State

Florida: Palm Beach, ground zero for 2018 vote recount, didn’t apply for election security cash | Politico

Palm Beach County officials failed to tap election security funds available for the 2018 midterms, making it the only jurisdiction in the state that didn’t seek a share of the federal aid. Nearly $2 million in federal funds was made available to the state for hardware and software support, including server installations and network monitoring, ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. In a presentation to the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, state elections director Maria Matthews said 66 of 67 Florida counties applied for the funds, news that angered lawmakers. “Once again, the Palm Beach supervisors office has proven that they have been woefully mismanaged,” said state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican who led the Republican Party of Florida during the 2018 election cycle. “It’s clear to me that making deadlines was not their forte.”

Full Article: Palm Beach, ground zero for 2018 vote recount, didn’t apply for election security cash.

Georgia: Bill seeks switch to ballot-marking devices for Georgia elections | Atlanta Journal Constitution

A broad elections bill introduced Thursday would replace Georgia’s electronic voting system with touchscreens that print ballots before they’re counted. The printed ballots would create a paper trail to check the accuracy of election results. Georgia’s current direct-recording electronic voting machines lack a paper backup. The legislation, House Bill 316, follows the recommendations of a voting commission created by Gov. Brian Kemp last year when he was secretary of state. The commission favored the touchscreens, called ballot-marking devices, over paper ballots filled out with a pen or pencil. Election integrity advocates say paper ballots filled out by hand are more secure, but supporters of ballot-marking devices say they’re easier to use and more likely to accurately record votes. Ballot-marking devices print ballots that are then counted by optical scanning machines.

Indiana: House rejects effort to give voters more time to get absentee ballots | Greensburg Daily News

Democrats in the Indiana House tried and failed in their efforts to assure that Hoosiers have more time to apply for an absentee ballot. House Bill 1311, authored by Rep. Thomas Saunders, R-Lewisville, would change the amount of time to apply for an absentee ballot from eight to 12 days before an election because local county clerks had said they needed more time to process them. “We want people’s votes to count,” Saunders said in an interview. An earlier deadline would give voters more time to submit the ballots and clerks more time to count them.

Full Article: House rejects effort to give voters more time to get absentee ballots | Local News | greensburgdailynews.com.

Kansas: Elections director: Crosscheck last used in 2017, when audit found security risks | St. John News

State elections director Bryan Caskey told lawmakers Tuesday the controversial Interstate Crosscheck program hasn’t been used since 2017, when a Homeland Security audit discovered vulnerabilities, and won’t be used this year. The program is the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 945 voters whose partial Social Security numbers were exposed by Florida officials through an open records request. In an appearance before the House Elections Committee, Caskey said Secretary of State Scott Schwab has ordered a review of Crosscheck to determine whether to abandon the program all together. He also said the state could use $2 million in federal funds untouched by former Secretary Kris Kobach to gain access to an alternative. The initial cost for the Electronic Registration Information Center would be $25,000.

Full Article: Kansas elections director: Crosscheck last used in 2017, when audit found security risks - News - SJ News Online - St. John, KS - St. John, KS.

Louisiana: Officials say Louisiana will be ready for felon voting rights change | The Times-Picayune

State officials said Louisiana will be ready for a law change that will allow thousands of people convicted of felonies to vote as of March 1, although little information has been available about how the registration process will work. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who oversees elections, and Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc are responsible for making sure those impacted have their voting rights restored. They hadn’t met face-to-face to talk about the issue until last Friday (Feb. 8), but each said they are mostly on the same page about how to implement the new law, which the Louisiana Legislature approved last year. “We are going to implement it and we are going to be ready,” Ardoin said in an interview Tuesday.

Full Article: Louisiana will be ready for felon voting rights change, officials say | nola.com.

