas. Trump’s former White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told attendees that his new organization, the Center for Election Integrity, was working with elected officials and business leaders in Wisconsin “to figure out the best path” around Evers, who has said he will block GOP-backed election measures. “We feel as though the governor can’t do anything about it and it will become law,” Gidley said in a recording of the session made by an attendee and obtained by The Associated Press. The strategy is similar to one already underway in Michigan. State Republicans there already are gathering signatures to place a measure on the ballot that would tighten that state’s voting laws, an effort to get around Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto of a similar bill that passed the GOP-controlled state legislature. But Gidley’s statement is the first indication of a Trump-tied group engaged in a similar tactic in Wisconsin.

Full Article: Trump-tied group pushing for voting changes in Wisconsin | AP News

Wisconsin Republicans Push to Take Over the State’s Elections | Reid J. Epstein/The New York Times

Republicans in Wisconsin are engaged in an all-out assault on the state’s election infrastructure, building off their attempts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential race by pressing to give themselves full control over voting in the state. The Republican effort — broader and more forceful than that in any other state where allies of former President Donald J. Trump are trying to overhaul elections — takes direct aim at the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, an agency Republicans created half a decade ago that has been under attack since the chaotic aftermath of last year’s election. The firestorm picked up late last month after a long-awaited report on the 2020 results that was ordered by Republican state legislators found no evidence of fraud but made dozens of suggestions for the election commission and the G.O.P.-led Legislature, turbocharging Republican demands for more control of elections. Then the Trump-aligned sheriff of Racine County, the state’s fifth most populous county, recommended felony charges against five of the six members of the election commission for guidance they had given to municipal clerks early in the pandemic. The Republican majority leader of the State Senate later seemed to give a green light to that proposal, saying that “prosecutors around the state” should determine whether to bring charges. And last week, Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican, said that G.O.P. state lawmakers should unilaterally assert control of federal elections, claiming that they had the authority to do so even if Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, stood in their way — an extraordinary legal argument debunked by a 1932 Supreme Court decision and a 1964 ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His suggestion was nonetheless echoed by Michael Gableman, a conservative former State Supreme Court justice who is conducting the Legislature’s election inquiry.

Full Article: Wisconsin Republicans Push to Take Over the State’s Elections – The New York Times

California: San Francisco received $1.5 million to explore online voting. Critics think it’s a horrible idea | Jeff Elder/The San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco’s Department of Technology obtained a $1.5 million federal grant to explore online voting. That didn’t go over too well with voting experts. In a scathing letter delivered to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, a long list of election experts blasted The City’s Department of Technology on Tuesday, calling it illegal, a serious security risk and lacking in transparency. “We are writing to you today with grave concerns regarding an initiative of the San Francisco Department of Technology,” the letter reads, citing a pilot program for “an electronic ballot return system, which is not permitted under California law.” The letter is signed by the California Voter Foundation, National Voting Rights Task Force, Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford, along with Lowell Finley, a former California deputy secretary of state, among others. The project seeks an online program to verify the identities of disabled voters, who could then vote online. City paperwork from last April shows the San Francisco Department of Technology obtained a $1.5 million federal grant to pursue the online voting project on behalf of 11 other California counties. Elections Director John Arntz said at the Elections Commission meeting on Wednesday that the project was intended to explore voting solutions for citizens with accessibility issues who cannot easily vote in person, not to develop an online voting system. The experts express alarm at “the serious and unsolved security vulnerabilities” of online voting, a view shared by many other voting experts. Last year the federal government’s top election security agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, warned that “electronic ballot return is high risk” and “faces significant security risks to voted ballot integrity, voter privacy, and system availability.”

