Thursday, April 8, 2021

Electionline Weekly April-8-2021

Legislative Updates

Alaska: The Alaska Legislature is considering an unusually large number of proposals to change the state’s election system. Eight different ideas, two from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration, three from legislative Democrats and three from legislative Republicans are under consideration. Three of the bills would increase or decrease Alaskans’ ability to vote by mail in state elections, while others would require more financial disclosure from political campaigns or address the powers of the Division of Elections. Asked whether it supports or opposes any of the legislation, the division said it intends to remain neutral.

One a multi-part bill that would allow Alaskans to register to vote right up until Election Day and give mail-in voters a chance to fix mistakes with their ballots. The bill would also raise poll workers’ pay, permanently waive the witnessing requirement for absentee votes, and instruct the Division of Elections to count mail-in votes starting before Election Day, delivering results quicker.

Another bill would allow someone as young as 16 to preregister to vote. At age 18, the Division of Elections will send them a voter card, and they will be allowed to vote.

Senate Bill 39, which was proposed before the 2020 election but has gained momentum since then. The bill proposes new security measures, including the tracking of absentee ballots, but more controversially would roll back a program that automatically registers Permanent Fund dividend recipients to vote. That program was approved by voters in a 2016 ballot measure. As written, the bill would also prohibit some communities from holding elections by mail and prevent the state from holding elections by mail. Municipal elections in some larger cities, such as Anchorage and Juneau, would not be affected.

Sen. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) has proposed a bill that would require additional financial disclosure by the funders of ballot measures.

Rep. Sara Rasmussen (R-Anchorage) has proposed a bill that would require earlier disclosure from ballot measure backers and supporters of recall campaigns. In part, the bill is intended to address the fact that no one involved in the recall campaign against Gov. Mike Dunleavy has been required to disclose their contributions.

The governor’s office has proposed a bill that would expand the ability of the Department of Law to investigate elections issues.

Another bill would allow the state to conduct statewide elections entirely by mail in towns and villages with fewer than 750 people. That measure is intended to solve the problem of recruiting poll workers in small towns and villages. Other parts of the bill would allow the Division of Elections more power to audit results and put into law the requirements for an acceptable absentee ballot.

Arizona: An election bill to purge inconsistent voters from the popular permanent early voting list is in limbo after the state House took the highly unusual step of cutting off debate. SB1485, would remove people who don’t return their mail ballot for two consecutive election cycles from the permanent list, which allows voters to automatically receive a ballot before each election. About 75% of Arizona voters are on the list. Affected voters would get a postcard asking if they want to remain on the list, and would be removed if they don’t respond. Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers did not explain his decision to abruptly cut off debate, but it suggests at least one Republican was not going to support the bill. With a slim 31-29 majority, the GOP must be united to pass legislation without Democratic support. A spokesman for Bowers, said there will be discussions about amending the bill, and he expects it to come back to the House floor in the future.

The Senate has approved a bill that would ban private funding for elections. The measure was sent to Gov. Doug Ducey following a party-line vote. Democrats warned the measure could starve election offices of the funds needed to run secure and efficient elections. Democrats say the measure is one of several voter suppression bills that could get votes in the Legislature in the coming days weeks. Democrats say the grants wouldn’t be necessary if the Legislature provided enough money to county election officials to run elections. However Republicans argued if the Legislature doesn’t stop it, election funding will become the newest way for corporations and wealthy donors to wield influence, said Sen. J.D. Mesnard, (R-Chandler). “This makes dark money look like a bright day,” Mesnard said. “We should be proactively stopping that before it becomes embedded in America’s election system.” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs used $4.8 million from the Center for Election Innovation and Research for an advertising campaign telling voters when and how to vote, encourage signup for the permanent early voting list, recruit poll workers and combat misinformation before and after the election. Nine counties — Apache, Coconino, Graham, La Paz, Maricopa, Navajo, Pima, Pinal and Yuma — also received grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life

Arkansas: House Bill 1715 by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, would ban the distribution of unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters by designated election officials and would make the possession of more than four absentee ballots by one person a rebuttable presumption of intent to defraud. The legislation would also require that signatures on absentee ballots be compared with signatures on voters’ original registration certificates. The chamber sent HB1715 to the state Senate on a 74-22 vote that was largely along party lines.

