Electionland 2020: Florida Felons Case, Drive-Thru Voting, Voter Registration 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.

Vote by Mail News

  • In an interview with NPR, Attorney General William Barr claimed, without offering proof, that mail voting isn’t secure because people could steal ballots from mailboxes. Asked for specific evidence, he could not cite any. (NPR)

  • The Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project found that more than 18,000 mail ballots weren’t counted during Florida’s March primary. Younger voters, first-time voters, and Latino and Black voters were more likely to have their ballots rejected. While the overall percentage is small (1.3% of all votes), thin margins in Florida could be key in the fall. (Tampa Bay Times)

  • A report from the University of California Los Angeles and the University of New Mexico found that vote by mail does not increase voter fraud. (KOB4)

  • More than half of West Virginia voters cast votes by mail during the June primary. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

  • Georgians won’t automatically receive absentee voting applications in the fall, even though absentee voting spiked during the primary and there were problems with long lines at polling places. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • More than 80% of Wisconsin GOP members of the state legislature voted by mail during the April primary. (Associated Press)

  • Texas is holding runoff elections as coronavirus cases spike, and most voters won’t be able to vote by mail. The secretary of state’s office had said voters wouldn’t be required to wear masks to the polls, but the governor subsequently imposed a nearly statewide mask order on Thursday. (Texas Tribune)

Trump’s Latest on Mail Voting

  • President Donald Trump tweeted again about vote by mail, this time calling out New Jersey. (The Guardian)

  • The Trump campaign sued Pennsylvania, claiming the state didn’t provide sufficient security for mail voting during the primary and that its poll watcher requirement is too strict. The lawsuit claims that mail voting and absentee voting are interchangeable terms, even though Trump often claims that mail voting is different and will lead to fraud. (PA Post, Daniel Jacobson)

  • Election officials in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah pushed back on the president’s unfounded claims about vote by mail fraud. (Cronkite News, KSLTV, Review Journal)

  • Ohio’s secretary of state criticized both presidential candidates for questioning election integrity. (Ohio Capital Journal)

  • Asked whether any previous president had used similar rhetoric to delegitimize elections, a presidential historian said Trump’s language was unprecedented. “What you’re seeing is someone who’s an autocrat or a dictator in action,” said Douglas Brinkley. (AP)

Innovating During a Pandemic

  • In one Colorado county offering drive-up voting, voters arrived by horse, raft, rollerblades and skateboard. (9News)

  • Another Colorado county trained high school students as election judges. (The Fort Morgan Times)

  • In one Kansas county, drive-thru voter registration is available. (KCTV

  • In Minnesota, health care workers are training to be election judges so they can administer absentee voting in nursing homes. (KEYC)

  • Drive-thru voting could be one of several ways New Mexicans can vote in the fall. (ABQ Journal)

  • Wisconsin is sending postcards to eligible, unregistered voters to explain how to register to vote online. (WAOW)

  • In states that require voters to fax or scan absentee ballot requests, a voting rights group is helping voters request ballots through an online portal. (The New York Times)

Voting Legislation Headlines

  • Delaware: The governor signed off on universal vote by mail for all elections this year. (Delaware Online, Delaware.gov)

  • Florida: The governor signed a law that will allow election officials to speed up recounts. (Associated Press)

  • Georgia: A bill that would have prevented election officials from sending out absentee ballot applications to voters didn’t pass. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Iowa: The governor signed a law that prevents the secretary of state from sending mail ballot request forms to voters without legislative approval. She also signed legislation that bars county officials from using a voter database to confirm missing or erroneous information on absentee ballot requests. (Des Moines Register, AP)

  • Massachusetts: Lawmakers reached an initial deal on a bill that would allow the state to send mail ballot applications to voters for the general election, and would allow voters to apply for a ballot online. (Boston Globe)

  • New Hampshire: The legislature passed a bill to allow voters to cast an absentee ballot if they fear for their health because of the pandemic. (Patch)

  • National: Democrats want to update the Voting Rights Act, but the GOP Senate majority leader won’t bring it up for a vote. (The Hill)

The Latest Election Lawsuits

  • Alabama: An appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that allows curbside voting and makes absentee voting easier ahead of the July runoff elections. The state has now asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the state’s election rules. (Montgomery Advertiser, Roll Call)

  • Arkansas: A lawsuit claims the state’s mail voting restrictions are unconstitutional and should be changed before the general election. (KATV)

  • Connecticut: Republicans sued to halt the governor’s plan to expand vote by mail for the August primary. Meanwhile, voting rights groups sued to make vote by mail accessible to all for the general election. (Hartford Courant, League of Women Voters)

  • Florida: A federal appellate court stayed a lower-court ruling that would have allowed felons to vote without first paying back court fees and restitution. The appellate court didn’t signal when it will hear the case, and experts say this could cause confusion about voter eligibility, regardless of the final outcome of the case. (Orlando Sentinel, AP)

  • Maine: Advocacy groups are suing to allow voters to register online and to make the state pay for postage on mail ballots. (Bangor Daily News)

  • Michigan: Lawyers for blind voters asked a judge to hold the secretary of state in contempt of court for allegedly failing to implement an accessible voting system before August. Also, an advocacy group dropped a lawsuit against Detroit after it cleaned its voter rolls. (MLive, Detroit News)

  • Texas: The Supreme Court declined to rule on a district judge’s order on allowing all voters to cast a ballot by mail. (The Washington Post)

  • Tennessee: In spite of a judge’s ruling to allow all voters to cast an absentee ballot, officials say they plan to enforce a requirement that first-time voters who register by mail must vote in person. (AP)

  • Wisconsin: An appeals court ruling rolled back measures to expand voting, including reinstating a measure limiting early voting to two weeks, but the court objected to a rule requiring college students to provide proof of enrollment when using student ID. In other news, a decision on the state’s voter roll case is unlikely to happen before Nov. 3. (The Guardian, Courthouse News, The Center Square)

More Election News

  • A Mississippi election commissioner wrote on Facebook that she was concerned that “the blacks” are having lots of voter registration events. (Clarion Ledger)

  • The New York City conflicts of interest board fined the head of the city’s board of elections for sitting on an advisory board for a voting machine manufacturer. (NY1)

  • “There was a time I had made some mistakes in my life and wasn’t able to vote and I got my rights back since Amendment 4 went out,” Florida voter Gena Grant said after voting in March. “I’m a little overwhelmed I was just telling my friend that came with me that there’s a part of me that wants to cry.” (WFSU)

  • A group of Senate Democrats sent a letter to the attorney general expressing concern about the closure of polling places on tribal lands. (Vox)

  • Voter registration has plummeted during the pandemic. (FiveThirtyEight)

  • A group of nonprofits and businesses have banded together to recruit poll workers for the general election. (CNN)

  • Presidential candidate Joe Biden said Democrats had assembled 600 lawyers to deal with possible “chicanery” during the election. (Reuters)

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