Wisconsin: In ‘thousands of complaints’ about election, few that could be substantiated | Chris Rickert and Riley Vetterkind/Wisconsin State Journal

In December, with then-President Donald Trump continuing to falsely claim that massive fraud and other voting irregularities had denied him a second term, top Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature said they were reviewing “thousands of complaints” about the Nov. 3 election. There were indeed thousands of complaints in the emails sent between Nov. 3 and Dec. 8 to lawmakers investigating the election. The majority of them, however, were mass-generated form letters making nonspecific claims about alleged irregularities, a right-wing fraud-finding effort and a clip from Fox’s Sean Hannity show. Others implored Republican lawmakers to overturn an election they were convinced was rigged, even though local, state and national officials have confirmed its integrity. The Wisconsin State Journal was able to identify just 28 allegations of election fraud or other irregularities that were specific enough to attempt to verify, but could only partially substantiate one, involving 42 votes. Interviews with dozens of prosecutors, election officials and people who lodged complaints made clear that most, if not all, of the allegations could be chalked up to hearsay or minor administrative errors. Republican Rep. Ron Tusler said the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, which he chaired last session, has so far been able to substantiate only one case of potential voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election: A Cedarburg woman was charged in November after she allegedly submitted an absentee ballot for her dead partner.

Full Article: In ‘thousands of complaints’ about Wisconsin election, few that could be substantiated | Wisconsin Elections | madison.com

Enduring Lessons From Securing the Election | Dennis Fisher/Decipher

In the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Chris Krebs had a problem. Actually, he had a few, but the biggest one was getting election officials on the state and local level to take the security threat to the integrity of the election seriously. As director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the time, Krebs was heading up the effort to assess the security and resilience of the nation’s election infrastructure and look for the kind of soft spots that malicious actors–foreign or domestic–might target. The concern wasn’t so much that actors would go after the electronic voting machines, but rather the computers used to tabulate the votes and the networks on which they sit. Attackers from China, Russia, and other countries whose interests don’t necessarily align with the United States have demonstrated the willingness and ability to penetrate government and private sector networks and remain inside for long periods of time. CISA officials and their colleagues at the FBI and other agencies warned state and local officials about the seriousness of the threat, but the message wasn’t getting through for some reason. Perhaps the spectre of state-sponsored hackers from halfway around the world was too abstract, or maybe there were too many other things to worry about, but the reality of the threats wasn’t landing. So Krebs changed tactics. “You can talk about Russia and China and Iran all day long and when security teams aren’t seeing these actors walking into their environments waving flags, because they’re patient it’s hard to make the sell,” Krebs said during a keynote at the SANS Institute Cyber Threat Intelligence Summit Thursday. “What we were seeing do the most damage was ransomware actors conducting functionally catastrophic attacks. We made a hard pivot from talking about China and Russia to talking about ransomware, and we saw a shift as the light went on that it wasn’t just about state actors, it was about disruptive non-state actors. And to me that was one of the biggest advances we made.”

Full Article: Enduring Lessons From Securing the Election | Decipher

Editorial: Election law can’t protect democracy if our representatives are lawless | Richard L. Hasen/Los Angeles Times

Does the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection demonstrate that the problems with the legitimacy of American elections exceed the capacity of election law to fix them? Those of us in the field of election law were no more surprised that President Trump would threaten the peaceful transition of power if he lost the 2020 elections than epidemiologists were surprised by the deadly spread of COVID-19 in a country without a plan for containment. Last April, a multidisciplinary committee at UC Irvine issued a report on how to ensure a legitimate and fair election in 2020. It opened with the observation that “Americans can no longer take for granted that election losers will concede a closely fought election after election authorities (or courts) have declared a winner.” The report recommended expanding opportunities for early in-person and mail-in balloting; educating the media and its consumers that election results would likely be “too early to call” on election night; and encouraging social media companies to remove unsupported allegations of voter fraud and to direct people instead to reliable sources of information, such as election officials. The UC Irvine committee was not alone in its concerns; other groups focused on questions such as the potential for political actors to manipulate the arcane 1887 Electoral Count Act dictating how Congress counts electoral college votes from the states. The election itself was a surprising success. Turnout hit record levels. Voter disenfranchisement was rare, widespread voter fraud did not materialize and the election was well-administered except in some isolated pockets. And yet millions of Americans believe the election was stolen.

Full Article: Op-Ed: Election law can’t protect democracy if our representatives are lawless – Los Angeles Times

National: Senate Democrats seek momentum for voting, political money overhaul | Kate Ackley/Roll Call

