Electionland 2020: Nursing Home Voting, Election Guides, Creative Enfranchisement and More

Electionland 2020: Nursing Home Voting, Election Guides, Creative Enfranchisement and More

Black Conservatives Debate Black Liberals on American Politics (Extended Version)


The Latest Election News From ProPublica

Hundreds of Thousands of Nursing Home Residents May Not Be Able to Vote in November Because of the Pandemic

Renowned inventor Walter Hutchins has voted in every presidential election since 1952. This year, as many states stopped sending teams to help seniors vote, his nursing home was on coronavirus lockdown and his streak was in jeopardy. Read the story.

What to Know About Voting in 2020

Vote by Mail News

  • More than 550,000 mail ballots were rejected in this year’s presidential primaries, per a new analysis. (NPR)
  • University of Florida professor Michael McDonald is tracking mail ballot requests by party in several states. (Michael McDonald)
  • North Carolina is the first state to begin voting for president and has seen 10 times the number of absentee ballot requests as in the same period in 2016. (ABC News)
  • Democratic super PACs plan to spend more than $7 million on ads encouraging mail voting. (CNN)
  • Some Black and Latino voters are distrustful of mail voting, surveys show. (Politico)
  • Missouri spent tens of thousands of dollars on ballot drop boxes that won’t be used the fall. (KSN)

Trump’s Attacks on Voting

  • On Friday, Trump raised the possibility of sending law enforcement to polling places. (The Washington Post, Election Law Blog, CNN)
  • Over the weekend, he made false claims about mail ballot drop boxes. (BuzzFeed News)
  • Trump continued attacks on mail voting while speaking at the RNC, and on Twitter. (Rev, Twitter)
  • Politico obtained audio from a conversation Trump had in 2017 in which he said that low Black voter turnout benefited him. (Politico)

The Latest on USPS

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before Congress on Friday and Monday, and said postal workers would prioritize election mail ahead of other first-class mail. He said he was not trying to sabotage the election. (The Washington Post, News Hour, The New York Times)
  • Democrats claim DeJoy was chosen to run the Postal Service in a “highly irregular” process. (Politico)
  • The House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide $25 billion to the Postal Service and reverse the agency’s recent cost-cutting measures. (NPR)
  • On Tuesday, New York’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the president and DeJoy over changes to the Postal Service, joined by New Jersey, Hawaii, New York City and San Francisco. (Reuters)

Enfranchisement Innovations

  • Pro sports teams are offering up their arenas as election super centers for fall voting. (Politico)
  • A new group called Black Coaches United aims to convince colleges to use their stadiums for voting centers on Election Day. (ESPN)
  • A Florida professor developed an app that uses a ticketing system to help reduce lines at polling places and allow voters to social distance. (4News)
  • A Rhode Island doctor founded an organization to help people vote who are hospitalized before the election in November. (Boston Globe)
  • A Missouri organization teamed up with coffee shops and restaurants to give voters easier access to notaries to sign-off on mail ballots. (KCUR)
  • A physicist in Maryland developed an air filtration device that he hopes can be used to make in-person voting safer at polling places in the fall. (Baltimore Sun)
  • A nonprofit initiative called Drag Out the Vote is recruiting drag stars to work as poll workers and election observers, and to get out the vote among the LGBTQ community. (SFist)
  • An athletes’ collective headed by LeBron James is planning a multimillion dollar project to ensure there are enough poll workers in Black electoral districts. (The New York Times)
  • Carnegie Mellon professors compiled and mapped data in swing states to identify where in-person voting bottlenecks could occur. (WESA)
  • The cast of “West Wing” is reuniting for an HBO special to encourage people to vote. (Reuters)

Election Lawsuits

 

Women, Black History, and the Right to Vote

Women, Black History, and the Right to Vote

 

Rosyln M. Brock reflects on how her great-grandmother, Cousie Pittman, could not vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed, despite the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote in 1920. On a video published by the First Woman Voter Campaign, she talks about how Ms. Pittman, who lived in rural Florida and the segregated South, cast her first vote in the 1968 presidential election.

“My family often shares the story of how my grandmother would get dressed up in her Sunday Best, and wait for a ride to the polls on election day,” said Brock in the video. 

