Thursday, April 29, 2021

Electionline Weekly April-29-2021

Legislative Updates

Alabama: The Alabama Senate passed a number of election-related bills that, among other items, narrow the timeframe for absentee ballot applications and ban voting out of state. But a measure to ban curbside voting stalled after Democrats in the chamber pushed back, saying it would make it more difficult for pregnant women and those with disabilities to vote. The Senate also passed a measure sponsored by Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton), that would move the deadline to mail an application for an absentee ballot from five days before an election to 10 days. But the Senate accepted an amendment from Singleton to make it seven days. The bills also include measures that penalize voting in elections outside the state; require all campaign finance reports to be filed with the Secretary of State and require changes to election laws to be effective six months ahead of an election.

Arizona: A lone Republican joined with Democrats in the Arizona Senate on Thursday to block a controversial bill to remove some voters from the permanent early voting list. The bill was stopped not by a lawmaker sympathetic to mounting national criticisms of the measure, however, but from a legislator who wants even broader changes to the state’s election laws. Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa), said she supports Senate Bill 1485 but would not vote for it until the Senate completes a recount of Maricopa County’s general election ballots that is only starting this week. Townsend argued it would be premature to approve a few changes in state election laws and potentially adjourn without acting on the results of the Senate’s audit until the next legislative session in 2022.

Arkansas: A bill to eliminate the Monday before the election as a day when early voting is available passed in the Arkansas Senate. Senate Bill 485 by Sen. Kim Hammer (R-Benton), was sent to the House on a 19-13 vote. Proponents of the bill said it’s a measure to give election workers time to process votes and a buffer before the election on Tuesday, while lawmakers from both parties and voting-rights groups have said it takes away the day with the highest early voter turnout. “Voting is a right. That is established. But early voting is a privilege,” Hammer told senators. The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 11 to 4 to advance the bill in the House. The bill failed in the House on a 39 to 43 vote.

Colorado: Democrats have introduced an 82-page bill to change some of Colorado’s elections laws. The bill would restrict future drop boxes from being located at police stations or sheriff’s substations. Under the new legislation, drop boxes will also be required to stay open to people in line at 7 p.m. on Election Night, just like what is required at voting centers for people in line at in-person voting sites at 7 p.m. on Election Night. Walking up to the dropbox, but still not far enough away, does not count as waiting in line. A good chunk of the bill focuses on recall petitions and recall elections. The petition circulators, the people asking you to sign their petition, would be required to wear a badge that says “VOLUNTEER CIRCULATOR” if they are not paid. If they are paid, the badge would be required to say, “PAID CIRCULATOR,” along with their name and phone number. The petitions being circulated would also be required to have the estimated cost of the recall election printed on the petition. The bill will also require colleges and universities to email all students during the first full week of the fall semester and last full week of the spring semester to provide information on how to register to vote or update their voter registration. The bill also allows a voter’s registration to be automatically updated if they update their name or address with Medicaid and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. In 2019, Colorado law changed to allow automatic voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles. This would build off of that provision.

Florida: In a 23-17 vote, mostly along party lines, the Senate approved a controversial bill that would make dozens of changes to Florida’s vote-by-mail laws. Senate Bill 90 would make several changes to how Floridians vote by mail, including: Possessing or dropping off more than two vote-by-mail ballots per election cycle, except for ballots belonging to family members, would be illegal; Requests for vote-by-mail ballots would only be requested for the next general election cycle, not the next two cycles; Ballot drop boxes would only be used during early voting hours and would have to be monitored by an elections supervisor employee; A variety of changes to how vote by mail ballots are counted and challenged, which elections supervisors oppose.

The Florida House on Wednesday voted along party lines for its version, which would require Floridians to present ID when leaving a vote by mail ballot in a drop box, a move that elections supervisors have warned would lead to long lines. The 77-40 vote followed hours of heated debate and accusations by Democrats that Republicans were trying to prevent people from voting. The House bill is now going back to the Florida Senate. To become law, both chambers must pass the same bill before the end of the legislative session, scheduled on Friday. The current House version of the bill, released at 1:33 a.m. Tuesday, includes some key provisions that aren’t in the Senate version: Anyone using a ballot drop box would have to show an ID when dropping off a ballot; When a member of a county or municipal elected body resigns to run for another office, the governor would appoint the replacement instead of voters choosing one in a special election; and It no longer blocks no-party affiliated candidates from jumping late into a race, a prohibition that had been a remedial response to the use of no-party candidates to sway the outcome of races, a practice that led to the recent arrest of a former Republican senator