New Hampshire: ACLU sues to block voter fraud law deriding it as a ‘poll tax’ | Union Leader

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the state on behalf of two college students who claim a new law that requires a New Hampshire driver’s license to vote violates their constitutional rights and represents a 21st-century “poll tax.” Caroline Casey is originally from Louisiana and Maggie Flaherty is from California. Both women are sophomores at Dartmouth College who voted in the 2018 primaries and general elections in New Hampshire but maintain driver’s licenses from their home states, according to the lawsuit. Under HB 1264, which was signed into law last year but doesn’t take effect until July, anyone who votes in New Hampshire must obtain an in-state driver’s license and vehicle registration within 60 days of casting their ballot.

Full Article: ACLU sues to block NH voter fraud law deriding it as a 'poll tax' | Courts | unionleader.com.

North Carolina: Elections officials will give U.S. attorney vastly fewer records than he sought in voter probe | The Washington Post

Six months after a grand jury demanded millions of North Carolina voting records, state officials have announced they will release fewer than 800 voter files — a potentially significant setback for a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney who has targeted noncitizen voting as one of his top priorities. The state Board of Elections last week instructed 44 county election offices that received wide-ranging subpoenas for millions of voting records in August to hand over the files for only 289 voters. The state will turn over registration records for an additional 500 voters. It is unclear whether the vastly reduced volume of records is the result of a court order or an agreement between the board and U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr., who sought the records in August, shortly after he announced the arrest of 19 noncitizens on charges that they had illegally voted in the 2016 presidential election.

Full Article: North Carolina elections officials will give U.S. attorney vastly fewer records than he sought in voter probe - The Washington Post.

South Carolina: Gov. McMaster removes elections board in Richland County that missed 1,040 votes | Post and Courier

Gov. Henry McMaster stepped in Thursday and punted all four members of the Richland County Elections Board after 1,040 votes were not counted in the fall, the county’s fourth major elections blunder in eight years. State law says the governor can remove county elections board members for “incapacity, misconduct or neglect of duty.” “South Carolinians’ confidence in the lawful and professional oversight of elections must never be jeopardized,” McMaster said after issuing an executive order. “The repeated actions and behavior of these officials are wholly unacceptable and cannot be tolerated,” his message continued. “To regain and maintain Richland County voters’ confidence at the ballot box, the entire board must be replaced with new leadership.”

Full Article: Gov. McMaster removes elections board in SC's capital county that missed 1,040 votes | Palmetto Politics | postandcourier.com.

Tennessee: Republicans, ACLU join forces to help more felons regain right to vote | Nashville Tennessean

Two Republican lawmakers, with the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, are setting out to make it simpler for people with felony convictions to regain their right to vote, a process more arduous in Tennessee than in most states. Tennessee’s rights restoration laws are among the strictest in the country. It is one of 12 states that requires individuals with felony convictions to complete multiple steps beyond serving their sentence in order to have their voting rights restored, and is the only state requiring the payment of outstanding child support obligations in order to do so.

Full Article: Tennessee Republican bill promotes voting rights for felons.

Texas: Secretary of state apologizes for how he rolled out voter citizenship review. But he still supports the effort. | The Texas Tribune

Facing an uncertain path to confirmation after ordering a deeply flawed voter citizenship review that seemingly focused on naturalized citizens, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is apologizing to state lawmakers for the way his office bungled its rollout of the review — but he is still holding firm behind the overall effort. In a letter sent to state lawmakers late Wednesday, Whitley largely defended the review efforts as a legally sound exercise, and he did not admit that his office had erred when it mistakenly threw into question the eligibility of tens of thousands of U.S. citizens or when it sent counties lists of voters it knew very likely included naturalized citizens. Instead, Whitley vaguely admitted there were some shortcomings to the data his office used to flag almost 100,000 registered voters for citizenship reviews and noted his office should have devoted more time to “additional communication” with local and state officials to “further eliminate anyone from our original list who is, in fact, eligible to vote.”