Full Article: SF received $1.5 million to explore online voting. Critics think it’s a horrible idea – The San Francisco Examiner

National: Senators urge funds to help election workers amid ‘unacceptable’ threats | Jason Szep/Reuters

The leaders of a Senate committee on Monday urged the Federal Election Assistance Commission to help election officials around the country tap federal money to strengthen security during a wave of threats and harassment following the 2020 U.S. election. “This onslaught of threats against election workers is unacceptable and raises serious concerns about the ability to recruit and retain election workers needed to administer future elections,” the Rules Committee’s Democratic chairwoman, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and top Republican, Senator Roy Blunt, said in a letter to the U.S. agency overseeing election administration. The senators asked the agency to provide state and local election officials with information on how to use federal election funds to improve security. They also asked it to provide guidance on other resources available “for identifying and responding to potential threats.” The letter follows a series of Reuters stories documenting a campaign of fear waged against frontline election administrators inspired by former President Donald Trump’s relentless false claims that the 2020 vote was “rigged” against him. Reuters has documented nearly 800 intimidating messages to election officials in 12 states, including more than 100 that could warrant prosecution, according to legal experts. “Reuters’ ongoing reporting on this issue has helped expose the extent and nature of threats against election workers and officials,” a Rules Committee staffer said.

Full Article: U.S. senators urge funds to help election workers amid ‘unacceptable’ threats | Reuters

National: Trump allies work to place supporters in key election posts across the country, spurring fears about future vote challenges | Amy Gardner, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey/The Washington Post

In Michigan, local GOP leaders have sought to reshape election canvassing boards by appointing members who expressed sympathy for former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 vote was rigged. In two Pennsylvania communities, candidates who embraced election fraud allegations won races this month to become local voting judges and inspectors. And in Colorado, 2020 doubters are urging their followers on conservative social media platforms to apply for jobs in election offices. A year after local and state election officials came under immense pressure from Trump to subvert the results of the 2020 White House race, he and his supporters are pushing an ambitious plan to place Trump loyalists in key positions across the administration of U.S. elections. The effort goes far beyond the former president’s public broadsides against well-known Republican state officials who certified President Biden’s victory, such as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Citing the need to make elections more secure, Trump allies are also seeking to replace officials across the nation, including volunteer poll watchers, paid precinct judges, elected county clerks and state attorneys general, according to state and local officials, as well as rally speeches, social media posts and campaign appearances by those seeking the positions. If they succeed, Trump and his allies could pull down some of the guardrails that prevented him from overturning Biden’s win by creating openings to challenge the results next time, election officials and watchdog groups say.

Full Article: Trump allies work to place supporters in key election posts across the country, spurring fears about future vote challenges – The Washington Post

National: Justice Department indicts two Iranian hackers over 2020 election disinformation campaign | Devlin Barrett/The Washington Post

Two Iranian men were indicted by the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday, accused of a brazen hacking and disinformation campaign that targeted American voters in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Seyyed Kazemi, 24, and Sajjad Kashian, 27, allegedly sent threatening emails to try to scare voters, attempted to break into several states’ voting-related websites and gained access to a U.S. media company’s computer network. Officials say the pair emailed thousands of voters in October, including many Democrats. They allegedly claimed to be Proud Boys and threatened the email recipients with physical attacks if they did not change party affiliation and vote for President Donald Trump. The emails seemed to target primarily voters in Florida and Alaska, officials said at the time. The same illicit effort also pushed a video through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that claimed to show someone hacking into voter websites to create falsified overseas and absentee ballots, according to the indictment. The court filing said that video also falsely claimed to be affiliated with the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of violence that largely embraced President Donald Trump. Unlike the threatening emails, officials said the phony video about fake ballots was pushed at Republicans.

Full Article: Seyyed Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian, alleged Iranian hackers, indicted over U.S. election efforts – The Washington Post

National: RNC chair contradicts Trump: ‘Biden won the election’ | Julia Manchester/The Hill

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Thursday acknowledged President Biden‘s electoral victory over former President Trump, marking the first time she has explicitly said Biden won the contest a year ago. “Painfully, Joe Biden won the election and it’s very painful to watch. He’s the president. We know that,” McDaniel told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington. The former president has continued to falsely claim that the 2020 contest was stolen from him, a claim that has been repeated by other Republicans, including many running in next year’s midterm elections. McDaniel said that there were “lots of problems” with last year’s presidential election. “We have to show our voters we are putting processes in place that will ensure the election is fair and transparent,” she said. The RNC created a “Committee on Election Integrity” in February. McDaniel also touted the importance of Trump to the party when it comes to getting voters to the ballot box.