Hawaii: State lawmakers Tuesday passed a measure that would make Hawaii the latest state to implement automatic voter registration. Senate Bill 159 passed a floor vote in the Senate with 23 “ayes” and one “aye” vote with reservations while the 51-member House voted to pass the measure with one representative voting “no.” The bill now advances to Gov. David Ige for his signature. If signed into law, it goes into effect July 1. The measure makes an application for voter registration part of all state identification card and driver’s license applications. It also ensures that changes to names and addresses of people already registered to vote are automatically updated unless the person declines. Voter registration information would be shared only among the counties, Department of Transportation, election personnel, and the online voter registration system.

Indiana: Among the bills that died in the last hours before lawmakers temporarily adjourned their 2021 legislative session was Senate Bill 353, a bill that at one point was likened to controversial Georgia legislation aimed at absentee voting procedures. The bill had passed the third reading on the House floor April 14. But, due to differences in the language of the bill from what passed earlier in the Senate, SB 353 had to go to a conference committee so lawmakers could come to a final agreement on the bill’s provisions. The conference committee met earlier this week but did not take action. SB 353 initially would have required an individual to show proof of citizenship to register to vote. Houchin later amended the bill to remove that provision and added another that said to apply for an absentee ballot, voters would be required to provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number, as is required by the Georgia legislation. Houchin also added a provision that allowed only the Indiana General Assembly to reschedule an election or expand absentee voting as Gov. Eric Holcomb had done after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. That version was passed by the Senate, but the bill was amended in the House to remove the Senate provisions, leaving only a requirement that if Hoosiers applied for an absentee ballot online, they would have to provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Kansas: Gov. Laura Kelly (D) vetoed two election bills, one that would tighten advance mailing rules and another that sought to prevent the executive and judicial branches from altering election laws. “This…is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. It is designed to disenfranchise Kansans, making it difficult for them to participate in the democratic process, not to stop voter fraud,” Kelly said in a statement. House Bill 2332 and House Bill 2183 passed the Senate with a veto-proof majority. But they will need four additional votes in the House for limitations on advance voting to become law and one more to override Kelly’s veto on limits to executive and judicial authority. House Bill 2332 prohibits the executive and judicial branches of government from creating election laws. It also prevents the Secretary of State from entering into consent decrees with a court without legislative approval. House Bill 2183 focuses largely on mail-in voting. It limits who is permitted to return a mail-in ballot for another person and makes it a misdemeanor for one person to return more than 10 mail-in ballots. The measure also requires the signature on a mail ballot to match the signature election officials have on file, creating a potential for votes to be discarded, and bans the Secretary of State from extending mail-in vote deadlines. The bill also makes it illegal to backdate a postmark on a ballot and bars election offices from accepting money from any entity other than the state for administering elections.

Louisiana: Senator Sharon Hewitt has proposed a bill to create a commission that would oversee the selection process of new voting machines. The Secretary of State has had to halt his search for machines twice and now there are hopes this commission can ensure voter trust in the process. The selection of voting machines has come with challenges and with unproven claims of voter fraud still being discussed after the 2020 election, the legislature hopes to create trust in the process. The commission would be made up of election and cyber security experts as well as politicians and governor appointed members.

A House committee advanced a bill to extend the time to prepare and verify absentee ballots prior to election day. It also advanced a bill that may soon allow your teenager to accompany you into the voting booth. Both bills were written by Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria). The bill involving teens would permit children up to 15 years old to enter voting booths. Present law allows parents to bring only a pre-teen child into the booth. Harris’ other bill would allow parishes, with permission from the secretary of state, to process mail-in and early voting ballots starting three days before election day.

Maine: Senator Dave Miramant (D-Camden), introduced a bill this week that would direct the Secretary of State to study the options for establishing an automatic vote-by-mail system in Maine. LD 1354, “Resolve, To Study the Establishment of a System of Voting by Mail,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. “Over 20 years ago, Oregon became the first state to conduct its elections exclusively by mail-in voting. Since then, I have been studying the system developed in Oregon and have even met with and talked to several of their legislators about the challenges and successes in establishing vote-by-mail in their state,” said Sen. Miramant. “This has increased voter participation and is more in line with the convenience that many voters enjoyed during the recent presidential election.”