House Bill 1803, also sponsored by Lowery, would give the state Board of Election Commissioners the authority to institute corrective actions in response to complaints and would expand the types of violations about which county election boards can make complaints. Lowery noted that it would give the state board enforcement power for a subpoena and would allow commissioners to call in the Arkansas State Police to conduct investigations. The House approved HB1803 78-18, again mostly along party lines.

Colorado: The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee advanced a bill that would allow voters with disabilities to return voted ballots online, a provision that pitted disability advocates against election security experts. Senate Bill 21-188 from Sen. Jessie Danielson seeks to build on legislation the Wheat Ridge Democrat championed in 2019 that allows voters with disabilities to access a ballot online. Under Danielson’s Senate Bill 19-202, a ballot can then be marked, printed and returned, which allows voters with disabilities to cast a ballot privately and independently. After being signed into law in May 2019, Danielson said Secretary of State Jena Griswold quickly implemented the legislation and it has largely been successful save for one hiccup: few voters with disabilities have a printer. Scott LaBarre, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, said while testifying to the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee in support of the bill that less than 7% of Denver voters who attempted to the utilize provision in Danielson’s previous bill were successful in doing so in last fall’s election. Danielson’s latest bill attempts to address that problem by moving the ballot return process online in a similar fashion to ballots returned by Colorado’s military and overseas voters and in cases of emergency. The bill received pushback from election security experts such as C. Jay Coles, the senior policy associate with Verified Voting, who told lawmakers “multiple cybersecurity experts have concluded that internet voting currently is unsafe.”

Connecticut: At the last scheduled meeting before its deadline for reporting bills to the floors of the House or Senate, the Government Administration and Elections Committee approved nearly a half-dozen bills would create a state voting rights act and increase voter registration and ballot access.

Senate Bill 5, a priority of the Senate Democratic majority, would authorize the secretary of the state to expand the successful “motor voter” program that registered voters at the Department of Motor Vehicles to other agencies, including the Department of Social Services. It also would end Connecticut’s status as one of the few states outside the Deep South that bars parolees from voting until they pay all fines owed.

Senate Bill 820 would create a state voting rights act, giving people the right to sue municipal legislative districts that are drawn in ways that undercut the influence of racial minorities. If the bill comes to a vote in the Senate, one question will be whether the same standard suggested for municipalities also should apply to the General Assembly, whose districts will be redrawn this year in response to population shifts found by the 2020 Census.

House Bill 6205 would slightly expand the use of absentee ballots, capitalizing on a Supreme Court decision during the COVID-19 pandemic that interpreted a constitutional reference to sickness more broadly than a voter’s illness.

Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order that will allow people to use the continuing COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to vote by absentee in any election, primary or referendum held before May 20. Lamont’s latest order related to the public health and civil preparedness emergencies is similar to the order that allowed voters to use absentee ballots during the elections in 2020. Lamont’s new order also provides municipalities and regional school boards with additional flexibility in scheduling budget hearings, meetings, and votes to account for logistical challenges posed by the pandemic.

Illinois: Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill yesterday permanently expanding measures implemented during last November’s General election. Pritzker signed House Bill 1871 into law yesterday that will make ballot drop boxes permanent and expand curbside voting in the state. Under this legislation, election officials can install ballot drop boxes where Illinois voters can submit mail-in ballots without proper postage. Voters can turn in vote-by-mail ballots at any collection site through the close of polls on Election Day. The drop boxes will be secured by locks and can only be opened by election authority personnel. The Illinois State Board of Elections has also been given leeway to also implement further security measures. Election officials are required to collect and process all ballots at the close of each business day. In addition, the law lets local election authorities establish curbside voting for Illinoisans to cast their ballot during early voting or on Election Day. Prior to this law, it was only available to those with a temporary or permanent disability who may have issues entering a polling place. It also allows the Illinois State Board of Elections to distribute any funds left over from the Help America Vote Act to help local election authorities maintain ballot drop boxes. The law takes effect immediately.

Indiana: The House Elections and Apportionment Committee discussed a bill this week that makes changes to the absentee vote by mail law and the ability to change election dates during an emergency, which Republican members argued will ensure election security and Democratic members argued is a form of voter suppression. The bill — authored by Sen. Erin Houchins, R-Salem, Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, and Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute — does not allow a county election office employee to write in the driver’s license number or last four digits of a Social Security number associated with a voter’s registration onto an absentee ballot application. Instead, the bill requires the voter to write in their driver’s license number or last four numbers of their Social Security number on their absentee ballot application that is on file with their election board office. The bill also doesn’t allow the Indiana election commission to expand vote by mail options, and prevents the commission or the governor from changing the election date during emergencies.

