National: Election officials in both parties call for emergency funding to expand voting by mail before November | Amy Gardner, Elise Viebeck and Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

A bipartisan push to expand mail-in voting is underway across the country as election officials brace for a spike in demand from voters spooked by the coronavirus pandemic — despite Republican reluctance in Washington to help pay for it. House Democrats have asked for as much as $2 billion in emergency funding to distribute to election officials who are scrambling to expand absentee balloting and take other steps to avoid pandemic-related chaos on Election Day in November. Dozens of state and local election officials, both Republican and Democratic, have signaled their desire for the funding — a sign of how the crisis is altering the usually sharply divided politics around voting measures. Still, Republicans in Washington say they are inclined to oppose an effort to include the funding along with new rules on how states run their elections in a $2 trillion coronavirus response package, with some casting the effort as part of a Democratic strategy to try to load up the bill with unrelated pet priorities.

Editorials: Coronavirus could prompt the U.S. to finally improve its voting system | Carl P. Leubsdorf/Dallas Morning News

Long before the coronavirus outbreak, the American voting system was in trouble. The evidence: the long lines and delayed counts that beset states and localities struggling to cope with the country’s growing electorate. But perhaps the current crisis will finally create sufficient concern to do something about it. So far, nine states and territories have delayed primary elections in hopes the virus will ebb sufficiently to enable voters to go safely to polling places and perform their duty as American citizens. The situation has prompted a series of ad hoc proposals. In Wisconsin, the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit to extend last week’s registration deadline for the state’s April 7 primary. And in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine cited health concerns as he abruptly suspended voting on the eve of last week’s primary, a questionable act in even a time of troubles. But if we are to avoid repetitions of this kind of unilateral, undemocratic action, as well as repeated court challenges and a possible electoral disaster in November, far more sweeping steps need to be taken. The goal should be to enable the voting machinery to function in an election that might produce so large a turnout it overwhelms the system, even if current health concerns decline.

Alaska: Emergency law may require Alaskans to vote by mail in August election | James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Senate approved a proposal Tuesday that would give the lieutenant governor the power to order statewide elections by mail if warranted by the spread of COVID-19. That power was among several the Senate sought to give Alaska’s executive branch as it unanimously approved a sweeping emergency bill intended to address the health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would extend the governor’s declaration of a public health emergency through Sept. 1 and grant him special powers. The bill passed unanimously by the Senate allows by-mail elections only for the August statewide primary and any special election before Sept. 1, such as the proposed recall of Gov. Mike Dunleavy. If the Legislature were to extend the public health emergency through November, the lieutenant governor would have the power to order the November general election to be conducted by mail, also. Anchorage conducts municipal elections by mail and the Alaska Democratic Party is holding a by-mail election for president. The state does not universally conduct elections by mail, although tens of thousands of absentee ballots are cast each election by mail.

California: As Coronavirus threatens general election, California could be example for states expanding vote-by-mail | Casey Tolan/San Jose Mercury News

The coronavirus cases spreading across the country have already overturned the 2020 presidential campaign, forcing multiple states to postpone their primaries and raising fears that the November general election could be marred by the pandemic. Now states are rushing to expand the use of vote-by-mail, laying the groundwork for an unprecedented shift in voting procedures. California, which has massively ramped up its use of mail-in voting over the last few decades, could be a model for others to follow. In Congress, lawmakers are debating a proposal from House Democrats to require states to allow mail-in voting and send $2 billion to election officials to help expand the process as part of a larger coronavirus relief package. But the idea has faced opposition from Republicans who argue that the bill should focus on economic relief, not voting rights. California is ahead of the curve. While less than 20 percent of voters in the 1992 general election cast their ballot by mail, nearly two-thirds did during the 2018 election, according to state data. That’s likely to be even higher this year.