Full Article: David Whitley delivered Texas lawmakers an apology over citizenship review | The Texas Tribune.

Virginia: Federal court approves Virginia redistricting plan | The Washington Post

A federal court on Thursday approved new district boundaries for the Virginia House of Delegates that were drawn by a court-appointed expert and are likely to benefit Democrats in November’s state election. The U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Virginia voted 2 to 1 to finalize the map, which would put six Republicans into districts that would probably become majority Democratic, according to an analysis of recent elections by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. Several of those Republicans hold leadership positions — including House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights).

Full Article: Federal court approves Virginia redistricting plan - The Washington Post.

Kentucky: Bill would strip Grimes’ power over Kentucky elections board | Lexington Herald Leader

A top Republican lawmaker is proposing legislation that would strip embattled Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of her authority over the Kentucky State Board of Elections. Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said he will introduce a committee substitute Wednesday to Senate Bill 34 that would make the secretary of state a symbolic, non-voting member of the elections board, stripping her of any day-to-day authority over the group. It also would block Grimes and others in her office from accessing to the state’s voter registration database.

Full Article: Bill would strip Grimes’ power over Kentucky elections board | Lexington Herald Leader.

Mississippi: Federal judge orders remap of a Mississippi state Senate district | Associated Press

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that one of Mississippi’s 52 state Senate districts violates the Voting Rights Act because it does not give African-American voters an “equal opportunity” to elect a candidate of their choice. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in a lawsuit that challenges the composition of Senate District 22. The district stretches through parts of six counties in the Delta down into the Jackson suburbs of Madison County. It has a 51 percent black voting-age population and a white senator, Republican Buck Clarke of Hollandale.

Full Article: US judge orders remap of a Mississippi state Senate district | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

New Hampshire: Voter residency law challenged in New Hampshire | Associated Press

A New Hampshire law that will make residency a condition of voting in the state unconstitutionally restricts students’ right to vote, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday in a lawsuit. Under current law, New Hampshire is the only state that doesn’t require residency. The federal lawsuit filed against Secretary of State William Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald was brought on behalf of two Dartmouth College students. They say the law, which takes effect July 1, burdens their right to vote by requiring new voters to shift their home state driver’s licenses and registrations to New Hampshire. “Under this law, I have to pay to change my California license to be a New Hampshire one,” one of the students, Maggie Flaherty, said in a statement. “If I vote and don’t change my license within 60 days, I could even be charged with a misdemeanor offense with up to one year in jail.

Full Article: Voter residency law challenged in nation’s 1st primary state | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

North Carolina: Redistricting reformers hopeful about legislation this year | Associated Press

Lawmakers who want to reform the redistricting process in North Carolina say uncertainty over pending map litigation and the shaky balance of power at the legislature make them more optimistic their ideas will be voted on this year. House Democrats and Republicans filed legislation on Wednesday that would create an 11-member “nonpartisan” redistricting commission. The panel would propose new legislative and congressional maps to the General Assembly after each decennial census, the next one of which occurs in 2020. Lawmakers have filed similar bills in previous years, unsuccessfully. The House and Senate revise and approve General Assembly and congressional districts based on population changes from the census. For generations, majority parties have pushed through maps favoring their sides. When they were in the minority 10 years ago, many Republicans supported the idea of the commission. In the years since regaining General Assembly control, they largely have set the proposal aside.

Full Article: Redistricting reformers hopeful about legislation this year | Raleigh News & Observer.

Pennsylvania: As election officials delay Philadelphia voting machines decision, activists press for answers | Philadelphia Inquirer

Advocates of paper ballots cheered the news late Tuesday that the Philadelphia city commissioners have delayed their selection of new voting machines, but found themselves frustrated Wednesday when officials said they had no new information to provide. “The only thing we know now is that our message, to some degree, has been heard, otherwise I do believe that we would have gotten a decision today and probably not the one that would have been most appropriate and prudent,” said Stephen Strahs, one of a core group of activists who have shown up for meetings and held rallies. “But where this goes from here, I have no idea. My hope is that there’s going to be a process of reconsideration.” Strahs and a handful of others attended a commissioners meeting Wednesday — for which a decisive vote had been scheduled — but left without any clarity on a process they say has been opaque. The commissioners did not say anything about the machines when pressed by the activists on the decision timeline.