Maine: A measure offered by Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth, would require Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to establish a system that allows online voter registration by January 2023. Maine currently allows any eligible voters to request registration materials online, by phone or in person but doesn’t allow voters to submit or have their application to vote approved electronically. Pierce’s bill would allow voters to register, change their address and update or change their party affiliation all online. Lawmakers who support online registration bill, L.D. 1126, say it is long overdue and will remove cumbersome barriers that now exist for many voters. Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, among the supporters of the bill, says the shift will save voters time but will also save the state and local governments money. “Processing electronic applications is a fraction of the cost of processing paper applications,” Doudera said in written testimony. “Arizona, the innovator in paperless voter registration, experienced a reduction in per-registration costs from 83 cents per paper registration to 3 cents per online registration.”

The Legislatures Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee approved a bill that would require the state to conduct post-election audits. “At its heart, this bill is about promoting ongoing election integrity and public confidence in our elections,” Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in testimony supporting the legislation. “It’s not about what we’re not doing. Maine elections are well run. It’s about what we can do in the future to prevent problems before they occur.” Bill sponsor Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D-Ellsworth) said she has worked with local officials and has confidence Maine’s system is secure and accurate, with important protections like paper ballots and a “robust chain of custody” in place. Although the cost of the program has not been determined, Grohoski said it would likely involve additional staff for Bellows’ office. No one testified against the measure.

The Legislature is once again being asked to pass voter ID as a way to increase confidence in elections- this time following all the controversies of 2020. Maine already requires people to show proof of who they are and where they live when they register to vote. But when those voters actually go to the polls they just have to state their name and address, with no requirement to show an ID. Now four bills are being proposed that would mandate voter photo ID at the polls.

Massachusetts: The Agawam City Council voted 6-5 against a resolution that would have petitioned the state Legislature to require voters to produce proof of identity and return to the pre-pandemic rules that allowed mail-in voting only in cases of necessity for medical, religious or travel reasons. Sponsors of the non-binding resolution — Councilors George Bitzas, Cecilia Calabrese and Mario Tedeschi — said universal mail-in voting is an invitation to fraud, and an unfunded state mandate, placing a burden on the local town clerk and election workers to process the ballots and vouch for their accuracy by comparing signatures.

Minnesota: There’s a new push at to change how Minnesota’s Election Day registration process works. Senate Republicans have included a provisional ballot system in their State Government Operations omnibus bill. How it works, essentially, is that ballots cast by people who register on the day of the election wouldn’t be counted and added to that day’s totals. Their ballots would be placed in limbo as provisional ballots, and their votes could be added to the total later if local election administrators can verify their addresses and other eligibility criteria. Republicans would prefer to end same-day registration altogether but they offer this as the middle ground between the current system and imposing a hard deadline to register weeks before an election. Minnesota’s same-day system allows voting-age adults the opportunity to make a last-minute decision to participate. Or it lets people re-register if they’ve changed addresses since the last time they voted. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, opposes the idea of switching to a provisional ballot system.

Rhode Island: A series of bills seeking to make permanent the temporary voting measures implemented during the pandemic has been brought before the R.I. General Assembly. The measures include removing the witness notary requirement for mail-in ballots and installing permanent mail ballot drop-off boxes. The Rhode Island Board of Elections supports a majority of the proposals, though none have yet to be voted on.

South Carolina: Rep. Russell Fry has introduced a bill to require photo ID for absentee voting in South Carolina. Fry said he introduced the bill with dozens of colleagues based on a portion of Georgia’s new voting law. “While SC has not seen the level of disfunction as have other states because our laws are already robust, this change in the law allows a simple, but critical, way for South Carolina to protect the integrity of our elections,” Fry said. South Carolina requires photo ID to vote in person and Fry said he would like to see that expanded to absentee voting as well. Fry also said the state will give an ID to anyone who is unable to get one.

West Virginia: Under House Bill 2592, local elections would be required to be held at the same time as state elections. The bill has been approved by the House of Delegates and is now under consideration by the Senate.