California: The Presidential Election In November May Be Held At Your Mailbox Thanks To COVID-19 | Libby Denkmann/LAist

When governor Newsom signed an executive order last week to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Southern California elections, he included this provision: counties must send mail-in ballots to all registered voters in three upcoming special elections. The Orange County Registrar has already canceled in-person voting for the Apr. 7 Westminster City Council special recall election. Vote centers were scheduled to open this weekend for that contest. “Pursuant to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order (N-34-20), the generalized use of in-person voting may present risks to public health and safety in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and could risk undermining social distancing measures imposed by the State Public Health Officer,” O.C. Registrar Neal Kelley said in a statement. These moves give us a glimpse of what the future could hold: voting during a pandemic, when election officials have to weigh the risks of gathering at polling places versus the need to make voting accessible to everyone. “We’re having to adjust exactly how we administer the elections so that we maintain the right to vote but keep everybody as healthy as possible,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Georgia: All active voters will be mailed absentee ballot request forms | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

All of Georgia’s 6.9 million active voters will be mailed absentee ballot request forms for the May 19 primary, a major push to encourage voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Tuesday. The absentee voting effort will allow Georgians to decide on their choices for president and other elected offices from home, without having to visit in-person voting locations where the coronavirus could more easily spread. Early voting and Election Day precincts will remain open. A large number of people voting by mail would be a significant change in the way elections are run in Georgia. While the state has allowed any voter to cast a ballot by mail since 2005, just 7% of voters did so in the 2018 election for governor. The state’s absentee ballot initiative follows an agreement by Raffensperger, a Republican, and the Democratic Party of Georgia to delay the previously scheduled March 24 presidential primary because of the coronavirus. The presidential primary will now be held May 19, along with races for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, the Georgia General Assembly and local offices.

Mississippi: Secretary of state’s visit brings up question of potential paper ballot switch | Ray Van Dusen/Monroe Journal

Newly elected Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson has embarked on a listening tour through all of the state’s 82 counties to gather concerns from circuit clerks and election commissioners. He made his Monroe County visit March 9, and one of the talking points was the potential of mandated paper ballots for elections. While he is unsure of what the future may hold with electronic versus paper ballots, Monroe County Circuit Clerk Dana Sloan later said she is preparing if it is mandated. “If it comes through a federal mandate, it would come with funds. I’ve heard rumors of a potential push from Washington about a mandate to bring back paper ballots, but nothing is confirmed. Right now, I just heard there was a possibility but I want to gather as much information as I can to be prepared in case it happens,” she said. Monroe County switched from paper ballots to electronic TSX voting machines in 2006. A ballpark estimate for one scanner at each of Monroe County’s 26 voting precincts and four additional scanners at the four largest ones to tabulate paper ballot results is $285,000.

Nebraska: State Officials Say Nebraska Primary Will Not Be Delayed, Encourage Voting By Mail | Becca Costello/NET News

Nebraskans can already vote by mail in every county across the state – they just have to apply for the ballot ahead of time. Six counties are sending every registered voter an application for a mail-in ballot: Douglas, Lancaster, Cass, Gage, Buffalo, and Sarpy. Gage County Clerk and Election Commissioner Dawn Hill says her concerns about COVID-19’s impact on voting were growing in early March. “I had a little trouble sleeping one night and I thought maybe this is the answer — I’m going to send out applications for every active voter in my system to give everyone the possibility or the option to be able to vote,” Hill said. “I knew it was kind of a large task. But I felt that that was the right thing to do.” Hill says as long as in-person voting in May is still on the calendar, she has other concerns — like some of her usual poll worker volunteers who are worried about possible exposure. And one of the polling sites was supposed to be in an assisted living facility, so Hill is looking for a replacement site.

