Election Integrity
Photo credit: L. Allen Brewer / Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

WhoWhatWhy’s Election Integrity Weekly is written by Gabriella Novello, and edited by Dana Rohinsky and Sue Rushford. Have a tip or want to suggest a story? Send us an email at

Please, Don’t Commit a Felony by Voting Twice: An election official’s job is already stressful when an election is less than 100 days away, but President Donald Trump’s latest suggestion about voting is a doozy — and a federal crime.

Last week, Trump told voters in North Carolina and Pennsylvania that they should test their state’s vote-by-mail systems by attempting to vote in person on Election Day after submitting a mail-in ballot. To be clear, voting twice is illegal. Don’t do that.

However, you can cast a provisional ballot in person if you’re unsure about whether your absentee ballot was received. We’ll give Trump the benefit of the doubt and assume he was referring to this. Provisional voting is when a voter’s registration cannot be confirmed or their voter file shows that they requested an absentee ballot. If their absentee ballot is found and counted, the provisional ballot is discarded. If not, the provisional vote is counted. (read more)

How Conservative Media Shapes American Democracy Online: Millions of Americans are expected to cast mail-in ballots this November, but a flurry of conservative media personalities took to Twitter last week after US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed voter fraud charges against a grand total of 19 noncitizens who allegedly voted illegally during the 2016 presidential election in North Carolina.

A seemingly endless succession of conservative media personalities and political leaders hit the airwaves as soon as the charges were announced, claiming that, despite evidence to the contrary, widespread voter fraud actually does exist. 

The announcement by ICE, and subsequent reactions from right-wing media figures, eventually reached conservative lawmakers who repeated similar talking points. (read more)

Efforts to Create Election Super Centers Underway: With a pandemic still raging, athletes and election advocates are teaming up to make voting as exciting as the Super Bowl. The Election Super Centers Project, a nonpartisan initiative to transform professional sports arenas into massive voting centers on Election Day, hopes to turn out anywhere from two to three million voters this November. 

For Eugene Jarecki, an award-winning independent filmmaker, this project could drastically change how Americans think about voting. Sports arenas have plenty of space to accommodate social distancing guidelines, enough parking and entrances to handle a massive influx of people, and thousands of furloughed employees that can be trained to be poll workers. He also hopes to see professional athletes volunteering as poll workers at their arenas.

“It depends a little bit on the athleticism of the arenas and the election boards of getting it set up, but election boards want to have a successful vote so they want to have a really successful day,” Jarecki said. “It’s an amazing relief valve on the existing system to put it under less pressure.” (read more)

Trump to Push Hard Line to Oregon Voters in November: WhoWhatWhy’s exclusive reporting discovered that Trump lashed out at “failed leaders like the Portland Mayor” and “the radical antifa mob that he coddles” in a statement for Oregon’s voters’ guide. The statement appeared to reflect the Trump campaign’s effort to make violence by racial justice demonstrators in some US cities the central focus of his campaign. 

It remains unclear whether Oregon’s secretary of state, who publishes the voters’ guide, received this statement before or after the Republican National Convention, and the agency’s spokesperson told us that they have no idea how many people saw this statement. (read more)

As Election Day Draws Closer, a Few Reasons for Optimism: Instead of worrying about all the ways the system is broken, let’s focus on how we can make sure the election goes right.

Eli Poupko’s latest WhoWhatWhy Op-Ed offers several reasons to stay positive. First, Trump does not have the authority to delay the presidential election. That’s set by the Constitution, and only Congress can change the date.

There’s also the ongoing effort by Trump and his allies to discredit mail-in voting. Poupko suggests that this could be counterproductive and cause more Democratic-leaning voters to vote in person. The attacks on absentee voting could also inadvertently discourage Republican-leaning voters from casting a ballot. (read more)

In the Courts

  • National Urban League v. Ross: A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to halt its plans to end census gathering efforts two months early. US District Court Judge for the Northern District of California Lucy Koh ruled that the decision to shorten census data collection would exacerbate an undercount of historically undercounted populations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and awarded the plaintiffs a temporary restraining order. The case will be heard again on September 17 for a possible preliminary injunction.
  • Driscoll v. Stapleton: A federal lawsuit brought by a coalition of Native American advocacy organizations and tribal governments went to trial today over Montana’s Ballot Interference Prevention Act, which state officials argue is intended to prevent voter fraud. However, the plaintiffs argue that allowing another person to return their completed ballot to the elections office is critical for tribal communities that lack access to transportation.

What We’re Watching

It looks like Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is in hot water, again. This time it’s for allegedly reimbursing his former employees for making campaign contributions. The Washington Post reported this weekend that DeJoy allegedly reimbursed former employees through bonuses for making political contributions to Republican candidates.

The House Oversight Committee said that it will investigate this latest allegation. The committee’s chair, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), said in a statement that DeJoy may have also lied under oath when he testified before lawmakers last month. (read more)

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