Massachusetts: The Boston City Council voted Wednesday to move the city’s preliminary election up by a week to allow officials more time to facilitate mail-in voting should the Legislature extend the voting reform through the fall or make it permanent. The date change passed with nearly all members voting in favor and Councilor Annissa Essaibi George voting present. The proposal still needs Mayor Kim Janey’s signature to take effect. If Janey signs it into law, the city’s preliminary election would move from Sept. 21 to Sept. 14, a measure that former Mayor Marty Walsh supported prior to his departure.

Michigan: The Michigan House approved proposals several elections-related bills including ones that would shift the statewide primary election from August to June and would do away with local elections in May. Supporters of the four bills contend that the changes would give officials more time to prepare for the November election by shifting the primary earlier, and would save money by ending the May election. Under the proposals, which still have to go before the state Senate and be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the changes wouldn’t take effect until 2023. The main bill in the package passed in a 63-46 vote with Republicans mostly in support, and Democrats mostly in opposition. Sixteen House Democrats crossed over to vote with majority Republicans in favor of the bill. The House passed three other election-related bills Tuesday. One would generally require the Bureau of Elections to canvass initiative petition signatures within 90 days of their filing with the state. It passed 60-49. Another would require county clerks to update the qualified voter list to cancel the registration of deceased electors each month. It passed 109-0. A third would expand the locations that may be used as polling places in Michigan to include privately owned clubhouses or conference centers located within an apartment complex. It passed 106-3.

Minnesota: The Republican-controlled Senate is advancing a bill that would change same-day voter registration in Minnesota. Those registering to vote on Election Day would fill out a provisional ballot that would be counted only if it’s verified they’re eligible. Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) said “election integrity is…just as important as voter turnout.” Burnsville Democrat Lindsey Port argued processes are already in place to audit elections, particularly very close ones. Port said, “this bill does not deter fraud. It deters people’s votes from being counted.” She warned that voters in Greater Minnesota might have to travel long distances to address problems with their provisional ballots.

Montana: Future petitions for ballot initiatives in Montana will come with a warning label if the attorney general determines the proposal could hurt businesses, under a bill endorsed by the Senate. House Bill 651, from Rep. Marta Bertoglio, R-Clancy, was amended by Republicans on the Senate State Administration Committee earlier this week to include the warning label language, as well as barring citizen-brought initiatives from increasing or expanding eligibility for government programs. The bill was originally written to insert the Legislature into the ballot initiative process, requiring that a committee of legislators vote to approve or disapprove of the measure before a group backing the initiative can begin collecting the petition signatures needed to place it on the ballot. The result of that vote would be placed on the petition. That portion remains in the bill.

Less than two weeks after a bill to restrict ballot collection was voted down by the Senate, Republican lawmakers resurrected a portion of the measure into a separate piece of election legislation this week. The amended bill prohibits anyone from turning in another person’s ballot if they receive a “pecuniary benefit” for doing so. The Senate added that language into House Bill 530, which had been a relatively uncontroversial measure granting rulemaking authority to update election security to the Secretary of State. It sailed through the House unanimously at the beginning of March. But Democrats in the Senate objected to the amendment, which was added to the bill by Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick (R-Great Falls). Sen. Bryce Bennett (D-Missoula), noted that the term “pecuniary benefit” is not defined in the bill and argued that could be construed broadly. The previous attempt to pass that legislation, House Bill 406, failed to clear the Senate on a 23-27 vote earlier this month. The amendment passed on a 30-20 vote, and the amended version of the bill passed on a party-line, 31-19 vote. HB 530 is sponsored by Rep. Wendy McKamey (R-Ulm), and as originally written had been identified as a priority by Secretary of State, Christi Jacobsen. Having cleared the Senate, House Bill 530 still needs to go back to the House to consider the amendment. The bill has now been approved by House a final time and heads to the governor’s desk.

