This article originally appeared on ProPublica.org, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.
Kentucky and New York held presidential primaries last week with elections also taking place in Massachusetts, Mississippi, the Carolinas, and Virginia.
Kentucky was in the spotlight due to a reduction of polling places; a judge ruled against opening additional sites in the state’s most populous counties. There were long lines reported in Lexington. (Courier-Journal, WAVE)
In Jefferson County, Kentucky there were shuttle buses to the one polling site, a convention center, and Lyft also offered free rides. (WLKY)
About 85% of Kentucky voters cast a mail ballot; only 15% voted in person. (WHAS11)
“Us standing in line for two hours is nothing compared to people who got shot and killed, dogs turned on them, hoses turned on them to vote,” a Kentucky voter said. “So, my two hours in line, even though I got a bad ankle, I’m gonna do it. Because what else are you gonna do?” (WFPL)
A Kentucky voter had to convince officials that her dog literally ate her mail ballot in order for her to vote in person. (Kentucky.com)
In Kentucky, this election was the first time former felons could vote since the law changed late last year. (WFPL, Lex18)
At Jefferson County’s polling site, poll workers cheered when first-time voters checked in. (John Boyle)
In New York, some voters didn’t receive their mail ballots as the state received a large number of requests. More than 1.7 million voters requested ballots, a tenfold increase over 2016. (Gothamist, The New York Times)
In New York City, some voters were given only one of two pages of ballots , and there were other poll-related problems. Some polling sites opened late because of COVID-related subway closures. New York City’s Public Advocate called on the Board of Elections to make changes before November. (The City, Gothamist, AMNY)
During the Pennsylvania primary, most Democrats voted by mail while most Republicans voted in person. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
More than 1.46 million Democrats are registered to vote by mail in Florida in November, compared to 1.16 million Republicans. (Politico)
A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll found that only 41% of Iowan voters say they are likely to vote by mail in the fall. Democrats were nearly twice as likely to say they’d vote by mail as Republicans. (Des Moines Register)
Close to 7,000 Nevada primary ballots weren’t counted because of signature match problems. (Associated Press)
Ahead of Louisiana’s July primary, there’s already been an uptick in mail ballot requests from senior citizens. (The Advocate)
A left-leaning donor group announced a $59 million effort to support vote by mail. (Associated Press)
President Donald Trump made more false claims about mail voting this week, alleging without evidence that foreign powers would print fake mail ballots. This is a theory originally floated by Attorney General William Barr and has been widely disputed by experts. Asked by a reporter to give examples on vote by mail fraud, the president gave an example that is not actually fraud. (Politico, The Guardian, Seth Masket)
This week, former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, a Republican, said that discouraging vote by mail could hurt GOP candidates. (The Hill)
Ongoing Coronavirus Impacts
A nonprofit group called the Voter Protection Corps released a report on how to protect in-person voting, which some say is getting overlooked in the discussion of ramping up mail voting. (Boston.com)
Poll workers, voters, election board members and election observers testified before the Georgia legislature on the problems they faced during the chaotic primary. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Part of this year’s poll worker recruitment problem involves workers cancelling at the last minute over health concerns. (USA Today)
Kansas City will give city employees paid days off to work the polls during Missouri’s upcoming elections. (Kansas City Star)
After Georgia’s primary, a temporary Dekalb County elections employee tested positive for COVID-19. (The Champion)
A Philadelphia poll watcher tested positive for coronavirus less than 2 weeks after the election, but voters and election workers won’t be notified. (Penn Live)
A Brennan Center for Justice study found that a reduction in polling places and fear of the pandemic affected primary turnout among Milwaukee voters. (Madison 365)
Voting Legislation News
California: The governor signed legislation to require election officials to send a mail ballot to every registered voter in November. State lawmakers approved a ballot measure that will allow Californias to decide whether to restore voting rights to those on parole. (Associated Press, Sacramento Bee)
