Electionland 2020: Kentucky and New York Vote, Trump on Mail Voting, COVID Impacts and more

This article is part of Electionland, ProPublica’s collaborative reporting project covering problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Sign up to receive updates about our voting coverage and more each week.

Elections This Week

  • Kentucky and New York held presidential primaries on Tuesday, with elections also taking place in Massachusetts, Mississippi, the Carolinas, and Virginia.

  • Kentucky was in the spotlight due to a reduction of polling places; a judge ruled against opening additional sites in the state’s most populous counties. There were long lines reported in Lexington. (Courier-Journal, WAVE)

  • In Jefferson County, Kentucky there were shuttle buses to the one polling site, a convention center, and Lyft also offered free rides. (WLKY)

  • About 85% of Kentucky voters cast a mail ballot; only 15% voted in person. (WHAS11)

  • “Us standing in line for two hours is nothing compared to people who got shot and killed, dogs turned on them, hoses turned on them to vote,” a Kentucky voter said. “So, my two hours in line, even though I got a bad ankle, I’m gonna do it. Because what else are you gonna do?” (WFPL)

  • A Kentucky voter had to convince officials that her dog literally ate her mail ballot in order for her to vote in person. (Kentucky.com)

  • In Kentucky, this election was the first time former felons could vote since the law changed late last year. (WFPL, Lex18)

  • At Jefferson County’s polling site, poll workers cheered when first-time voters checked in. (John Boyle)

  • Jefferson County is livestreaming workers counting absentee ballots. (Jefferson County Clerk)

  • In New York, some voters didn’t receive their mail ballots as the state received a large number of requests. More than 1.7 million voters requested ballots, a tenfold increase over 2016. (Gothamist, The New York Times)

  • In New York City, some voters were given only one of two pages of ballots , and there were other poll-related problems. Some polling sites opened late because of COVID-related subway closures. New York City’s Public Advocate called on the Board of Elections to make changes before November. (The City, Gothamist, AMNY)

The Latest on Vote by Mail

  • Alabama’s secretary of state joined the newly formed National Task Force on Voting by Mail, which also consists of several members of Trump’s now disbanded voter fraud commission. (Alabama Today)

  • During the Pennsylvania primary, most Democrats voted by mail while most Republicans voted in person. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • More than 1.46 million Democrats are registered to vote by mail in Florida in November, compared to 1.16 million Republicans. (Politico)

  • A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll found that only 41% of Iowan voters say they are likely to vote by mail in the fall. Democrats were nearly twice as likely to say they’d vote by mail as Republicans. (Des Moines Register)

  • Close to 7,000 Nevada primary ballots weren’t counted because of signature match problems. (Associated Press)

  • Ahead of Louisiana’s July primary, there’s already been an uptick in mail ballot requests from senior citizens. (The Advocate)

  • A left-leaning donor group announced a $59 million effort to support vote by mail. (Associated Press)

  • President Donald Trump made more false claims about mail voting this week, alleging without evidence that foreign powers would print fake mail ballots. This is a theory originally floated by Attorney General William Barr and has been widely disputed by experts. Asked by a reporter to give examples on vote by mail fraud, the president gave an example that is not actually fraud. (Politico, The Guardian, Seth Masket)

  • Fifteen Trump officials have voted by mail, as has Trump. (The Washington Post)

  • This week, former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, a Republican, said that discouraging vote by mail could hurt GOP candidates. (The Hill)

Ongoing Coronavirus Impacts

  • A nonprofit group called the Voter Protection Corps released a report on how to protect in-person voting, which some say is getting overlooked in the discussion of ramping up mail voting. (Boston.com)

  • Poll workers, voters, election board members and election observers testified before the Georgia legislature on the problems they faced during the chaotic primary. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Part of this year’s poll worker recruitment problem involves workers cancelling at the last minute over health concerns. (USA Today)

  • Kansas City will give city employees paid days off to work the polls during Missouri’s upcoming elections. (Kansas City Star)

  • After Georgia’s primary, a temporary Dekalb County elections employee tested positive for COVID-19. (The Champion)

  • A Philadelphia poll watcher tested positive for coronavirus less than 2 weeks after the election, but voters and election workers won’t be notified. (Penn Live)

  • A Brennan Center for Justice study found that a reduction in polling places and fear of the pandemic affected primary turnout among Milwaukee voters. (Madison 365)

Voting Legislation News

  • California: The governor signed legislation to require election officials to send a mail ballot to every registered voter in November. State lawmakers approved a ballot measure that will allow Californias to decide whether to restore voting rights to those on parole. (Associated Press, Sacramento Bee)

  • Delaware: The state House of Representatives passed legislation that would expand vote by mail for the general election. (WDEL)

  • Georgia: A bill advanced in the House of Representatives that would prevent election officials from sending vote by mail applications to voters. (GPB News)

  • Pennsylvania: Legislators are considering a bill to allow officials to start counting ballots before Election Day. The governor signed legislation to require the Department of State to publish a report on the primary and identify problems ahead of November. (Penn Live, PA.gov)

  • New Mexico: The legislature approved a bill that would allow clerks to send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters, but not automatically send ballots themselves. (Santa Fe New Mexican)

  • South Carolina: The House of Representatives decided not to expand voting options for the general election, which may lead to lawsuits. (Post & Courier)

  • National: A Republican senator blocked legislation to expand early voting and the amount of time for mail ballots to be counted. (The Hill)

The Latest Election Lawsuits

  • Arkansas: Voters filed a lawsuit demanding no-excuse absentee voting during the general election. (Arkansas Times)

  • Connecticut: A group of Republicans filed a lawsuit claiming the secretary of state’s plan for expanding absentee voting is unconstitutional. (Fox 61)

  • Florida: The governor asked the court of appeals to put a hold on a ruling that lets felons vote. Meanwhile, a federal judge denied requests for injunctions to expand mail voting, and said that requiring postage for mail ballots is not a poll tax. (Tampa Bay Times, News Service of Florida)

  • Kansas: The ACLU sued the secretary of state asking to disclose the names of voters who voted by provisional ballot in 2018. (AP)

  • Louisiana: A judge threw out a lawsuit challenging the secretary of state’s emergency voting plan. (AP)

  • Minnesota: The secretary of state said absentee ballot witness requirements will be waived for the August primary; two judges recently ruled differently on the issue. (Star Tribune)

  • Missouri: The state Supreme Court sent a case over expanding vote by mail back to a circuit court. (Missourinet)

  • Pennsylvania: Citing problems during the primary, the NAACP sued the state demanding a variety of changes for the general election, ranging from more polling places to sending mail ballots to all voters. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Tennessee: The state Supreme Court said it wouldn’t block a ruling to allow for the expansion of vote by mail ahead of the state’s August primary. (AP)

  • Wisconsin: A progressive group filed a lawsuit over voter ID requirements for college students; two other lawsuits are languishing in the courts. (Wisconsin Watch)

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