Senate Democrats, on the cusp of holding the slimmest possible majority in the chamber, signaled Tuesday a symbolic first order of business: a major overhaul of the nation’s voting, campaign finance and ethics laws. The measure, dubbed HR 1 in the House and now christened in the Senate as S 1 to signify that it is a top priority, died in the GOP-controlled Senate last Congress. It could see the same fate again in the 117th Congress unless Democrats remove the 60-vote threshold to end filibusters on legislation, a change the party’s base eagerly wants but remains in doubt. Advocates pushing for the overhaul said they were mobilizing anew to build public support in both chambers. House Democrats expect to take up the measure as soon as this month or next, congressional aides said, as it closely tracks the same bill in the last Congress. Congressional Democrats, as well as representatives of outside groups pushing for passage of the package, said the overhaul would help shore up voters’ confidence in a democracy damaged by a violent attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and after four years of corruption scandals and flouting of ethics norms during Donald Trump’s presidency. “I think that every American has received a message that the integrity of our elections is incredibly important, and so in terms of accountability for the events of this past year, there’s probably nothing more important than passing the For the People Act,” said Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley. But he would not predict what the party will do about the filibuster. “It’s too soon to say how we’ll pursue this,” he said. The bill would create nationwide automatic voter registration and require paper ballots in all jurisdictions. It would set up a 6-to-1 optional public financing system to pay for congressional campaigns and tighten disclosure rules for political groups and super PACs that spend money to influence elections.

Full Article: Democrats seek momentum for voting, political money overhaul – Roll Call

National: U.S. intelligence head who warned of foreign election threats steps down Matthew Choi/Politico

U.S. counterintelligence chief William Evanina stepped down from his position Wednesday, ending a decades-long career in the intelligence community combating leaks and raising the alarm about foreign election interference. “I am honored and humbled to have been surrounded by amazing, dedicated, and vigilent professionals serving around the nation, and the globe, protecting our great nation. I want to especially thank the women and men of NCSC, and the Intelligence Community, for being the best in the world,” he said in a LinkedIn post announcing his retirement Thursday. Evanina left his position after six years as director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and more than two decades at the FBI. Toward the end of his career, in the final year of President Donald Trump’s term, Evanina was charged with overseeing briefings on foreign threats to election security. It was a politically precarious spot, with Trump and his Republican allies often brushing off Russian election interference and steering attention toward China and Iran. Congressional Democrats in turn expressed discontent with Evanina, portraying him as blanching the Russian election threat in a summary on the issue they said was so vague it was “almost meaningless”. But Evanina’s decades-long career helped him dodge the partisan frays of the Trump era, and he had been celebrated by colleagues and members of both parties as effective and aggressive. A former senior FBI official who worked closely with Evanina called him the “Dr. Fauci of the counterintelligence community” in a comment to POLITICO last summer.

Full Article: U.S. intelligence head who warned of foreign election threats steps down – POLITICO

National: Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over election challenge | Marianne Levine/Politico

A group of Senate Democrats filed an ethics complaint Thursday against GOP Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, over their Jan. 6 efforts to object to the 2020 presidential election results. “By proceeding with their objections to the electors after the violent attack, Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely,” the senators wrote in a letter to incoming Senate Ethics panel Chair Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Vice Chair James Lankford (R-Okla.). The letter, led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), requests that the panel investigate several issues, including whether Cruz (R-Texas) and Hawley (R-Mo) encouraged the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol; whether they coordinated with organizers of the pro-Trump rally immediately before the riot; whether they received donations from any organizations or donors that also funded the rally; and whether the senators “engaged in criminal conduct or unethical or improper behavior.” Hawley, in a statement, described the complaint as “a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a flagrant attempt to exact partisan revenge” and said Democrats appeared “intent on weaponizing every tool at their disposal.” A spokesperson for Cruz said in a statement that “it is unfortunate that some congressional Democrats are disregarding President Biden’s call for unity and are instead playing political games by filing frivolous ethics complaints against their colleagues.” Both senators have denied allegations that they incited the Jan. 6 insurrection, which led to the death of five people, and condemned the violence. But in Thursday’s letter, the Democratic senators argue that by announcing they would challenge the election results, Hawley and Cruz gave credibility to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.

Full Article: Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over election challenge – POLITICO

National: How Gerrymandering Will Protect Republicans Who Challenged the Election | Reid J. Epstein and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio comes from a duck-shaped district that stretches across parts of 14 counties and five media markets and would take nearly three hours to drive end to end. Designed after the 2010 census by Ohio Republicans intent on keeping Mr. Jordan, then a three-term congressman, safely in office, the district has produced the desired result. He has won each of his last five elections by at least 22 percentage points. The outlines of Ohio’s Fourth Congressional District have left Mr. Jordan, like scores of other congressional and state lawmakers, accountable only to his party’s electorate in Republican primaries. That phenomenon encouraged the Republican Party’s fealty to President Trump as he pushed his baseless claims of election fraud. That unwavering loyalty was evident on Jan. 6, when Mr. Jordan and 138 other House Republicans voted against certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner of the presidential election. Their decision, just hours after a violent mob had stormed the Capitol, has repelled many of the party’s corporate benefactors, exposed a fissure with the Senate Republican leadership and tarred an element of the party as insurrectionists. But while Mr. Trump faces an impeachment trial and potential criminal charges for his role in inciting the rioting, it is unlikely that Mr. Jordan and his compatriots will face any reckoning at the ballot box.