Delaware: The state House of Representatives passed legislation that would expand vote by mail for the general election. (WDEL)
Georgia: A bill advanced in the House of Representatives that would prevent election officials from sending vote by mail applications to voters. (GPB News)
Pennsylvania: Legislators are considering a bill to allow officials to start counting ballots before Election Day. The governor signed legislation to require the Department of State to publish a report on the primary and identify problems ahead of November. (Penn Live, PA.gov)
New Mexico: The legislature approved a bill that would allow clerks to send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters, but not automatically send ballots themselves. (Santa Fe New Mexican)
South Carolina: The House of Representatives decided not to expand voting options for the general election, which may lead to lawsuits. (Post & Courier)
National: A Republican senator blocked legislation to expand early voting and the amount of time for mail ballots to be counted. (The Hill)
The Latest Election Lawsuits
Arkansas: Voters filed a lawsuit demanding no-excuse absentee voting during the general election. (Arkansas Times)
Connecticut: A group of Republicans filed a lawsuit claiming the secretary of state’s plan for expanding absentee voting is unconstitutional. (Fox 61)
Florida: The governor asked the court of appeals to put a hold on a ruling that lets felons vote. Meanwhile, a federal judge denied requests for injunctions to expand mail voting, and said that requiring postage for mail ballots is not a poll tax. (Tampa Bay Times, News Service of Florida)
Kansas: The ACLU sued the secretary of state asking to disclose the names of voters who voted by provisional ballot in 2018. (AP)
Louisiana: A judge threw out a lawsuit challenging the secretary of state’s emergency voting plan. (AP)
Minnesota: The secretary of state said absentee ballot witness requirements will be waived for the August primary; two judges recently ruled differently on the issue. (Star Tribune)
Missouri: The state Supreme Court sent a case over expanding vote by mail back to a circuit court. (Missourinet)
Pennsylvania: Citing problems during the primary, the NAACP sued the state demanding a variety of changes for the general election, ranging from more polling places to sending mail ballots to all voters. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Tennessee: The state Supreme Court said it wouldn’t block a ruling to allow for the expansion of vote by mail ahead of the state’s August primary. (AP)
Wisconsin: A progressive group filed a lawsuit over voter ID requirements for college students; two other lawsuits are languishing in the courts. (Wisconsin Watch)
Mayors are elected to govern their cities, serve and protect citizens, maintain law and order and bring about economic prosperity. Those are tall orders today, as American cities are wracked by COVID-19 and anti-racism protests.
In the decades that followed, just a handful more cities – among them Hartford, Little Rock, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. – elected Black women mayors.
Then came 2017, when five African American women held that office simultaneously in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Baltimore, Toledo and Washington, D.C.
Huffington Post dubbed it the “Year of the Black Woman Mayor.” Among those elected were Vi Lyles in Charlotte and Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta, both still in charge today.
The Black female mayors covered in my book range in age from their 30s to their 70s and represent cities both large and small. They have many things in common.
All but one are Democrats – Acquanetta Warren of Fontana, California, is the lone Republican – and all are very well educated. Twenty-two of the 24 have a doctorate, medical degree, law degree or master’s degree.
Most also worked in a traditional “feeder” occupation for political service like law, business, education or community activism before pursuing politics. All had held another political office before running for mayor, with most serving on the local city council or in the state legislature.
Fifteen of the 24 are members of a historically Black female sorority, primarily Delta Sigma Theta, but also Alpha Kappa Alpha and Zeta Phi Beta. These three sororities prepare Black women for politics with their emphasis on public service – other famous members include Sen. Kamala Harris, singer Aretha Franklin, and authors Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston.
Some Black female American mayors won close elections and others won by large margins, but regardless of margin most won open seats, either because the sitting mayor was term limited or chose not to run for reelection. That removed the added challenge of competing against an incumbent. Only seven of the 24 mayors defeated incumbents.