Nevada: Election officials plan mail-only primary election, no in-person voting amid coronavirus fears | Riley Snyder and Jackie Valley/Nevada Independent

Nevada election officials are planning to effectively cancel in-person voting and move the state’s primary election on June 9 to mail ballots only in the wake of the coronavirus crisis gripping the nation, two knowledgeable sources confirmed. An official announcement is expected today. It’s the latest activity facing a logistical change as officials try to prevent the spread of the upper-respiratory disease. Questions have surfaced regarding the safety of in-person voting, a process that can trigger lines of people and multiple surface touch points as voters make their selections. A recent legislative change allows any voter to request a ballot by mail, but must make the request by no later than the 14th calendar day preceding the election — May 26 for this election cycle. Delivery of mail ballots begins no later than 20 days before Election Day.

New York: Election commissioners want primary date changed | Stephen Williams/The Daily Gazette

Saying they face critical shortages of poll workers and places to vote that aren’t off-limits, the state’s county elections commissioners want the upcoming April 28 Democratic presidential primary delayed because of the spreading novel coronavirus. On Tuesday, the state Election Commissioners’ Association urged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the state Legislature to take action as soon as possible to postpone the vote, saying deadlines for training personnel and testing voting machines ahead of the primary are approaching, and the pandemic is making it difficult to recruit poll workers. “Election boards throughout the state are risking personnel safety and health to prepare for impending elections on April 28,” the group said in a statement. “We are facing critical shortages of inspectors and polling places due to the ongoing public health crisis.” Schenectady County’s elections commissioners are having trouble getting permission to use some of the polling places they normally use, which include senior citizen centers, schools and other buildings that have been emptied as people are told to stay away to prevent virus transmission. “A lot of the locations we use say they wouldn’t be able to give us access,” said Amy Hild, Schenectady County’s Democratic election commissioner. ‘We’re having an issue with locations, and difficulty in recruiting staff to work.”

South Carolina: Coronavirus could impact elections, including possible delay of June party primaries | Caitlin Byrd/The Post and Courier

South Carolina election officials may recommend postponing the statewide June 9 primary, citing concerns about safe and secure elections amid the spread of the contagious new coronavirus. Chris Whitmire, spokesman for the S.C. Election Commission, confirmed the discussions to The Post and Courier on Tuesday. “We’re concerned about the June primaries and the general election, and really all of the elections that are scheduled to occur for 2020,” Whitmire said. The statewide primary will determine who will be the respective Republican and Democratic nominees for different races, including the high profile battles for U.S. Senate and U.S. House, as well as for other contests. All 124 seats in the state House of Representatives are up for reelection this year, along with the 46 seats in the state Senate. The discussions here mirror conversations among election officials nationwide.

Pennsylvania: House unanimously backs proposal to delay the 2020 primary due to the coronavirus | Jonathan Lai and Chris Brennan/Philadelphia Inquirer

The Pennsylvania House on Tuesday approved a bipartisan proposal to postpone the 2020 primary by five weeks, until June 2, and allow counties to consolidate polling places amid concerns about the rapidly spreading coronavirus. Representatives unanimously approved the changes in an amendment to a preexisting Senate bill, increasing the prospects the legislation will be on its way to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature by the end of the week. The proposal also would make several permanent changes to election law, most notably allowing county officials to begin counting absentee and mail-in ballots by 7 a.m. on election days to speed up the posting of returns. “With elections only a month away, and positive coronavirus tests increasing daily, we are at a crossroads,” Rep. Kevin Boyle (D., Phila.) said on the House floor before the vote. He noted the risk of infection to voters and poll workers, especially older citizens: “Pennsylvania must be realistic regarding the impact of the virus on the April 28 election.”

