Wisconsin: Republican candidate sues state elections commissioners as Robin Vos says they ‘probably’ should face felonies | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Republican running for governor sued Wisconsin election commissioners Monday just as the Assembly speaker argued five of them — including one he appointed — should be charged with felonies. Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who served in former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration when the agency was created and is running for governor in 2022, asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to declare illegal the commission’s guidance allowing ballot drop boxes, nursing home poll workers and consolidated polling places. The lawsuit was filed a day after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said members of the state elections commission “probably” should be charged with felonies over the guidance they adopted last year to ensure nursing home residents received absentee ballots by telling clerks not to follow a state law requiring poll workers to first attempt to visit the residents before sending out ballots. Kleefisch in a statement said her lawsuit would force the commission “to clean up their act prior to administering the 2022 election.” A spokesman did not respond to a request for an interview. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is facing fire from the people who created the bipartisan agency six years ago after a recent Racine County investigation determined one resident of a Mount Pleasant nursing home voted absentee in the 2020 election despite being ruled incompetent by a judge.

Full Article: Rebecca Kleefisch sues Wisconsin elections commissioners

Michigan GOP’s latest vote-crushing scheme could eliminate 20% of polling sites | Igor Derysh/Salon

A controversial scheme by Michigan Republicans to circumvent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto of their proposed voting restrictions could eliminate one in every five polling sites in the state, according to a new study. The head of the Michigan Republican Party is funding the “Secure MI Vote” petition, which includes a ban on in-kind contributions to local election clerks. Organizers have acknowledged that this provision would in fact end the use of donated polling sites, such as churches. Some cities and townships could lose half their polling sites — or in some cases all of them — under the new restrictions, according to a new report from the liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan. “I hope people are able to see the danger and the impact of this proposal,” Mary Clark, president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks and Delta Township clerk, said in a statement. “This is the type of policy that causes me to lay awake at night because it will cause so much confusion amongst voters and put clerks in impossible situations. This would absolutely negatively impact legally registered voters in my jurisdiction and every jurisdiction in this state.” Michigan Republicans, who introduced a 39-bill package to change the state’s voting laws in the wake of Donald Trump’s defeat, in September launched an effort to pull an end-around on Whitmer’s veto of their proposed voting laws by introducing a ballot petition — one that voters will never get to see. An unusual quirk in the state’s constitution allows the Republican-dominated state legislature to adopt the initiative rather than put it on the ballot if they collect just 340,047 signatures, or 8% of the number of voters who participated in the last gubernatorial election. Whitmer has no power to veto such an initiative if it is passed by the legislature.

Full Article: Michigan GOP’s latest vote-crushing scheme could eliminate 20% of polling sites | Salon.com

National: Former top officials warn democracy in ‘jeopardy’ without Congressional action on election security | Maggie Miller/The Hill

A bipartisan group of almost 100 former national security officials is urging Congress to take steps to secure elections ahead of next year, warning that without action, the nation’s democratic institutions are in “severe jeopardy.” “We write to express our alarm at ongoing efforts to destabilize and subvert our elections, both through active disinformation campaigns and the related efforts to inject partisan interference into our professionally administered election process,” the officials wrote in an open letter published Tuesday. “We believe these efforts are profoundly damaging to our national security, including by making our elections more vulnerable to foreign interference and possible manipulation.” “We call on Congress to confront these threats and safeguard our democratic process as we look ahead to the 2022 elections and beyond,” they wrote. Signatories of the letter included former officials who worked for administrations on both sides of the aisle, including former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, former Defense Secretary William Cohen and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. They also included former ambassadors, top officials at the CIA and former top cybersecurity officials, including former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs and Michael Daniel, the former White House cybersecurity coordinator under President Obama.

Full Article: Former top officials warn democracy in ‘jeopardy’ without Congressional action on election security | TheHill

Reuters unmasks Trump supporters terrifying U.S. election officials Linda So and Jason Szep/Reuters

In Arizona, a stay-at-home dad and part-time Lyft driver told the state’s chief election officer she would hang for treason. In Utah, a youth treatment center staffer warned Colorado’s election chief that he knew where she lived and watched her as she slept. In Vermont, a man who says he works in construction told workers at the state election office and at Dominion Voting Systems that they were about to die. “This might be a good time to put a f‑‑‑‑‑‑ pistol in your f‑‑‑‑‑‑ mouth and pull the trigger,” the man shouted at Vermont officials in a thick New England accent last December. “Your days are f‑‑‑‑‑‑ numbered.” The three had much in common. All described themselves as patriots fighting a conspiracy that robbed Donald Trump of the 2020 election. They are regular consumers of far-right websites that embrace Trump’s stolen-election falsehoods. And none have been charged with a crime by the law enforcement agencies alerted to their threats. They were among nine people who told Reuters in interviews that they made threats or left other hostile messages to election workers. In all, they are responsible for nearly two dozen harassing communications to six election officials in four states. Seven made threats explicit enough to put a reasonable person in fear of bodily harm or death, the U.S. federal standard for criminal prosecution, according to four legal experts who reviewed their messages at Reuters’ request.

