(RNS) — Millions of Texas voters headed to the polls earlier this month in the state’s primary elections — but the democratic system they participated in is markedly different from the recent past.
After last year’s enactment of sweeping voting restrictions by the Texas Statehouse, the primaries served as a first chance to see how damaging these laws would truly be. It’s too soon to get the full picture, but early signs are ominous: Roughly 30% of absentee ballots cast were rejected by election officials, a massive increase from the 2020 general election when fewer than 1% of ballots met the same fate.
Regrettably, this is likely a mere preview of what’s to come for millions of voters across the nation. In 2021, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. This includes limiting mail balloting, purging voter rolls and reducing poll hours on Election Day. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access were introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions and more are certain to come.
This isn’t just about who will or will not be able to vote in elections. When combined with the toxic partisanship that is dividing our country — and the fact that large portions of our population and numerous elected leaders still cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election — an undeniable truth emerges: Our democracy is in deep peril.
As the first registered religious lobbying organization in the United States, we at the Friends Committee on National Legislation believe civic engagement of all people is vital to the democratic life of our country. This begins with the fundamental right to vote. Quakers and other people of faith understand that voting is not just a basic civic right but a moral requirement. At the center of our faith is the unwavering belief in and commitment to the equality and dignity of every human being. Safeguarding the integrity of the voting process for all people and removing, not raising, barriers to the full participation of disenfranchised people in our electoral process is vital to our democracy and our integrity as a nation.
What happened in Texas and in other states violates our democratic principles and our moral conscience. We know voters of color are most directly impacted by efforts to suppress their voice, both historically and today. These communities are also leading the voting rights movement, often at great personal risk. This is only the latest chapter in a long struggle against disenfranchisement of Black and brown communities in the United States. Our faith calls us to help uproot racism and discrimination wherever it exists, including at the ballot box, and to help transform our nation into the beloved community we envision.
This call to protect elections as the bedrock of democracy is not new. Earlier this year, in anticipation of Martin Luther King Day, advocates launched a large scale effort to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. This bill would revitalize American democracy by making elections more accessible, secure and transparent, and by ensuring that states do not pass discriminatory laws that restrict access to the ballot box. The effort failed due to a filibuster but has not been abandoned.
Even as Congress rightly focuses on the crisis in Ukraine and the president’s economic agenda, voting rights must remain a top priority for the nation. Currently, efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887 have real momentum in Congress, with a bipartisan group of senators working to find common ground.
This alone will not end all voter suppression, but it could be a successful vehicle for additional necessary reforms, including amendments to prevent state legislatures from overturning election results, making Election Day a holiday, supporting small-donor financing, instituting gerrymandering reforms or making absentee/vote-by-mail easier.
And despite the failed vote, senators should keep pushing for the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. History has taught us the advancement of voting rights has never come quickly or easily — and raising the moral conscience of our nation on these issues is an important role of the faith community.
Quakers believe our democracy can live up to its potential only if the government safeguards the integrity of the voting process and ensures full participation for all people. The push for voting rights is a moral imperative and requires the urgent passage of nationwide voting rights legislation. Advocates and people of faith won’t rest until real action is taken. The Senate shouldn’t either.
(Bridget Moix is the fifth general secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation in its 80-year history. She brings with her more than 25 years of work in peacebuilding. Moix also leads two other Quaker organizations: Friends Place on Capitol Hill and the FCNL Education Fund. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)
Editor’s note: This story first published on May 25, 2018 (Mississippi Today), after Stacey Abrams won the Democratic nomination for Georgia governor. Abrams, who grew up in Mississippi, has received national attention for her organizing efforts ahead of the 2020 presidential election and U.S. Senate races in Georgia.
Stacey Abrams, who won Georgia’s Democratic nomination for governor, grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where she and her five siblings learned about service to others from their United Methodist minister parents.
The Rev. Carolyn Abrams said she and her husband, Robert, who both now live in Hattiesburg, tried to teach their children to strive “to make things better for others. Education was key, family and God. You go to church, go to school and look out for each other.”