Full Article: How Gerrymandering Will Protect Republicans Who Challenged the Election – The New York Times

Arizona: Maricopa County to turn over election ballot info to lawmakers | Howard Fischer/Arizona Daily Star

Facing a contempt vote in the Senate and a possible adverse court ruling, Senate President Karen Fann said Maricopa County supervisors agreed Wednesday to give lawmakers pretty much everything they are demanding in election materials and access to voting equipment. Fann said the deal guarantees that the Senate Judiciary Committee will get copies of every ballot cast in the Nov. 3 general election. While the subpoena asked for the original ballots, Fann told Capitol Media Services this will suffice. “We don’t want to break any rules,” she said. Fann said the duplicates will allow for a full audit of the returns, comparing the duplicate paper ballots with the official machine tally. Potentially more significant, the deal, as outlined by Fann, gives the Senate access to the equipment used by Maricopa County to perform a “logic and accuracy” test on a random sample of tabulation machines as well as a review of the “source codes.” And there will be access to desktop servers and routers as needed by an auditor. In a prepared statement, Jack Sellers, who chairs the supervisors, did not dispute the points made by Fann. But he said the county and the Senate are “working toward an agreement which delivers some of the requested documents and information while protecting voter privacy and the integrity of election equiptment.”

Full Article: Maricopa County to turn over election ballot info to Arizona lawmakers | Local news | tucson.com

Georgia: ‘Kraken’ back on its leash: Election lawsuit withdrawn | David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The “kraken” is back on its leash and licking its wounds. After vowing to “unleash the kraken” — a mythical beast — on alleged election fraud and to overturn the presidential election in Georgia, attorney Sidney Powell quietly withdrew the lawsuit Tuesday. The move came a day before Joe Biden will be sworn in as the nation’s next president. Powell, once a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, filed the lawsuit in November in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Like other lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results, Powell’s made numerous unsubstantiated allegations of voting fraud. Among other things, she falsely claimed the company that provided Georgia’s new election equipment has ties to Venezuela and could have altered results. Like the others, Powell’s lawsuit went nowhere in court. In December a U.S. district judge dismissed the case. She then appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But the case ran into more trouble. Last week the appeals court notified Powell that she had not been admitted to practice law in the 11th Circuit. The court told Powell that, unless she applied to be admitted, her motions would be stricken and treated as if they had never been filed. Powell voluntarily withdrew the lawsuit Tuesday. But it’s not the end of her legal issues. Earlier this month, Dominion Voting Systems, the company that provided Georgia’s machines, filed a lawsuit against Powell in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. The lawsuit says Powell’s “viral disinformation campaign” has harmed its business. Dominion is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages.

Full Article: ‘Kraken’ back on its leash: Georgia election lawsuit withdrawn

Georgia: Audit of Senate run-off votes finds similar results in test of voting system | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

One county’s audit of Georgia’s voting system found just a five-vote difference between machine and hand totals in one of this month’s U.S. Senate runoff elections, according to findings released Thursday. The manual review of 43,000 ballots cast in Bartow County should give voters confidence in the outcome of the race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue, county Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk said. “We know every voter’s vote was accurately counted in Bartow County because we checked — one ballot at a time,” Kirk wrote in an audit report. “Now that every vote cast in the state is recorded on a paper ballot, we can give our communities certainty and confidence that their votes were accurately recorded.” Kirk conducted his county’s audit the same way as a statewide review of the presidential election in November. After the Senate runoffs, which Ossoff won across Georgia by 1.2%, Kirk decided to do another hand tally to counter “a mountain of misinformation” about the state’s election equipment manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems. Twenty-four workers conducted the audit over 9 1/2 hours last week, at a cost to the county of about $3,000. The audit found a total of 89 votes that were different from the original count, usually caused by human errors when sorting ballots into piles of 10 each. Because those votes were distributed among both candidates, the overall count was only five votes off from official results, with Ossoff losing four votes and Perdue gaining one. The audit doesn’t change the official results in Bartow, a mostly Republican county northwest of Atlanta where Perdue received 32,239 votes to Ossoff’s 10,735.

Full Article: Georgia county’s election audit validated results of Georgia Senate runoff race

Hawaii: Commission sees election success in all-mail balloting | Nancy Cook Lauer/West Hawaii Today

Despite a 2020 general election when some Oahu polls closed almost four hours late and some Hilo voters spent three hours in line, the state Elections Commission is sending the Legislature a rosy review in its required biennial evaluation of the conduct of the election. At a meeting Thursday via Zoom, the commission, already 20 days late in submitting its report, voted to send a report that doesn’t include concerns raised by citizens and groups submitting comments at a meeting last month. The report, under state law, is required to include findings and recommendations from the biennial evaluation. “I’d like to get this report in,” said Chairman Scotty Anderson. “Yeah, we had a few problems, but it was mostly a smooth election.” Commissioner Lillian Koller pushed for a delay until comments could be evaluated and included. “I don’t see any way we as a commission can conclude our report to the Legislature without including the concerns that were raised,” Koller said. “The purpose in our report to the Legislature is not to gush with enthusiasm over a job well done. Our job is to identify what concerns have been expressed within our jurisdiction so the Legislature can take action.”

