The tug of war over voting rights and rules is playing out with fresh urgency at the state level, as Republicans and Democrats fight to get new laws on the books before the 2024 presidential election. Republicans have pushed to tighten voting laws with renewed vigor since former President Donald J. Trump made baseless claims of fraud after losing the 2020 election, while Democrats coming off midterm successes are trying to channel their momentum to expand voting access and thwart efforts to undermine elections. States like Florida, Texas and Georgia, where Republicans control the levers of state government, have already passed sweeping voting restrictions that include criminal oversight initiatives, limits on drop boxes, new identification requirements and more. While President Biden and Democrats in Congress were unable to pass federal legislation last year that would protect voting access and restore elements of the landmark Voting Rights Act stripped away by the Supreme Court in 2013, not all reform efforts have floundered.
National: Election Assistance Commission Appoints New Director With Security-Focused Background | Edward Graham/Nextgov
The Election Assistance Commission on Tuesday announced that Steven Frid—the security director at the Education Department’s Federal Student Aid office—has been appointed as the new executive director of the agency beginning on Jan. 30. In a press release, EAC called Frid “a long-term public servant who has dedicated his career to collecting and analyzing data about risks to federal employees, facilities, information and operations within the Office of Personnel Management, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education.” “Steven Frid will be joining the EAC during a very exciting and pivotal time for the agency as we prepare for the 2024 elections,” EAC Chairman Thomas Hicks, Vice Chair Christy McCormick, and Commissioners Ben Hovland and Donald Palmer said in a joint statement. “His leadership, innovative work and expertise at a range of federal agencies will be an asset as the EAC continues to grow and work to better serve election officials, voters and other stakeholders.”
National: GOP action on mail ballot timelines angers military families | Julie Carr Smith and Gary Fields/Los Angeles Times
Ohio’s restrictive new election law significantly shortens the window for mailed ballots to be received — despite no evidence that the extended timeline has led to fraud or any other problems — and that change is angering active-duty members of the military and their families because of its potential to disenfranchise them. The pace of ballot counting after election day has become a target of conservatives egged on by former President Trump. He has promoted a false narrative since losing the 2020 election that fluctuating results as late-arriving mail-in ballots are tallied is a sign of fraud. Republican lawmakers said during debate on the Ohio legislation that even if Trump’s claims aren’t true, the skepticism they have caused among conservatives about the accuracy of election results justifies imposing new limits. The new law reduces the number of days for county election boards to include mailed ballots in their tallies from 10 days after election day to four. Critics say that could lead to more ballots from Ohio’s military voters missing the deadline and getting tossed. This issue isn’t confined to Ohio. Three other states narrowed their post-election windows for accepting mail ballots last session, according to data from the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab. Similar moves pushed by Republican lawmakers are being proposed or discussed this year in Wisconsin, New Jersey, California and other states.
National: Republicans filed record number of anti-voting lawsuits in 2022 – report | Kira Lerner/The Guardian
The Republican party filed a record number of anti-voting lawsuits in 2022, a sign it is shifting the battle over voting access and election administration to courtrooms as well as state legislatures. Last year, Republican party groups filed 23 democracy-related lawsuits, according to a new report by Democracy Docket, a progressive media platform that tracks voting litigation. The lawsuits included efforts to challenge election results, attacks on mail-in voting and attempts to undermine the administration of elections. The Democratic party, the report found, filed only six voting lawsuits in 2022 and all sought to protect or expand the right to vote. The almost two dozen lawsuits filed by the GOP is an increase from 20 in 2020, the year of the presidential election in which Donald Trump’s loss was contested in courts for months. There were no new lawsuits by the Republican party in 2021, when there was no major election. “Evidently, the GOP establishment is becoming more litigious than ever and is turning to courts to achieve its anti-voting and anti-democracy ends,” the report says.