She said those views are central to her daughter’s political philosophy.
Stacey Abrams, 44, has received national attention in recent days after winning the nomination by a convincing 53-point margin. She is the nation’s first African American woman to win a major party’s nomination for governor and would be Georgia’s first female governor if elected in November.
Carolyn Abrams said her daughter attended pre-school through 10th grade in Gulfport after the family moved back home to Mississippi from Wisconsin. Carolyn Abrams was at the University of Wisconsin on a fellowship.
In Gulfport, Abrams said she and her husband were involved in various ministries, for the homeless, the poor and those in detention. She said their children always participated and would even perform plays at the juvenile detention centers.
“These things, I think, stayed with her,” said Carolyn. “The world could be better. I know she brings this with her in politics.”
The Abramses moved to Atlanta in 1989 where both parents pursued graduate degrees at Emory University. The parents later moved back to Mississippi where they served churches in south Mississippi in the United Methodist Conference. Stacey is not the only one of the Abrams’ children to excel. One sister is a federal judge in Georgia while others include a college professor.
In a statement from the campaign, Abrams father, referring to this daughter “as the best thing that has happened in Georgia since peanuts,” said: “I knew from a very young age that Stacey would be special. Throughout her childhood in Mississippi, I watched a young girl grow into a leader dedicated to service. Carolyn and I raised our children with the understanding that we must work everyday to do right by others”
She is known by numerous members of the Mississippi Legislature.
Former state Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, who was the minority leader in the Mississippi House, said he had met Abrams several times.
He said Abrams “will be a powerful governor for the people of Georgia. Of course, I am proud to say she is from Mississippi.”
Williams-Barnes said she called Stacey Abrams to congratulate her after the primary victory. Mississippi Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport, said her parents and Abrams’ parents have been friends for many years. The Abramses were mentors for her parents, RoseMary Hayes Williams and Theodore Williams Jr., when like the Abramses, they opted to become United Methodist ministers. Williams-Barnes said Carolyn Abrams did the eulogy for her mother’s funeral.
“She is excited,” Williams-Barnes said. “We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to ensure she is elected governor of Georgia.”
But Williams-Barnes said she is not surprised by Abrams’ success. Besides being a politician, Abrams is also an author and attorney.
“She comes from a family with deep roots in Christ and a belief in hard work,” Williams-Barnes said. “Her success does not surprise me at all.”
In the centennial year of suffrage and 55 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris is projected to become the country’s highest-ranking woman in politics, according to Decision Desk HQ, joining President-elect Joe Biden in the White House as the first woman and Black and South Asian woman to serve as an American vice president.
It is a role that could reshape Americans’ perceptions of women and women of color in political leadership.
A century ago, when women were finally granted the right to vote, Harris’ historic candidacy was unimaginable and unthinkable for most Americans, said Johns Hopkins University historian Martha Jones.
“Except among Black women, there was no robust vision that would permit anyone to imagine where we are,” Jones said. “This is really the legacy of the Voting Rights Act. It is the legacy of women like Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan, who really bring Black women to Washington and begin to lay claim to Washington as a place where Black women will be office holders, influencers and more.”
On the campaign trail, first as a presidential candidate, and then as the vice presidential nominee, Harris often referenced her candidacies as “what we know can be, unburdened by what has been.”
Her narrative has often been a departure from that of her political rivals. Harris’ ascendance has often meant being the first to hold her position, as district attorney in San Francisco, and later as the attorney general of California.
Harris, 56, is the lone Black woman in the U.S. Senate, and only the second Black woman to serve in that capacity.
Harris was also the only Black woman to run for president in 2020, and only the third Black woman to run as a candidate for a major political party, the first in more than a generation.
Despite being capable and qualified, the path to this moment was never paved with certainty, said Glynda Carr, founder of Higher Heights.
