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.

On Democracy Day, newsrooms draw attention to a crisis in the U.S. system of government

By: - September 15, 2022

A recent poll found that 69 percent of both Democrats and Republicans think democracy in the United States is in danger of collapse. Almost two years after Donald Trump falsely claimed that voter fraud cost him the election and inspired a web of supporters and “big lie” candidates to also believe the election was rigged, a majority […]

Democrats feel pressure to ‘save the republic’ in campaigns to run state election systems

By: - September 13, 2022

Adrian Fontes is tired of responding to the outrageous claims of Mark Finchem, a Trump-backed Republican election denier with ties to QAnon. Fontes faces Finchem on the ballot this year for Arizona secretary of state. Finchem has said that if elected the state’s chief election official, he would ban early voting, move away from electronic […]

How election-denying GOP governors could tilt the 2024 presidential election

By: - August 27, 2022

Republican candidates who claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump have been nominated for governor in four critical swing states, raising concerns that if elected they could try to sway election results in 2024 and beyond. In Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, Republican primary voters elected a candidate who has denied the […]

Election officials can’t access federal funding for security as violent threats mount

By: - August 19, 2022

Colorado’s election officials, like so many across the country, faced a surge of violent threats after the 2020 election. Federal authorities are prosecuting a man who pled guilty to threatening a Colorado election official on Instagram, where he wrote: “Do you feel safe? You shouldn’t.” And Colorado police arrested a man accused of calling Secretary of State Jena Griswold […]

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

By: - August 9, 2022

Second in a two-part series. See part one here. 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 […]

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

By: - August 8, 2022

First in a two-part series 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 […]

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

By: - August 7, 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 […]

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

By: - August 6, 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 […]

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

By: - July 22, 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, […]

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

By: - July 5, 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 the law, […]

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

By: - May 20, 2022

More than 1 in 5 Republican 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 […]

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

By: - May 14, 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 “to the […]