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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Less than 100 Days to Go: We’re rounding the final corner of the 2020 election cycle, so have you made a plan to vote? Are you unsure of whether to cast an early vote, vote-by-mail, or go the traditional route of casting a ballot on Election Day?
Whatever your decision, it is crucial that you act as soon as possible. Most states have deadlines to vote early or request a mail-in ballot.
And, in case you missed it, WhoWhatWhy has rolled out a series of informative reports that explore these critical issues and how they could shape US democracy for years to come. Our first edition of America Decides 2020 examined what early voting is and how you can take advantage of it in your state. This week, keep an eye out for our next report about voting-by-mail. (read more)
Let’s Make Something Clear: Whether you know it as absentee voting, mail-in voting, or vote-by-mail, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud by mail. Nevertheless, President Donald Trump has unleashed a barrage of unsubstantiated claims via Twitter casting aspersions on a process which has so far shown itself to be completely secure. In addition, it is worth noting that both Donald Trump and vice-president Mike Pence preferred vote-by-mail when they cast their own ballots in recent primary elections.
A typical tweet from Trump attempts to use his antipathy to vote-by-mail in order to deflect attention from Russian social media attempts to influence the 2016 election:
“The 2020 Election will be totally rigged if Mail-In Voting is allowed to take place, & everyone knows it. So much time is taken talking about foreign influence, but the same people won’t even discuss Mail-In election corruption.”
Foreign interference in U.S. elections has and will continue to be a concern heading into November, but there has been effectively no conversation about “election corruption” with respect to mail-in voting because there has been virtually no fraud involving vote-by-mail. In fact, just 0.02 percent of the three million total votes cast during the 2012 election were proven to be actual instances of voter fraud. (read more)
Trump’s Attack on Vote-by-Mail Has Gone Postal: Literally. Trump is threatening to withhold funds from the Postal Service while the COVID-19 pandemic may reduce the number of polling places available to voters who want to cast their ballots in person.
The United States Postal Service has an unofficial motto that states “[neither] snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” The slogan is admirable, but the fact is that the Postal Service is strapped for cash. Trump has voiced a determination to refuse fully funding the agency ahead of the November election.
Louis DeJoy, the new postmaster general, recently laid out plans to delay mail delivery in order to cut costs. Presumably this would lead to delays in delivering absentee ballots, which would raise questions about the credibility of election returns in the event that Trump had a poor showing, which according to polls seems likely. The issue is especially problematic because millions of Americans are expected to cast mail-in ballots.
As Sen. Angus King (I-ME) put it during a Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing last week: “We can’t just skirt around the issue of the importance of the post office because the president doesn’t like their package rates.” (read more)
2020 Census Under Attack, Again: The Supreme Court told the Trump administration that it could not include a citizenship question on the Census last year, but the administration remains determined to exclude undocumented immigrants from the redistricting process when it begins in 2021.
Why does this matter? Well, aside from the unprecedented nature of this action, Census data is important and is used to determine the allocation of federal resources to the states. Even more important, the data is used to redraw state and federal legislative districts.
The Census requires that the “whole number of persons in each State,” be counted. President Donald Trump, however, signed an Executive Order last week directing states to exclude non-citizens from the reapportionment process. The ACLU, one of the groups that filed a lawsuit to block the citizenship question on the Census form, says that it intends to file another lawsuit to stop this order. (read the memorandum)
Voting Rights Groups Raise Money for Former Felons: Several groups have been raising money to secure the right to vote for nearly one million Floridians after the Supreme Court declined to intervene in a felons voting rights lawsuit, which stemmed from a state law requiring individuals with past felony convictions to pay any outstanding fines or fees before they can register to vote.
The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition announced last week that it has already raised more than $1.3 million in financial assistance, but that is still a drop in the bucket. It is estimated that former felons in Florida owe hundreds of millions of dollars collectively. (read more)
WhoWhatWhy and Readers’ Picks of the Week:
- The November Election Is Going to Be a Mess (Atlantic)
- Media Coverage of the 2016 Campaign Was Disastrous. Now’s the Last Chance to Get 2020 Right. (Washington Post)
- Conservatives Are Winning the Supreme Court’s Most Important Fight: Suppressing the Vote (Appeal)
- Anatomy of an Election ‘Meltdown’ in Georgia (New York Times)
- Clyburn to Offer Measure Renaming Voting Rights Bill After John Lewis (CNN)