“America is totally different in 2020 than when she ran for president,” said Carr, whose organization endorsed Harris during her presidential bid before she exited the race in December 2019. “The environment around living in a global pandemic, the continued attacks on Blackness and the racial reckoning that has begun in this country created the awakening of the possibilities of having a Black woman on the ticket that didn’t exist when she ran in the Democratic primary.”
In an interview with The 19th in August, days after being named the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Harris herself said Biden choosing her was a bold decision.
“Joe Biden had the audacity to choose a Black woman to be his running mate. How incredible is that?” Harris said. “That he decided he was going to do that thing that was about breaking one of the most substantial barriers that has existed in our country — and that he makes that decision with whatever risk that brings.”
Harris has helped to shift the notion of electability in American presidential politics and galvanized a crucial part of the electorate — the Black women who have long been the vanguard of the Democratic Party and pushed this cycle to be valued for their input as well as their output, said She the People co-founder Aimee Allison.
“Electability, first and foremost, is about who Black women are inspired by, moved by and willing to put our formidable voting and organizing prowess behind,” Allison said. “Having her on the ticket made the biggest difference this year in terms of being able to reach our voters, have higher turnout and get people to see themselves in the campaign.”
Harris earned her spot on the Democratic general election presidential ticket after a grueling party primary. After returning to the Senate, she continued to push for issues around race and gender, including legislation addressing disparities in pregnancy-related deaths, and the inequalities exposed by the pandemic related to housing, employment and public health data.
On the general election campaign trail, Harris’ status as an alumnae of historically Black Howard University and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., sorority were also assets, fueling fundraising and mobilizing voters and volunteers.
Now a pioneer as vice president-elect, Harris will bring her lived experience as a Black and South Asian American woman to a role both symbolic and substantive, Carr said.
“Her experience as a prosecutor, an executive, and a legislator positions her to be an asset Day One in the White House,” Carr said of Harris. “She literally is going to bring the voices of women, women of color, and Black women into that room when she steps into the Oval Office for the first time.
Harris’ candidacy and future governing represent a new chapter in leadership for women of color, and Black women in particular, said veteran Democratic strategist Karen Finney.
“It normalizes the role that Black women have played throughout the history of this country, that we’re leaders,” Finney said. “For so long, Black women have been in the background and haven’t always gotten the credit they deserve. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s always hard to be the first.”
Seeing Harris at decision-making tables, tackling foreign policy, the economy, climate change or criminal justice can demonstrate that women belong in the highest positions of power, Finney said.
It is not just Harris’ political leadership as a woman of color that will be on display in 2021 and beyond, but that of an increasingly diverse Congress, said Jones.
“The hardest thing for someone like Harris is looking squarely at that gap and that distance and then asking what do you do as someone with a seat at the table to address that? We will increasingly see what it means for Black women to steer this country on critical questions.”
Harris’ candidacy and political success could serve as a model for Black women and women of color seeking higher office, on the continuum laid forth by Shirley Chisholm — in whose spirit Harris launched her campaign for president last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“There will be generations of women who use her blueprint for her political and elected leadership,” Carr said. “What she actually represents is a pipeline.”
With Harris headed to the White House, her Senate seat will be open — and while California is solidly blue, meaning that the balance of the chamber will not be disrupted by her departure, some are calling specifically for Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill Harris’ vacancy with a Black woman. The California House delegation currently includes Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass — also discussed as a potential vice presidential nominee this cycle — as well as Rep. Maxine Waters.
Harris’ candidacies have also shone a light on how far the country still has to go on issues of race and gender in politics, said Tina Tchen, chief executive officer of Times Up.
“We are trying to change cultural norms that have existed for millenia.
It wasn’t going to change in four years, and it wasn’t going to change with just one election,” Tchen continued. “Her candidacy is a huge step forward in that generations-long battle for progress. We need to celebrate that step forward and build on it.”
I have been incredibly heartened by a recent national poll of religious voters that showed 94% of Black Protestants believe that our responsibility to protect God’s Creation is an important reason to address climate. I am not surprised that Black people of faith feel this way for three important reasons.