Brock is Associate Minister at the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VAand a nationally recognized health policy advocate, social justice change agent, and noted public speaker. She holds the distinct honor of being the youngest person and fourth woman in 2010 elected to the role of National Board Chairman for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its history. Brock currently serves as its Chairman Emeritus.

The First Woman Voter campaign and national women’s organizations, such as the National Women’s History Museum, the League of Women’s Voters, and Obama’s When We All Vote, celebrate the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. This bipartisan campaign encourages women to pay tribute in a unique and personal short video to the first woman voter in their family or the one who most inspired them to vote. Four former first ladies, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Rev. Bernice A. King, and other high-profile women in academia, business, the arts, entertainment, government, and more fields are participating in the virtual video campaign. Even with the heartwarming messages by women of all races noting the 100-year milestone, Brock’s story and others underscore acknowledging that the struggle didn’t end in1920 for many Black women in the South.  

“The history has to be told that black women were fighting for the right to vote in the 1800s, through the AME clubs, the black women’s clubs … the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs were active in the early 1800s well before the white women were organizing to think about coming into the public square,” said Brock. “White women can celebrate that they marched in 1912 or 1913 and then seven years later, in 1920, when the 19th Amendment was passed. Black women had to wait almost half a century until the 1965 Voting Rights Act before they had full, unfettered access. Now, many black women in the 1920s lived in the North and were able to vote. I was from South Florida. My grannies … it took us a little longer.”

August 2020 marks the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act’s passage, which, according to the Justice Department, is hailed as the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress. However, in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted a vital part of the Voting Rights Act, which required municipalities, counties, and states to get federal approval before changing their voting laws. It didn’t take long for voter suppression efforts to resume.  

“I chose to participate in the campaign because it gave me an opportunity to share my great-grandmother’s first voting experience. And I believe it’s important as a black woman in today’s society to acknowledge the role that we did play and continue to play in securing the right to the franchise,” said Brock. “As many of us know, voting remains the only power that we have to affect change in our communities. And the only language that politicians seem to understand is the power of the vote. That’s why I believe so many today are trying to suppress votes by those in minority communities.”

According to a study last year by Pew Research, Millennials and Gen Z will make up 37% of the 2020 electorate. However, older generations are more likely to go to polls or actually vote. This year, voters are highly engaged, but concerns are mounting about difficulties in actually voting. That’s a big deal when so many critical issues are top of mind for many voters — access to affordable health care in the era of COVID-19 and beyond, violence and discriminatory policing, climate change, unemployment, and homelessness. 

As a leader in the social justice, racial equity, and community investment space, Brock is inspired and hopeful as she sees the next generation push forward despite the obstacles and political games. Her philosophy is embodied in an African proverb: Care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, and expect more than others think is possible.

“Courage must not skip this generation. And as Black women stand confidently now in their place of power, they no longer have to accept that they don’t belong at the political table or don’t have a seat. We’ve got to remember Shirley Chisholm, who said, “If they don’t have a seat for you at the table, you come in and bring your own folding chair, and you sit down.”

Before Kamala Harris became Biden’s running mate, Shirley Chisholm and other Black women aimed for the White House

Before Kamala Harris became Biden’s running mate, Shirley Chisholm and other Black women aimed for the White House

Kamala Harris, a U.S. senator from California, endorsed Joe Biden for president in March. Now she is his vice presidential nominee. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the American daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, is Joe Biden’s choice for vice president. If Biden wins in November, Harris would break three centuries-old barriers to become the nation’s first female vice president, first Black vice president and first Black female vice president.

Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, in 1984. In 2008, Alaska’s then-governor Sarah Palin was Republican John McCain’s running mate.

Before Harris was picked as Biden’s running mate, she was his competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination. She is one of many Black American women who have aimed for the highest office in the land despite great odds.

Biden, himself a former vice president, understands the significance of the role. Mark Makela/Getty Images

Hands that once picked cotton

African Americans have endured many hurdles to political power in the United States, among them slavery, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement.

Black women, in particular, have hit barrier upon barrier. Women didn’t gain the right to vote in the U.S. until 1920, and even then Black people – women among them – still couldn’t vote in most of the South. In the 1960s, Black women helped organize the civil rights movement but were kept out of leadership positions.