North Carolina: A bill that would require legislative leaders to sign off on lawsuit settlements involving the General Assembly has been approved by North Carolina Senate. Senate Bill 360 was filed by the chairs of the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee in response to a legal settlement that changed election rules ahead of the November election. Legislative leaders said the negotiations were done in secret with party allies, cutting out the General Assembly, which was a co-defendant in the case. The leaders of the Senate and House are Republicans, while the state’s election board is majority Democrat. The bill’s sponsors said the legislation would “prevent state agencies from circumventing the lawmaking process and changing laws through settlements with friendly plaintiffs.” Bell has argued the settlement temporally changed the rules and not state laws.

Ohio: A new Republican-backed Ohio elections bill would: streamline the process so that information provided to the BMV is used electronically to register someone to vote; The Monday before Election Day would be removed from the early voting calendar. The bill sponsors say this is to allow elections officials to be “wholly focused on preparation for Election Day.” The preceding weeks of early voting would be unchanged; Ohioans would be able to request an absentee ballot online. Doing so would require two forms of identification, similar to existing online voter registration. (A separate proposal calls for adding electronic versions of bank statements/utility bills as permissible forms of ID.); County boards of elections offices would be allowed to place up to three drop boxes outside their office. The boxes would only be available for the 10 days prior to Election Day except for cases of a pandemic or other public emergency; Make the absentee ballot request deadline 10 days before the election; Restrict the secretary of state from prepaying postage only if the legislature authorizes it first; The bill would codify other actions a voter can take (besides voting) to restart the clock and prevent their voter registration from being purged. This includes signing a petition for a candidate/issue as well as any activity conducted at the BMV; All 17- year-olds would be eligible to serve, regardless of grade level.

Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Senate approved a bill to extend early voting by a day. Senate Majority Leader Kim David says Oklahoma ranks last for voter turnout when looking at the eligible population. Oklahoma also has the shortest in-person voting period in the country. Lawmakers hope that by extending early voting more people will vote. Senate Bill 482 now heads to the House.

A bill that aims to improve the accuracy and efficiency of state elections has been signed into law. Senate Bill 710 authorizes the Secretary of the State Election Board to join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which is “a multi-state partnership that uses data-matching tools to enhance the accuracy of voter registration lists.” SB 710 also allows the State Election Board to share data with ERIC, send Oklahoma’s voter registration notifications to eligible citizens not yet registered and notify voters who need to update their address for voter registration purposes.

Tennessee: The Tennessee Legislature nearly unanimously approved a bill that requires the addition of a watermark on all absentee ballots. The Tennessee Election Integrity Act would have little impact financially on local election commissions, according to the bill’s fiscal note. Senate Bill 1314 passed the Senate, 27-0, on Monday, and the House adopted the Senate version of the bill Tuesday, 92-1. The bill will now head to Gov. Bill Lee to sign. Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, said there are five vendors in the state that provide the paper for absentee ballots and all are able to put the watermarks on the ballot. After some debate on the cost of previously purchased paper without the watermarks, Griffey said the estimated cost would be $105 per election commission. A previous version of the bill required that no private funds could be accepted by election commissions or election officials for use in conducting an election. The original bill was aimed at preventing “dark money” from being involved in elections. The amended version, however, was about only the watermark addition to paper absentee ballots instead.

Legal Updates

Federal Lawsuits: Fox News Media filed a new response in its battle against the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit voting machine company Smartmatic has filed against it for spreading former President Trump’s false claims of election fraud. Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and Lou Dobbs, who are also the subject of the defamation lawsuit from the company, filed responses Monday as well. The latest move comes after a filing Smartmatic made on April 13 that was itself a response to the motions Fox, Bartiromo, Pirro and Dobbs filed on Feb. 12 to dismiss Smartmatic’s initial complaint. In their most recent filings, Fox, Bartiromo, Pirro and Dobbs reiterate many of the defenses they used when they first asked the court to dump the defamation suit. All four defendants once again claim Smartmatic didn’t prove they were acting maliciously while discussing or reporting on the company and the election, a standard the U.S. Supreme Court set in the 1964 case The New York Times v. Sullivan.