Where she leads
Most Black women govern Southern cities that have a Democratic majority, though the regional exceptions – Tacoma, Pontiac and Rochester – are notable. And unlike many of the country’s first Black male mayors, who were primarily elected in poor cities, Black female mayors lead a socioeconomically and demographically diverse array of communities, including super-wealthy enclaves like San Francisco.
That means they had to attract votes from all kinds of people to win. Perhaps as a result, my research finds, Black women mayors don’t necessarily discuss race as often as America’s first Black male mayors did, campaigning instead on economic development. That’s been a winning stance for Mayor Acquanetta Warren, under whose financial stewardship, Fontana has thrived economically.
Nonetheless, the women I studied in researching my book say they’ve faced both racism and sexism in their political careers – and that racism is a more complex problem. In a recent interview, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, “The things that African Americans have endured in this country for far too long are things that I sadly have had to endure throughout my entire life.”
In so many of the cities these women lead – from Atlanta and Ferguson to Washington, D.C. and Chicago – Black residents have struggled to achieve political and economic power despite their large population. And, as demonstrated over and over again, they have strained relations with law enforcement.
Add a pandemic to the poverty and police violence that has long plagued African American communities, and today’s Black female mayors are facing crises with little historic precedent.
The powerful Mississippi Baptist Convention on Tuesday called for state leaders to change the Mississippi flag, with its Confederate battle emblem in one corner.
“It has become apparent that the discussion about changing the flag of Mississippi is not merely a political issue,” Baptist leaders said in a statement. “… The racial overtones of the flag’s appearance make this discussion a moral issue. Since the principal teachings of Scripture are opposed to racism, a stand against such is a matter of biblical morality.”
The convention includes about 2,100 churches in Mississippi, and Baptists are the largest denomination in the state, with over 500,000 members. Leaders said their stance on the flag doesn’t represent every member church, but they believe it represents a majority and asked for “Mississippi Baptists to make this a matter of prayer and to seek the Lord’s guidance in standing for love instead of oppression, unity instead of division, and the gospel of Christ instead of the power of this world.”
The convention’s statement said: “Given the moral and spiritual nature of this issue, Mississippi Baptist leaders offer prayers for our state officials to have wisdom, courage and compassion to move forward. We encourage our governor and state Legislature to take the necessary steps to adopt a new flag for the state of Mississippi that represents the dignity of every Mississippian and promotes unity rather than division.”
Under growing pressure to change the flag after decades of bitter debate, Mississippi legislative leaders say they are discussing the issue, but lack votes to change it as their regular session draws to a close.
Mississippi business, church and community leaders have called for a change, and the state faces intensified national scrutiny amid calls for removal of relics of slavery and the Confederacy.
On Monday, Mississippi State’s star running back Kylin Hill tweeted that he would not play football until the flag changed.
The Mississippi Economic Council, the state’s chamber of commerce, has long called for new state flag. In a statement last week, MEC said the current flag “Is offensive to many, not representative of all Mississippians and perpetuates negative stereotypes of our state.”
“MEC feels strongly that adoption of a new flag is a timely and high profile action that would improve Mississippi’s image, advance a new narrative about our state, and set the stage to enhance economic opportunities and improve quality of life in a fair and inclusive manner for every Mississippian.”
Poll: For first time ever, most Mississippians support changing state flag
The state’s chamber of commerce has released a new poll that shows a seismic shift among Mississippi voters in favor of changing the state flag to remove its Confederate battle emblem.
The poll released by the Mississippi Economic Council shows voters favorable to changing the flag 55% to 41%, a flip from a 2019 poll that showed 54% of voters favored keeping the current flag. MEC says polling data supports its call for the Legislature to act this week to “change the flag now.”
The poll was conducted last week by the Tarrance Group, a company with extensive political polling experience in Mississippi that has polled voters on the flag issue for years. It also showed that support for changing the flag jumped to 72% when people were asked about changing to a “state seal flag” that includes the motto “In God We Trust.” The survey showed the state seal version has support from a majority of Black and white Mississippians.
