Machine Skeptics Seek Hand Tally Mandate: Ballots & Boundaries

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One of 2022’s election mini-trends is an urge to let fingers do the counting.

Without demonstrating deficiencies in machine tabbulation, elected officials and political hopefuls have been pushing to turn back the clock on election technology.

Communities in Alaska and Pennsylvania have weighed hand counts, one county in New Mexico voted to remove voting machines, and Nevada recently worked out its rules for tallying votes by hand. READ MORE from Brenna Goth.

Ballot Issues

MICHIGAN: ABORTION, ELECTIONS, PERKS
Three state Supreme Court decisions are coloring the Michigan election by putting big questions on the November ballot, including a measure that would enshrine abortion and contraceptive rights into the state constitution, potentially giving a turnout boost to Democrats seeking advantage on the issue in tight races.

Also on the ballot: an election law proposal offering voters the choice of expanding the state Constitution to ban third-party election audits and bar voter photo-ID requirements, among the potential changes.

And a state Legislature-backed proposal would create a political financial disclosure system in a state that currently requires little transparency into how lawmakers get paid and relies on the honesty of lobbyists to report perks they give to legislators. — Alex Ebert

NORTH DAKOTA: TERM LIMITS
Voters in North Dakota will have a say on whether state lawmaker and gubernatorial terms should get an automatic expiration date.

The state Supreme Court agreed with the term limit backers that more than 15,000 invalidated signatures should have been certified. The high court found that the secretary of state “misapplied the law” when he determined that notary violations on some petitions justified invalidating all the petitions sworn before the same notary. — Associated Press

Razor’s Edge Races

Another in a series spotlighting close congressional contests after redistricting changes.
Today: New Mexico’s 2nd District
Where Is It? The revised district takes in all or part of 15 counties, including the state’s entire border with Mexico. The biggest population centers are Dona Ana County, which includes Las Cruces, and part of Bernalillo County, which envelops Albuquerque.

Source: New Mexico Legislature

Who Drew It? The Democratic-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham enacted the map in December 2021.
2020 Presidential Vote: Joe Biden 52%, Donald Trump 46% Demographics: 60% Hispanic, 29% White, 5% American Indian, 2% Black, 1% Asian
Cook Political Report Rating: Toss Up
Nominees: Gabe Vazquez (D), Rep. Yvette Herrell (R)
What To Watch: New Mexico Democrats targeted Herrell for defeat partly by shifting part of Democratic-leaning Bernalillo County into the 2nd. The map also rotated out the city of Roswell and some oil- and gas-producing areas in the southeast that are heavily Republican. Herrell unseated a Democratic incumbent in 2020 in a district that Trump won by 12 percentage points, though the revised constituency would have backed Biden by 6 points. Herrell’s campaign themes include combating inflation, border security and crime. A Republican super PAC ad linked Vasquez, a former Las Cruces councilman, to the “defund the police” movement; Vasquez defended his record of supporting local law enforcement. Hispanics are 60% of the district population though they’ll account for a much smaller share of the electorate on Nov. 8.
Next edition: New Jersey’s 7th. — Greg Giroux

Election Law

WISCONSIN: BALLOT ‘CURING’
A sizeable chunk of Wisconsin absentee voters—estimated at about 6.9%—mail in ballots without complete addresses on the envelopes. For six years, that wasn’t a problem, though, because the Wisconsin Elections Commission allowed election officials to fill in the missing info.

No more.

A Waukesha County Circuit Court judge sided with the county’s Republican Party and the GOP-controlled Legislature, blocking the state’s roughly 1,850 municipal clerks from fixing address blunders. Democrats have asked Judge Michael J. Aprahamian to pause his ruling while they work on an appeal. — Alex Ebert

FEC: ‘ZUCKERBUCKS’ LEGAL
Mark Zuckerberg’s roughly $400 million in election assistance grants in 2020 were legal, according to federal regulators. Democratic and Republican members of the Federal Election Commission voted unanimously to reject allegations that the money—provided through foundations funded by the Facebook founder and his wife, Priscilla Chan—was intended to help Democrats.

There was no reasonable basis to conclude that Zuckerberg and others involved in providing election grants did so “for the purpose of influencing a federal election,” according to a staff report approved by the six-member commission. — Kenneth P. Doyle

SPINROOM: ANTI-DENIAL PR
A group formed last year to represent election officials in court is branching out into reputation management.

In addition to pro bono legal advice, the Election Official Legal Defense Network—a joint operation between Obama counsel Bob Bauer and long-time Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg—announced that it’ll start paying for communications firms to help bat back election deniers.

The network “consistently heard from our clients that they not only need legal help, but they also need advice and support when it comes to disinformation attacks designed to injure their public reputations and impede their work,” group executive director David Becker said in a statement. — Alex Ebert

ARIZONA: LAW HALTED
An Arizona law requiring extra checks into whether a registered voter is a US citizen won’t go into effect for the November election.

A federal court order put the measure (H.B. 2243) on hold until at least Jan. 1. Voting access groups sued to block the law, arguing it could lead to purging the voter rolls of naturalized citizens and other eligible voters. — Brenna Goth

SCOTUS: RARE BRIEF
The framers of the US Constitution “did not create an exception to state constitutional supremacy,” top state judicial officers write in a brief urging the US Supreme Court to refrain from limiting the authority of state courts over redistricting.

It’s a rare friend-of-the-court brief by the Conference of Chief Justices, which has filed seven other amicus briefs since 2002, according to a search of the Supreme Court’s docket. READ MORE from Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson

Caught Our Eye

  • An ex-professor spreads election myths across the U.S., one town at a time (Washington Post)
  • A hacker bought a voting machine on eBay (NPR)
  • The fall elections could sweep away election safeguards in key battleground states (Politico)
  • GOP leaders encouraged rule breaking at poll worker training session (CNN)
  • Trump backers flood election offices with requests (Washington Post)
  • Virginia’s election fraud squad is up and running (press release)

Resources

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To contact the reporters on this story: Brenna Goth in Phoenix at bgoth@bloomberglaw.com; Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bgov.com; Alex Ebert in Madison, Wisconsin at aebert@bloomberglaw.com

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