Full Article: Reuters unmasks Trump supporters terrifying U.S. election officials

National: 2022 races will put election integrity to the test | Kate Ackley/Roll Call

The 2022 midterm elections, one year from now, won’t just decide control of the House and Senate but will also provide the first major test of Americans’ confidence in the integrity of their electoral system since the violent attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. People who study campaigns, from academics to operatives, have sounded the alarm about voters’ faith in future U.S. elections given that former President Donald Trump has carried on with his false claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent, long after a “Stop the Steal” rally in support of him turned deadly. Last week’s elections pointed to potential political upheaval in the midterms, but they may also have offered small solace to those worried about faith in democracy because losing candidates mostly conceded swiftly. And even in New Jersey, where the Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli has not admitted defeat, he has discouraged supporters from believing internet conspiracies and pledged that after all votes were counted, the result would be “legal and fair.” Still, some of the ensuing political rhetoric offers cause for concern. Many GOP congressional candidates and incumbents have sided with Trump over his 2020 election charge, even as he lost repeated legal challenges. Senate and House Democrats, meanwhile, have intensified their messaging that the political system is rigged and that new state laws passed by Republican-controlled legislatures are designed to suppress voters.

Full Article: 2022 races will put election integrity to the test – Roll Call

National: Cyber agency beefing up disinformation, misinformation team | Maggie Miller/The Hill

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is beefing up its disinformation and misinformation team in the wake of a divisive presidential election that saw a proliferation of misleading information online. “I am actually going to grow and strengthen my misinformation and disinformation team,” CISA Director Jen Easterly said during virtual remarks at the RE:WIRED conference on Wednesday. Easterly noted that earlier this week she had a meeting with “six of the nation’s experts” in the disinformation and misinformation space. She stressed her concerns around this being a top threat for CISA, which is charged with securing critical infrastructure, to confront. “One could argue we’re in the business of critical infrastructure, and the most critical infrastructure is our cognitive infrastructure, so building that resilience to misinformation and disinformation, I think, is incredibly important,” Easterly said. “We are going to work with our partners in the private sector and throughout the rest of the government and at the department to continue to ensure that the American people have the facts that they need to help protect our critical infrastructure,” she added. Easterly’s comments came a year after CISA came under fire by President Trump for its efforts to push back against election misinformation and disinformation, primarily through setting up a “rumor control” website. Trump fired former CISA Director Chris Krebs, and several other top CISA officials were forced to resign in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, largely as a result of this effort.

Full Article: Cyber agency beefing up disinformation, misinformation team | TheHill

National: Trump cannot shield White House records from Jan. 6 committee, judge rules | Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein/Politico

A federal judge has rejected former President Donald Trump’s effort to block Jan. 6 investigators from accessing White House records related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, determining that he has no authority to overrule President Joe Biden’s decision to waive executive privilege and release the materials to Congress. “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote in her ruling. Trump immediately appealed the decision. The National Archives, which houses the White House records, has indicated it plans to hand over the sensitive documents by Friday afternoon unless a court intervenes. The decision is a crucial victory for the Jan. 6 committee in the House, albeit one that may ring hollow if an appeals court — or, potentially, the U.S. Supreme Court — steps in to slow the process down. The documents Trump is seeking to block from investigators include files drawn from former chief of staff Mark Meadows, adviser Stephen Miller and White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin, as well as call and visitor logs.

Full Article: Trump cannot shield White House records from Jan. 6 committee, judge rules – POLITICO

National: No ballot boxes for 100 miles: How a bill aims to make voting easier for Native Americans | Vanessa Misciagna/The Denver Channel

Beneath Window Rock in Navajo Nation, a memorial is dedicated to the “code talkers” of World War II, a group of Navajo soldiers who used their native tongue to create a secret code. “If it wasn’t for the Navajo code talkers, we would have not won World War II,” said President of Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez. Nez is proud of everything his people have contributed to the United States, despite everything that’s been taken away. That is why he believes it’s only right to make sure the voices of the Navajo and the other 574 Native tribes are heard. “We need the federal government, once again, to fulfill their obligation and to protect the rights of indigenous people in this country and that includes voting. It should be easier,” he said. Located in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, Navajo Nation is more than 27,000 square miles and is the largest Native American reservation in the country. Getting around, in general, can be difficult but navigating to a ballot box for many is nearly impossible.