Arizona: The Arizona Democratic Party and the sole Democrat on the Maricopa County board of supervisors filed suit in an effort to the block the Senate’s ballot recount and audit of the county’s 2020 general election. The lawsuit alleged Republican Senate President Karen Fann pledged to a judge that the Senate would protect ballot and voter privacy before he ruled the Senate could access 2.1 million voted ballots and the tabulation machines. Instead, they say she is outsourcing the recount to a biased third party and putting election integrity at risk. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher order the audit to be halted, but he required a $1 million bond from the Democratic Party which it did not put up and therefore the audit proceeded. Coury ordered that the recount fully comply with Arizona law and asked the Senate, as well as its contractors, to provide more information on policies and procedures for a hearing on Monday morning. “I do not want to micromanage and it is not the posture of this court to micromanage — or even to manage — the process by which another branch of government, the Legislature, the Arizona state Senate, proceeds,” Coury said.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin has rejected an attempt to keep secret the procedures used to recount the 2.1 million ballots cast by Maricopa County voters. Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based firm hired by the Arizona Senate to oversee the hand recount, had sought to keep the public from learning the details of how it is conducting the work. Martin said those details should be heard in open court, however. While the decision could soon give the public a much broader understanding of the process than it has had since the recount began on Friday, Martin also allowed the Senate’s audit to continue without any additional rules or restrictions. According to The Arizona Republic, Martin’s decisions during a hearing on Wednesday morning signaled that the legal battle over the recount would go on for several more days while workers continue to pore through Maricopa County’s ballots at their temporary home inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which the Senate has leased until May 14. “The record presented by plaintiffs, including a number of sworn declarations, contain instances of concerning conduct and expert opinion as to whether the audit complies with law and best practices but no substantive evidence of any breaches or threatened breaches of voter privacy,” Martin said.

Colorado: U.S. District Court Magistrate N. Reid Neureiter dismissed a class-action lawsuit that originated in Colorado against Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook and others accused of conspiring to cost Donald Trump last November’s election. Neureiter issued a ruling less than 24 hours after arguments to dismiss the case Wednesday afternoon, because the plaintiffs who say they were harmed by unfair election tactics have the same problems as dozens of other failed cases have had: lack of standing. The suit asked not to turn over the results of the election but to penalize the defendants $1,000 for each of the more than 160 million voters, adding up to more than $160 billion. Neureiter said the suit was a “generalized complaint” — meaning it was based on information that hasn’t been proven — and that it lacked enough facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face” and failed to “plausibly allege violation of constitutional rights.” Standing requires plaintiffs to have personally suffered a concrete and specific harm linked directly to the conduct they’re challenging that can be fixed by a court decision. “The Complaint, viewed as whole, is a generalized grievance about the operation of government, or about the actions of the Defendants on the operation of government, resulting in abstract harm to all registered voting Americans,” Neureiter wrote. “It is not the kind of controversy that is justiciable in a federal court.” The judge cited similar verdicts and similar cases to the one he was dismissing in the Trump election saga that have also been dismissed by other judges in other states. “In sum, federal courts addressing these issues, whether in the 2020 or other elections, are nearly uniform in finding the types of election-related harms of which the Plaintiffs complain insufficient to confer standing,” Neureiter wrote.

Georgia: A federal lawsuit filed this week alleges that Georgia’s voting law is racially discriminatory against Black, Latino and Asian voters by making it harder for them to vote with absentee ballots, during runoffs and on election day. The case is the sixth lawsuit attempting to stop the new voting rules since Gov. Brian Kemp signed them into law last month. The suit by the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and several other organizations alleges that drop box restrictions, earlier absentee ballot deadlines, quicker runoffs, long lines and ID requirements will have a disproportionate impact on Black voters and other historically disenfranchised communities. “The bill’s target is clear: to create barriers, a move to silence voters of faith and decrease the political power of Black and brown voters,” said Richard Morales, policy director for the Faith in Action Network, a plaintiff in the case. “The law is plain and simple voter suppression, aimed at making it harder for Black and brown voters and voters of faith to have a voice in our democracy.” The lawsuit says the voting law is discriminatory because it disproportionately affects voters of color who cast absentee ballots and suffered through long lines at a higher rate than white voters. The legal complaint objects to strict limits on drop box availability, a deadline to request absentee ballots 11 days before election day, a reduction in early voting before runoffs, ID verification requirements of voters who lack a state ID, bans on early voting buses and a prohibition on handing out food and water to voters waiting in line.