Full Article: As election officials delay Philly voting machines decision, activists press for answers.

Tennessee: Lawmakers Consider Easing Felon Voting Rights Restoration | Associated Press

Tennessee lawmakers are considering a move to make it easier for some felons to get their voting rights restored. The legislation would lift the Republican-led state’s unique requirement for formerly incarcerated individuals to be up-to-date on child support before restoration of voting rights, in addition to other court fines and restitution. It would also aim to simplify the bureaucratic process for those people to get their rights back once they’re out of prison and off parole and probation. The legislation has made partners of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and Americans for Prosperity, who headlined a news event Wednesday touting the bill. Tori Venable, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said the legislation offers common ground for her group, at times perceived as right-leaning, and the ACLU, sometimes thought of as left-leaning.

Full Article: Tennessee Considers Easing Felon Voting Rights Restoration | Tennessee News | US News.

Georgia: Voting irregularities raise more troubling questions about the state’s elections | Politico

Lawsuits, complaints about lax security and accusations of voter suppression marred Georgia’s election for governor in November. But the state’s race for lieutenant governor had its own trouble, Democrats and election security advocates say. The contest between Republican Geoff Duncan and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico drew far less national attention than the marquee governor’s race in which GOP candidate Brian Kemp narrowly defeated Stacey Abrams. But plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state say abnormalities in the lieutenant governor’s election raise questions about Duncan’s victory — and potentially about the outcome of other races on the ballot if the state’s electronic voting machines were to blame. In addition to the lawsuit, Amico asked the state to investigate irregularities in the election. The problem: Georgians cast nearly 4 million ballots on Election Day, but about 160,000 of them showed no vote cast in the lieutenant governor race, about 4.3 percent of ballots. To election experts, this so-called “undervote” rate — when a race is left blank — is evidence either that Georgia voters were unusually apathetic about their lieutenant governor, or that something went wrong.

Full Article: Georgia voting irregularities raise more troubling questions about the state’s elections - POLITICO.

Arkansas: House approves provisional ballot bill | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Legislation regarding the procedure for casting provisional ballots passed the House on Monday, even after concerns were raised by some lawmakers as to what the law would do. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Harlan Breaux, R-Holiday Island, struggled to answer several questions posed by his colleagues. At one point, he attempted to leave the well of the House floor while being pressed for more details. Breaux was running Senate Bill 159, which is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville. The bill would eliminate the portion of state law that requires poll workers to remove the stubs from provisional ballots and to keep those stubs in a separate box. Provisional ballots are cast when poll workers challenge a voter’s eligibility, and the voter signs an affidavit that he is legally registered to vote. Election officials later check the validity of the voter’s claim.

Full Article: Arkansas House approves ballot-stub bill.

Colorado: Democrats push changes to presidential electors | Associated Press

Following Donald Trump’s 2016 victory over an opponent who won 3 million more votes, Colorado’s Democrat-controlled Legislature is fast-tracking legislation to join other states in picking the president based on the national popular vote. The House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee sent the bill to the full House on a 6-3 party line vote late Tuesday. Republicans fiercely oppose the bill , which has cleared Colorado’s Senate. They argue it subverts an Electoral College that the Founding Fathers created to ensure smaller states don’t get trampled when it comes to choosing the president. Colorado would join 11 states and the District of Columbia in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The campaign was launched after Democrat Al Gore lost the 2000 election to Republican George W. Bush despite winning more votes.

Full Article: Colorado Democrats push changes to presidential electors | Myrtle Beach Sun News.