Full Article: Commission sees election success in all-mail balloting | West Hawaii Today

Indiana lawmakers call for commission on election integrity | Indiana | Margaret Menge/The Center Square

Two Indiana legislators have introduced a bill calling for the formation of a Commission on Election Integrity that would review the security of all voting machines used in the state and consider whether election laws should be changed to increase confidence in the vote. Reps. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, and John Jacob, R-Indianapolis, introduced the bill in the Indiana House of Representatives to form a nine-person bipartisan commission to make recommendations dealing with voting machines, the handling of voter data, voter rolls and relationships between election officials and voting machine vendors. The commission would be tasked with finding outside experts to assess the security of all voting machines and also look at whether absentee voting laws should be tightened, with fewer reasons for voting absentee allowed and early voting possibly curbed. Other provisions of the bill include having the commission look at requiring that any absentee, provisional and military ballots that are not counted in the presence of observers from both political parties and all candidates be excluded from vote totals, and requiring that counties do risk-limiting audits before certification of an election, with paper ballots hand-counted in at least 10% of precincts, as a check against the machine totals. Unlike some other states, Indiana doesn’t currently require risk-limiting audits. County clerks may order hand recounts when questions arise, but in most elections they rely solely on machine tallies. Voting systems certified for use in the state include those made by: Dominion, ES&S, Hart InterCivic, MicroVote and Unisyn. The machines are tested and recommended for certification by VSTOP, the Voting Systems Technical Oversight Program at Ball State University, run by a computer science professor and a criminal justice professor.

Full Article: Indiana lawmakers call for commission on election integrity | Indiana | thecentersquare.com

Iowa: Miller-Meeks Files Motion To Dismiss Hart’s Election Challenge Before U.S. House | Kate Payne/Iowa Public Radio

Republican Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks filed a motion Thursday asking the U.S. House to dismiss a challenge brought by her opponent, former Democratic state Sen. Rita Hart, who is disputing her six-vote margin in the November election. Miller-Meeks’ legal team argues the contest should be dismissed because Hart didn’t first make her case in state court.Miller-Meeks’ filing Thursday marks the next step in an appeals process before the Committee on House Administration, which will determine whether to dismiss the case or allow it to proceed. Ultimately, following a recommendation the committee, the full House could decide by simple majority vote who should have the seat. Miller-Meeks has labeled Hart’s challenge before the Democratically-controlled chamber as a “political” process, rather than a legal one. In November, state officials certified Miller-Meeks as the winner, following a districtwide recount requested by Hart. The final official tally of votes was 196,964 to 196,958, making the contest the closest federal race in the country during the 2020 cycle. In the motion filed Thursday, Miller-Meeks’ legal team argues that “more than a century” of precedent has established that contestants should exhaust all legal remedies at the state level before appealing to Congress. “Time and time again they have dismissed election contests where the contestant has failed to take advantage of mechanisms under state law to raise these issues,” said Alan Ostergren, an attorney for Miller-Meeks and a former Muscatine County Attorney. “That is by far the most important point that we raise in our motion, that because Rita Hart did not take advantage of the provisions available to her under Iowa law, that…the contest must be dismissed.”

Full Article: Miller-Meeks Files Motion To Dismiss Hart’s Election Challenge Before U.S. House | Iowa Public Radio

Michigan Governor appoints new member to elections board after GOP wanted replacement | Dave Boucher/Detroit Free Press

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has appointed a new Republican to a key state elections panel after the state party sought to replace a member who voted in favor of certifying the state’s election results. Tony Daunt will replace Aaron Van Langevelde on the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, Whitmer said in an announcement Tuesday morning. Daunt is the executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund, a conservative organization with ties to the DeVos family that organized some of the protests in the spring where marchers objected to the governor’s COVID-19 executive orders. He previously worked for Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Republican Party.  “I appreciate the nomination from (Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox) and the appointment by Governor Whitmer,” Daunt said in a statement issued through the fund. “The Board of State Canvassers requires leaders willing to follow the rule of law and to provide honest leadership, and I am honored to be entrusted with this position. Aaron Van Langevelde served with honor and integrity, and the entire state owes him a debt of gratitude. Our republic depends on fair and secure elections and I’m committed to upholding those values.”

Full Article: Tony Daunt appointed to Michigan Board of State Canvassers

Minnesota Democrats unveil bill to expand voter access | Mohamed Ibrahim/Associated Press

Minnesota Democrats are aiming to expand election protections and access to the ballot box after an election that featured disinformation and doubt about the results. The bill, with voting rights lawyer and freshman Democrat Rep. Emma Greenman of Minneapolis as chief author, has a host of measures aimed at increasing voter access. The bill includes restoring the right to vote to convicted felons after being released from prison, mailing absentee ballots to voters and boosting the number of ballot drop boxes statewide, among other measures. The legislation would protect election officials from harassment and intimidation, and increase transparency in campaign spending by requiring outside groups to disclose donors. It would also permanently remove the requirement that mail-in ballots be signed by a witness — a measure approved by a judge as part of an agreement last year by Secretary of State Steve Simon to resolve a lawsuit brought by citizens concerned about voting during the pandemic. The legislation has no Republican co-authors; A GOP majority in the Senate lists election integrity — not access — as a priority this legislative session. Those efforts include a bill that would require voters to provide photo identification to register to vote and cast a ballot while reinstating the witness requirement. The bill would establish a free voter identification card for those who lack government-issued photo ID.

