The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky on Election Best Practices, Standards, and the Benefits of Hybrid Voting

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation to the newsmaker line to discuss state-by-state election integrity ratings, standards and best practices, and the suggestion of the opti-scan hybrid voting system.

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Commentary: After Taking Two Days to Count 20 Percent of Primary Election Votes, Arizona Should Look to Florida’s Voting Reforms

Until this month, Pennsylvania owned the dubious distinction among states of most embarrassing election management. But given its own lethargy in counting votes in its primary, Arizona has now edged out the Keystone State. While Pennsylvania had problems counting the last portion of votes the evening after its primary, it took Arizona two days to count the last 20% of the vote.

As RealClearPolitics has noted before, Pennsylvania could solve its voting-administration issues by adopting Florida’s voting reforms – but Pennsylvania is hamstrung by a divided government. Arizona does not face this problem, however. For at least the next four months, Arizona will have a Republican state legislature and governor. Arizona’s governor and state legislature should enact Florida-like voting reforms before the November elections to avoid further embarrassment.

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After Pennsylvania Court Ruling on Absentee Voting, Republicans Renew Call for Reform

This week’s decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholding Act 77 which legalized no-excuse absentee voting in the Keystone State is spurring Republican lawmakers to renew their push for election reform. 

A Republican-led legislature passed and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 77 three years ago. Moderate Democratic Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem) initially drafted the bill to get rid of straight-party voting, a policy on which Republican legislators largely agreed with her. More Democrats came around to support the measure once a section was added allowing voters to cast mail-in ballots without providing a reason they could not come to the polls (i.e., illness, injury or travel). 

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New Report: Pennsylvania Suffers from ‘Myriad of Election Issues’

Pennsylvania House State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove (R-York) released a report Tuesday detailing “a myriad of election issues” in the Keystone State. 

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Building, Grove reviewed his findings, including inconsistent vote-counting rules, ballot harvesting, fraud and administrative errors. The new report is the third he has issued concerning election problems since November 2020. 

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Wolf to Veto Pennsylvania Poll Watcher Legislation

A Pennsylvania Senate bill to allow a voter to act as a poll watcher outside of his or her own county passed the state House of Representatives this week, though Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said he will veto it.

Sponsored by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg), the “Poll Watcher Empowerment Act” received the support of every Republican and no Democratic representative. When it passed the Senate earlier this month, every Republican voted for it and every Democrat voted against it except for Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem).

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Pennsylvania House Committee Passes Bills to Move Presidential Primary, Allow Out-of-County Poll Watchers

Pennsylvania’s House State Government Committee on Wednesday passed a Senate bill to move the state’s presidential primary date and another measure to allow out-of-county poll watchers. 

The first of the two bills was sponsored by Sen. John Gordner (R-Bloomsburg) and passed his chamber unanimously last December. And yet only two of the House panel’s 10 Democrats, Kristine Howard (D-Malvern) and Ben Sanchez (D-Abington), backed the legislation during Wednesday’s vote. 

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Brad Raffensperger Calls for Federal Amendment on Election Security

In a follow-up tweet that expounded on his letter penned in January on election reform, Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, reiterated his call for a federal Constitutional amendment on U.S. citizenship and election integrity.

“A citizenship amendment is a necessary security measure that will ensure that only American citizens are voting in our elections. We need an amendment now,” Raffensperger said.

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Grove Proposes Bill to Address Future Pennsylvania Election Complaints

State Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York) told legislative colleagues on Monday that he will introduce a measure to ease the process by which Pennsylvanians can report voter fraud and other election-related problems. 

The bill would require the Pennsylvania secretary of state to establish a 1-800 hotline that voters could call to note any alleged misconduct they encounter in the course of an election. The secretary would also need to host annual training sessions for county-level prosecutors on the commonwealth’s election rules. 

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Rep. Grove Rebukes Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s ‘Voter Intimidation’ Claims

Pennsylvania Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) castigated the state’s Democratic acting secretary of the commonwealth on Saturday for suggesting that stationing Lehigh County detectives at ballot drop boxes will amount to “voter intimidation.”

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman last week said that tactics to intimidate voters have “a long history in this country” and that “the mere presence of police at a ballot drop box can deter voters from casting their ballot.” She also mentioned that she has been in conversation with her staff about attempting to dissuade Lehigh County from assigning law-enforcement professionals to watch drop boxes into which absentee voters may place their ballots.

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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Touts SAFE Act in Light of Court Ruling on Illegal Voting

Citing a recent federal court ruling, a Pennsylvania lawmaker is touting legislation to require those registering to vote in the Keystone State to demonstrate U.S. citizenship.

In late March, District Court Judge Christopher Conner of the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that the commonwealth must disclose documentation regarding problems in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) record-keeping system. Conner’s opinion recalled that, in 2017, the state acknowledged that PennDOT errors “permitted non-United States citizens applying for or renewing a driver’s license to register to vote in the Commonwealth.”