Wisconsin: Groups want mail-only election, Governor’s order’s effect unclear | Todd Richmond/Associated Press

Voting advocacy groups and the mayor of Wisconsin’s largest city on Tuesday urged Gov. Tony Evers to close polling sites and conduct the state’s spring election entirely by mail to protect voters and a dwindling pool of election workers from the coronavirus. Evers has refused calls to postpone the April 7 election in the face of the crisis. The election features the state’s presidential primary, a state Supreme Court race and hundreds of races for local office. Most local officials terms expire April 21 and delaying the election could leave those spots vacant, Evers has argued. However, the governor said Monday he was considering conducting the election entirely by mail. The governor on Tuesday issued an executive order restricting all nonessential travel and mandating all nonessential businesses to close. It’s unclear how the order applies to the election. It includes pages of exemptions but doesn’t mention elections. Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said he didn’t know if the order prohibits in-person voting. The governor dodged questions about how the order might apply to elections during his now-daily conference call with reporters to discuss efforts to stop the virus.

National: This Isn’t The First Time America Has Weathered A Crisis In An Election Year | Geoffrey Skelley/FiveThirtyEight

The COVID-19 pandemic has already disrupted public life in a number of ways — large events are canceled, restaurants are closed and many of us are stuck at home — but a fundamental aspect of our democratic society could also be under threat: voting. Already, eight states or territories have postponed their presidential primaries — but depending on how long this pandemic affects day-to-day life in the United States, it could impact the November general election, too. But this isn’t the first time our country has had to go to the polls in a time of crisis. Elections have occurred during economic catastrophes like the Great Depression as well as during both world wars. The good news is we’ve always managed to hold general elections — even in the midst of the Civil War — but the bad news is that our ability to vote is often hampered. And turnout has usually fallen because voting became harder or costlier in the face of natural or man-made calamities. Looking ahead to the November election, recent primary elections show that states need to be prepared for the worst when it comes to making sure people can vote despite a health crisis.

National: As Coronavirus Delays Primary Season, States Weigh Expanding Absentee Voting | Pam Fessler/NPR

The election-year coronavirus pandemic has pushed back elections in more than a dozen states, leading to growing interest in expanding voting by mail this year in order to keep pollworkers and voters safe. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has proposed sending all voters postage-paid absentee ballots to complete the state’s postponed March 17 primary. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has called for an all-mail special election April 28 to fill a congressional seat left open by the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings. Many other states are considering expanding absentee and mail-in voting for the remaining primaries, and even the general election. Democratic lawmakers, including Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden, have introduced legislation that would require states to offer all voters in the country the option of casting their ballots by mail. “The right to vote is paramount and no citizen in this country should have to pick between exercising their right to vote and protecting their health,” said Klobuchar, who announced Monday her husband had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. But the window to expand vote-by-mail is closing soon, proponents warn, because implementing such changes would entail extensive logistical challenges and widespread voter education.

National: Voting by Mail Would Reduce Coronavirus Transmission but It Has Other Risks | Jessica Huseman/ProPublica

Because of a rise in its Latino population, Gwinnett County in suburban Atlanta had to mail out absentee ballots with information in both English and Spanish in 2018. The result was chaos. The county accommodated the increased text by printing it in 6.5-point font, making each letter smaller than a sesame seed. Many voters were confused by the instructions — in particular, that they had to sign the back of the yellow envelope before returning it or their votes wouldn’t count. Gwinnett rejected 595 absentee ballots, a third of all those tossed in Georgia, often without notifying the spurned voters. Only a hurried lawsuit by the ACLU forced the county to reexamine the discarded ballots. The debacle caused in Gwinnett by this relatively minor tweak presents a cautionary lesson for election administrators amid a pandemic-driven flurry of calls for a massive expansion of voting by mail. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced legislation this month to promote and help fund mail-in ballot efforts, and several states that have delayed primaries are mulling whether to conduct them by mail.

National: Calls for vote-by-mail rise with stay-at-home orders | Kelly Mena/CNN

Election officials and voting rights groups are calling for a general move to an all vote-by-mail system for remaining primaries and the November general election as the spread of the novel coronavirus continues to shut down major cities and states across the US. Ellen Weintraub, one of three current members of the Federal Election Commission and its former chairwoman, said this week that voting by mail is a “necessary and urgent” step in the face of the pandemic. “As Congress and the White House race to save American lives and preserve America’s economy, they must also act swiftly to protect America’s democracy,” Weintraub said in a statement Thursday. “No one should have to risk their life — or the lives of their loved ones — to cast their vote.” She joined a chorus of election officials and voting rights advocates across the country that have been pushing for a radical change to how American exercise their most fundamental right in the face of an unprecedented health crisis.