That the poll was backed by MEC will likely carry weight with lawmakers, who often look to the influential chamber of commerce for economic development counsel.
“In the nearly 20 years we have held the position of changing the state flag, we have never seen voters so much in favor of change,” said Scott Waller, president of MEC. “These recent polling numbers show what people believe, and that the time has come for us to have a new flag that serves as a unifying symbol for our entire state.”
Waller continued: “The Mississippi Legislature is poised to do the right thing this week, and we wholeheartedly support their efforts. As we seek to recover from crippling economic losses from COVID-19, we must show Mississippi is open for business to everyone – and no person should feel left out. Our state flag must be the flag for all of our people, and I cannot think of a better change for our state than to include the national motto ‘In God We Trust,’ which was also recently added to our state’s seal.”
MEC also launched an “It’s Time” campaign today to lend support with the efforts to change the flag, with a full-page ad placed in newspapers across the state. The campaign is supported by more than 100 business and industry leaders and includes full-page ads in newspapers across the state.
Separately, the Mississippi Association of Realtors on Wednesday issued a statement calling for lawmakers to change the state flag.
“The current Mississippi flag serves as an unnecessary hindrance to progress and growth,” the statement said, “and the Mississippi Realtors support swift legislative action to retire the current flag and replace it with a flag that reflects the enduring and remarkable qualities that make Mississippi a wonderful state to call home.”
Lawmakers in both the Senate and House have engaged in conversations about changing the state flag the past two weeks as protests about racial equality have continued across the state and nation. Tens of thousands of protesters in Mississippi have focused their demands around the state flag.
Late last week, as pressure to change the flag continued to grow, lawmakers discussed two options: adopting a second official state flag or letting Mississippi voters decide the fate of the current flag. In a 2001 referendum, 64% of voters voted to keep Mississippi’s current flag. Leaders who support changing the flag today fear a similar outcome would stall efforts to change the flag for years to come.
“I trust our leadership to pass this critical legislation at this important moment for our state,” said Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony Wilson, who serves as Chairman of MEC. “They can take comfort in knowing that many Mississippians stand behind them. MEC not only represents the interests of Mississippi employers but also their employees. Our business members’ long-standing position to see the state flag changed not only reflects their desire to foster a more open business climate in our state but also reflects the overwhelming sentiment of thousands of their Mississippi employees as well.”
The Tarrance poll was conducted from June 16-18, with a sample size of 500 likely voters and a margin of error of 4.5%.
A poll conducted earlier this month by Mississippi-based Chism Strategies found 46% support for retaining the old flag compared to 44.9% who support changing it. In terms of polling, the outcome would essentially be considered a statistical tie. That poll indicated momentum for changing the flag was growing. In September 2017, when Chism polled on the same question, the result was 49% to 41% in favor of the old flag.
Members of Peace Felowship, The Village Church, Anacostia River Church, Revolution Church, Covenant Baptist UCC, and First Rock Baptist Church participate in a peace walk in Washington, D.C. The Rev. Delonte Gholston, fourth from left, regularly helps organize peace walks. Photo courtesy of Delonte Gholston
The Rev. Delonte Gholston collected almost 100 signatures from faith leaders for a letter asking the mayor and other District of Columbia officials to transfer 20% of the police budget into violence prevention programs.
The Rev. Andrew Cheung plans to urge city officials to offer new de-escalation training for the officers that patrol Washington’s streets and enlist more social workers who might instead help the homeless and mentally ill.
The Rev. Ashley Diaz Mejias gained the support of fellow clergy in raising public attention about an outbreak of COVID-19 at a juvenile detention center near Richmond, Virginia, where she co-pastors a church.
The three were part of a predominantly Black but diverse group of clergy and lay people who spent the last nine months in a pilot program exploring how theology applies to issues of police violence and criminal justice.