Indiana: U.S. Supreme Court justices want Indiana to justify its absentee voting restrictions and have formally requested the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to respond to a constitutional challenge after the state previously waived its right to reply. The formal request came in a letter to Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher from the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a high-profile voting-rights suit pending potential high court review. A petition for writ of certiorari is pending before SCOTUS in the case, Tully, et al. v. Okeson, et al., 20-1244, which argues for no-excuse absentee voting in the Hoosier State. “Although your office has waived the right to file a response to the petition for a writ of certiorari in the above case, the Court nevertheless has directed this office to request that a response be filed,” the letter says, setting a response deadline of May 21. The AG’s office responded to a request for comment with this statement attributed to Fisher: “We look forward to providing our views as to why the question whether states may permit voters 65 and over to vote by mail — which has not even generated disagreement among lower courts — is not worth the Court’s attention.” The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in October affirmed Indiana’s absentee ballot laws that require voters to meet one of several conditions to cast an absentee vote by mail or in advance at a polling place. The court found it was too close to the election to entertain efforts to expand voting rights.

Indiana argued before a Seventh Circuit panel last week that its new voter purging rules should be allowed to take effect. After losing a legal battle over its initial 2017 statute SB 422, which updated how the state can remove registered voters who may have moved out of state, Indiana passed a new law, SEA 334, which was the subject of oral arguments at the Chicago-based appeals court. The original lawsuit against SB 422 filed in August 2017 challenged the amendment to state voting laws that took away checks the plaintiffs say are required by the National Voter Registration Act, or NVRA, in order to remove voters from the rolls. Indiana used the Crosscheck system, which matches names and birthdates of registered voters in two or more states. SB 422 allowed the state to remove those voters based on Crosscheck results without notifying them, going through a waiting period or receiving written notice from a voter that they want to be removed from the state’s system.

Ohio: The Ohio Supreme Court ordered Secretary of State Frank LaRose to reappoint Summit County GOP Chair Bryan Williams to the Summit County Board of Elections. “The committee has met its burden of proof to show that LaRose’s reasons for rejecting Williams’ appointment were not valid and that he abused his discretion,” the court order reads. “We therefore grant a writ of mandamus ordering LaRose to reappoint Williams to the Summit County Board of Elections.” At issue was LaRose’s March 3 letter rejecting the reappointment of Summit GOP Chair Bryan Williams to the Summit County Board of Elections. The same day, Elections Director Amanda Grandjean wrote a letter notifying the board it was placed under “administrative oversight.” LaRose and Grandjean each listed the same seven reasons for their decisions, including the board’s poor handling of the November presidential election and how the board maintained its voter rolls. The problems at the board, LaRose contends, “likely” led to the disenfranchisement of qualified voters – namely, people convicted of a felony but not incarcerated and eligible to vote – and at least one instance of voter fraud through a dead person’s active registration. The court’s opinion Tuesday states that “LaRose’s concerns about a dysfunctional board culture remain the product of rumors and suspicions,” since the claims were based partially on a years-old complaint that was not investigated or confirmed by LaRose’s office. In a statement, LaRose spokesman Rob Nichols said his office is disappointed in the court’s ruling, and the elections board remains under administrative oversight. “Though disappointed, we respect the Court’s decision,” Nichols said. “As Ohio’s chief elections officer, Secretary LaRose will continue to fight for integrity and accountability at Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections, as evidenced by recent changes made at other county boards of elections and upheld by the Court. The Summit County Board of Elections remains under Administrative Oversight until they deliver the level of competence the citizens of that county deserve.”

Pennsylvania: Erie Postmaster Robert Weisenbach has filed suit in Erie County Common Pleas Court against U.S. Postal Service employee Richard Hopkins, the right-wing activist group Project Veritas and its founder James O’Keefe for claiming in the days following the Nov. 3 presidential election that Weisenbach was part of a plot to tamper with ballots in order to help then-candidate Joe Biden steal the election from then-President Donald Trump. Weisenbach and his wife, Carolyn Ann Weisenbach, are suing Hopkins, Project Veritas and O’Keefe over claims of defamation, negligent misrepresentation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Jered Ede, chief legal counsel for Project Veritas, called the lawsuit “a fantasy land of baseless supposition upon which meritless claims are built” in an email to the Erie Times-News. The lawsuit, however, contends that the defendants attempted to “create shock, alarm, and distress amongst American citizenry” and that their actions caused the Weisenbachs to suffer “enormous stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, depression, anger, and torment.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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