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Arizona Attorney General’s Report Recommends Election Reforms Similar to Those Sought in Pennsylvania

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) released a report this week on elections in his state—focusing especially on Maricopa County—advocating similar election reforms to those Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers currently seek.

While the report did not make criminal allegations regarding recent elections, it did declare that Arizona’s election system suffers from major procedural vulnerabilities including insufficient time to confirm signatures on ballots submitted during early voting and problems with the chain of custody for ballots placed in drop boxes. Altogether, the attorney general estimates that between 100,000 and 200,000 early ballots were transported without proper protocol being followed.

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Pennsylvania Senate Panel Votes to Implement Changes to Improve Voter Records

Ryan Aument

A committee of the GOP-run Pennsylvania Senate voted Wednesday to change the state’s voter-records system as recommended by a Democratic former state auditor general.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lititz), passed the State Government Committee seven to four, with all Republicans and no Democrats backing the measure.

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GOP Philadelphia City Commissioner Opposes Restricting Third-Party Election Grants

Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill and Lisa Baker

At a Pennsylvania Senate hearing Tuesday, Republican Philadelphia City Commissioner Seth Bluestein joined his two Democratic colleagues in supporting continued allowance of private grants for election administration.

Left-wing nonprofits, particularly the Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), awarded many such grants to election offices in Pennsylvania and across America in 2020. The organization received $350 million that year from Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

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Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Denies That Ballot Harvesting Occurred

A Montgomery County, Pennsylvania administrator this week responded to the local Republican Party’s allegations of “ballot harvesting,” insisting that video surveillance does not show that it occurred.

As The Pennsylvania Daily Star reported, Montgomery County Republican Committee (MCRC) Chair Liz Preate Havey addressed the county Board of Commissioners last Thursday regarding numerous election-integrity concerns. She mentioned video footage of a woman depositing handfuls of ballots into a drop box in Upper Dublin Township in the run-up to the 2021 general election. Such drop boxes have been in use in Pennsylvania for absentee-ballot delivery since 2020. 

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Wisconsin Republicans Rip Evers for Ignoring Crime, Election Reforms in State of the State Address

Gov. Tony Evers covered a lot of ground during his fourth State of the State, ranging from such topics as farm aid to the internet to tourism.

But Republican lawmakers say the governor ignored two of Wisconsin’s most pressing issues: crime and election reform.

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Pennsylvania House Committee Passes Bills to Reform Redistricting and Elections, Democrats Demur

Seth Grove

Yesterday, a Pennsylvania House of Representatives panel passed a series of redistricting and election reforms, including a bill establishing a citizens’ commission for redrawing legislative districts.

The redistricting bill, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York), chair of the House State Government Committee which vetted the measure, would ditch the current process for creating legislative-district maps. Such maps are drawn anew every decade in response to population shifts revealed by the U.S. Census. Presently, a five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC), made up of Republican and Democratic leaders from both state-legislative chambers and chaired by an appointee of the state Supreme Court, oversees district remapping.

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Pennsylvania Democrats Recall January 6 to Push Legislative Agenda, Slam Election Integrity Legislation

Yesterday, Democrats in Pennsylvania and beyond recalled the Jan. 6, 2021 D.C-Capitol riot as an occasion to denounce voter-ID proposals and urge progressive reforms.

“Here’s the truth,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told an online audience at a panel hosted by leftist organizations including Better PA and the New Pennsylvania Project. “You can draw a straight line between the lies [and former President Donald Trump’s post-2020-election] litigation to the events of January the sixth. And now, you can continue that straight line to voter-suppression laws that are being passed by Republicans in state houses across the country.”

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Pennsylvania Bill to Restrict Private Money in Election Administration Passes House

Republican legislation to stop private organizations from donating selectively to Pennsylvania localities’ election activities passed the state House of Representatives along party lines yesterday. 

State Reps. Eric Nelson (R-Greensburg), Clint Owlett (R-Wellsboro) and James Struzzi (R-Indiana) offered the bill after revelations that the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) issued grants to counties last year, with much more money reaching Democrat-heavy areas. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan contributed $350 million to CTCL in 2020. Former Obama Foundation Fellow Tiana Epps-Johnson serves as the organization’s executive director.

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Pennsylvania House to Vote on Election-Integrity Bill When Members Return in December

Pennsylvania’s Republican-run House of Representatives Thursday slated major election-integrity legislation for a vote in mid-December.

The Voting Rights Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover), would strengthen voter-identification requirements, mandate regular election audits, review and correct errors on voter-registration lists and ensure signature verification for all mail-in ballots. The bill was amended this week to also affirm a strict time frame wherein mail-in ballots must be counted.