National: Another ‘radical’ change to the Voting Rights Act could reach the Supreme Court | Tierney Sneed/CNN
A federal appeals court appears open to further shrinking the scope of the Voting Rights Act in a case that could lead to another major Supreme Court showdown over voting rights. The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals at a hearing on Wednesday considered whether private entities – and not just the US Justice Department – can bring lawsuits under a key provision of the law. Two of the three members of the appellate panel asked questions suggesting they were leaning against the idea that the provision, known as Section 2, could be enforced with private lawsuits. If those seeking a narrowing of the VRA are successful, it would significantly diminish the use of the law to challenge ballot regulations and redistricting maps that are said to be racially discriminatory. A vast majority of the cases that are brought under the Voting Rights Act – which prohibits election rules that have the intent or effect of discriminating on the basis of race – are brought by private plaintiffs, with the Justice Department facing strained resources and other considerations that limit the number of VRA cases it files to, at most, a few each year. Last year, however, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Arkansas – running counter to decades of legal practice – said that private parties do not have the ability to sue under the Section 2.
Making it easier to register to vote and obtain an absentee ballot, funding a system of publicly financed campaigns and launching automatic voter registration are among the measures New York officials are being urged to focus on to strengthen the state’s voting infrastructure. The Brennan Center and a coalition of advocacy organizations in a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul and top lawmakers in the state Legislature called for a package of changes, some of which are being implemented this year, in order to bolster faith in voting in the state. The push for the measures comes as state lawmakers this week began the 2023 legislative session in Albany, and after legal challenges were made during last year’s election season to absentee ballots. “Last year, we witnessed a disturbing increase nationwide in election denialism, threats against election workers, and voter intimidation,” the groups wrote in the letter. “New York was no exception.”
Full Article: Officials urged to modernize New York’s election systems
National: Advocates seek federal investigation of multistate effort to copy voting software | mma Brown , Aaron C. Davis and Jon Swaine/The Washington Post
An effort by supporters of former president Donald Trump to copy sensitive voting software in multiple states after the 2020 election deserves attention from the federal government, including a criminal investigation and assessment of the risk posed to election security, according to election-security advocates. As new information about the multistate effort continues to emerge, the national election and campaign-finance reform group Free Speech for People, along with several former election officials and computer scientists, sent a letter Monday urging the Justice and Homeland Security departments to investigate. They wrote that by copying voting software and circulating it “in the wild,” partisan election deniers have created a digital road map that could help hackers alter election results or disrupt voting. Evidence of the multistate effort was unearthed by plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit over the security of Georgia’s voting system. They found that as Trump falsely blamed his 2020 defeat on hacked voting machines, sympathetic officials in rural Coffee County, Ga., allowed computer-forensics experts, paid by a nonprofit run by Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell, to copy voting software in January 2021. That software was then uploaded to a website, from where it was downloaded by election deniers across the country. “Because these events were revealed in a private lawsuit rather than through a law enforcement investigation, the significance and consequences may not have registered with the relevant federal agencies,” reads the letter. Several of its 15 signatories have served as experts for the plaintiffs in the case.
National: Center for Security in Politics Working Group Releases Statement on Developing Standards for Internet Ballot Return | Recent News | University of California, Berkeley
Technology is still too limited, and the security risks too great to establish responsible standards for voting via the internet at this time, a Center for Security in Politics working group announced. Made up of a non-partisan group of experts from politics, election administration, academia, and technology, the working group was charged with determining the kinds of technical and implementation standards needed to ensure safe and secure internet ballot return. The group was convened with funding from Tusk Philanthropies. “Internet ballot return has the potential to serve voters experiencing barriers to more traditional forms of voting,” said Mike Garcia, a cybersecurity and election security expert who chaired the working group. “It could also be valuable in the event of broad disruptions like wildfires or floods. But current technology cannot provide the level of security needed for widespread use in public elections—at least not yet.” “We are living through a time of intense skepticism about elections when the very foundations of the democratic process are under threat,” said CSP director and former homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano. “It is imperative that voting accessibility be balanced with security, transparency, and equity. The working group brought their expertise to bear on this important topic, and I thank them for their service.”
