Electionland 2020: Inside the EAC, Poll Worker Woes, Cybersecurity and More

Electionland 2020: Inside the EAC, Poll Worker Woes, Cybersecurity and More

Video Courtesy of ABC News


The article originally appeared on ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. 


New From ProPublica and The Atlantic

How Voter-Fraud Hysteria and Partisan Bickering Ate American Election Oversight

The federal Election Assistance Commission has neglected key responsibilities or ceded them to other agencies — and two of its four commissioners are parroting the president’s unfounded warnings about vote by mail. Read the story.

Voting During a Pandemic

  • An Alabama poll worker who worked during last week’s runoff has been hospitalized with COVID-19; the state did not require voters to wear masks to vote. At least three poll workers in Texas’ McLennan County tested positive for coronavirus after working the polls; one is hospitalized. One worker estimated between 10 and 15% of voters weren’t wearing masks; the state exempted polling places from its mask mandate. (WBRC, Waco Tribune-Herald)
  • The Kansas secretary of state said voters won’t be turned away for not wearing a mask to the polls during the state primary. The governors of Michigan and Tennessee said masks would be encouraged, but not required, to vote in upcoming elections. (Kansas.com, Detroit Free Press, Knoxville News Sentinel)
  • During Geogia’s prrimary, the majority of the polling places that stayed open late were in majority non-white communities. (GPB News)
  • The current housing crisis and a coming wave of evictions could disrupt access to the ballot; displaced voters will have to register to vote at their new address. (Fast Company)

Preparing for In-Person Voting in the Fall

  • Poll worker shortages are a problem across the country; officials in Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota and Tennessee have recently sounded the alarm. (NBC Connecticut, WLKY, WXYZ, KSTP, WKNO)
  • The Nevada secretary of state says she doesn’t have the funds to run an all-mail election in the fall, and plans to return to in-person voting. (Las Vegas Review Journal)
  • North Carolina’s top elections official issued an order requiring a minimum number of early voting sites across the state. The order also says poll workers will have to wear masks, but voters won’t. (Associated Press)
  • Maryland election officials and advocates are critical of the governor’s plan for the general election to be held primarily in-person; the Baltimore election director called it a “setup for failure.” The governor said the plan offers flexibility to voters, and blamed the debate on “partisan politics.” (Baltimore Sun)
  • With limited access to mail voting, Mississippi will rely heavily on in-person voting. Legislators went against the secretary of state’s proposal to expand mail voting, and also decided against giving election workers hazard pay. (Clarion Ledger)
  • The pandemic could dampen college student turnout in California this fall. (KQED)
  • Because of the pandemic, more than 300,000 immigrants may not become citizens in time to vote, including 5,000 in Arizona. (The Arizona Republic)

Vote by Mail News

  • At least 76% of U.S. voters will be eligible to cast a mail ballot in the fall, according to a new analysis. (The Washington Post)
  • Per a Pew survey, about two-thirds of Americans believe voters should be able to vote absentee or early without a documented excuse. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 49% of Americans think mail voting is susceptible to fraud. (Pew Research, ABC News)
  • The Brookings Institution rated each state on its current vote by mail systems; only six states and the District of Columbia received an A rating. (Brookings)
  • The Iowa secretary of state will send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters for the general election. (CBS2 Iowa)
  • The Tennessee secretary of state said he opposes drop boxes for absentee ballots, claiming they posed a security issue. (AP)
  • The governor of West Virginia said that widespread vote by mail would be unlikely in the fall. (WV Metro News)
  • The D.C. Board of Elections agreed to send all registered voters a mail ballot ahead of the November election. (DCist)
  • President Donald Trump continued his unfounded attacks on mail voting, and worried Republican officials are reportedly asking his campaign to convince him to change his tune. (CNN)

Mail Voting Problems

  • Five Senate Democrats wrote a letter to the postmaster general asking him to explain the USPS’ plan to manage a huge increase in mail ballots. (Vox)
  • New York’s potentially high mail ballot rejection rate during the primary doesn’t bode well for the fall. Three weeks after the primary votes were still being counted, with no running count of vote totals. (The Intercept, Vice News, The New York Times)
  • New York City passed legislation in 2016 to create an online tracking system for absentee ballots, but the board of elections never implemented it. (Gotham Gazette)
  • A caveat in Tennessee’s voting law could prevent those who live in nursing homes and long-term care homes from voting absentee. (The Tennessean, ABC10)
  • Alaska Republicans sent out 22,000 absentee ballot applications with incorrect information prefilled on the forms. (Anchorage Daily News)
  • Vote by mail is worsening partisan rifts among officials in Michigan. (MLive)
  • Facebook said it would label posts from all presidential candidates about mail voting, regardless of whether the posts contain misinformation. (Axios)