Senate Bill 565 is under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee. — The bill alters the start and end dates for early in-person voting by 4 days. There are still the same number of days early in-person voting, but it will end six days prior to the election. Currently, early in-person voting ends two days prior to elections. The shift would end early in-person voting the Friday and Saturday before elections, two popular days. There would still be two weekends available for in-person early voting. The bill narrows the cycle from the current four years to two years to identify voters who may have moved without a forwarding address, have another name, died in another state or might otherwise have become ineligible. That starts the process earlier to give clerks time to reach out and clarify a voter’s situation. It takes six years from the start of the process for the purge. No voter’s eligibility is canceled for “failure to vote” alone. The bill clarifies that voters have the option to accept or decline to register to vote while at the DMV. The current law assumes opting in, giving people the option of declining.

Wyoming: The Senate has approved a bill that would require voters to show a form of accepted ID in order to vote in person. The list includes forms of ID that can be used to register to vote in Wyoming: a driver’s license, state or tribal ID, passport, military ID, or a Wyoming public school, university or community college ID. The bill, though, also includes a Medicare card as an accepted form, an option that’s been pushed by Wyoming AARP to maintain voting access for older Wyomingites. The Senate amended the bill to include Medicaid cards as well, though that still needs approval from the House before sending the bill to the governor’s desk. Despite the very few cases of voter fraud in the past two decades in Wyoming, supporters of the bill say it’s a way to make voters feel confident in the voting system, and prevent future fraud. Gillette Sen. Jeff Wasserburger said he supports the bill, but hopes the state will be able to educate residents on the potential new law before the next elections. The bill also includes a fee waiver for getting a state ID only to vote. Gov. Mark Gordon (R) has signed the bill into law.

Legal Updates

Alabama: The Freedom From Religion Foundation and Secretary of State John Merrill ’s office have jointly requested that a court dismiss the case, which was filed last year over a required oath for would-be voters that includes the words “so help me God,” court documents show. The updated form still includes the wording, but it also has a box that allows registrants to opt out of the religious portion of the oath “because of a sincerely held belief.” Applicants still must “swear or affirm” to requirements including being a U.S. citizen; being eligible to vote; and not being affiliated with groups that advocate the overthrow of the government. The Wisconsin-based foundation filed suit on behalf of four atheists who argued the oath was a religious requirement that violated their constitutional rights. One of the plaintiffs, Randall Cragun, said he had refused to register to vote in the state because of the oath but could do so now. “It is disappointing that the state prevented me from voting in the 2020 elections, but I am looking forward to participating in the future, and I now have a better appreciation of the value my voice and other individual voices contribute to shaping the state,” Cragun said in a statement.

Arizona: In a letter to the Senate’s hired auditors, attorneys for the non-profit voting-rights group Protect Democracy and three Phoenix firms warn that the auditors’ plan to knock on doors to search for voters likely violates state and federal law. The lawyers say lawsuits could follow if the audit proceeds as planned. “These tactics – no matter their intent – constitute illegal voter intimidation and might expose your companies to both civil and criminal penalties,” according to the letter to the four firms working on the audit. “Should you proceed with your current proposed Statement of Work or engage in any other conduct that intimidates Arizona voters, your companies may be named as defendants in federal civil rights lawsuits, thereby exposing you to money damages, the payment of attorneys’ fees, and court injunctions. The same conduct also may expose your companies, officers, and employees to criminal penalties.” The lawyers demand that the auditors cease all potentially illegal activity and retain all records related to the audit.

Florida: WTPS in Tampa Bay is reporting that Gov. Ron DeSantis is refusing to agree to have criminal charges dropped against a 20-year-old Naples man accused of hacking the governor’s voter registration file. The refusal comes as a plea offer by the prosecutor in the felony case was set to expire this week, according to messages between the state attorney’s office and defense lawyers. DeSantis, who has been subpoenaed in the case to testify at a possible trial, would not consent to a so-called “diversion offer,” Collier County prosecutor Deborah Cunningham wrote in an email. The South Florida man wrote a letter of apology to the governor, his defense lawyer said. Anthony Steven Guevara was charged in October – days before the 2020 election – with unauthorized computer access and altering someone’s voter registration without their permission, both felonies. Guevara told investigators he found the governor’s birthdate on Wikipedia and used it to access the voter registration record, then changed the governor’s address. The governor discovered the change when he tried voting in Leon County, which includes the state capital of Tallahassee and was told his address pointed to a home in West Palm Beach. DeSantis was able to correct the issue and vote.