National: Election Deniers Were Defeated in 2022, But May Run Again in 2024 | Ryan Teague Beckwith/Bloomberg
An all-out offensive by activists and state officials against election denial scored major successes in clamping down on the “stop the steal” movement in 2022, amid continued attempts to undermine free and fair elections in the US. Advocacy groups spent millions on ads against candidates who adhered to Donald Trump’s false claims that he lost due to widespread fraud and were running to oversee voting in presidential battlegrounds or lead them as governors. Local and state elections administrators coordinated with law enforcement to ensure that polling places remained safe. In the end, though, it was voters who had the biggest impact, rejecting election deniers for governor and secretary of state in five key states, re-electing officials who defied Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss and backing ballot measures to make it easier to vote and harder to challenge fair and accurate results. But an even bigger challenge will come in the high-stakes 2024 presidential election.
National: Special counsel has subpoenaed officials in all 7 states targeted by Trump allies in 2020 election | Zachary Cohen and Sara Murray/CNN
Special counsel Jack Smith has issued a subpoena to local officials in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, for information related to the 2020 election, a spokesperson for the county told CNN. “Yes, we received a subpoena from the Department of Justice’s special counsel regarding the 2020 election. We have nothing further to share or provide,” said Amie Downs, the county’s communications director. The subpoena sent to Allegheny County is the latest in a string of requests for information sent by Smith, who is now overseeing the Justice Department’s sprawling criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Smith’s team has now sent subpoenas to local and state officials in all seven of the key states – Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – targeted by former President Donald Trump Trump and his allies as part of their bid to upend Joe Biden’s legitimate victory.
Even though many of the “election deniers” who sought influential positions in state government this year were defeated, the threat to democracy has not subsided, according to the latest report from a trio of organizations seeking to protect the system. Given the election results, the states that pose the greatest risk to free and fair elections are Florida, North Carolina and Texas, according to the States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy and Law Forward. Those groups released the latest version of their joint report, “A Democracy Crisis in the Making: How State Legislatures are Politicizing, Criminalizing, and Interfering with Elections,” on Wednesday. “As Americans, we may disagree on a lot of things, but we can all agree that voters — not election denying officials — should choose our elected leaders,” said Rachel Homer, counsel with Protect Democracy. “At ballot boxes across the country, American voters made clear: they don’t want politicians who attack and undermine our elections to be running their states. This is a big win for our democracy. But in some state legislatures, the election denial fever hasn’t not broken. The threat is still very real and we can’t afford to ignore it.” Both Florida and Texas are in the high-risk category because the report identifies the states’ senior officials – governors, attorneys general, secretaries of state – the legislative majorities have all embraced former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Those two states have also been at the forefront of legislative activity tightening voting rules.
Was Election Denial Just a Passing Threat? Or is it here to stay? | Blake Hounshell/The New York Times
In the months before the midterm elections, a reporter for Time magazine asked Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for secretary of state in Arizona, why he was so convinced that Donald Trump had won the state in 2020 despite all evidence to the contrary. “It strains credibility,” Finchem responded. “Isn’t it interesting that I can’t find anyone who will admit that they voted for Joe Biden?” It was as succinct an explanation as any for why so many Americans believed the 2020 election had been stolen. Republicans, especially those living in deep-red areas, knew so few Democrats that it beggared their imagination that anyone, as Finchem put it, would vote for one. Now, two political scientists have put some rigor behind this idea. The more that voters were surrounded by other Republicans, Nicholas Clark and Rolfe Daus Peterson of Susquehanna University report in a forthcoming research paper, the more likely that they were to say that the 2020 election had been stolen, controlling for other factors.
National: Midterms free of feared chaos as voting experts look to 2024 | Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press
Election Day, anxiety mounted over potential chaos at the polls. Election officials warned about poll watchers who had been steeped in conspiracy theories falsely claiming that then-President Donald Trump did not actually lose the 2020 election. Democrats and voting rights groups worried about the effects of new election laws, in some Republican-controlled states, that President Joe Biden decried as “Jim Crow 2.0.” Law enforcement agencies were monitoring possible threats at the polls. Yet Election Day, and the weeks of early voting before it, went fairly smoothly. There were some reports of unruly poll watchers disrupting voting, but they were scattered. Groups of armed vigilantes began watching over a handful of ballot drop boxes in Arizona until a judge ordered them to stay far away to ensure they would not intimidate voters. And while it might take months to figure out their full impact, GOP-backed voting laws enacted after the 2020 election did not appear to cause major disruptions the way they did during the March primary in Texas. “The entire ecosystem in a lot of ways has become more resilient in the aftermath of 2020,” said Amber McReynolds, a former Denver elections director who advises a number of voting rights organizations. “There’s been a lot of effort on ensuring things went well.”
