Author

Kira Lerner

Kira Lerner

Kira is the democracy reporter for States Newsroom, where she covers voting, elections, redistricting, and efforts to subvert democracy. Before joining States Newsroom, Kira was managing editor of Votebeat, a pop-up newsroom launched to cover election administration and voting before and after the 2020 election. She has also covered voting rights, criminal justice, and civil rights issues for outlets including The Appeal and ThinkProgress. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Guardian, Slate, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets. Kira has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and is a native of the Washington, D.C., area.

Voters cast advance ballots on July 29, 2022, at the Shawnee County Elections Office in Topeka. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

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

By: - August 4, 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 […]

Votes are counted by staff at the Maricopa County Elections Department office on Nov. 5, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona. The National Association of State Elections Directors met this week to discuss ongoing challenges, such as a paper shortage and “insider” threats. (Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)

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

By: - July 23, 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, […]

Poll workers assist voters at the Westside Community Center in West Des Moines' Valley Junction neighborhood shortly after 8 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2020. (Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

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

By: - July 17, 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 […]

Voters who arrived early at Shiloh Hills Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Georgia, waited inside to stay warm until voting started in November 2020. (Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder)

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

By: - July 17, 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 […]

Trump supporters gather outside the Maricopa County Elections Department on Nov. 4, 2020, demanding that all ballots for Donald Trump be counted. Inside the building, election workers were busy counting hundreds of thousands of ballots. (Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror)

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 […]

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 […]

Arizona could force U.S. Supreme Court to consider proof of citizenship for voter registration

By: - March 31, 2022

A GOP-sponsored bill signed into law Wednesday in Arizona requires documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote, a mandate that the U.S. Supreme Court has said is unconstitutional. By signing the bill, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is setting up Arizona for an inevitable legal challenge that will likely allow the U.S. Supreme Court to […]

Decline in federal grant funding for local elections criticized by advocates

By: - March 19, 2022

WASHINGTON — The $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last week 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 […]

Trump supporters gather outside the Maricopa County Elections Department on Nov. 4, 2020, demanding that all ballots for Donald Trump be counted. Inside the building, election workers were busy counting hundreds of thousands of ballots. (Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror)

State judges across the U.S. face growing GOP pushback against rulings in election cases

By: - February 19, 2022

In mid-December, Texas’ highest criminal court revoked the state attorney general’s ability to use his office to prosecute election-related cases without the request of a district or county attorney. In an 8-1 opinion, the all-Republican court weakened Attorney General Ken Paxton’s power to independently go after perpetrators of voter fraud, a problem he says is […]

Voters line up in cars on Oct. 20, 2020, to deliver mail ballots at a Shawnee County drop box in Topeka. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

States target ballot drop boxes in fight over voting rights

By: - February 12, 2022

Ballot drop boxes are so secure they’ve survived getting hit by an SUV and rolled by a school bus — yet much of the battle over voting rights has centered on the big metal boxes. In the November 2020 general election, nearly 40 states had ballot drop boxes available and more voters used drop boxes […]

States weigh how to shield election officials from threats, harassment

By: - January 29, 2022

Following the turmoil of the 2020 election, a photo of Washington state Election Director Lori Augino marked with crosshairs, her address, and the words “your days are numbered” was posted on a website alongside photos of numerous other state election officials described as “enemies of the people.”   Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said in […]

Conservative groups target state, local voter registration rolls with multiple lawsuits

By: - January 10, 2022

North Carolina’s voter rolls are like a refrigerator that needs to be cleared periodically of rotting milk and other items past their expiration date, according to Jason Snead, director of the pro-Trump Honest Elections Project. Snead is an elections advocate supporting Republican plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to force the state to more regularly maintain […]