First, as many of us know, Matthew 22:39 states: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The core of this verse is about the need for empathy and community. Our community, which has been beaten down, degraded, minimized, and marginalized for over 400 years in America has survived because we look out for and care deeply about one another. Those traits of empathy and community also mean that we are able to see beyond ourselves to the wider world and recognize that our actions have degraded God’s Creation. The poll shows clearly, that as Black Americans, we demand action on Climate change because of our responsibility to protect the gift we have been given.
Second, Black Americans have been forced by circumstances to be able to address multiple traumas simultaneously. There has never been a time in our history in America where we didn’t have to deal with economic, cultural, educational, and political racism. Our ability to confront multiple crises is certainly evident in 2020. Fighting systemic racism in the criminal justice system that routinely and arbitrarily kills Black Americans, confronting a deadly pandemic that disproportionately affects Black communities, and facing an economic crisis unseen since the Great Depression is enough to break any people. And yet not only do we persist, but we are also able to hold our heads up and claim our responsibility to protect our planet.
Third, as climate change accelerates, it becomes clearer each day that those who will suffer first and most will be Black Americans. We know this because years of housing and economic policies made it so. Polluting factories are situated next to Black neighborhoods. We are forced to live in the most vulnerable and flood prone areas of coastal cities. It is no coincidence that during Hurricane Katrina, the Lower Ninth Ward flooded more and had more deaths than any area of the city. We know that we will face the brunt of the climate crisis, so it is understandable that we demand action.
As we face down a critical election, we are confronted with forces that hope to intimidate and discourage us from making our voices heard. As we have done for centuries, we will persist and fight back. Indeed, it is our duty to do so. Many of us will vote for leaders who believe in racial justice as opposed to racial discrimination. Others will vote to ensure that those who lead us will take science seriously in their efforts to curb this terrible pandemic. Still others will vote to create a more equitable society where people are paid a living wage for an honest day’s work. And some will vote to make sure that all Americans have access to quality healthcare as a right.
But what this recent poll also shows me is that many Americans, particularly Black Americans of faith, will also vote to take responsibility as guardians to the greatest gift that God has bestowed upon us.
The Rev. Dr Ambrose Carroll, Sr is founder of Green The Church, a sustainability initiative working to create a cadre of Black Church communities who are committed to green theology, promoting sustainable practices within their communities and helping to build economic & political change. He is also senior pastor at The Church by the Side of the Road in Berkeley, CA.
A Nonprofit With Ties to Democrats Is Sending Out Millions of Ballot Applications. Election Officials Wish It Would Stop.
Election officials say a flood of mailers from the Center for Voter Information has contained mistakes and confused voters at a time when states are racing to expand vote by mail. Read the story.
How to Vote During a Pandemic
From coronavirus to vote-by-mail, the 2020 election is shaping up to be confusing. Here’s how to figure out what the heck is going on this year and what you can do to participate in our democracy. Read the story.
A Guide to In-Person Voting vs. Mail-In Voting
In 2020, every state’s voting process has changed in response to the coronavirus. Regardless of whether you plan to vote in person or by mail, there are many things to consider. Here are some of the most important. Read the story.
How to Spot (and Fight) Election Misinformation
Misinformation and disinformation, especially online, continue to play a huge role in the 2020 election. Learn more about the types of false information you’re likely to come across this year — and how you can help fight it. Read the story.
Why Do Nonwhite Georgia Voters Have to Wait in Line for Hours? Their Numbers Have Soared, and Their Polling Places Have Dwindled.
The state’s voter rolls have grown by nearly 2 million since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, but polling locations have been cut by almost 10%, with Metro Atlanta hit particularly hard. Read the story from ProPublica and GPB.