Full Article: A bill aims to make voting easier for Native Americans

National: Election Officials Have Another Year to Fight Disinformation | Matt Vasilogambros/Stateline

After a year of election-related lies and disinformation, voters in 32 states went to the polls this month with few major technical errors, lines or delays in results. But election officials and voting rights advocates caution there is still considerable work to do ahead of next year’s midterms to boost lagging confidence in the democratic process, especially among the three-quarters of Republicans who believe former President Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was rigged. “Despite all of the threats, despite distractions, despite harassment, despite frivolous subpoenas, despite the pandemic and a continued lack of resources, election officials once again did what we have seen them do repeatedly: They facilitated democracy,” said David Becker, executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a D.C.-based nonpartisan nonprofit. “But we are not out of the woods. I am more concerned today than I was a year ago.” While the election went well, Becker said, Congress still has not acted on threats to voting access, and the lies of the 2020 election have not receded. In Virginia, where a record number of voters elected Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor, county election officials were able to stave off major delays in reporting results because of the state’s reliance on paper ballots, said Chris Piper, commissioner of the state Department of Elections.

Full Article: Election Officials Have Another Year to Fight Disinformation | The Pew Charitable Trusts

National: Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Flynn and Eastman, Scrutinizing Election Plot | Luke Broadwater/The New York Times

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued new subpoenas on Monday for a half-dozen allies of former President Donald J. Trump, including his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, as it moved its focus to an orchestrated effort to overturn the 2020 election. The subpoenas reflect an effort to go beyond the events of the Capitol riot and delve deeper into what committee investigators believe gave rise to it: a concerted campaign by Mr. Trump and his network of advisers to promote false claims of voter fraud as a way to keep him in power. One of the people summoned on Monday was John Eastman, a lawyer who drafted a memo laying out how Mr. Trump could use the vice president and Congress to try to invalidate the election results. In demanding records and testimony from the six Trump allies, the House panel is widening its scrutiny of the mob attack to encompass the former president’s attempt to enlist his own government, state legislators around the country and Congress in his push to overturn the election. Mr. Flynn discussed seizing voting machines and invoking certain national security emergency powers after the election. Mr. Eastman wrote a memo to Mr. Trump suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence could reject electors from certain states during Congress’s count of Electoral College votes to deny Joseph R. Biden Jr. a majority. And Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner who was also subpoenaed, participated in a planning meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington on Jan. 5 after backing baseless litigation and “Stop the Steal” efforts around the country to push the lie of a stolen election. “In the days before the Jan. 6 attack, the former president’s closest allies and advisers drove a campaign of misinformation about the election and planned ways to stop the count of Electoral College votes,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the committee chairman, said in a statement. “The select committee needs to know every detail about their efforts to overturn the election, including who they were talking to in the White House and in Congress, what connections they had with rallies that escalated into a riot and who paid for it all.”

Full Article: Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Flynn and Eastman, Scrutinizing Election Plot – The New York Times

Editorial: We must protect our elections now. National security is at stake. | James R. Clapper and Michael Hayden/The Washington Post

By now, it is well documented that in 2020 a sitting president and his allies tried to overturn the results of an election, triggering the worst political violence this country has seen in living memory. It is also clear that this attempt to undermine our democracy did not end with the transition to a new president, but continues with active efforts to make sure the next sabotage succeeds where the last one failed. What is less widely understood — and what keeps us up at night — is how great a threat these activities pose to our national security. This looming crisis is why we, along with nearly 100 other former national security and military officials, issued a statement urging Congress to prioritize protecting election integrity. We both served at the highest levels of our country’s intelligence community, under Republican and Democratic presidents alike, and we know that our foreign adversaries and other bad actors are licking their chops as they watch efforts to destabilize our elections. At the heart of the attack is a homegrown disinformation campaign meant to sow doubt in the U.S. voting system. Unfortunately, it is working — poll after poll shows declining trust in our elections and declining belief in the concept of democracy, particularly among Republicans. And these effects will not be contained to our borders. We have personally seen the lengths to which our foreign adversaries will go to take advantage of any cracks in the foundation of our democracy. One of us was director of national intelligence during the period leading up to the 2016 presidential vote and saw firsthand how Russia used social media to exploit disinformation, polarization and divisiveness. The Russians’ objective was to breed discord, and they succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. Now others have gone to school on the Russian example and will seek to prey on our country’s state of affairs in just the same way.