National: Local Officials Across US Still Trying to Subvert 2022 Vote | Ryan Teague Beckwith and Sarah Holder/Bloomberg
Some local officials in the battleground states of Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania defied state elections laws as they pushed debunked claims about the November midterms, a disturbing trend that could spell trouble in 2024. The incidents, most of which were rebuffed or ended when the officials backed down, show that despite losses for dozens of candidates who worked to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory, GOP officials are still trying to toy with electoral defeats. “What we’re seeing now is the beginning of the same playbook that could be used in 2024,” said Matthew Seligman, a fellow at the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University. The Board of Supervisors in rural Cochise County, Arizona, refused to certify the November elections, leading the secretary of state and an advocacy group to sue. The Board of Elections in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, was initially deadlocked on whether to report their tallies to the state. Officials in Nye County, Nevada, repeatedly attempted to hand-count all ballots even as the state Supreme Court tried to stop them, only to give up and use the voting machines for their official count.
National: Manchin and Klobuchar: Omnibus likely place for electoral count overhaul | Jim Saksa/Roll Call
Legislation to overhaul how Congress counts presidential electoral votes should hop on the must-pass spending omnibus on its way out of the Senate, Sens. Joe Manchin III and Amy Klobuchar said Wednesday. Speaking at a National Council on Election Integrity event, Manchin said the Electoral Count Reform Act was “ready.”“I would thin k the omnibus bill is the appropriate place to put it,” the West Virginia Democrat said. Speaking later, Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, said the National Defense Authorization Act was another option, but “the omnibus is looking more and more promising.” “That’s coming out of the meeting at the White House,” the Minnesota Democrat added. She said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is “hopeful.” Manchin and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine hashed out the bipartisan bill over the summer in an ad hoc committee of senators before handing the bill over to Klobuchar’s committee in September. Collins told reporters Tuesday that she was worried about finding time in the lame duck to pass the legislation.
National: Election security a success, but more improvements needed, experts say | Ines Kagubare/The Hill
Despite the myriad of threats that faced the nation during the 2022 midterms, experts say security for the election proved successful overall. They warned, however, that some improvements are still needed in certain areas. Experts praised election officials for being well-prepared and efficient at managing ongoing threats while communicating with voters on how to spot disinformation. “This was a remarkably smooth election given everything that we were facing as a country,” said Lawrence Norden, senior director of the Brennan Center’s elections and government program. In the months and weeks leading up to the election, government officials sent out regular alerts warning the public of threats that could impact the midterms, including cyberattacks, foreign interference, disinformation, insider threats and threats to election workers. Experts said that in the last couple years, the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and other agencies have been preparing for and responding to all kinds of threats that could jeopardize elections, including by conducting tabletop exercises, drills and workforce development for personnel involved in securing elections.
National: Election deniers face especially stiff rebuke in Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania | Patrick Marley/The Washington Post
Voters rejected election deniers across the country last week. But they did so with particular verve along the Great Lakes. In Minnesota, the Democratic secretary of state defeated by a 10-point margin a Republican challenger who baselessly called the 2020 election rigged and pushed for restricting early voting. In Wisconsin, voters handed Gov. Tony Evers (D) a second term, declining to reward a candidate backed by former president Donald Trump who left open the possibility of trying to reverse the last presidential election. In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) crushed Republican Doug Mastriano, who had highlighted his willingness to decertify voting machines if he won the governorship. But perhaps the biggest statement on democracy came in Michigan, where voters by large margins rebuffed a slate of Republican election deniers running for governor, attorney general and secretary of state. They also embraced an amendment to the state constitution that expands voting rights and makes it much more difficult for officials to subvert the will of voters. In the process, they flipped the legislature with the help of new legislative maps drawn by a nonpartisan commission, giving Democrats complete control of state government for the first time in 40 years.