Participants in the Theology and Racialized Policing Cohort Program meet at the Howard University School of Divinity, Oct. 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Courtesy photo
About 45 participants met in person and virtually at Howard University School of Divinity for the “Theology and Racialized Policing Cohort Program” through a partnership with Sojourners, a Christian mobilizing and media organization, and the Christian Community Development Association. It started in October, months before the recent protests following the death of George Floyd — a Black man held for almost nine minutes under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
The certificate program has brought together an intergenerational group of graduate students, social justice and policing consultants and senior pastors to determine what to do before, during and after crises of racial injustice arise. Its last session was led by a minister who was involved in the “Boston Miracle,” an initiative that led to a sharp reduction in youth homicides.
The Rev. Terrance McKinley. Courtesy photo
The Rev. Terrance McKinley, director of racial justice and mobilizing for Sojourners, said the program was designed to particularly help Black clergy who often have in their pews both law enforcement employees and those who have had negative interactions with the police. The program aimed to foster ways faith leaders, across denominations and backgrounds, could not only address the collective grief of congregants over the deaths of Black people at the hands of police but also determine steps for transforming their communities.
“There’s an acknowledgement of the anger, the anger in particular that comes with these kinds of deaths,” said McKinley, 39, who pastors an African Methodist Episcopal congregation. “But as people of faith, we know that that can’t be an ending point, that we’re always pointing toward the wholeness that God wants for his creation.”
As the White House and Congress debate possible nationwide actions, cohort participants say they have come away from their course of study with determination to push for greater change in their local communities.
“I think that a lot of the folks that are in the cohort are waking up to the difference between heartfelt compassionate service and heartfelt and compassionate action, organizing,” said Gholston, a Black pastor who leads a multiethnic nondenominational Washington congregation that grew out of the Mennonite tradition. “I think it’s been helpful to be able to have those conversations honestly.”
The Rev. Yolanda Pierce, dean of Howard University’s School of Divinity, said faculty at her historically Black institution and guest speakers from Sojourners and the CCDA had already been on the front lines of dealing with race relations and policing and could help other faith leaders advance social justice work and community engagement.
“It is absolutely critical that those who work in faith communities are equipped with language, theology and tools to discuss the ways racialized policing has disproportionately affected communities of color,” she said. “The voices, experiences and engagement of people of faith are absolutely critical in reducing harm, violence and distrust in communities that are often overpoliced but underprotected.”
The Rev. Ashley Diaz Mejias. Courtesy photo
Many participants had already been engaged in the criminal justice system in some way. Gholston, 40, leads regular peace walks in Washington with dozens of churches. Diaz Mejias, also 40, is a director of the Richmond Community Bail Fund and has recently been busy helping protesters in that city who have been detained in jail or had their cars impounded.
Diaz Mejias, a white Hispanic woman who co-pastors a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) worshipping community at the detention center, said the course affirmed that her faith is a “grounding space for liberation.” She said it has also given her reading material — including Alex Vitale’s “The End of Policing” — to guide her.
“I read that book in like a day and a half,” she recalled, saying the reading came before the recent protests in her city. “It was like a breath of fresh air and really challenging. And getting to encounter that in a faith space was invigorating for me.”
Some of the cohort participants, including Cheung, a Chinese pastor of a predominantly white multidenominational church, have participated in recent protests following Floyd’s death, including one organized by Sojourners, and a vigil where he prayed at the Lincoln Memorial.
Cheung, 46, who moved to D.C. a couple of years ago, has noticed the prominent police presence in the nation’s capital — which has some two dozen police agencies.
The Rev. Andrew Cheung, left, and his wife, Julia, participate in a march and vigil for George Floyd on May 31, 2020, in Washington, D.C. The grassroots-organized group marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, where Cheung led a prayer of lament and speakers advocated for police reform. Photo courtesy of Andrew Cheung
“We put too much faith as a society in the sense of security and protection that law enforcement offers us,” he said. “I feel like our sense of what safety means and how do we get to safety is kind of skewed.”
