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

If you spent last week plugged into the Democratic National Convention, you may have missed the following concerning the November election:

  • A federal court order ruled that Indiana cannot reject an absentee ballot simply because a voter’s signature does not exactly match the one on the voter registration file unless the voter is first given the chance to correct the discrepancy. The court also ruled Indiana’s new voter roll purge law unconstitutional.

  • Kentucky will allow voters to use fear of contracting COVID-19 as an excuse to request an absentee ballot. Kentucky also waived its voter ID requirement and announced an early voting period of three weeks.

  • Tennessee adopted a new law that effectively strips protestors of their right to vote if they are charged with a felony. Convicted felons are normally banned from voting in Tennessee.

  • Virginia waived its witness signature requirement for absentee voting.

Voting by Mail Faces Obstacles Beyond the US Postal Service: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told the House Oversight Committee on Monday that the Postal Service will prioritize election mail and treat it as first-class mail. He also urged voters to start thinking about requesting their mail-in ballot early, at least 15 days before November 3. Cuts in the US Postal Service could have an impact on voting by mail, but that’s not the only obstacle to ensuring that absentee ballots get counted.

Many voters will have to navigate a process that they find is completely new. They will need to follow each step carefully — or risk not having their vote counted. Several states still require a third-party signature on absentee ballots to verify a voter’s identity. Others require ballots to be placed inside an envelope that is then placed inside a second envelope. Some states still allow election officials to reject an absentee ballot if they determine that the signature on that ballot does not exactly match the signature that they used when they initially registered to vote. (read more)

To learn more about absentee voting in your state, click here.

An Attempted Coup in Slow Motion: Why does the Republican Party hate the US Postal Service with such damning intensity? The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t.

William Dowell writes in a WhoWhatWhy Op-Ed that what the party actually hates is the idea of losing the presidential election this November. Recent attacks against the Postal Service just happen to be the most visible aspect of the Republican Party’s, or more specifically, Trump’s, effort to win another four years:

“The deviousness in Trump’s strategy goes further than simply sabotaging the Postal Service. After mounting a relentless scare campaign insisting (contrary to all available evidence) that voting by mail would open the floodgates to fraud, he may be hoping to save himself by launching a barrage of lawsuits if there is any delay in counting the votes,” Dowell writes.

“It doesn’t matter to Trump that he votes by mail himself, or that members of the military have mailed in absentee ballots for decades, or that several states have transitioned almost completely to voting by mail. There have been no significant incidents of fraud in all this time, but that has not daunted Trump’s anti-postal campaign.” (read more)

About That Mysterious Pro-Trump YouTube Ad: If you visited YouTube Tuesday night, you may have heard strange audio slamming Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on the site’s homepage. Some users that have ad-blocking apps turned them off and realized that it was a Trump campaign ad, but then discovered that they could not turn the audio off even though a mute icon appeared on the ad.

We contacted Google (YouTube’s parent company) about this, and they informed us that it was “just a bug.” But this apparent error begs the question — are big tech and social media companies capable of preventing cybersecurity failures or thwarting a cyber attack? (read more)

What the Suffrage Movement Teaches Us About Race in America: Last week marked the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, but the right to vote remains an uphill battle for millions of women of color.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are often hailed as leaders of the Suffragette movement. However, in a darker historical moment, they also opposed the 15th Amendment, which gave Black men the right to vote and outlawed racial discrimination. Stanton even once argued that “white women were more qualified to vote than Black men.”

While much has changed in 100 years, voting rights of Black women are still under attack. A majority of Americans believe that the United States has yet to reach full gender equality and that benefits accorded to women of color still lag behind those accorded to white women.

Thousands of polling place closures, restrictive voter ID laws, and disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated individuals continue to prevent millions of voters — largely voters of color — from access to the ballot box. (read more)

In the Courts

  • National Urban League v. Ross: In April, the Census Bureau implemented a plan that would have allowed more time to ensure that the 2020 Census is as accurate as possible. A few months later, the Trump administration quietly changed course and decided to cut things short.

    A consortium of voting-rights groups has now filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. They are arguing that the reversal “threatens a massive undercount of the country’s communities of color and the municipalities, cities, counties, and states where they live,” and are asking that the court require Ross to continue with the original plan established in April.

  • Trump for President v. Boockvar: A federal judge effectively shut down Trump’s effort to stop Pennsylvania’s decision to expand access to ballot drop-boxes and expand access to mail-in voting this November. The case is now on hold until current cases at the state level are decided, and if no decision is made by October 5, US District Court Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan may take up the case again.

What We’re Watching

It’s now the Republican Party’s turn to convince Americans that the Trump administration deserves another four years. We will hear a lot about the Republican National Convention throughout the week. In addition, we’ll keep an eye on what states are doing to prepare for the November election. If you have any questions about what the convention has to say about voting, contact us at We will provide a fact-check next week.

WhoWhatWhy and Readers’ Picks of the Week:


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