Access to WiFi inside a polling place is not automatic proof of voter fraud, despite claims made online, experts told Reuters. Text circulated online ahead of the U.S. midterm elections urging voters to monitor the WiFi access outside a polling station and when inside, checking again to ensure no additional WiFi network was detectable. The post led to claims that a new WiFi network suddenly appearing from inside a polling station can lead to voter fraud. “If you find any new wifi networks that do not belong, please email your County and State Board of Elections with the name of that wifi network. Ask them to investigate,” a section of the text reads. One individual who shared the claim on Twitter said: “PROVE VOTER FRAUD WIFI !!” (here). Examples of the claim online can be found (here), (here) and (here). But the presence of a WiFi network inside a polling place is not automatic proof of nefarious activity, experts in election security told Reuters. “Network availability isn’t generally a cause for concern or proof that machines are connected to the internet,” David Levine, an elections integrity fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy – German Marshall Fund, told Reuters. “WiFi networks are everywhere,” Juan E. Gilbert, chair of the Computer & Information Science & Engineering department at the University of Florida, told Reuters. “In fact, people can carry WiFi networks with them via their phones or jetpacks, etc. As such, the presence of a WiFi network in a voting area is not an immediate concern. It is not proof that machines are connected to the internet,” Gilbert added.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee advanced a measure on Thursday to make it easier to track mail-in ballots for federal elections. The Vote by Mail Tracking Act requires that all mailed ballots include a U.S. Postal Service barcode that enables tracking of each individual ballot, as well as meeting other requirements for envelope design and bear an official election mail logo. Mailed ballots have been thrust into the political spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, with millions of Americans choosing to vote from home. The 2020 general election saw record numbers of mail votes cast, and voting by mail remained popular in this year’s midterms. According to NBC, over 47 million people voted early in the 2022 midterms with 55 percent of them choosing to cast their ballot by mail.
National: Former CISA director praises government’s role in election security | Ines Kagubare/The Hill
Chris Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said the government and elections officials did a “good job” at securing the midterm elections and communicating with voters on what is accurate information. Krebs, who spoke on Wednesday at an annual cyber summit in New York hosted by the Aspen Institute, said the key is to effectively convey accurate information and debunk misinformation and disinformation narratives ahead of elections. “You can do all this stuff in the background, but you have to continue to communicate, communicate, communicate on what is happening and what [voters] should be thinking about as information is teed up,” Krebs said. “The key here is that the prebunking is dependent on identifying the potential areas that could be exploited,” he added. In 2020, CISA created a page on its website called the Rumor Control which debunks common misinformation and disinformation narratives. Testifying before a House panel in April, CISA Director Jen Easterly told lawmakers that the website provides accurate information regarding the election, including facts about absentee ballots, so that voters “have the information they need to maintain confidence in the integrity of elections.”
National: Lengthy vote counts frustrate, but don’t signal problems | Christina A. Cassidy and Julie Carr Smyth/Associated Press
Four days after Election Day, with a bitter, high-profile race for Arizona governor still up in the air, Ohio’s secretary of state broke an unspoken protocol among top election officials. “Dear Arizona, need some advice on how to run an election the right way?” Frank LaRose, a Republican, chided his counterparts on Twitter. “Your process is obviously not working.” Though not as fast as most would like, the process actually was working as designed and as it has for years in a state where the vast majority of voters cast mailed ballots. What’s different is that many of the races were so close that winners couldn’t be quickly determined, a frustration that has become more common as Arizona has evolved into one of the nation’s most hotly contested political battlegrounds. The governor’s race eventually was called for the Democrat, Katie Hobbs, four days after LaRose sent his social media blast — with about 17,000 votes separating the candidates out of more than 2.5 million cast. Arizona isn’t the only state where votes were still being counted a week later. Even in Ohio, where the margins for Republican candidates were wide enough for all top races to be called on election night, counties were still tallying late-arriving mailed, military and overseas ballots nearly a week after Election Day. One state legislative race had yet to be called.