Full Article: Opinion | James Clapper and Michael Hayden: We must protect our elections now. National security is at stake. – The Washington Post

Arizona: Election experts warn Chandler not to adopt mobile voting because it’s ‘dangerously insecure’ | Ben Giles/KJZZ

As Chandler runs a mock election using blockchain technology for mobile voting, an election advocacy group urged the city not to adopt what they called a “dangerously insecure” voting method. Verified Voting, a non-partisan organization that advocates for paper ballots, issued a statement warning that “there is simply no secure way to electronically return voted ballots while protecting voter privacy, maintaining ballot secrecy and still providing a verifiable record of the voter’s intent.” … C.Jay Coles, a senior policy analyst with Verified Voting, doesn’t deny that blockchain tech is designed to keep information secure. But there’s no way of knowing whether the voter’s personal device — in this case, a cellphone — is secure. “So is there anything on the voter’s device that is malicious, that can alter what the voter is inputting in their own device before it is entered into the blockchain?” Coles said. Once the vote has been cast and is secured using blockchain, “the voter has no idea if it was entered correctly, and the elections office has no way of knowing whether or not the voter’s intent is accurately captured in that record, because you can’t go back to the voter and ask them because that violates the right of a secret ballot,” Coles added.

Full Article: Officials warn Chandler not to adopt mobile voting | KJZZ

Colorado: Mesa County fires employee tied to Tina Peters scandal | Marianne Goodland/Colorado Politics

Mesa County’s elections office has fired an employee allegedly involved in a security breach that later led to a court barring Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and a deputy clerk from participating in the recently-concluded November elections. The county’s Election Director, Brandi Bantz, terminated Sandra Brown, a manager in the Elections Division. An email Tuesday from the Tina Peters Legal Defense Fund revealed Brown’s firing. The email also accused Secretary of State Jena Griswold of orchestrating Brown’s firing. Bantz confirmed to Colorado Politics that Brown was terminated. According to the Peters news release, Brown intends to sue for unidentified civil rights violations. While the Peters release didn’t identify a reason for Brown’s firing, a lawsuit filed Aug. 30 by Griswold claimed Brown and Peters “facilitated the improper presence of the individual identified as Gerald Wood at the May 25 trusted build.”

Full Article: Mesa County fires employee tied to Tina Peters scandal | News | coloradopolitics.com

Florida: Orange County elections supervisor foils fake ballot in Orlando’s election | Ryan Gillespie/Orlando Sentinel

Of more than 12,000 ballots cast in Orlando’s city council elections last week, one vote caught the attention of the Supervisor of Elections office when it was rejected by a vote-counting machine. Upon further review, it mostly looked like any other ballot. It was marked with a number identifying it as being from the Rock Lake Community Center precinct. It was laid out identically to official ballots with correct fonts and spellings and listed the names of current candidates. What it did not have were exact matching bar codes that line the perimeter of an official ballot. The combination of lines and black boxes unique to each election tells a voting machine how to scan an official ballot. This particular ballot, deemed fake by Supervisor of Election Bill Cowles’ office, had incorrect markings, and only on the top and bottom instead of all four sides. It also was printed on lighter-weight paper, Cowles confirmed with the company that does the office’s printing. The canvassing board tasked with certifying the election, decided not to allow the single ballot to be counted in the District 5 race, determining it was an impostor, he said this week. “I’ve never seen somebody go out and create a ballot to the extent that this one looks like a regular ballot,” said Cowles, who has overseen elections in Orange County since 1996.

Full Article: Orange elections supervisor foils fake ballot in Orlando’s election – Orlando Sentinel

Georgia Grand Jury Looms in Trump Election Interference Investigation | Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset/The New York Times

As the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot fights to extract testimony and documents from Donald J. Trump’s White House, an Atlanta district attorney is moving toward convening a special grand jury in her criminal investigation of election interference by the former president and his allies, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deliberations. The prosecutor, Fani Willis of Fulton County, opened her inquiry in February and her office has been consulting with the House committee, whose evidence could be of considerable value to her investigation. But her progress has been slowed in part by the delays in the panel’s fact gathering. By convening a grand jury dedicated solely to the allegations of election tampering, Ms. Willis, a Democrat, would be indicating that her own investigation is ramping up. Her inquiry is seen by legal experts as potentially perilous for the former president, given the myriad interactions he and his allies had with Georgia officials, most notably Mr. Trump’s January call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, urging him to “find 11,780 votes” — enough to reverse the state’s election result. The Georgia case is one of two active criminal investigations known to touch on the former president and his circle; the other is the examination of his financial dealings by the Manhattan district attorney.