When Pennsylvania Voter Mindy Bence Opened Her Mail-in Ballot Packet, There Was A Problem: Her Return Envelopes Had Arrived Already Sealed Shut. (Electionland)
The Latest on Misinformation
U.S. intelligence officials said they traced a wave of threatening emails sent to Democratic voters in several states back to Iran. The emails, which claimed to be from the far-right group the Proud Boys, instructed voters in at least four states to change their party affiliations and cast ballots for Trump, “or we will come after you.” Officials warned that Russian operatives also have access to voter information and may use it in the coming days. (Washington Post, NPR)
Arizona’s secretary of state is taking to Twitter to dispel misinformation about the security of mail-in voting. (KTAR)
The election administrator for El Paso County, Texas, said a Facebook post that falsely claims ballots can be thrown out if poll workers mark them in any way has spread “like wildfire.” Texas law requires that ballots be initialed by election judges. (KTSM)
False reports of voter intimidation at two ballot drop boxes in Denver, Colorado, circulated online this week, but security camera footage showed nothing inappropriate. (The Denver Post)
Election officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, had “a very terrible day” investigating and then debunking a video that went viral this week with a false claim of fraud by an election worker. (The Washington Post)
There has been a spike in misinformation targeting Latino voters in Florida, officials say. (Sun Sentinel)
Vote by Mail News
Officials in Los Angeles are investigating a fire inside an official ballot drop box. (The Guardian)
California will permit the state Republican Party to keep its own ballot collection boxes, with safeguards. (Politico)
Advocacy groups are scrambling to help voters fix ballot mistakes in time. And while some ballots are badly designed, there are ways to make sure your vote can still count. (NPR, Washington Post)
North Carolina will begin reaching out to voters about 10,000 deficient absentee ballots that have been in legal limbo. (Associated Press)
Voters are complaining about responsiveness from a swamped Texas secretary of state’s office. (Texas Tribune)
A technical glitch led to more than 1,000 Pennsylvania voters receiving two absentee ballots, but the state says only one will be counted. (WHYY)
A group led by retired military leaders says the election shouldn’t be declared until every military absentee ballot is counted. (Military Times)
A printing mistake caused ink splotches and marks on ballots in Montana. (NBC Montana)
A printing vendor in Ohio made a mistake that resulted in voters finding return envelopes to an address in Missouri. (Zanesville Times Recorder)
A bar code error on return envelopes in two New Mexico counties would have mailed ballots back to individual voters. (Taos News)
A swamped printing company in Ohio has been unable to meet the demand from election agencies. A number of counties are switching vendors. (New York Times, Cleveland.com)
There’s little oversight in Ohio over the private printing vendors that are responsible for ballot and voter purging mistakes. (Columbus Dispatch)
Lehigh County sent out an erroneous email telling people who had already voted that their ballots were on the way. (Allentown Morning Call)
Pennsylvania voters who change their minds about voting absentee will have to bring their ballots to the polls if they want to vote in person. (KDKA)
Problems have been reported with New Jersey’s and Virginia’s mail-in ballot trackers. (NJ.com, WJHL)
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says poll workers cannot force voters to wear masks, despite a statewide mask mandate and a recent spike in cases of COVID-19. (Cleveland.com)
White House pandemic expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said he’s planning to vote in person on Nov. 3, adding that it should be safe with the proper precautions. (Yahoo! News, CNBC)
Maricopa County, Arizona, received more than 20,000 poll worker applications just over the past month, after predictions that COVID-19 would cause a shortage. (Arizona Republic)
Bannock County, Idaho, will not require masks at the polls for voters, election officials, or poll workers, as part of a “personal choice” policy. (Idaho Falls Post-Register)
In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, four maskless voters were allowed to cast their ballots during early voting, despite a county mask mandate. The voters said they had medical reasons for violating the order. (Sun Sentinel)
Indiana’s secretary of state is facing pushback from county clerks who refuse to enforce a statewide mask mandate at the polls. “I won’t be part of any government overreach,” said one clerk in rural Fountain County. (Lafayette Journal Courier)