National: Election Officials Say Efforts to Bolster the Voting System Worked | Alexandra Berzon and Ken Bensinger/New York Times
For months, election officials have worried that activists convinced that the election system is corrupt and broken would cause significant problems in the midterms. But the scattered episodes during the vote did not disrupt the system. The relative calm so far had election officials breathing a sigh of relief, even as they remained concerned about specious legal challenges and misinformation that could erupt in the coming weeks. They praised tactics they believe reinforced a system that was rocked by the baseless claims of fraud and widespread distrust after Donald J. Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. They pointed to better and more frequent communication by elections officials, and transparency measures such as live cams at ballot boxes and in counting rooms. Some speculated that polling and right-wing media reports promising a Republican blowout in races across the country may have discouraged some right-wing activists from provocations at polling places. “It was remarkably smooth,” said Damon Circosta, the chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections. “You can tell by my giddiness I was not expecting that.”
Voting Glitches, Website Attack Trigger Election Day Misinformation | Gopal Ratnam/Government Technology
A technical glitch in vote tabulation machines in Arizona and an attempted takedown of voter-facing websites in Mississippi led to a surge of misinformation about broken systems, but the setbacks largely didn’t affect voting or counting on Election Day. In Arizona’s Maricopa County — the state’s largest — dozens of vote tabulation machines malfunctioned on Tuesday, affecting about 20 percent of polling places. The machines were fixed by late afternoon, but state officials said that did not prevent voters from casting their ballots. In Mississippi, some election-related websites that provide information to voters faced an attack because of a sudden increase in volume of traffic, typically a sign of a distributed denial-of-service attack, known as DDoS. State officials said the websites were not compromised and didn’t affect any internal election processes. A Russian hacking group claimed on the messaging platform Telegram that it had targeted Mississippi, USA Today reported, citing messages it had seen on the platform. The glitches fed an online disinformation campaign by former President Donald Trump and his Republican supporters, who alleged that the machine malfunction in Arizona was an attempt to disenfranchise Republican voters.
National: Trump called a protest. No one showed. Why GOP efforts to cry foul fizzled this time. | Rosalind S. Helderman , Patrick Marley and Tom Hamburger/The Washington Post
As voters cast ballots largely without incident on Tuesday afternoon, former president Donald Trump took to social media to declare that a minor, already rectified problem with absentee balloting in Detroit was “REALLY BAD.” “Protest, protest, protest,” he wrote just before 2:30 p.m. Unlike in 2020, when similar cries from the then-president drew thousands of supporters into the streets — including to a tabulating facility in Detroit and later to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — this time, no one showed up. After two years of promises from Trump and his supporters that they would flood polls and counting stations with partisan watchers to spot alleged fraud, after unprecedented threats lodged against election workers, after calls to ditch machines in favor of hand counting and after postings on internet chat groups called for violent action to stop supposed cheating, a peaceful Election Day drew high turnout and only scattered reports of problems.
National: Key election deniers concede defeat after disputing Trump’s 2020 loss | Emma Brown and Amy Gardner/The Washington Post
Voters in several battleground states have rebuked state-level candidates who echoed former president Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential race was rigged, keeping election deniers in those places from positions with power over the certification of future presidential election results. In a number of cases, the losing candidates conceded their races Wednesday, opting not to follow a precedent that Trump had set and that scholars had feared could become a troubling new norm of American democracy. But even as those candidates bowed to reality, dozens of others who denied or questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 vote were celebrating projected wins in congressional races. At least 145 Republican election deniers running for the House had won their races as of Wednesday afternoon, ticking past the 139 House Republicans who objected to the counting of electoral votes following the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
National: How Concessions Are Making a Modest But Notable Comeback in 2022 | Glenn Thrush/The New York Times
Several bitterly contested races remain undecided, but by Wednesday it was becoming clear that the 2022 midterm campaign had spawned a modest and somewhat unexpected national political comeback — by civility. Vanquished candidates from both parties have offered dignified concessions, two years after President Donald J. Trump refused to acknowledge the victory of Joseph R. Biden Jr., which emboldened some of his followers to question the legitimacy of elections, and eschew healing rituals in their aftermath. This year, many defeated Republicans — including some endorsed by the former president and many who embraced his lies about the last national election — accepted their losses with magnanimity, rejecting the Trumpian example without mentioning him by name. “This morning I called John Fetterman and congratulated him,” Mehmet Oz, who lost the Senate race in Pennsylvania, wrote in a statement on Wednesday.