Full Article: In Trump Election Interference Investigation, Grand Jury Looms – The New York Times

Michigan GOP voting initiative would eliminate 20% of polling places, creating ‘panic’ among clerks, study says | Steve Neavling/Detroit Metro Times

A controversial, Republican-led petition drive to restrict voting access would eliminate 20% of all polling locations, a new report found. The Secure MI Vote petition would ban clerks from accepting donated spaces such as churches, schools, and senior centers for polling locations. In Michigan, one of every five polling locations is a church, according to Secure MI Vote: Creating Insecurity for Community Polling Places, a study by Progress Michigan, a progressive nonprofit that advocates for voting rights. “This ban on donated polling locations will cause confusion and disruption for voters, leading to voter disenfranchisement, create challenges for clerks, who would have to find new polling locations or reduce the number of polling locations available, and would increase costs for election administration,” Sam Inglot, deputy director of Progress Michigan, said Wednesday. The study found that nearly half of the counties in Michigan use at least one church or other place of worship as a polling location, and churches account for all of the polling places in 28 cities and townships. In 11 cities and townships, places of worship account for at least 50% of polling locations. In some rural townships, including Hazelton in Shiawassee County and Mussey Township in St. Clair County, the only polling location is a church. In Wayne County, 109 of the 471 polling locations are inside a church or other place of worship, the most in the state.

Full Article: Michigan GOP voting initiative would eliminate 20% of polling places, creating ‘panic’ among clerks, study says | News Hits

Montana election officials worry Secretary of State is rushing new election system | Sam Wilson/Helena Independent Record

Election officials in Montana are ringing alarm bells that the Secretary of State’s plan to move forward with new election software at the start of 2022 could leave them with a largely untested, unworkable system for next year’s federal elections. Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen is planning to replace a statewide election database system that tracks voter registrations and interacts with nearly all levels of running elections, from updating precincts to printing and accepting ballots, by January 2022. Her predecessor, Corey Stapleton, had previously begun the process of switching from the current system, “Montana Votes,” with a new system known as “electMT.” But during a meeting of the Legislature’s State Administration and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee last week, the top county election officials from Cascade and Ravalli counties said that months of delays and a missed deadline for a major test during this year’s general elections has created the need to push back that switch-over date. They also indicated Jacobsen’s office has been unresponsive to their concerns.

Full Article: Election officials worry Secretary of State is rushing new election system | 406 Politics | helenair.com

Oregon: A year after the 2020 election, county clerks still fighting back fraud allegations | Julia Shumway/Malheur Enterprise

A week before this November’s Linn County special election over a tax increase to fund law enforcement, a man walked into the election office and asked to see the county clerk. Steve Druckenmiller walked over and asked how he could help, but the man didn’t want assistance. “I just wanted to see the enemy of my country and the enemy of my God,” Druckenmiller recalled him saying. “And then he started talking in tongues.” Druckenmiller heard the man out, then asked him to leave. It was the first in a series of encounters this election cycle with voters who were supposed to drop off their ballots or fix mismatched signatures on ballot envelopes but instead wanted to criticize Druckenmiller for how his office ran an election a year ago. “This last election, he was the first one, and then on Election Day, I had people come in and they wanted to argue about everything,” Druckenmiller said. “I don’t mind if they want to talk to me like that, but some of these people start with my staff.” It’s been just over a year since more than 159 million Americans, and more than 2.4 million Oregonians, cast their ballots in the 2020 general election and elected Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. In the intervening months, Oregon election officials have run elections for school boards, new local taxes and other ballot propositions.