Georgia: A fourth lawsuit has been filed over the state’s new voting law. The suit was filed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and alleges that the new law will disenfranchise Asian American voters by reducing access to absentee voting. he case takes issue with limits on ballot drop boxes, new ID requirements, restrictions on absentee ballot application mailings and a shorter deadline to request absentee ballots. Asian American voters in Georgia will suffer a disproportionate impact since they cast absentee ballots at higher rates than other racial groups in 2020, according to the lawsuit. “This bill is not only an attack on Asian Americans, it’s an attack on all Americans who cherish democracy and freedom,” said Stephanie Cho, executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. “This reactionary, racist and backward bill is a stain on Georgia, the beating heart of the civil rights movement.”

In the fifth lawsuit filed against Georgia’s new elections law, organizations that mailed millions of absentee ballot request forms to Georgia voters last year are alleging it illegally curtails their voter outreach. Under the law, groups are only allowed to send absentee ballot applications to Georgians who haven’t already requested a ballot or voted. The restriction on mailings arose after voters complained that they received multiple letters asking them to request absentee ballots, even after they had already done so. Organizations would have to check public election records to make sure they aren’t sending repeated ballot request forms to voters. They face a $100 fine for each duplicate absentee ballot application that’s processed by county election offices, according to the law. “This law makes it virtually impossible to run vote-by-mail application programs that help Georgians cast their ballots,” said Tom Lopach, president of the Voter Participation Center and the Center for Voter Information, two of the plaintiffs in the suit. “That’s why we’re fighting back today against this assault on democracy and will keep working to ensure every American can make their voice heard.” The lawsuit seeks to block the law based on the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones threw out many of Fair Fight’s claims in a 2018 lawsuit, ruling against challenges to registration cancellations, too few voting machines, inadequate poll worker training and ballots rejections. What’s left are narrow allegations about Georgia’s “exact match” voter registration policy, voter list accuracy and absentee ballot cancellations. Jones granted the state’s request for summary judgment on large parts of the lawsuit, building on his February order that scaled down the case based on jurisdictional issues. Jones’ latest ruling covered the merits of the case. When the case goes to trial, Fair Fight will continue opposing election procedures that make it difficult to vote in Georgia, said Lauren Groh-Wargo, the organization’s CEO. Part of Jones’ ruling rejected Fair Fight’s challenge to Georgia’s “use it or lose it” law, which cancels voter registrations if potential voters don’t participate in elections for several years. Jones wrote that canceled voters aren’t significantly burdened because they can re-register to vote. “The court finds plaintiffs have not shown that the process is applied differently to any class of voters,” Jones wrote. The lawsuit was filed three weeks after Election Day in 2018.

Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) who was arrested after knocking on the door of the governor’s office as he made televised comments in support of the sweeping, controversial new election law he’d just signed will not be charged, a prosecutor said. “While some of Representative Cannon’s colleagues and the police officers involved may have found her behavior annoying, such sentiment does not justify a presentment to a grand jury of the allegations in the arrest warrants or any other felony charges,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said in an emailed statement.

Maine: Concerns about how the town of Hudson conducts elections have arisen for the third time in less than a year, most recently over a list that identified 15 voters who requested absentee ballots in a municipal election. The Maine Constitution guarantees voters the right to ballot secrecy, so selectmen are asking a Superior Court justice to determine the validity of disputed ballots in its recent close election for Board of Selectmen. The request for judicial intervention comes after candidates could not agree on voters’ intent in a March 31 recount. Hudson is a town of about 1,600. Questions are swirling around absentee ballots that Town Clerk Laurie Saunders numbered and for which she kept a corresponding listing showing which voter received each ballot. That system violates the guarantee that how a person votes is secret. Also, the absentee ballots the town distributed were different from those given to residents who voted in person, another violation of election laws, according to former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.

Michigan: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a motion Wednesday to include new information in a case involving three Michigan attorneys and one Texas attorney who made statements against Dominion Voting Systems during the 2020 presidential election. Nessel says their lawsuit was “frivolous” and was an “effort to disenfranchise Michigan’s voters and undermine public trust” in the election’s outcome, according to a news release. The new filing seeks to bring forward relevant statements made by Texas attorney Sidney Powell in a motion she filed. Powell later said “no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact.” In January, Nessel filed a motion for sanctions against Powell and Michigan attorneys Greg Rohl, Scott Hagerstrom and Stefanie Junttila. The motion, filed with federal Judge Linda Parker of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan, seeks to recover attorneys fees totaling about $11,000. “These attorneys seemingly made statements they knew were misleading in an effort to further their false and destructive narrative,” Nessel said. “As lawyers, fidelity to the law is paramount. These individuals worked to further conspiracy theories in an effort to erode public trust in government and dismantle our systems of democracy. Their actions are inexcusable.”