Full Article: Minnesota Democrats unveil bill to expand voter access – StarTribune.com

New York: Judge orders Oneida County to review 1,000+ rejected ballots in Brindisi-Tenney race | Patrick Lohmann/Syracuse Post-Standard

State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte has ordered the Oneida County Board of Elections to go through more than 1,000 ballots in the 22nd Congressional District race, more than 70 days after the election was held. It’s the latest turn and the latest delay in the last undecided Congressional race in the country. It’s an incredibly close race: Republican Claudia Tenney is ahead of Democrat Anthony Brindisi by 29 votes of 311,695 votes cast for the two candidates. It comes after the discovery two weeks ago that Oneida County’s elections board failed to process 2,418 voter registration forms from voters who applied on time via the Department of Motor Vehicles. Those voters would have been told they weren’t registered when they arrived at the polling place. Hundreds of them likely walked away without voting, and many others went on to file affidavit ballots that were also not counted. There are 1,028 rejected affidavit ballots in Oneida County that could be from voters who applied on time via the DMV, according to DelConte’s ruling. He’s ordered the county elections staff to review all of them to determine how many fit in that category.

Full Article: Judge orders Oneida County to review 1,000+ rejected ballots in Brindisi-Tenney race – syracuse.com

Pennsylvania Republicans spent $1 million in tax dollars on 2020 election lawsuits to suppress voters | Charles Davis/Business Insider

Pennsylvania Republicans spent more than $1 million in taxpayer dollars on litigation aimed at making it more difficult to vote ahead of the 2020 election, according to documents obtained by the news organization PA Spotlight. Over $650,000 went to the same law firm that tried and failed to place Kanye West on the ballot in another swing state. In a post on Thursday, PA Spotlight revealed that the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Caucus, which controls the commonwealth’s upper chamber, spent a total of $1,042,200 in the runup to November trying to restrict methods of voting. In particular, the state GOP sought to overturn key provisions of Act 77, a law passed in 2019 – with unanimous support from Senate Republicans – that allowed voters to request mail-in ballots for any reason. At the time, the Pennsylvania state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman called the legislation “the most historic reform bill we’ve done.” But as time went on, Republicans began to see the measure as a boon to their political opponents, with Democratic voters far more likely to vote by mail during the pandemic. The Senate GOP also sought to prevent those ballots from being placed in secure drop boxes and to throw out millions of mail-in votes altogether, an effort rejected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. According to PA Spotlight, money on such litigation went to two firms, the bulk of it going to Holtzman, Vogel, Josefiak, and Torchinksy, founded by a former lawyer for the Republican National Committee. That firm also tried to place Kanye West on the ballot in Wisconsin. Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxell, and Hippell also received just under $385,000 in tax collars for election work in Pennsylvania. Lawrence Tabas, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, is a partner at the firm, PA Spotlight reported.

Full Article: Pennsylvania Republicans spent $1 million in tax dollars on 2020 election lawsuits to suppress voters | Business Insider India

Pennsylvania election directors eye a key change to help with vote counting — but political partisanship might get in the way | Emily Previti/WITF

Given the upheaval in the 2020 election cycle, voting reforms are expected to be at the top of Pennsylvania lawmakers’ agenda this year. But stakeholders worry the partisan gridlock that prevented changes before the last election will be even harder to overcome in 2021. In recent interviews, election directors across the state discussed which election reforms should get top priority, and challenges to getting them into practice. “Counties are going to be pushing to start doing the pre-canvassing earlier than Election Day,” said Keith Button, who’s handled election matters since 2015 as solicitor for Crawford County. Right now, Pennsylvania counties can start pre-canvassing at 7 a.m. on Election Day, but can’t actually count votes until 8 p.m. that day, when the polls close. If counties can do pre-canvassing earlier, Button said, that means those ballots won’t have to wait as long to be counted once polls close.  “…and (elections office) can focus on running the in-person election on Election Day,” he said. “And also so that everybody can get their results out faster.” 

Full Article: Pa. election directors eye a key change to help with vote counting — but political partisanship might get in the way | WITF

Virginia House passes absentee voting, voter registration bills | Virginia | Tyler Arnold/The Center Square

The Virginia House unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that would let the governor extend the voter registration deadline for a person if there was an error with the voter registration system. House Bill 1810 would allow the governor to extend the registration deadline for a period of time equal to the amount of time during which the voter registration system was unavailable, rounded up to the nearest whole day. Lawmakers introduced the proposal after last year’s registration disruption when the website was down for several hours and a judge had to extend the registration deadline for 48 hours. The bill, sponsored by Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Henrico, would not compel the governor to take action. It passed the House unanimously, 98-0. The legislation has been sent over to the Senate and referred to the chamber’s Privileges and Elections Committee. Another bill to reform absentee voting, which also was sponsored by VanValkenburg, passed the House without the same bipartisan support. House Bill 1888, which passed the chamber 55-43, seeks to establish greater availability and accessibility to the absentee voting process. Under the bill, absentee ballots returned before Election Day would need to be verified for correct completion and provide the voter with the opportunity to make corrections in certain circumstances. The bill also would establish drop-off locations for voters to return absentee ballots after completing them and require every locality to establish a central absentee voter precinct, which currently is optional.