Full Article: RNC chair contradicts Trump: ‘Biden won the election’ | TheHill

Editorial: With democracy under duress, a few — but too few — Republicans speak up | Scot Lehigh/The Boston Globe

For those who dwell in the rational world, one of the most disconcerting aspects of our current era is the extraordinary purchase falsity has gained in our nation’s politics. It’s not merely a foothold that has been secured, but a stronghold. The entire Republican Party, almost, if one counts not just those who propagate patently dishonest claims, but also those who enable those lies through their silence. I’m speaking here, obviously, about the enormous and corrosive falsehood that Donald Trump had a presidential election victory stolen from him last year. That’s evidence-free absurdity on stilts, which is why scores of Big Lie lawsuits failed in courts across the country. It’s why recounts and audits — including even the clownish Cyber Ninjas effort in Maricopa County, Ariz. — have confirmed Joe Biden’s victory. It’s why Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s reckless lawyer, was recently forced into the sheepish acknowledgment that he had culled some of his lurid voter fraud claims from social media posts (!) and sometimes hadn’t even made a cursory effort to investigate those allegations before spewing them out. Yet in the face of all that, the vast majority of congressional Republicans remain mute about the Big Lie, refusing either to reject it forcefully or to rebuke Trump for its telling. Discounting the occasional congressional kook, most obviously know better. Some stay silent to avoid Trump’s wrath. Others don’t have the fortitude to challenge a myth believed by 68 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of the Fox-washed faithful. Others are amoral accommodationists who believe the Republican Party’s best path back to party power is to keep Trump and his supporters on the GOP side of the political jungle.

Full Article: With democracy under duress, a few — but too few — Republicans speak up – The Boston Globe

Arizona: ‘You’ll get nothing out of this’: Partisans with limited experience stumble through gaffe-prone ‘audit’ | Ronald J. Hansen, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic

On the day in March that Ken Bennett joined the state Senate’s ballot review team, he wanted a Democrat to join him. Bennett, the Republican former state Senate president and secretary of state, was well known in conservative circles. But he wanted to add bipartisan credibility to a Republican-led effort cast as a forensic audit of Maricopa County’s election results. He called his friend, F. Ann Rodriguez, the recently retired Pima County recorder. Rodriguez, a Democrat, oversaw more than 280 elections over 28 years in office. She laughed. “Ken, you don’t have enough money to pay me to do that,” she remembered telling him on March 23. “There is a no-win situation in that one. No matter what comes out, we know in politics there’s a fall person. You’ll get nothing out of this, Ken. Absolutely nothing.” That same day, Helen Purcell, the former Republican Maricopa County recorder, told Bennett why she had turned down the job as liaison to the ballot review that he had just taken. “I just don’t think any good can come of this,” she told him. Three days later, Bennett contacted the Arizona Democratic Party, whose leaders were roundly skeptical the review would be fair or boost public confidence. They declined to participate. On March 28, Bennett began reaching out to Pete Rios, the former Democratic state senator from Pinal County, who is a former county supervisor there. “I need your help,” Rios remembered Bennett saying when they finally spoke on April 1. “You’re the first one I thought of.” Rios said he needed several days to consider the offer. In truth, he doubted he would do it; only his respect for Bennett kept him from turning it down flat. After consulting three fellow Democrats, all of whom warned against joining a “fiasco,” Rios told Bennett he couldn’t take the job. “Ken, my D’s will hang me if there is some question at the end of this audit that says that there was fraud when there really wasn’t,” Rios told Bennett in April.

Full Article: Arizona audit: Partisans stumble through gaffe-prone election review

Second Colorado county clerk joins Hanks lawsuit seeking 2020 election ‘audit’ | Colorado Newsline