Full Article: A year after the 2020 election, Oregon county clerks still fighting back fraud allegations | Malheur Enterprise

Pennsylvania judge race with narrow margin will get recount | Mark Scolforo/Associated Press

The results of a tight race for a seat on the statewide Commonwealth Court will be recounted because two candidates finished within a half-percentage point of each other in last week’s election, the Pennsylvania Department of State announced Wednesday. The race pits Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Lori Dumas, the Democrat, against former Pennsylvania Senate Republican aide Drew Crompton, who was appointed last year to fill a Commonwealth Court vacancy until a replacement could be elected. Commonwealth Court handles cases involving state government and local governments. Two seats on Commonwealth Court were on the ballot, both held most recently by Republicans. The lead vote-getter last week, McKean County Republican lawyer Stacy Wallace, is deemed to have secured one of them, the department said. For the second seat, unofficial returns have Dumas leading Crompton by nearly 17,000 votes, well within the margin for a government-paid recount. Those unofficial returns show Dumas with 1.29 million votes, or 25.36%, and Crompton with 1.27 million votes, or 25.03%.

Full Article: Pennsylvania judge race with narrow margin will get recount

Wisconsin judge orders Republicans to turn over records related to election review | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Dane County judge on Friday ordered Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to turn over records within 10 days about a secretive review of the 2020 election that Republicans have been conducting since this summer. Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ruled the Rochester Republican and Assembly Chief Clerk Ted Blazel were required to release calendars, e-mails, internal reports and other documents maintained by the team conducting the election review. Bailey-Rihn accused Vos of trying to hide records by conducting a “shell game” that changed who was technically responsible for the records. She ordered Vos to turn over records that were created between May and late August. She suggested he’d given up his opportunity to argue he could withhold a subset of the documents because of attorney-client privilege or other reasons. She said he’d likely waited too long to make such arguments. “These need to be produced unless there is a darn good reason why not and I don’t see one at this point,” Bailey-Rihn said. The team reviewing the election has a taxpayer funded budget of $676,000 and is headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who claimed without evidence last year that the presidential election was stolen. Courts have repeatedly upheld Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Full Article: Dane County judge orders GOP to turn over election review records

Wisconsin election audit errors feed partisan spin — Michael Haas and Maribeth Witzel-Behl/Wisconsin State Journal

For decades, Wisconsin’s Legislative Audit Bureau served as an important check and balance, keeping politicians honest and financial books clean. It prides itself on being nonpartisan, independent and accurate. But the bureau’s recent “Election Administration” report fails to live up to that mission. Its erroneous analysis and consistent failure to include the complete story was a disservice to both election officials and the Legislature. The flawed report also predictably encouraged overreaction from legislators intent on continuing to sow unfounded doubt about the integrity of Wisconsin elections. The LAB’s errors and this overreaction can be largely traced to one fact. For the first time since the Audit Bureau’s creation in 1965, it did not allow the state agency which was audited — the Wisconsin Elections Commission — to review and provide feedback on the report before it was released. As a result, the audit contains embarrassing errors that could have easily been corrected. It also mischaracterizes Wisconsin’s election administration in dangerous ways. Its analysis and recommendations feed public perception and are likely to become the basis of misguided legislative proposals that are not connected to the facts.

Full Article: Election audit errors feed partisan spin — Michael Haas and Maribeth Witzel-Behl | Column | madison.com

Smartmatic Sues Newsmax and One America News Network for Defamation | Jonah E. Bromwich and Michael M. Grynbaum/The New York Times

The legal battle against disinformation from right-wing media outlets is expanding. Smartmatic, an election technology firm that became a target of pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential race, sued Newsmax and One America News Network on Wednesday for defamation, demanding that the conservative cable networks face jury trials for spreading falsehoods about the company. The new lawsuits add to a growing suite of litigation by Smartmatic and another election technology provider, Dominion, which found itself mired in the same conspiracy theories. In February, Smartmatic sued Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation and several Fox anchors on similar grounds, as well as two of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani. “We are holding them accountable for what they tell their audience,” J. Erik Connolly, a lawyer for Smartmatic, said in an interview. Dominion has sued FoxNewsmax, One America NewsMs. PowellMr. Giuliani, and Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow. Smartmatic and Dominion were both accused by pro-Trump forces, without evidence, of rigging vote tallies in key states to swing the election to Joseph R. Biden Jr., part of a large-scale effort by Mr. Trump’s allies to cast doubt on the 2020 results. Those conspiracies have only expanded in the year since Mr. Biden won, as leading Republican officials and media personalities have continued to raise doubts about Mr. Trump’s defeat.