Full Article: Virginia House passes absentee voting, voter registration bills | Virginia | thecentersquare.com

Editorial: Wisconsin lawmakers show us how not to fix the electoral college |The Washington Post

President Joe Biden won Wisconsin last November by a mere 20,000 votes, out of more than 3.2 million cast. Like most states, Wisconsin has a winner-take-all system, so he won all 10 of its electoral votes. Now, a Wisconsin state lawmaker proposes changing how the state allocates its electoral votes, splitting them among candidates according to how they fared in each of the state’s eight congressional districts. Maine and Nebraska have similar systems, which enabled President Trump to win an electoral vote by carrying Maine’s 2nd District and Mr. Biden to gain an electoral vote by winning Nebraska’s 2nd District in the 2020 race. The idea has some superficial appeal: If every state allocated electoral votes this way, it would encourage candidates to campaign outside a few privileged enclaves without upending the electoral college system, and candidates would draw at least some electoral votes from states they lost narrowly. But there are two major problems. First is the partisan context. Democrats have won Wisconsin — often by narrow margins — in every election save one since 1988. The Republicans who control the state legislature would enable GOP candidates to win electoral votes out of Wisconsin, while lawmakers in states that vote more reliably Republican would maintain their winner-take-all systems, biasing the electoral map against Democrats. Worse, allocating electoral votes by congressional district would import gerrymandering into the presidential election process. Because of Wisconsin’s warped congressional map, if the system had been in place in 2020, Mr. Trump would have taken six electoral votes from Wisconsin and Mr. Biden only four, despite the president-elect’s 20,000-vote margin. And Mr. Biden would have fared even that well only because the statewide winner would have gotten two automatic electoral votes; Mr. Trump carried six of the state’s eight congressional districts. If Mr. Biden had narrowly lost, he likely would have won only two electoral votes to Mr. Trump’s eight. In other words, the state’s electoral votes would have been allocated in a manner that was far from proportional.

Full Article: Opinion | Wisconsin lawmakers show us how not to fix the electoral college – The Washington Post

National: Election Misinformation went down after Twitter banned Trump | Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg/The Washington Post

Online misinformation about election fraud plunged 73 percent after several social media sites suspended President Trump and key allies last week, research firm Zignal Labs has found, underscoring the power of tech companies to limit the falsehoods poisoning public debate when they act aggressively. The new research by the San Francisco-based analytics firm reported that conversations about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 mentions across several social media sites in the week after Trump was banned from Twitter. Election disinformation had for months been a major subject of online misinformation, beginning even before the Nov. 3 election and pushed heavily by Trump and his allies. Zignal found it dropped swiftly and steeply on Twitter and other platforms in the days after the Twitter ban took hold on Jan. 8.

Full Article: Misinformation went down after Twitter banned Trump – The Washington Post

National: FBI investigating whether Capitol assault suspect tried to sell Pelosi computer to Russian intelligence service | Luke Barr andJack Date/ABC News

The FBI is investigating whether a woman who allegedly participated in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol stole a computer or hard drive from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the intention of selling it to Russia’s intelligence service. According to an FBI criminal complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., Sunday, a witness called the FBI with a tip that a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, woman, Riley June Williams, is seen in a video published by ITV, a British broadcasting network, depicting Williams’ presence in the Capitol during the riot. The witness told the FBI he or she was formerly a romantic partner of Williams. The witness claimed to have spoken to friends of Williams who allegedly showed the witness a video of Williams “taking a laptop or hard drive from Pelosi’s office,” according to the complaint. The sale to Russia fell through, according to the witness account described by the FBI in the complaint, and Williams “still has the computer device or destroyed it.” The matter remains under investigation, the document stated. The complaint alleges Williams committed the criminal violations of entering restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. She is not charged with stealing Pelosi’s computer. Williams’ whereabouts were unknown until late Monday when the Department of Justice reported she had been taken into custody in Pennsylvania. “It appears that WILLIAMS has fled,” according to the document, and “sometime after January 6, 2021, WILLIAMS changed her telephone number and deleted what I believe were her social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram, and Parler.”

Full Article: FBI investigating whether Capitol assault suspect tried to sell Pelosi computer to Russian intelligence service – ABC News

National: Pelosi laptop theft highlights ‘real counterintelligence concerns’ of Capitol riot, lawmaker says | Tonya Riley/The Washington Post

There are growing concerns that U.S. adversaries may be seeking ways to benefit from the Capitol assault – and that some of rioters may have been looking to work with them. The FBI is investigating claims that Riley June Williams stole a laptop or or hard drive from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and intended to sell the device to Russia’s intelligence services by way of a friend who lives in the country. “The idea that a group of so-called ‘patriots’ would sell a government computer to the Russians should tell you everything you need to know about the people who assaulted the Capitol,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “There are real counterintelligence concerns associated with a breach like the one that occurred on January 6th.”Williams was arrested Monday in her home state of Pennsylvania, and it’s unclear if she still had the laptop in her possession. She has been charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct in the Capitol, Spencer S. Hsu and Hannah Knowles report. The case is the first with foreign intelligence implications. There could be more. The Justice Department is treating its investigation into the riot “just like a significant international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation,” acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said last week. Sherwin previously stated that his office was still assessing how many of the more than 100 cases related to the Capitol riot involved “national security equities.” He previously said that “multiple devices” were stolen. The FBI also is looking into potential financial ties between some of the groups that incited the riot and foreign governments, 