As a political science professor, I address issues like these in my government and minority politics classes. But I also teach my students that Black women have a history of political ambition and achievement. As the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said in 1984 about the progress Black voters made last century, “Hands that once picked cotton will now pick a president.”

Today, Black female mayors lead several of the United States’ biggest cities, including Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco. Black women are police chiefs, gubernatorial candidates, and, in growing numbers, congresswomen.

Now, Black women, who once had no chance of even voting for president – much less being president – will see one of their own a step away from the Oval Office.

Biden allies have reportedly suggested that he would only serve one term if elected because of his age – Biden would be 78 on Inauguration Day – but his campaign officially denies that possibility. Either way, his vice president would be in a powerful position for the 2024 campaign.

Harris is also of Indian descent, making her place on the ticket a meaningful first for two communities of color.

‘Unsuitable’ for the job?

Kamala Harris is a registered Democrat who served as California’s attorney general and later one of the state’s U.S. senators. But, historically, most Black female presidential candidates have run as independents.

In 1968, 38-year-old Charlene Mitchell of Ohio became the first Black woman to run for president, as a communist. Like many other African Americans born in the 1930s, Mitchell joined the Communist Party because of its emphasis on racial and gender equality. Black female communists fought Jim Crow, lynchings and unfair labor practices for men and women of all races.

A portrait of Charlene Mitchell

Charlene Mitchell, America’s first Black female presidential candidate. Wikimedia Commons

Mitchell’s presidential campaign, which focused on civil rights and poverty, was probably doomed from the start. In 1968, many states didn’t allow communists on the ballot. Media outlets from the Boston Globe to the Chicago Tribune also discussed Mitchell’s “unsuitability” as a candidate because she was both Black and female. Mitchell received just 1,075 votes.

Other independent Black female presidential candidates have been community organizer Margaret Wright, who ran on the People’s Party ticket in 1976; Isabell Masters, a teacher who created her own third party, called Looking Back and ran in 1984, 1992 and 2004; and teacher Monica Moorehead of the Workers World Party ticket, who ran in 1996, 2000 and 2016.

In 2008, the year Barack Obama was elected president, Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. representative from Georgia, was a nominee of the Green Party. And in 2012, Peta Lindsay ran to unseat President Obama from the left, on the Party for Socialism and Liberation ticket.

Only one Black woman has ever pursued the Republican nomination: Angel Joy Charvis, a religious conservative from Florida, who wanted to use her 1999 candidacy to “to recruit a new breed of Republican.”

Unbought and unbossed

These Black female presidential candidates were little known. But as the first Black female member of Congress, Shirley Chisholm had years of experience in public office and a national reputation when she became the first Black American and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. Chisholm’s campaign slogan: “Unbought and Unbossed.”

Shirley Chisholm announces her entry for the Democratic nomination. Don Hogan Charles/New York Times Co. via Getty Images

Chisholm, who mostly paid for her campaign on her credit card, focused on civil rights and poverty.

She became the target of vehement sexism. One New York Times article from June 1972 described her appearance as, “[Not] beautiful. Her face is bony and angular, her nose wide and flat, her eyes small almost to beadiness, her neck and limbs scrawny. Her protruding teeth probably account in part for her noticeable lisp.”

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Chisholm received little support from either Black or female voters and won not a single primary.

The Black women who followed in Chisholm’s footsteps from Congress to the Democratic presidential primary, including Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and Harris herself, have seen little more success. Harris was among the first 2020 Democratic primary candidates to drop out, in December 2019.

Challenges for Black women

Why did these women’s candidacies fail?

In most cases, my research finds, America’s Black female presidential candidates haven’t made the ballot. Those who did had trouble raising funds.

And because their candidacies weren’t taken seriously by the media, they had trouble getting their messages heard. Historically Black female presidential candidates have received no real support from any segment of American voters, including African Americans and women. Generally, people – even those who might have been heartened by the idea that someone who looked like them could aspire to the White House – thought they couldn’t win.