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Bill to Require Post-Election Audits in Pennsylvania Advances with Support of Philadelphia Democrat

State Rep. Regina Young (D-PA-Philadelphia) voted with all Republican House State Government Committee members this week in favor of a bill to require post-election audits. 

The legislation to verify the accuracy of election outcomes will thus go before the full Pennsylvania House with at least a modicum of bipartisanship, making it more difficult for Democrats to call the bill merely “a reactionary thing being done because of the last election,” as Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) did at the committee meeting.

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Fraud Case Refueling Interest in Pennsylvania Election-Integrity Bill Vetoed by Governor

Sign that says "protect election integrity"

Voter-fraud charges recently filed against a Philadelphia former judge of elections are spurring renewed emphasis by Pennsylvania legislators on enacting an election-integrity bill Gov. Tom Wolf (D) vetoed earlier this year.

State Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) introduced the initial version of his legislation in June. The measure, whose central feature was a voter-identification requirement for every election, quickly passed the House and Senate but Wolf rejected it as “voter suppression.” Since that time, the governor has sent mixed signals about whether he might support strengthened voter-ID rules, prompting Grove to reintroduce his bill.

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Pennsylvania Senate Committee Chair Warns of ‘Difficult Road’ for Bipartisan Election Reforms Because of Wolf Administration

Pennsylvania acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid did not testify in person at Tuesday’s Senate State Government Committee hearing on bipartisan election reforms, accentuating a rift between committee Republicans and Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) administration.

The legislation the committee is considering is bipartisan and doesn’t include voter-ID provisions or similarly controversial items. Committee Chairman David Argall (R-Pottsville) however lamented that Wolf has suggested he may veto the bill. 

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Push to Reverse Arizona Election Reform Laws Fails to Make Ballot

An effort to reverse three recently enacted election integrity laws has failed.

Petitioners couldn’t collect the required signatures to put three questions on the 2022 general election ballot regarding whether to reverse three laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey over the summer.

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Pennsylvania County Commissioners’ Group Opposes Live-Streaming of Mail-In Vote Counting

Bipartisan enthusiasm for election-reform legislation appeared solid at a Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee hearing on Thursday, save for one part: video live-streaming of mail-in-ballot counting.

Elements of the bill, sponsored by Sen. David Argall (R-PA-Pottsville) and Sen. Sharif Street (D-PA-Philadelphia), have arisen largely from recommendations in a June 2021 report by the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform. Argall and Street’s proposal excludes some of the ad hoc panel’s more contentious ideas, particularly enhanced voter-identification rules, which Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York) is spearheading in separate legislation. (While Gov. Tom Wolf [D] vetoed Grove’s bill in June, the representative has reintroduced it in light of the governor’s subsequent remarks in favor of a strengthened voter-ID requirement.)

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Pennsylvania Senate Committee Passes Measure Aimed at Improving Transparency in the State’s Campaign Finance Laws

A measure to guarantee that all political campaigns report their fundraising and expenditures online passed the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee on Tuesday, along with several other election reforms.

All Pennsylvania candidates who raise or spend more than nominal amounts of money for their campaigns must establish fundraising committees, and those that have done so must file campaign-finance reports periodically. At least 32 states presently demand that all candidates who fundraise must report their finances online. In Pennsylvania, candidates for state office must submit online filings but most local campaigners can legally avoid it.

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Abbott Signs Texas’ Voting Reform Bill into Law, Ending Intense Political Fight

Greg Abbott holding recently signed Texas voting reform bill

Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday signed Texas’ election reform bill into law, ending a months-long political fight over the controversial legislation.

Abbott, a Republican, traveled to Tyler, Texas to sign the Senate Bill 1, which repeals many of the voting measures that large cities in the state implemented amid the pandemic and overhauls the state’s mail-in voting and polling place systems.

Senate Bill 1 also bars election officials from sending voters unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to voters, threatening jail time if they do so.

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Michael Patrick Leahy Talks About Pop Up Nonprofits Used for Partisan Political Purposes

  In a special interview, Thursday on First Principles with Phill Kline – host Kline talked with Michael Patrick Leahy, CEO, and editor-in-chief of The Star News Network who uncovered partisan non-profit popups in swing states and the importance of election integrity as the deciding fate of America’s constitutional Republic.…

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Civil Rights Activist Jesse Jackson Arrested During Filibuster Reform Protest at Arizona Senator Sinema’s Office

Jesse Jackson

Reverend Jesse Jackson and 38 others were arrested during a protest of Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) stance on the filibuster rule outside of her Phoenix office on Monday.

The arrested protestors were charged with trespassing, according to Phoenix Police Public Information Officer Mercedes Fortune. The protestors were voicing opposition to Sinema’s lack of support for the proposed filibuster reform. Without reform or abolition of the 60-vote filibuster rule, Senate Democrats can’t pass massive election reform in the For the People Act.