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Pelosi laptop theft highlights ‘real counterintelligence concerns’ of Capitol riot, lawmaker says – The Washington Post

National: Dominion Voting Systems Threatens to Sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell | Maggie Haberman/The New York Times

Officials with Dominion Voting Systems have sent Mike Lindell, the C.E.O. of MyPillow, a legal letter warning of pending litigation over his baseless claims of widespread fraud involving their machines. “You have positioned yourself as a prominent leader of the ongoing misinformation campaign,” the letter said, referring to his continued false claims that their systems were rigged by someone to effect the outcome. “Litigation regarding these issues is imminent,” the letter said. Mr. Lindell is only the latest to get a warning letter from Dominion officials about potential litigation, after he and Sidney Powell, the right-wing lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani and others have continued to spread false claims about the integrity of the results the machines showed. Mr. Lindell visited Mr. Trump at the White House briefly on Friday, before the national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, steered him away. In a brief telephone interview, Mr. Lindell said he welcomed a lawsuit from Dominion. “I would really welcome them to sue me because I have all the evidence against them,” he said. “They sent this letter a couple of weeks ago. They’re lying, they’re nervous because I have all the evidence on them.”

Full Article: Dominion Voting Systems Threatens to Sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell – The New York Times

National: American Thinker apologizes to Dominion after getting letter from defamation attorneys | Celine Castronuovo/The Hill

Conservative opinion website American Thinker on Friday issued a statement apologizing for printing false claims about Dominion Voting Systems after the voting machine company’s lawyers accused the blog of defamation. American Thinker editor and publisher Thomas Lifson posted an online statement saying that the website had received a “lengthy letter from Dominion’s defamation lawyers explaining why they believe that their client has been the victim of defamatory statements.” Lifson said that, “Having considered the full import of the letter,” he admitted that several pieces on the website “falsely accuse” Dominion “of conspiring to steal the November 2020 election from Donald Trump.” Lifson added that the pieces “rely on discredited sources who have peddled debunked theories about Dominion’s supposed ties to Venezuela, fraud on Dominion’s machines that resulted in massive vote switching or weighted votes, and other claims falsely stating that there is credible evidence that Dominion acted fraudulently.” The opinion website head confirmed, “These statements are completely false and have no basis in fact,” and that “Industry experts and public officials alike have confirmed that Dominion conducted itself appropriately and that there is simply no evidence to support these claims.” “It was wrong for us to publish these false statements,” Lifson continued. “We apologize to Dominion for all of the harm this caused them and their employees,” the statement added, along with an apology to readers for what it called a “grave error.”

Full Article: American Thinker apologizes to Dominion after getting letter from defamation attorneys | TheHill

National: Rep. Lauren Boebert led ‘large’ Capitol tour before riots, Rep. Steve Cohen says | Andrea Salcedo/The Washington Post

Amid a push to investigate whether any GOP lawmakers aided rioters at the Capitol, several Democrats last week accused an unnamed House Republican of leading groups on “reconnaissance” tours of the building before the Jan. 6 attack. Now, two Democratic lawmakers say they personally saw one Republican — Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado — with a “large” group in a tunnel connected to the Capitol days before the attempted insurrection that left four rioters and one police officer dead.Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said on Monday that he and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) had both seen Boebert in the tunnel outside the Cannon House Office Building with a group sometime in the three days before the riots. He said he didn’t know who was in the group or if anyone with Boebert later participated in the attack. “Congressman [John] Yarmuth refreshed my recollection yesterday,” Cohen told Jim Sciutto on “CNN Newsroom.” “We saw Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th. … Now whether these people were people that were involved in the insurrection or not, I do not know.” Boebert, a gun rights advocate with links to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, called Cohen’s remarks “false” and “slanderous” in a letter sent to the congressman on Monday, which she also shared on Twitter. Boebert said she had taken a number of family members into the Capitol on Jan. 2 for a tour and Jan. 3 to take pictures on the day she was sworn into office, but had not given any other tours.