Nevada: The Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments this week in the disputed Clark County Commission race that former Secretary of State Ross Miller won but just handful of votes. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The central legal issue to be determined: Whether the election between the two candidates in November was “prevented,” as defined under a state statute because there were many more discrepancies than the slim margin of victory. If the Supreme Court decides that the discrepancies did prevent the election, it would overturn a ruling by Clark County District Court. Miller won the seat by 15 votes in a race where 139 voting discrepancies were identified. Discrepancies occur when the number of votes counted at a precinct do not match the number of voters who signed in to cast a ballot. It is a normal error during elections and unrelated to fraud, officials say, and typically happens when a voter checks in but does not vote, or vice versa. The discrepancies do not generally cause concern, but they inserted a degree of uncertainty about the outcome in the race for the commission District C seat because the number of discrepancies was far greater than the margin of victory.

Ohio: The Stark County Board of Elections has followed through on its promise to file a lawsuit against county commissioners for refusing to fund the purchase of Dominion voting machines. The elections board filed the 69-page complaint Friday in the Ohio Supreme Court, and a motion Monday to expedite the case due to a “fast approaching election-related deadline of June 15, 2021.” The board is seeking an order from the Supreme Court directing county commissioners to acquire Dominion Voting Systems Image Cast X machines. The bipartisan elections board unanimously voted to adopt the machines for use in Stark County’s elections nearly four months ago. The machines, according to the complaint, are similar to the voting machines that the county has used since 2005 and competitive in price. The county has hired competing Columbus law firms to represent the elections board and commissioners in the dispute. The elections board had planned to have the new voting machines available for the May 4 primary election, the complaint says. However, the new machines now won’t be in place for the primary or Aug. 3 special election. It is feared that without an order from the Ohio Supreme Court, the machines will not be in place for the Nov. 2 general election as well, according to the lawsuit. The Board of Elections maintains that “without new voting machines, the BOE will have to continue to use its old machines that break down more often and are becoming increasingly expensive to fix as replacement parts are harder to obtain,” the complaint states. The Board of Elections reported in the lawsuit that it made repeated efforts to avoid litigation, but claim the commissioners will not perform their legal duty to purchase the voting machines unless under court order.

The Ohio Supreme Court rejected Lorain County Democrats’ plea to overturn Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s veto of Sharon Sweda’s appointment to the Board of Elections. In a 6-1 decision, with Justice Michael Donnelly the sole dissenter, the high court upheld LaRose’s rejection of the former county commissioner’s appointment to the elections board Monday. County Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Giardini, who serves on the elections board, said he now plans to submit Inez James’s name to LaRose for consideration. Giardini said, as he was disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision against Sweda’s appointment. “It tells me that in their view a secretary of state has a very wide latitude in making these decisions,” he said. “But as I told the executive committee, I believed that our chances of success were about 50/50. I do believe the effort was worthwhile. I think it’s a battle we had to fight. So I’m not sorry we did, but it is what it is.”

Utah: San Juan County will continue to provide voter assistance in Navajo through the 2024 elections, according to a settlement agreement filed in federal court. The agreement, reached between the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, San Juan County and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, is an extension of an existing settlement reached over ballot access. The ACLU and Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission sued alleging that the county’s switch to vote-by-mail blocked ballot access. As part of the settlement extension filed last week in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City and obtained by FOX 13, the county will continue to provide language assistance and in-person voting in Montezuma Creek, Navajo Mountain and Monument Valley. “There may also be additional locations upon agreement of the parties,” the settlement states. San Juan County also agrees to provide a specific “Navajo liaison” for six months leading up to any election who will focus their efforts on “educating Navajo voters about voting-related issues such as: voter registration; Language Assistance Locations and hours of operation; voter registration instructions and deadlines; filing requirements for local offices and deadlines; ballots, mail-in ballots including instructions and deadlines, and early-voting information.” The settlement, which was originally reached in 2018, will now be extended through the 2024 election cycle.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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