Author

Kira Lerner

Kira Lerner

Kira Lerner is the democracy reporter for States Newsroom in Washington, D.C. She has previously covered voting, criminal justice, and civil rights issues for publications including Votebeat and The Appeal.

Low angle view of people lined up to vote

Election officials at U.S. Senate hearing describe threats, spread of misinformation

By: - August 5, 2022

WASHINGTON — Democrats on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday explored how to combat violent threats lodged against election officials, while Republicans questioned why the Department of Justice isn’t doing more to investigate threats against crisis pregnancy centers and Supreme Court justices. During a hearing on protecting election officials, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite […]

How election deniers are campaigning to control voting in four critical states

By: - August 4, 2022

Mark Finchem, an Arizona state representative who has said he would not have certified the 2020 election, won the Republican primary for secretary of state on Tuesday, making him the latest election denier to move closer to controlling his state’s election system. Across the country, Republicans who say the 2020 election was rigged are vying […]

State elections officials struggle with paper shortages, harassment, insider threats

By: - July 26, 2022

MADISON, Wis. — Elections officials from 33 states, gathered for a conference under tight security, warned that the next few election cycles will be affected by paper shortages and the potential for threats from inside elections offices. The meeting of the National Association of State Elections Directors this week was held with stringent security precautions, […]

Election officials risk criminal charges under 31 new GOP-imposed penalties

By: - July 21, 2022

Since the 2020 election, Iowa has enacted one new felony and two new misdemeanor offenses targeting election officials.  The state’s omnibus election law, passed in 2021, criminalizes election officials who fail to perform their duties, don’t adequately maintain voter lists, or interfere with other people performing their duties in or near a polling place. The […]

Criminalizing the vote: GOP-led states enacted 102 new election penalties after 2020

By: - July 19, 2022

During the 2020 election, Rhonda Briggins and her sorority sisters spent days providing voters in metro Atlanta with water and snacks as they waited in long lines at polling places. The lines for early voting and on Election Day at times stretched on for hours. As the national co-chair for social action with the Delta […]

U.S. sues Arizona over proof of citizenship voting law

By: - July 6, 2022

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division announced Tuesday that it has sued Arizona over a law signed by the state’s Republican governor in March that requires people registering to vote prove their citizenship to participate in a presidential election or to vote by mail in any federal election. Republican proponents of […]

Trump’s fake electors: Here’s the full list

By: - June 29, 2022

The 84 people who signed bogus documents claiming that Donald Trump won the 2020 election include dozens of local Republican Party leaders, four current candidates for public office, six current office holders and at least five previous state and federal office holders. Groups from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all allegedly met in December 2020 and sent lists of so-called […]

Report says hundreds of state legislators have joined far-right Facebook groups

By: - May 20, 2022

More than 1 in 5 state lawmakers across the country have joined at least one far-right Facebook group, according to a new report.  Together the lawmakers sponsored 963 bills during the most recent legislative sessions, said the group that wrote the report, which describes the far-right efforts as anti-human rights. The Institute for Research and […]

Election officials make their voices heard as battleground states debate voting laws

By: - May 16, 2022

When Georgia legislators pushed through a restrictive voting bill during the 2021 session, Bartow County election supervisor Joseph Kirk said he felt frustrated and sidelined.  Lawmakers largely didn’t take election officials’ views into account, he said, and what resulted was a law that included a number of provisions that he said election officials believe are […]

Decline in federal grant funding for local elections criticized by advocates

By: - March 21, 2022

WASHINGTON — The $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress includes $75 million in Help America Vote Act grants — a major reduction compared to years past. Experts say the $75 million is insufficient to fund local elections and leaves local election offices without resources to improve election infrastructure and protect the security of […]

In Houston, people in jail can still go to the polls

By: - March 9, 2022

HOUSTON — Damien Lewis had been detained in the Harris County Jail for a week. Other than the one hour a day he was allowed to walk around indoors and trips to court, he had been under quarantine and hadn’t left his cell.  But on the day of the Texas primary earlier this month, a […]

Voting snafus in Texas primary show what may be on the way for other states

By: - March 3, 2022

HOUSTON — Standing outside a polling location in the historically Black neighborhood of Kashmere Gardens on Election Day, lieutenant governor candidate Carla Brailey predicted that Texas’ performance in 2022’s first primary would gain national attention — no matter the outcome. Texas is already a model for other Republican-controlled states for its new law that makes […]