Full Article: Rep. Lauren Boebert led ‘large’ Capitol tour before riots, Rep. Steve Cohen says – The Washington Post

Arizona: Maricopa County, Senate working to end election fight | Bob Christies/Associated Press

Maricopa County officials and the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate on Wednesday agreed to avoid further court hearings while they work on a deal to get the Senate a raft of data from November’s election. The move could lead to an end of a bitter dispute over subpoenas issued by the lawmakers, many of whom who question how President Joe Biden won Arizona. A deal, if it is finalized, would end a three-week fight in which the Republican-majority county board said the Senate’s requests were far out of bounds and likely to expose private voter information for political reasons. The Senate, led by GOP President Karen Fann, had pressed ahead, saying they needed to audit the election results to ensure the county ran the election correctly and to craft new legislation addressing the concerns of Republicans. County supervisors had sought court orders to block the subpoenas. They argued that lawmakers sought election information that was illegal to share. The Senate countered by asking a judge to issue orders requiring the county to comply. Last week, a judge urged the two sides to settle the case. Fann claimed victory on Wednesday, saying the Senate was getting everything it wanted. “Not only has the Board agreed to turn over all the relevant information we sought in our subpoenas so that we may perform an audit, but they also acknowledge that the Legislature is a sovereign power of the state and that the county is a political subdivision, and as such, the Legislature has the constitutional and statutory authority to issue subpoenas,” Fann said in a statement. But Tom Liddy, the deputy county attorney representing the Board of Supervisors, said no final agreement has been reached, let alone one that hands over everything the Senate originally sought.

Full Article: Maricopa County, Senate working to end election fight

National: Urgency mounts for new voting rights bill | Marty Johnson/The Hill

Urgency is mounting among voter rights groups and Black lawmakers for President-elect Joe Biden to make a new and improved voting rights bill a top priority. In his first address to the American people as president-elect back in November, Biden made a bold pledge: that he’d have Black Americans’ backs. The promise holds even more weight following last week’s insurrection at the Capitol that featured strong overtures of white nationalism. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the original 1965 Voting Rights Act that was gutted by a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2013. Given the slim majority Democrats will now enjoy the Senate, proponents are hopeful Biden will make it a headline of his agenda. Biden transition spokesperson Jamal Brown told The Hill that the former vice president “will work to enact the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act when in office.” The bill prevent state legislatures from unilaterally making changes to voting procedures, which they’ve been able to do since the 2013 ruling. In states where voting rights activists were successful in boosting the turnout of voters of color, proposals already exist to have sweeping roll backs of expanded voting rights that many states reluctantly introduced because of the pandemic. 

Full Article: Urgency mounts for new voting rights bill | TheHill

Editorial: My voting technology company has been hit with a tsunami of lies and misinformation | John Poulos/The Globe and Mail

A lot has been said about the recent U.S. presidential election. Disinformation concerning states that used voting technology from my company, Dominion Voting Systems, has unfortunately been the subject of much discussion. We have been hit with tsunami of lies, and I’d like to set the record straight. We did not start our company in Venezuela with Cuban money with the intent to rig elections for Hugo Chávez (or anyone else). We have not, and do not, send votes anywhere (let alone across jurisdictional borders). As the U.S. Army has attested, there was no “raid of Dominion servers in Germany.” The name “Dominion” does not connote some vast evil conspiracy theory. Here is the truth: I started the company in Toronto, not Caracas. The first investor was my sister, not Fidel Castro. We picked the company name as an homage to the 1920 Dominion Elections Act. For those that don’t know, this piece of legislation removed significant voting barriers, including those focused on voters’ sex, religion, race and economic standing. The ideals encapsulated in that piece of legislation reflected our core purpose in founding the company: increasing election transparency and helping voters vote. We started by helping blind voters vote independently with dignity. During the past few months, many have asked me how it feels to be attacked by a sitting president. The answer is complicated. Dominion’s systems are tested by the U.S. federal government and 28 U.S. states long before, leading up to, and right after elections. There were no “switched or deleted votes” involving Dominion machines, nor any other type of manipulation. We understand, however, that candidates (and their supporters) can become very emotional over the loss of an election, especially a highly contentious and divisive one. In times like these, election officials rely on audit trails and recounts to demonstrate complete transparency. Hand recounts of all paper ballots, in conjunction with robust legal avenues for aggrieved candidates to pursue election challenges, have always won the day.

Full Article: Opinion: My voting technology company has been hit with a tsunami of lies and misinformation – The Globe and Mail

Arizona bill aims to disallow Sharpies to be used on ballots | Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror

A bill at the Arizona legislature aims to prevent counties from requiring that specific markers or any other pen be used that may damage a ballot after a debunked claim that they spoiled ballots during the November election spread across social media during the election. For the first time ever in 2020, Arizona voters were given Sharpie permanent markers to mark their ballots at Arizona polls this year, and their use spawned false claims from Republican officials in Arizona and members of the state’s conservative fringe that election officials are using the markers to invalidate votes for Donald Trump and other GOP candidates. Senate Bill 1023 by Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, would bar county boards of supervisors from requiring that a specific marking pen be used on paper ballots and “shall not provide for use on ballots any pen that creates marks that are visible on the reverse side of the paper ballot or that otherwise may damage or cause a ballot to be spoiled.” The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office said Sharpies were given to voters at polling places this year because of new voting machines. While the old voting machines — which had been in use since 1996 — could not read Sharpies and many other commercially available permanent markers, the new machines perform better with felt-tip markers. The new machines can read between 6,000 and 8,000 ballots an hour, about twice as many as the old machines. Ink from Sharpies dries faster than ink from traditional ballpoint pens, and the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office advised the use of the markers in Maricopa County. 

Full Article: Bill aims to disallow Sharpies to be used on ballots • Arizona Mirror