Less than 50 Days Until the Next Presidential Election

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WhoWhatWhy’s Election Integrity Weekly is written by Gabriella Novello, and edited by William Dowell and Sue Rushford. Have a tip or want to suggest a story? Send us an email at ei@whowhatwhy.org.

Provisional Voting, Explained: As we mentioned last week, double voting is a felony — so it is a good idea to decide sooner rather than later whether to mail in your vote or vote in person. If you haven’t received your mail-in ballot yet or aren’t sure that you submitted it properly, there is another option: provisional voting.

In WhoWhatWhy’s latest edition of America Decides, 2020, we explain why a provisional ballot might be necessary, how election officials decide if it is valid, and why the process varies by state. (read more)

Next week, we will discuss the Electoral College. Stay tuned.

Georgia’s Election Chief Accused of Voter Intimidation, Again: We’ve been laser focused on how Georgia conducts its elections since the then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) oversaw his own election in 2018. Our rockstar team of reporters uncovered serious cybersecurity flaws in the state’s My Voter Page.

Now that a majority of voters in the Peach State are expected to cast an absentee ballot this November, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been accused of voter intimidation by one of his predecessors.

Former Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox, a Democrat, told us that Raffensperger’s recent claim that he “potentially” found 1,000 cases of voter fraud during the June primary and August runoff elections is nothing more than an effort to keep first-time absentee voters from voting by mail.

“[He] created a very prosecutorial-heavy absentee ballot task force that certainly sent out an intimidating message saying that, ‘Hey, I want you to vote absentee, but you might not have ever done it before, so don’t make a mistake because I’ve got this task force here loaded up with district attorneys and law enforcement-related people who are ready to prosecute you if you step out of line,’’ Cox said. “And here we are.” (read more)

Major Blow to Florida’s Ex-Felons: A federal appeals court ruled Friday that former felons in Florida must pay all outstanding fines or court fees before they can register to vote for the November election. Floridians overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to individuals with past felony convictions in 2018, as long as they completed “all terms” of their sentence. 

However, the GOP-controlled state legislature defined “all terms” as paying any outstanding fees when it codified the amendment — which was not in the original language that voters approved. Our politics reporter Sofia Andrade reports that an estimated 774,000 former convicts are at risk of being disenfranchised if they can’t “complete” their felony sentences. (read more)

A Sigh of Relief for Wisconsin Election Officials: Our elections editor Darla Dernovsek reports that the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected the Green Party’s bid to be on the November ballot in a 4-3 ruling yesterday afternoon, much to the relief of election officials that had already begun absentee ballot operations. Nearly one million ballots have already been requested and must be mailed to voters by Thursday. (read more)

How the Media Can Do More Harm Than Good This November: With the coronavirus pandemic encouraging more voters to cast their ballots by mail, newsrooms will need to rethink how they handle coverage.

The November election is a first for cable news networks. They’ll be covering a presidential election in which they will very likely not be able to call a winner at the end of the evening. The challenge could prove a blessing in disguise. (read more)

In the Courts

  • League of Women Voters v. Boockvar: In response to a federal lawsuit regarding absentee ballot signature requirements, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar issued guidance yesterday that election officials can’t reject a ballot for the sole reason that a signature does not exactly match what is on a voter’s registration file.
  • New York Immigration Coalition v. Trump: Having an accurate census is important because it’s used to redraw legislative districts and allocate federal resources. Last week, a federal court blocked the Trump administration’s effort to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted.

What We’re Watching

The House Oversight and Reform Committee met yesterday to discuss whether Postmaster General Louis DeJoy violated federal campaign finance laws by ordering former employees to donate to the Republican party and reimbursing them. We’ll be monitoring what comes of this, but it should be worth noting that the Federal Election Commission can’t enforce campaign finance laws because it still lacks a quorum.

We’re also keeping an eye on the Biden campaign’s “legal war room.” The New York Times reported that the campaign has hired hundreds of lawyers and is preparing for lawsuit city. Expect more from us in the coming weeks about what lawsuits could have the greatest impact on the results of the 2020 election. (read more)

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