As a vice president for two terms who had a major role in governing under Barack Obama, Joe Biden knows what the office entails. He has now selected a woman who he believes can not only help him win the election but also to govern if he is elected. It is a watershed moment for African Americans, Asian Americans and women who’ve so long been excluded from so many aspects of politics.The Conversation

Sharon Austin, Professor of Political Science, University of Florida

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Young Black Americans not sold on Biden, the Democrats or voting

Young Black Americans not sold on Biden, the Democrats or voting

Will young, Black Americans turn out to vote in November?
Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images

Most political analysts define “swing voters” as those who swing their support from one party to the other between election cycles – determining winners and losers in the process.

According to this conventional wisdom, the “swingiest” voters are working-class whites in the Midwest, who supposedly hold the keys to the White House.

Meanwhile, by contrast, pundits often portray Black Americans as an undifferentiated mass – loyal Democrat-supporting foot soldiers who will execute their mission for The Team on Tuesday as long as some preacher provides the right marching orders on Sunday.

If these depictions have not already expired, they are certainly growing stale. Having studied electoral trends for decades, we can tell you that those undecided voters of the past are an endangered species – in the Midwest and elsewhere. These days, the only choice that most Americans make – indeed, the choice that typically “swings” the election outcome — is whether to vote at all.

That brings us to the characterization of Black Americans as Democratic loyalists.

Our new survey of 1,215 African Americans in battleground states – Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia – reveals that while those over 60 remain among the most reliable of Democratic voters, and those between 40-59 are still pretty locked in as well, those under 30 (whom we oversampled to comprise half of our sample) are anything but.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore at a Black Church service during the 1992 presidential campaign.
Black church members are seen as key to a candidate’s election victory; here, Governor Bill Clinton and Senator Al Gore attend service at the Olivet Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio during the Clinton-Gore 1992 campaign.
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Not sold on Biden

Only 47% of those Black Americans under 30 years old that we surveyed plan to vote for the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. That’s roughly the same percentage who have anything positive to say when asked what “one or two words come to mind” about the former vice president.

Cathy Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago who studies Black youths’ political views, summed up this attitude in a recent podcast: “They’ve seen the election of Black mayors, they’ve seen the election of the first Black president, and they’ve also seen that their lives have not changed.”

Not sold on voting

These young Black Americans may well sit things out in November, just as many of them did in 2016 when their behavior swung that election to Trump as much as anything else did.

In our poll, 31% of Black Americans under 30 say they probably won’t vote in this election. That may sound pretty good, given the average U.S. voter turnout of around 60% in recent elections.

But survey respondents of all stripes tend to wildly overestimate their intention to vote. Indeed, about half of our Black survey respondents under 30 say they don’t often vote because it “doesn’t make a difference,” providing a somewhat more realistic estimate of the percentage who will probably just stay home – and not search for a stamp to mail in their ballot, either.

And that number does not even take into account the turnout-depressing effects of voter suppression efforts taking place across the country, the pandemic or the heavy distrust of mail-in voting that young Black people tend to express. Only 64% of young people in our sample say they trust the state to report their vote accurately, and only 30% say they plan to take advantage of mail-in voting.

Joe Biden with a group of people at the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden is courting the Black vote – here, he’s at the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware on June 1, 2020 – but fewer than half of young Black Americans surveyed in battleground states say they will vote for him.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Not sold on the Democratic Party

Such cynicism on the part of young Black Americans is reflected in the lukewarm feelings they tend to have toward the Democratic Party more generally.

Only 47% of them say that the party is welcoming to Black Americans, and only 43% say they trust Democrats in Congress to do what’s best for the Black community. Perhaps most strikingly, unlike their older counterparts, only half of those under 30 view the Democrats as any better than the Republicans on these scores.

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In both the survey responses and in the focus groups we conducted of young Black Americans in these same states, we heard repeated frustration toward what they view as a Democratic Party that expects their vote but doesn’t really do anything to deserve it other than claim to be “less racist” than the alternative.

As one of our focus group respondents put it, “I think at the end of the day, they all have the same agenda.”

In short, it appears that for Black America, the future is not necessarily “blue.” Electorally speaking, it is not necessarily anything at all. Moving forward, young Black Americans may be the real “swing voters” in the only way that term really makes much sense anymore.The Conversation

David C. Barker, Professor of Government and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University School of Public Affairs and Sam Fulwood III, Fellow, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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)