County clerks in Kansas are coming up with their own policies on mask use. The state spent nearly $1.3 million on personal protective equipment for election workers, but there is no mandate on how to use it. (Associated Press)
Two poll workers in Denton County, Texas, walked off the job after the lead worker at their voting site refused to wear a mask. (NBCDFW)
A voter in Fort Smith, Arkansas, was turned away twice for not using a face covering, even though Arkansas hasn’t extended its mask mandate to polling sites. The voter said he had a respiratory issue, but also told a reporter he was “tired of giving up my rights.” (KFSM)
A judge in Galveston County, Texas, has ordered a $1,000 fine against any poll worker who turns away voters for not wearing masks. (KPRC)
Election officials in Sacramento and San Joaquin counties are coming up with alternatives for voters who refuse to wear masks, including take-home ballots and designated polling areas away from other voters and staff. (CBS Sacramento)
A terminally ill man in Michigan raced the clock to cast a ballot in the 2020 election. (Washington Post)
A Memphis, Tennessee, poll worker was fired for turning away voters in “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” shirts. State law only bans items that feature political parties or the names of candidates. (NBC News)
News on Poll Safety
Michigan’s secretary of state banned the open carry of guns at polling places on Election Day. (Fox 17)
The Florida department of state told local election administrators that they must staff ballot drop boxes outside of early voting sites. (News Service of Florida)
A Miami police officer will be disciplined for entering an early voting site while in full uniform and wearing a Trump face mask. (Miami Herald)
A former GOP lawmaker in North Carolina was charged with assaulting an election worker at an early voting site. (News & Observer)
Some voters complained about a Trump rally held near a voting site and ballot drop box in Nevada. (ABC 10)
A New Mexico clerk reported a convoy of Trump supporters near a polling place for possible voter intimidation. (KRQE)
Florida police are investigating a case of possible voter intimidation outside an early voting site involving two men who claimed to work for a security company; one of whom was allegedly armed. The Pinellas County Sheriff says it will station officers outside of early voting sites. (WFTS, Tampa Bay Times)
New Jersey legislators are considering a bill to limit law enforcement at polling places. (NJ Spotlight)
Enfranchising Felon Voters
State officials in Florida have asked counties to remove felons who owe court fees or fines from their rolls, but county officials say they won’t have time before Nov. 3. (Tampa Bay Times)
Some fear that Florida’s request that counties purge some ineligible voters and place guards at mail ballot drop boxes could discourage or confuse voters. (The Washington Post)
The language on Iowa’s voter registration form has left some felons whose rights were restored earlier this year unsure about whether they can vote and how to register, even after the state updated the form. (KCRG)
This article originally appeared on ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.
New From ProPublica
Millions of Mail-In Votes Have Already Been Cast in Battleground States. Track Their Progress Here.
ProPublica and The Guardian are tracking mail-in votes in battleground states — how many have been requested, how many have been returned and how many have been rejected. Read the story.
Pennsylvania’s Rejection of 372,000 Ballot Applications Bewilders Voters and Strains Election Staff
Most rejected applications were deemed duplicates because voters had unwittingly checked a request box during the primary. The administrative nightmare highlights the difficulty of ramping up mail-in voting on the fly. Read the story.
Stories From Electionland Partners
Washington Post: Long lines mark the first day of early voting in Georgia as voters flock to the polls.
News & Observer: Black voters more likely to be left in limbo by NC absentee ballot dispute.
Postindustrial: Some in PA remain confused over mail-in election process.
WFSU: Sealed Absentee Ballot Return Envelopes Spark Concern From Leon County Voters.
WESA: Postcards On Voting Cause Confusion Among Some Pennsylvanians.
WESA: Your Questions On Pennsylvania Voter Registration, Mail-In Ballots, And Voting In Person, Answered.
Washington Post: Early voting begins in Texas with high turnout, despite new legal developments on voting access.
NJ Spotlight News: Missing ballots, sealed envelopes — NJ’s first mail-in election sees glitches.
CBS2 Chicago: Cook County Acknowledges Backlog As Many Voters Get Message That System Can’t Verify Their Registration.
KJRH: Tulsa County voter gets replacement ballot after he thinks first one goes missing.
News & Observer: Worried that your mail-in ballot won’t count? Here’s what you need to know.