A second Colorado county clerk signed on to a lawsuit filed by state Rep. Ron Hanks against Secretary of State Jena Griswold as part of an effort to conduct a third-party “audit” of the 2020 election in the state. Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder was added as a plaintiff in the lawsuit in an amended complaint entered a day after the initial complaint was filed in Denver District Court on Nov. 18. The lawsuit claims that election system software used in Colorado’s 64 counties in 2020 was improperly certified, that the secretary of state’s office illegally destroyed election records, and that Griswold exceeded her authority when in the summer she adopted emergency rules to prevent the kind of election audit then occurring in Arizona, which she deemed illegitimate. Also named as plaintiffs are Merlin Klotz, the Douglas County clerk and recorder; two of the three Rio Blanco County commissioners, Gary Moyer and Jeff Rector; and Park County Commissioner Amy Mitchell. Claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent or compromised have been debunked by expertscourts and election officials from both parties. When asked Monday about his motivation for joining the lawsuit, Schroeder said, “I’m not going to be speaking to the news media about that. We’ll have a website up shortly that will explain what’s going on.” Schroeder in August told Newsline that after the November 2020 election, he started fielding calls about election integrity from citizens, and to demonstrate that constituents could have confidence in the results his office conducted a hand recount of the vote in Elbert. The recount proved the results were correct.

Full Article: Second Colorado county clerk joins Hanks lawsuit seeking 2020 election ‘audit’ – Colorado Newsline

Editorial: Trump’s rage at Georgia Republicans should unsettle us all | Greg Sargent/The Washington Post

Earlier this year, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the most nationally scrutinized “election integrity” bill in the country. The Republican governor plainly hoped this would atone for the sin of being insufficiently corrupt on Donald Trump’s behalf, by insulating him from Trump’s attacks on his refusal to help overturn the 2020 election. In this apparent calculus, while Kemp wouldn’t destroy his reputation by engaging in full-blown corruption to help overturn U.S. democracy and keep Trump in power illegitimately, at least he’d be seen championing one of the worst voter suppression bills in memory. That would count for something, right? Oddly enough, this doesn’t appear to have had its desired effect. CNN reports that Kemp is now facing the prospect of a serious primary challenge from David Perdue, the businessman and former senator. He very well may have Trump’s backing, and Republicans in the state say Kemp could lose if it happens. In much of our discourse, Trump-backed GOP primary challenges to sitting Republicans tend to be cast mainly as retaliation for personal disloyalty to the former president. There’s something to that, but the full truth appears to be darker. What this really suggests is that large swaths of Republican voters appear to want to elect people to office who would have been willing to overturn the election on Trump’s behalf, and will be willing to overturn a loss in the future.

Full Article: Opinion | Trump’s rage at Gov. Brian Kemp over the 2020 election should unsettle us all – The Washington Post

Louisiana: Lingering election doubts undermine democracy. Will state replace machines with paper ballots? | Mark Ballard | ark Ballard/The Advocate

Two recent national surveys show that a year after Donald Trump was defeated at the polls about two-thirds of his supporters and Republicans still believe the election was stolen. More troubling is that the drumbeat to discredit the 2020 results – despite absolutely no credible evidence of widespread fraud – has lowered confidence in the integrity of U.S. elections to the point that “three in ten Americans now believe the nation’s system is fundamentally unsound,” according to a Monmouth University, of New Jersey, survey of 811 Americans conducted Nov. 4-8 with a margin of error of ±3.5 points. The Monmouth Poll found 73% of Republicans believe that President Joe Biden only won the 2020 election because of voting irregularities. “This constant onslaught of disinformation being targeted at Trump supporters and Republican voters is leading to the environment which we’re seeing right now,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that, along with GOP pollster Echelon Insights, of Virginia, surveyed 1,600 Americans Oct. 20-26 with a margin of error of ±3.5 points. That poll found 65% of Republicans surveyed still say the votes in 2020 weren’t counted fairly.

Full Article: Lingering election doubts undermine democracy. Will Louisiana replace machines with paper ballots? | Mark Ballard | theadvocate.com

Michigan: Proposed ban on use of donated space as polling places is questioned | David Eggert/Associated Press

Clerks and other opponents of a ballot initiative that would toughen Michigan’s voting rules raised concerns Wednesday about its proposed ban on using donated spaces as polling places, saying churches and religious organizations account for 20% of them. Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group that compiled the information, said 664 of 3,355 polling places in the 2020 election were churches, places of worship or similar religious spaces. “There’s a growing panic about the implications,” said Mary Clark, president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks and the clerk in Delta Township, located near Lansing. “Whether they’re intended or unintended consequences is irrelevant. They’re consequences to voters. … The ban on any in-kind contribution would be devastating.” She said the township of 33,000 residents has 16 precincts. Twelve are located in 10 places of worship. Paying “going market rate, for me, adds up to a lot of money,” Clark said. “It’s quite unsettling.” Republicans launched the ballot drive in late August to sidestep Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who vetoed similar legislation two months later. The GOP-controlled Legislature is expected to pass the Secure MI Vote initiative if enough voter signatures are collected.