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Commentary: Georgia’s Election Reform Makes It Easy to Vote and Hard to Cheat

Regardless of one’s political affiliation, it’s not difficult to find voters in Georgia who were discouraged by the messiness of the 2020 election process.

It’s one thing to be disappointed by the outcome. It’s entirely another to feel disenfranchised and frustrated by questions and uncertainties surrounding absentee ballot handling, unsecured drop boxes, and questionable third-party funding of local elections.

In evaluating federal, state, and local voting safeguards, these and other serious complications — glitches, missing votes, even water pipe breakages at polling locations or ballot drop boxes — raised legitimate concerns and weakened voter confidence in Georgia’s election integrity.

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Omar, Squad Unload on Manchin over H.R. 1

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) has joined the progressive chorus in calling for the head of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who stated his opposition to H.R. 1 in an opinion piece over the weekend. 

“The reason this bill has no Republican support is because it gets in the way of Republican plans to undermine elections. This bill protects our democracy from Republican attempts to dismantle it,” Omar said on Twitter, likening the Democrat to a member of the opposite party.

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Governor Lee Signs Bill into Law that Prohibits Outside Funding to Elections Without Legislative Speakers’ Consent

A new Tennessee law makes outside funding to state and local election officials an exception to the rule. Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law last week – it ensures that select elected officials review all outside funding, if any. It would also enable the public to access information on those outside funds through open records. 

This law will apply to both the state and county-level election commissions, the secretary of state, county administrators of elections, and the coordinator of elections. Only combined approval from the state House and Senate speakers would enable state election officials to accept funding from private individuals, corporations, organizations, or political parties. As for county election commissions and administrators of elections, outside funding must be approved by the secretary of state or one of their designees. 

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Election Reform Law Faces Immediate Lawsuits

Governor Ron DeSantis signed an elections reform bill into law Thursday and opposition groups have already filed lawsuits against it. The new law, known as SB90, sets in place limits on access to ballot drop boxes and well as requiring those same ballot drop boxes to be monitored by an employee of the supervisor of elections’ office.

Additionally, voters who wish to request an absentee ballot will have to do so each general election cycle.

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Florida Legislature Hearing Elections Reform Bills

Dennis Baxley

The Florida House is hearing an elections reform package and the Florida Senate is hearing a bill amending Florida’s election law related to ballot drop-boxes and absentee ballot signature verification.

Sen. Dennis Baxley’s (R-12) SB 90 passed the Senate Rules Committee by a 10-7 vote, and Baxley said the bill is well-intentioned designed to protect Florida’s voters and the integrity of Florida’s elections.

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Gubernatorial Hopeful Pete Snyder Announces Election Integrity Plan

Pete Snyder announced his ‘Honest Vote’ election integrity plan on Thursday. The six-point plan focuses on transparency ballot verification and ballot verification measures.

“Having secure, legal, and trustworthy elections is something that we must demand in our Commonwealth. Unfortunately, for too many Virginians, whether they be Republicans, Democrats or independents, trust in our election system has been severely strained and due to many last minute Covid-related changes to our voting systems,” Snyder said in a press release.

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Georgia Senate Approves Election Reform Package, Including Absentee Ballot Signature-Match Overhaul

The Georgia Senate approved four measures Tuesday that make changes to the election process as a response to November’s presidential election.

Georgia gained national attention after a close presidential election prompted three recounts and lawsuits and threats from former President Donald Trump’s campaign and supporters. Several questions and allegations arose from Georgia’s absentee-ballot process.

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Gwinnett County Elections Chair Pushes for Election Law Changes; Civil Rights Groups Call for Her Resignation

Activists and legislators are calling for Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections Chair Alice O’Lenick to resign for supporting election law changes. O’Lenick wanted to limit no-excuse absentee voting to the elderly and infirm, ban absentee ballot drop boxes, and expand early voting to last 21 days and be open on the weekends.

O’Lenick’s proposals incited negative responses from a variety of civil rights and activist groups, as well as a coalition of Democratic state legislators. Amongst the groups were The Lincoln Project, Fair Fight Action, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, Georgia American Federation of Labor and Congress of Individual Organizations (AFL-CIO), Georgia Equality, and Voto Latino.

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Newly Elected Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson Talks with The Tennessee Star Report

On Tuesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy and special guest co-host, Harriet Wallace of Fox 17 – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am –spoke to newly elected official Senate Majority Leader, Jack Johnson of Williamson…

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Tennessee Star Report: GOP Chair Scott Golden Says Primary Runoff Elections Would Require Passage of State Law

On Monday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the gentlemen chatted with Scott Golden, the newly re-elected Chairman of the Tennessee Republican party about who the Democrats have…

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