Full Article: Smartmatic Sues Newsmax and One America News Network for Defamation – The New York Times

Colorado: Mesa County needed to restore trust after an election system breach. Here comes Wayne Williams, in his boots. | Nancy Lofholm/The Colorado Sun

A kitschy red, white and blue wooden plaque reading “Of the people, By the people, For the people” hangs over a bank of Dominion Voting screens and scanners in a room tucked inside the warren of elections divisions offices at the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s building. Two cameras point at former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams from corners of the room where he stands in his politically neutral red and blue plaid shirt and his size 15½ cowboy boots. He is taking in every detail of the ballot tabulating going on around him. And he is grinning. Sorting machines whir in the next room sending a stream of yellow ballot envelopes into slots. Election judges, in pairs of Republicans and Democrats, examine torn, stained, mismarked and unsigned ballots. Election workers wheel in locked black cases of ballots that other workers stack in bundles. Everything is operating as it should. This is turning out to be a normal election in abnormal circumstances that have placed Mesa County in a national spotlight at the vortex of election-fraud conspiracy theories. What went on in this room 4½ months ago brought Williams here. It also served as a wake-up call for what can happen when election integrity is compromised from the inside rather than by outside forces.

Full Article: How Mesa County sought to restore trust after its Tina Peters drama

National: The 2020 vote and its aftermath have left many election workers beleaguered | Ashley Lopez/NPR

Isabel Longoria runs elections in Harris County, which is where Houston is. She says she loves her job and thinks most people who do that kind work feel the same way. “I am an election nerd and I don’t know a single other elections administrator who is not an election nerd,” Longoria says. “We geek out, literally, on having the coolest job in America that we get to run the founding principles of this country — which is free and fair elections.” But since the 2020 presidential election, and amid the false allegations that followed claiming it was stolen, local election officials have faced increased scrutiny. Some have been harassed and gotten death threats. Some are leaving the job altogether. Longoria is not. She started her job as the county’s elections administrator in 2020, during the worst of the pandemic and ahead of a contentious election. She came up with a lot of ideas on how to make voting safer — ideas that were later criticized and prohibited by Republican state lawmakers. Longoria says she’s been doing what she can to help people understand what she does, but she’s finding that some people cannot be satisfied.

Full Article: The 2020 vote and its aftermath have left many election workers beleaguered : NPR

National: Senate GOP blocks John Lewis voting rights bill | Jordain Carney/The Hill

Republicans on Wednesday blocked the Senate from starting debate on a voting rights bill named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), marking the latest setback for Democrats in their push for new elections legislation. Senators voted 50-49 on whether to bring up the bill, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move forward. Vice President Harris presided over part of the vote.  Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted no, a procedural step that lets him bring the bill back up in the future for another vote. Unlike this year’s previous failed election reform votes, which were on bills that stretched well beyond bolstering the Voting Rights Act, Democrats picked up a GOP supporter: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).  Murkowski and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) signed on to a revised version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on Tuesday after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiating. “Ensuring our elections are fair, accessible and secure is essential to restoring the American people’s faith in our Democracy. That’s why my colleagues and I have come together to introduce the bipartisan John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Manchin said in a statement.

Source: Senate GOP blocks John Lewis voting rights bill | TheHill

National: Cyberattacks Threaten Voter Confidence in Election Systems  | Lisbeth Perez/MeriTalk

While several aspects in the electoral system may be at risk, election officials at the Federal and state level agreed that cyberthreats have routinely and at larger numbers attacked voters’ confidence in the system with the spread of misinformation. Misinformation and disinformation about election systems and officials are demoralizing and take a tremendous amount of time and effort to combat. Judd Choate, the elections director for the state of Colorado, said during NextGov’s Election Security Summit on Nov 3, he and his team find themselves spending a significant amount of time playing defense against this misinformation and not enough time building up systems to fight off possible attacks. “We are getting hundreds of calls regarding misinformation. And a lot of the time, we find ourselves playing defense because there really is a limit in the things that we can do,” Choate said. Yet, according to Choate, partnerships with nonprofit organizations and Federal agencies like the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have “created this incredible infrastructure to try and secure our election systems against these cyber threats.”

Full Article: Cyberattacks Threaten Voter Confidence in Election Systems  – MeriTalk

National: Meet the Obscure Think Tank Powering Trump’s Biggest Lies| Cameron Joseph/Vice

As Vice President Mike Pence and his team hid in the basement of the Capitol from rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” on Jan. 6, President Donald Trump’s attorney John Eastman emailed one of Pence’s staffers to blame him for the violence. “The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman told Pence adviser Greg Jacob. The insurrection came after Trump, with Eastman’s help, tried to bully Pence into blocking Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election win—what Jacob called “bullshit” legal advice that had left them “under siege”—then whipped his supporters into a frenzy that led to the violent ransacking of the U.S. Capitol. Eastman, the director of the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, is also the man who wrote the memo that said Pence should try to block Biden’s election certification.  And he wasn’t the only Claremont Institute leader involved in that harrowing episode—and in subsequent efforts to undermine democracy.  “Have been on Capitol Hill all day. We are in a constitutional crisis and also in a revolutionary moment,” Brian Kennedy, the president emeritus and senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, tweeted on Jan. 5. “We must embrace the spirit of the American Revolution to stop this communist revolution. #HoldTheLine.” 