Full Article: Ban on use of donated space as polling places is questioned

Missouri: Secretasry of State touts integrity of 2020 election, but supports an audit | Jason Hancock/Missouri Independent

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is confident Missouri’s 2020 election was safe and secure. And while he has concerns about things that transpired in other states last year, he dismisses the idea that fraud cost Donald Trump the presidential election. “Under our Constitution, Joe Biden was duly elected by our presidential electors. End of story,” Ashcroft said, later adding: “I have tried to be very consistent in saying that laws were not followed in different states, but I have not seen evidence that shows that the winners were changed by that.” At the same time, Ashcroft is on board with the push for Missouri lawmakers to create a new system for post-election audits — a cause that has become the rallying cry for conspiracy theorists peddling the lie of a stolen 2020 election. Ashcroft doesn’t buy into the conspiracies, but says he supports the push for audits because they could bolster voter confidence. “When I say that I believe our election was run securely, I do,” Ashcroft said. “But I have not gone back through and done a massive audit to prove that it was done well. And that’s how you know.” He’s not ready to roll out any specific ideas, he said, but is eager to work with state lawmakers when they return to Jefferson City in January. Missouri’s chief election official throwing his support behind the push for election audits is causing heartburn for some local officials and advocates around the state who fear it may feed into the drumbeat of baseless allegations about election fraud from Trump and his allies.

Full Article: Jay Ashcroft touts integrity of Missouri’s 2020 election, but supports an audit • Missouri Independent

Nevada: Elko County to consider alternatives to Dominion voting machines | Timothy Burmeister/Elko Daily

Elko County Clerk Kris Jakeman said Wednesday that she is happy with the Dominion Voting Systems machines the county has been using, but she will investigate possible alternatives in response to a request from the Elko County commissioners. Lee Hoffman, chairman of the Elko County Republican Party, was at Wednesday’s county commission meeting to ask the county to look into replacing the Dominion machines. He read a resolution approved by the Elko County Republican Party. “Whereas there is evidence of vote count tampering in places where Dominion voting machines have been used, especially in metropolitan areas in swing states,” the resolution says, “the Elko County Republican Party … strongly urges the Elko County Board of Commissioners and the Elko County Clerk to investigate alternatives to the Dominion voting machines currently in use in Elko County and to cancel the contract with Dominion if necessary …” The resolution also says the Elko County Republican Party “recognizes that implementation of alternatives would have associated costs, but asserts that election integrity is worth finding the necessary funding …” Hoffman said this request does not question the quality of the elections in Elko County.

Full Article: County to consider alternatives to Dominion voting machines | Local | elkodaily.com

New Hampshire: Fraud narrative drives attempts to change election law | Rick Green/Concord Monitor

Major changes would be required in the way New Hampshire conducts elections under bills proposed by Republican state legislators, many of whom have questioned the integrity of the last statewide vote. Perhaps the biggest change would come under House Bill 1064, sponsored by Rep. Mark Alliegro, R-Campton, which would require every ballot to be counted by hand. A total of 814,000 votes were cast in last year’s election, and 80 percent of the ballots were tallied by optical scan machines. About one-third of the state’s municipalities count by hand. Other legislative proposals seek to strengthen enforcement of election law, alter existing residency requirements, change the voter ID process and seek election audits. Optical scan devices have been used by many states for decades and are judged reliable by the secretary of state’s office. In instances where voting machines are used, a voter marks the ballot and inserts it into the scanner. The paper ballot is retained in case of a recount. No widespread problems have been reported with these devices, but Alliegro said the electronic vote count was off by several percentage points in some towns. He declined to provide specifics. Ten New Hampshire legislators, all Republicans, are sponsoring the bill, which would prohibit the use of computers, scanners, or other electronic devices to count and tally ballots. No estimate has been made on how much more it would cost to count all votes by hand.

Full Article: Fraud narrative drives attempts to change NH election law