The program will conclude in July, when participants are expected to turn in final projects: scorecards on how D.C. police precincts are relating to their communities.
McKinley said Sojourners has received requests to offer the program in other cities, including at Duke University Divinity School.
The Rev. Regina Graham, associate director of the Office of Black Church Studies at the school in Durham, North Carolina, said the spring 2021 program will include the school’s Hispanic House of Studies and Center for Reconciliation and will focus on racialized policing and immigration. It plans to have seven African American pastors and seven Latino pastors participate to help them tangibly follow the biblical admonition of “doing justice and walking humbly” as they seek to transform their local areas.
“We’re hoping that it will provide them with the tools and the resources,” Graham said, “that they’re able to share in their ministries, share in their communities outside of the four walls of the church.”
While some participants in the Sojourners partnership with Howard’s divinity school and CCDA are living out what they learned through protests, letter writing campaigns and congregational action, at least one is contemplating a career change.
Claudia Allen speaks at a community interfaith prayer vigil, planned by Pastor Noah Washington of Emmanuel Brinklow SDA Church, on June 12, 2020, in Montgomery County, Maryland. Courtesy photo
Claudia Allen, an African American Seventh-day Adventist laywoman who writes for an online Adventist magazine, was a teaching assistant pursuing a doctorate of philosophy in English at the University of Maryland when she started the program. Now, after spending months sharing stories, statistics and practical steps with Baptist, Presbyterian and Catholic cohort members, the 29-year-old has applied for full-time work in the social justice field, as well as a position on a county policing advisory commission.
“I think that people don’t know that, hey, these town halls, these boards, these meetings are open to community citizens, and, unfortunately, many church folk aren’t sitting on them,” she said. “That’s kind of what I try to encourage people to do and what I’m trying to do myself.”
The latest lawsuits, cybersecurity issues, and vote by mail.
This article is part of Electionland, ProPublica’s collaborative reporting project covering problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections.
The Postal Service Is Steadily Getting Worse — Can It Handle a National Mail-In Election?
Postal delays and mistakes have marred primary voting, and after years of budget cuts and plant closures, mail delivery has slowed so much that ballot deadlines in many states are no longer realistic. Read the story.
Georgia Election Aftermath
The secretary of state announced proposals to prevent a repeat of the chaotic June 9 primary, but said the state would not send absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the fall like it did for the primary. One new measure would assign a technician to each polling place to offer technical support. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, GPB News)
The state extended the amount of time voters have to correct signature problems on mail ballots, giving them three business days from the time they’re notified. (CNN)
Voter turnout tripled compared to the 2016 primary. (NBC News)
In the wake of the election, celebrity chef José Andrés said he’d give food and water to voters waiting in long lines in November, and basketball star LeBron James teamed up with other athletes and entertainers to start a voting rights group. (Fox 5, The New York Times)
An NAACP-organized protest convened hundreds who marched in Atlanta to demand criminal justice and voting reforms. (GPB News)
The Latest on Vote by Mail
Michigan voters can now request an absentee ballot online. Last week, a group of Trump supporters burned absentee ballot applications during a protest. (MLive, The Detroit News)
Hawaii, which has a robust vote by mail system, is holding its first all-mail election in August, with “voting service centers” in lieu of traditional polling places. (Hawaii News Now)
Almost half a million New York City voters requested absentee ballots ahead of the June primary, but some haven’t received their ballots yet. (Gothamist)
The Wisconsin Elections Commission agreed to send absentee ballot request forms to most registered voters ahead of November 3. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
The District of Columbia will send all registered voters a mail ballot in the fall. (DCist)
Because of the delays in counting mail ballots, experts warn it’s unlikely we’ll know the result of the presidential election on election night. (NPR)
Coronavirus Impact Continues