Full Article: Meet the Obscure Think Tank Powering Trump’s Biggest Lies

National: After attacks on the 2020 election, secretary of state races take on new urgency | Stephen Fowler/NPR

Primary challenges are a normal part of politics, but normally low-key races to be a state’s chief election official are taking on a different tone after the 2020 election. At a recent rally held by former President Donald Trump in Perry, Ga., Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., stumped for his campaign to unseat Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “It is my deep conviction that Brad Raffensperger has massively compromised the right of the people at the ballot box,” he said. “He has opened wide the door for all sorts of irregularities and fraud to march into our election system, and it is time that we take charge of this.” Hice, who objected to Georgia’s Electoral College votes after the insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol in January, is running on a platform that promises to “aggressively pursue voter fraud,” “renew integrity” and replace the state’s $100 million ballot-marking system that was rolled out just last year. He is one of several pro-Trump Republican candidates in secretary of state races in swing states like Georgia, Arizona and Michigan who have embraced falsehoods about the systems they now want to oversee — attacking the 2020 election results and spreading misleading claims about voting machines and absentee ballots. Many elections officials who currently run things have faced the wrath of Trump for defending last November’s election — none more so than Raffensperger, who notably refused Trump’s request to “find” enough votes for him to win Georgia. Georgia’s narrow margins were counted three separate times, including once by hand in a risk-limiting audit. But more than a year later, baseless claims of fraud and wrongdoing persist.

Full Article: After attacks on the 2020 election, secretary of state races take on new urgency : NPR

Editorial: The long-dead ‘2020 was stolen’ claim gets more nails in its coffin | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

It was one year ago Wednesday that the “crime of the century” occurred, according to former president Donald Trump: The 2020 presidential election was stolen by Joe Biden and Democrats. And yet the anniversary of that contest dawned with that ridiculous assertion newly undermined — to the extent that something with literally no foundation can be undermined further. The theory as postulated by Trump and his allies goes something like this: Some group linked to the political left conducted a campaign to systematically submit votes on behalf of dead voters or people who hadn’t chosen to cast a ballot. Others used electronic voting machines to alter vote totals. This occurred not just across multiple states but within county-level voting systems that are all run independently. It occurred in such a way that Biden earned just enough votes in just enough places to carry the electoral college, suggesting both coordination and a sophisticated ability to track election results that seem to conflict with how we generally understand elections to be run. This rampant effort left all sorts of statistical fingerprints according to Trump’s allies, markers that emerge only following complicated calculations about vote totals and turnout, in the way that you might finally figure out the reason it makes sense to have a cookie for dessert despite your diet. Despite this rampant theoretical evidence that something iffy happened, no direct evidence of fraudulent efforts has been uncovered, no person has come forward to admit involvement in a scheme that would require at least hundreds of participants, and no physical evidence has been offered demonstrating how this effort was supposed to have worked.

Full Article: The long-dead ‘2020 was stolen’ claim gets more nails in its coffin – The Washington Post

Arizona Court to Rule on Contempt Charge Against State Senate | Charles Davis/Business Insider

An Arizona court is set to decide early next month whether to hold the Republican-led state Senate in contempt for failing to hand over documents related to the partisan, Cyber Ninjas review of ballots cast in the 2020 election. On Tuesday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp set a hearing for December 2 to address the lack of compliance with his earlier ruling that the documents should be handed over. Attorneys for the state Senate, which commissioned the review of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots, have said some of the documents are protected by “legislative privilege,” an argument the court rejected last month. “[I]t is hard to imagine more serious litigation than the disclosure of documents underlying an audit of the election of the President of the United States and a United States Senator,” Judge Kemp wrote at the time. “This goes to the heart of our democracy and this audit was done in response to allegations of fraud and corruption.” The controversial, GOP-led audit of Arizona’s election results further confirmed President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory over Donald Trump. Republicans in Arizona’s state Senate commissioned Cyber Ninjas to helm the audit in April 2021 after Biden became the first Democrat to win in Maricopa County since 1948.

Full Article: Arizona Audit: Court to Rule on Contempt Charge Against State Senate