Vote by Mail News
California’s Republican Party admitted to placing unofficial ballot drop boxes at undisclosed locations around the state after reports emerged in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Orange counties. A state party spokesman claimed the boxes were legal under the state’s “ballot harvesting” law, which allows third parties to help take ballots to the polls. But in a cease-and-desist letter, California’s attorney general said the drop boxes were missing crucial security features and could leave the party vulnerable to charges of tampering. (CBS Sacramento)
Nearly half of the North Carolina ballots that have been flagged for errors and need to be “cured” belong to Black voters. But the cure process has been suspended as a legal battle over state voting law between Democrats and Republicans makes its way through the courts. (Washington Post)
Voters in seven states — including Virginia, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania — had already returned more absentee ballots as of this week than the states saw by the end of the 2016 election. (Wall Street Journal)
More than 80 million absentee ballots had already been requested nationwide as of October 14, but some critical states — including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — won’t allow election workers to begin processing them all until Election Day, which could lead to delays in getting results. (New York Times)
Starting Monday, Denver voters could watch election workers process ballots live on a video stream at denvervotes.org. (Associated Press)
Across Pennsylvania, voters are experiencing a deluge of election-related mail and ballot applications sent by third-party groups. Some forms have been pre-filled with inaccurate information, prompting confused calls to already busy election offices. (WITF)
At a conservative conference in D.C. in August, speakers pushed back on mail-in voting, promoted ballot harvesting and worried about Democrats stealing the election. (The Washington Post)
Voting Challenges This Week
A federal judge extended Virginia’s voter registration deadline to Thursday, after online voter systems crashed on what was supposed to be the final day of registration. The Tuesday outage was caused by a severed fiber optic line, which crews accidentally cut while doing utility work. (WDBJ, Washington Post)
Nearly 29,000 people in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, may have received the wrong ballot as the result of a printing error by an outside vendor. Voters’ names were matched to the wrong municipalities and voting districts, county officials said. New ballots will be issued the week of October 19. (WESA)
New Jersey voters are having trouble with the state’s online system for tracking their absentee ballots. Although the platform will technically accept three different identification numbers to help track down ballots, it won’t show a result unless users put in the exact ID they used to register to vote. (WNYC)
Two state lawmakers are pushing for a refund from the printing company that accidentally sent thousands of Brooklyn voters the wrong ballot return envelopes. New York City’s Board of Elections had awarded Phoenix Printing a no-bid, $4.6 million contract to print absentee ballots, which one assemblywoman slammed as a “sweetheart deal.” (The City)
About 1,000 voters in Delaware County, Ohio, received two absentee ballots in the mail due to a “computer glitch,” according to election officials. Voters are being contacted by phone and by mail to make sure they only use one ballot. (ABC 6)
More than 1,300 Charleston voters received incorrect absentee ballots; officials say new ballots will arrive within days. (The State)
The Latest on Poll Security
A private security firm is recruiting former Special Operations soldiers to guard polling places and businesses in Minnesota during the election, despite the objections of state and local officials. (The Washington Post)
Tens of thousands of volunteers have signed up for a GOP polling watching effort. Per Politico, poll watchers will “monitor everything from voting machines to the processing of ballots to checking voter identification,” but are not allowed to interact directly with voters. (Politico)
Election officials in central Florida are training for possible disruptions, or even violence, on Election Day. (Orlando Sentinel)
Republican lawmakers are pushing back on a North Carolina State Board of Elections memo that directed local officials not to station uniformed law enforcement officers at polling places. (The News & Observer)
Misinformation on Voting
New research shows that social media influencers are helping amplify misinformation on voting. (AP)
Officials in Alabama are investigating complaints of people going door-to-door, asking voters to sign blank absentee ballot applications and provide personal information. (Dothan Eagle)
Scammers are mimicking a ballot-tracking text message service. (NBC San Diego)
USPS officials say a surge of packages from Amazon’s annual Prime Day won’t interfere with delivering ballots. (CNN)
Experts are more worried about disinformation, not coronavirus or cybersecurity, derailing the election. (Roll Call)