Uncertainty With Just 14 Days Left

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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.

Uncertainty With Just 14 Days Left: More than 300 lawsuits are pending across the country, and that leaves election experts afraid that legal challenges this close to the 2020 election could do more harm than good.

One key area of election-related litigation is the deadline deciding whether absentee ballots can be accepted if they are received after Election Day. We now have a general sense of how the courts will rule.

The Supreme Court denied an appeal by the Pennsylvania Republican Party to stop a rule that would allow absentee ballots to be accepted if they are received within three days after November 3, as long as the ballots are postmarked before Election Day. The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the expanded time limit will now go into effect.

Another area to pay attention to is the legality of absentee ballot drop boxes and challenges to  “ballot harvesting,” a practice in which a person collects and returns other voters’ ballots. In Ohio and Texas, federal appellate courts upheld separate instances limiting the number of drop boxes per county ostensibly to protect election security. (read more)

WhoWhatWhy Gears Up For Election Day Coverage: Everything about this election is unusual. We’re witnessing a historic rise in absentee voting. Election officials in most states say they are not likely to have final results on election night. We’re beefing up our election integrity news desk and have a few things in store for our readers. Stay tuned for more information, and let us know if you have any issues voting by sending us an email at ei@whowhatwhy.org.

Early Voting Deadlines: In-person, early voting begins in several states this week. Here’s the lowdown:

  • If you live in Louisiana, early voting is already underway and ends October 27.
  • Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, or Texas, early voting is already underway and ends October 30.
  • If you live in New Mexico, North Carolina, or Virginia, early voting is already underway and ends October 31.
  • If you live in Florida, early voting is already underway and ends November 1.
  • If you live in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, or Wyoming, early voting is already underway and ends November 2.
  • If you live in Arkansas or Pennsylvania, early voting is already underway and ends November 3.
  • If you live in Wisconsin, early voting begins today and ends November 1.
  • If you live in West Virginia, early voting begins tomorrow, October 21, and ends October 31.
  • If you live in New York, early voting begins October 24 and ends November 1.
  • If you live in the District of Columbia, early voting begins October 27 and ends November 2.
  • If you live in Oklahoma, early voting begins on October 29 and ends October 31.

Have You Registered to Vote Yet? Deadlines are approaching in several states. Here’s the lowdown:

  • If you live in Massachusetts, the deadline to register to vote is October 24.
  • If you live in Nebraska, the deadline to register to vote is October 16 by mail or online and October 23 in person.
  • If you live in Arizona, the deadline to register to vote is October 23.
  • If you live in New Mexico, the deadline to register to vote in person is October 31.
  • If you live in California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, or Wyoming, you can register to vote in person on Election Day.
  • If you live in the District of Columbia, you can register in person during early voting. If you live in North Carolina, you can register to vote in person from October 15 to October 30. And, if you live in North Dakota, you are not required to register at all. Just bring a valid form of ID if you plan on voting in person. (read more)

ICYMI — WhoWhatWhy’s latest ebook by yours truly and investigative reporter Celeste Katz-Marston, Is This Any Way to Vote?: Vulnerable Voting Machines and the Mysterious Industry Behind Them, is now available on Amazon.

Can We Count on Non-voters to Vote? Maybe. Nearly 100 million eligible voters failed to vote during the 2016 election. This year, voting rights groups are hoping to turn out as many infrequent voters as possible. Our politics editor Jessica Siegel reports:

“Andrea Miller is the executive director of Reclaim Our Vote (ROV), a grassroots organization based in Virginia whose focus is people of color and young people in eight southern and western states who ‘have fallen off the voting rolls…’”

“Barack Obama’s two campaigns did a major outreach to people of color who hadn’t voted for a while or at all, which helped to bring him into office. Miller says Donald Trump won in 2016 not because white working-class voters responded to Trump, but because the Clinton campaign didn’t reach out in the same way to infrequent voters…”

“Whether these ground troops connecting with voters who have lost their voter registration or their faith in the vote will swing an election, no one yet knows. But for Miller — who says she’s not a member of the Democratic party and that once the election happens, her organization’s job is to hold whoever-gets-elected’s feet to the fire — it’s only the first step.” (read more)

Voter Registration Rates Decline Amid Pandemic: The voting registration deadline in Florida was October 5. How did the pandemic affect the numbers, and what does it mean for the future? Our politics reporter Sofia Andrade reports:

“When Florida’s voter registration website crashed in the final hours before the state’s October 5 registration deadline, voting-rights organizations were quick to call out the crash as voter suppression — even after the deadline was pushed to the next day at 7 p.m…”

“This is not the first time that Florida’s online voter registration system has crashed at a crucial moment. In 2018, the site crashed on the final day to register. In 2020, the site was down during National Voter Registration Day, and again this week within hours of the official close of the voter registration period. Earlier that day, the site was experiencing traffic of about 1.1 million visitors per hour…”

“This election cycle was expected to bring record voter registrations, overshadowing the voter registration rates of the last presidential election in 2016. In January, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, voter registration numbers in Florida were almost 1.6 times greater than in 2016: about 80,000 new registered voters in 2020 compared to about 50,000 in 2016. However, as the pandemic grew worse in late spring and early summer, voter registrations suffered compared to that point in the 2016 presidential election.” (read more)

In the Courts

  • Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar: The Supreme Court deadlocked on whether Pennsylvania can accept absentee ballots if they’re received within three days after Election Day. Ballots will be accepted so long as they are clearly not postmarked after November 3.
  • Richardson v. Texas Secretary of State: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling that required officials to notify voters within a day of their ballot being rejected if there was a signature match issue.
  • Trump v. New York, et al.: The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by the Trump administration regarding whether it can exclude non-citizens from the apportionment process of the census.

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