Election Law News

  • Alabama: Voters won’t need an excuse to vote absentee in the fall, though they will need to provide ID and witness signatures. (WHNT, Sam Levine)
  • Georgia: State agencies have done little to clarify rules about voting eligibility for ex-felons who haven’t paid all their fines. If they don’t get the necessary paperwork in order to register to vote or cast a ballot, they risk prosecution. (WABE)
  • Idaho: The county clerk from the state’s most populous county wants the legislature to hold a special session to consider election legislation before the fall. (KTVB)
  • Kentucky: The secretary of state is working on cleaning up the voter rolls to remove deceased and nonresident voters. (WTVQ)
  • Michigan: Lawmakers aim to hold an urgent hearing on legislation that would allow clerks to start processing ballots before Election Day. (WILX)
  • Mississippi: The governor signed a bill that allows voters to cast an absentee ballot if a doctor asked them to quarantine or if they’re caring for someone under quarantine. (Daily Journal)
  • New York: Legislators reached a deal on automatic voter registration. (NY1)
  • Rhode Island: Lawmakers passed a bill that asks the secretary of state to send all qualified voters a mail ballot in the fall and waive mail ballot witness requirements. (Providence Journal)

The Latest From The Courts

  • Alabama: A federal appeals court upheld the state’s voter ID law, ruling that it is not racially discriminatory. (AP)
  • Alaska: Advocacy groups sued over the decision to send out absentee ballots to registered voters over age 65, excluding younger voters. (SitNews)
  • Arkansas: In a lawsuit over absentee voting, a circuit judge gave plaintiffs a week to prove they’d be harmed by the state’s mail voting practices. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)
  • Connecticut: Two judges rejected a challenge to the state’s decision to send absentee ballots to all eligible voters. (CourtHouse News, Hartford Courant)
  • Florida: Parties reached a settlement over the state’s mail voting procedures. In another case, a judge refused to issue an injunction to order Miami to open more early voting sites. (Tampa Bay Times, CBSMiami)
  • Maine: Visually impaired voters sued the state over the accessibility of absentee ballots. (Maine Public Radio)
  • Michigan: An appeals court upheld the state’s identification rules for registering to vote. The ACLU sued Flint over how the city is processing absentee ballot applications. (Detroit Free Press, Michigan Radio)
  • New York: Candidates and voters filed a lawsuit after the state threw out thousands of ballots due to postmark problems. (Gothamist/WNYC)
  • North Carolina: A prosecutor doubled charges against a Black North Carolina woman who voted while on probation in 2016 and says she didn’t know she was ineligible. (The Guardian)
  • Tennessee: A judge upheld the state’s vote by mail laws for the state primary, but said he would consider whether to block them for the general election. A lawsuit was filed to enfranchise felons who were convicted in another state. (AP, AP)
  • Texas: In a lawsuit, civil rights groups asked the state to change in-person voting to protect voters’ health and prevent disenfranchisement. (Texas Tribune)
  • National: The Supreme Court’s recent decisions not to intervene in voting rights cases have concerned some experts. Nationwide, at least 151 election lawsuits have been filed through July 15. (The New York Times, USA Today)

Election News From Washington

  • Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis passed away at age 80 last week. After his death, House Democrats plan to reveal new voting legislation that would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act, one of Lewis’ legacies. (The New York Times, The Hill)
  • The Senate Rules and Administration Committee held a hearing on elections yesterday as senators consider whether to provide states more funding for the general election. (CourtHouse News)
  • President Trump wouldn’t say if he’ll accept this year’s election results, falsely claiming the mail voting will “rig” the election. His comment alarmed experts, who warned of a potential post-election crisis. (The Washington Post, CNN)
  • “What the president is doing is willfully and wantonly undermining confidence in the most basic democratic process we have,” William A. Galston, chair of the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, told the Post. (The Washington Post)
  • Matt Masterson, a senior adviser at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, warned that some city and county election officials have “been sharing passwords over email or default passwords are being used.” (State Scoop)
  • More than 30 states have asked the National Guard to provide cybersecurity help for the election. (WVIK)

 

Electionland 2020: Kentucky and New York Vote, Trump on Mail Voting, COVID Impacts and more

Electionland 2020: Kentucky and New York Vote, Trump on Mail Voting, COVID Impacts and more

Video Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal


This article originally appeared on ProPublica.org, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.  

Recent Elections

  • 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)
  • Jefferson County is live-streaming workers counting absentee ballots. (Jefferson County Clerk)
  • 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)

The Latest on Vote by Mail

  • Alabama’s secretary of state joined the newly formed National Task Force on Voting by Mail, which also consists of several members of Trump’s now disbanded voter fraud commission. (Alabama Today)
  • 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)
  • Fifteen Trump officials have voted by mail, as has Trump. (The Washington Post)
  • 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)

 

Electionland 2020: Georgia Aftermath, USPS Struggles, Poll Workers and More

Electionland 2020: Georgia Aftermath, USPS Struggles, Poll Workers and More


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)
  • Some lawmakers in Georgia’s Dekalb County say poll workers should receive hazard pay. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • 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)

Cybersecurity Issues

  • 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)
  • Delaware dropped its internet voting system amid security concerns. (Delaware Public Media)
  • 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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