National: Future of American democracy loomed large in voters’ minds | Gary Fields and Nuha Dolby/Associated Press
This week’s ballot had an unspoken candidate — American democracy. Two years of relentless attacks on democratic traditions by former President Donald Trump and his allies left the country’s future in doubt, and voters responded. Many of the candidates who supported the lie that Trump won the 2020 election lost races that could have put them in position to influence future elections. But the conditions that threatened democracy’s demise remain, and Americans view them from very different perspectives, depending on their politics. In New Hampshire, voters reelected Republican Gov. Chris Sununu to a fourth term but rejected three congressional candidates who were either endorsed by Trump or aligned themselves with the former president. Instead, voters sent Democratic incumbents back to Washington. Bill Greiner, a restaurant owner and community bank founder, said the Trump candidates won their Republican primaries by “owning the crazy lane” and then provided an easy playbook for Democrats in the general election. Greiner, a Republican, said in past years he has fallen in line behind GOP nominees when his preferred candidates lost primaries, but he couldn’t vote for candidates who continued to deny the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.
National: Fears and Suspicion Hang Over Voting on Cusp of Election Day | Nick Corasaniti and Charles Homans/The New York Times
For the vast majority of the 40 million Americans who have already voted in the midterm elections, the process was smooth and unremarkable. But the broad view belies signs of strain: A court ordered armed activists to stop patrolling drop boxes in Arizona. Tens of thousands of voter registrations are being challenged in Georgia. Voting rights groups have trained volunteers in de-escalation methods. Voters have been videotaped by groups hunting for fraud as they drop off their ballots. And Republican candidates across the country, from Arizona to Pennsylvania, continue to amplify Donald J. Trump’s false claims of corrupted elections. Two years after a presidential election warped by lies and disrupted by violence, suspicion and fear have become embedded in the mechanics of American democracy. As another Election Day nears, intimidation has crept up to levels not seen for decades, while self-appointed watchdogs search for fraud and monitor the vote. And election officials say they feel increasingly on edge, ready not just for the frenzy of Election Day but the chaos of misinformation and disputes that may follow. Even Republican election officials said they were braced for a renewed onslaught, one most likely to be fueled by their own party.
As Americans cast votes for congressional and gubernatorial candidates Tuesday, security experts are most concerned about the spread of misinformation and disinformation that threatens to undermine the integrity of the election process. The election technology itself has receded as a concern. State and local officials have addressed cybersecurity weaknesses and threats of hacking, the key threats seen in previous election cycles going back to 2016. Experts say Congress, federal agencies and private security firms aided those efforts. “I think the biggest new challenge we’re seeing is the disinformation challenge,” said Derek Tisler, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Elections & Government Program. “While not actually threatening the security of elections, it is affecting how people view the security of elections, and many of the challenges can end up having the same effect.” Congress approved more than $1 billion in federal grants to be administered by the Election Assistance Commission since the 2016 elections to help states and local jurisdictions upgrade equipment and boost cybersecurity.
New Report: Coordinating Audits and Recounts to Strengthen Election Verification | Verified Voting and Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota
Download Report The 2020 presidential election was followed by an extensive period of scrutiny and challenge. Some of these activities were typical—automatic recounts, optional recounts, and routine tabulation audits—and some were highly irregular. Widespread misinformation sowed confusion and distrust. As election officials strive to promote public confidence in our elections, it is important to emphasize that recounts and tabulation audits are normal procedures, and they are vital to our elections. Recounts and audits, when properly designed and conducted, can help assure candidates and the public that there was a fair examination of the results and an accurate count of all legally cast votes. State requirements for tabulation audits have been expanding. Recounts are common and will continue to be part of the contentious post-election landscape. Elections need both audits and recounts, and they need audits and recounts to work well together. This paper describes how to dovetail audits and recounts to bolster public confidence in election results. Every state can do better, and this paper provides guidelines for how.