Jefferson County, home to Louisville, has a single polling site open for early voting and on Election Day next week — an exposition center. “I think it’s going to work,” the county clerk said. “And maybe I’ll just have to eat my words, but we’ll see.” Meanwhile, a pending lawsuit calls for more polling locations. (WLKY)
The government of Kentucky is supplying masks, face shields, hand sanitizer and gloves to all 120 counties for poll workers to use during the primary. (Paintsville Herald)
After months of requests from election supervisors, Florida’s governor issued an emergency order giving them some flexibility to address pandemic-related problems in holding elections in August and November. (Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald)
Alaska will hold two statewide elections and one round of local elections in the coming months, but it also has an acute shortage of poll workers. In Anchorage, 95% of the municipality’s regular election workers decided not to participate this year. (Anchorage Daily News)
Minnesota is facing a poll worker shortage ahead of elections in August and November. (Mankato Free Press)
Several North Dakota election officials quit while counting ballots because some workers refused to wear masks. (Valley News Live)
The Brennan Center published a state-by-state resource guide on how elections will work during the pandemic. (Brennan Center)
The National Guard will assist with election cybersecurity assistance during the general election. The West Virginia Guard recently helped with cybersecurity protection during this month’s primary. (Bank Info Security, DVIDS)
A pilot program run by the Election Assistance Commission and the Center for Internet Security will scrutinize epollbook security, though it likely won’t issue a report until after the November election. (The Washington Post)
The Latest Lawsuits
Alabama: A judge lifted certain absentee and curbside voting restrictions during next month’s runoff election. (AL.com)
California: A district court judge temporarily halted the governor’s executive order on the number of in-person voting centers must be set up in each county. (CalMatters)
Florida: A federal judge denied the state’s motion for a stay on his order on felon voting rights. (Tampa Bay Times)
Minnesota: In settling two lawsuits, the state will not require a witness signature on absentee ballots for the August state primary, but the rule doesn’t apply to the general election. (Star Tribune)
Tennessee: A judge threatened to hold the state in contempt for not adhering to her order to allow mail-in voting for voters concerned about getting sick. (Newsweek)
Texas: The Texas Democratic Party asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the case to expand vote by mail. (Texas Tribune)
Voting Legislation Updates
Illinois: The governor signed election bills this week that make Election Day a state holiday and require election officials to send absentee ballot applications to those who voted in recent elections. (Block Club Chicago)
Iowa: The legislature concluded its session and passed a budget bill that included language requiring voter ID for early voting. It also passed a bill to limit the secretary of state’s emergency powers. Meanwhile, legislators killed an amendment to enfranchise felons, but the governor promised to sign an executive order to enfranchise felons by the fall. (Des Moines Register, Radio Iowa, KCRG)
Massachusetts: The state Senate approved legislation to expand early voting and vote by mail, including sending an absentee ballot application to every voter. (Mass Live)
North Carolina: The governor signed legislation to expand vote by mail, fund public health measures for in-person voting and mail-in ballots will now require one witness signature instead of two. (News & Observer)
Ohio: Democrats in the state legislature came out against a bill stripped of amendments like allowing online absentee applications and more than one polling location per county. Meanwhile, the secretary of state says Ohio will send an absentee ballot application to all registered voters ahead of the general election. (Columbus Dispatch, Reuters)
Election News Grab Bag
Facebook will launch a “Voting Information Center” and aims to register 4 million voters before the general election. (The Wall Street Journal)
An effort coordinated by the Republican National Committee seeks 50,000 people to act as poll watchers during the general election. In some states, poll watchers can challenge a voter’s eligibility. (NBC News)
The influential Trump lawyer on the frontlines to limit who can vote this year was one of the lawyers involved in the Shelby County v. Holder landmark case that rolled back parts of the Voting Rights Act. (The New York Times)
The Southern Poverty Law Center will disburse $30 million in grants to nonprofits in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi to help mobilize voters of color. (NPR)
Trans and nonbinary voters face barriers to voting in states that require photo ID. (The Guardian)
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