National: House considers voting options as members fall ill | Christina A. Cassidy and Mary Clare Jalonick/Associated Press

With at least two members of the House testing positive for coronavirus, Democrats are recommending that they pass a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue passage by unanimous consent, meaning no lawmakers would have to be present for the vote. If that doesn’t work — only one member has to object to stop it — then House Democrats say there are other options for voting from afar, including proxy votes that could see a handful of members casting votes for others. The options are discussed in a new report commissioned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and released late Monday evening. One option Democrats are taking off the table: remote electronic voting. The report, written by House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern, D-Mass., determined there were too many security concerns in addition to logistical and technical challenges in the middle of the public health crisis.

National: As Lawmakers Push for Remote Voting Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Here’s What a Virtual Congress Could Look Like | Alexandra Hutzler/Newsweek

For the first time in 231 years, Congress may be forced to vote remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic, but how that would work isn’t clear—it’s never happened before. “Our priority is to take care of the needs of our constituents, but for us to act as swiftly and forcefully as we are going to need to do, we have to be able to convene,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told Newsweek. “Considering that colleagues of ours are testing positive or are under self-quarantine, I want us to still be nimble and able to help.” A deserted Capitol Hill isn’t that far-fetched. As Congress debates the stimulus package, 435 House members have already left Washington, D.C. and the 100 Senators are expected to leave after the final vote. Three members—one senator and two representatives—have tested positive for the virus. With an increasing number of states imposing shelter-in-place orders to combat the spread of the virus, members may have to make decisions about the future of the country from their own homes when sessions reconvene. The idea is controversial—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes the idea of remote voting. But Swalwell is one of nearly 70 House Democrats to formally request the chamber change rules to allow lawmakers to vote remotely during national emergencies.

National: ‘Election Software I Hacked In 2005 Is Still In Use’: Cyber Security Expert Harri Hursti On 2020 Presidential Election | CBS

The presidential election is less than eight months away and New York resident and cybersecurity expert Hari Hursti is already sounding the horn about potential issues with voting machines around the country. The computer hacker has been studying election interference and the problems with voting technology since the mid 2000s, and his new HBO documentary “Kill Chain: The Cyber Wars On America’s Election” demonstrates that not much has changed in the past decade. “If someone tried to explain to me everything I learned in the last 15 years, I wouldn’t believe them” said Hursti in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “The most frightening thing is that from 2006 to now, nothing changed. The actual software that I hacked in 2005 is still in use. Those machines are still in 20 states. They’re still around. Everything is so outdated and it is so hard to make people understand the reality that this needs to be fixed or things will be getting worse.”

Editorials: Preparing for November’s election must be a national priority | Dan Lips and Sean Roberts/The Hill

The coronavirus pandemic is testing our nation’s resolve and already disrupting our way of life. But we can’t afford to let it disrupt the November election. Six states have already postponed their primaries. More will likely follow in the weeks and months ahead. With a risk that the pandemic will continue through November, the hard work to plan for the election must begin now. The American people deserve a national bipartisan effort — including leadership from the policy and technology communities — to ensure the integrity and continuity of American democracy. The good news is that this important work was underway long before the pandemic. Since 2016, national and state leaders have prioritized strengthening the security and integrity of U.S. elections with bipartisan engagement from the Obama and Trump administrations. Congress has invested more than $800 million in new funding for state and local election systems over the past two years.

Editorials: Coronavirus Imperils November Election Unless Democrats Act Now | Francis Wilkinson/Bloomberg

With little but uncertainty ahead, Congress and the states must mobilize immediately to shift the nation to a largely vote-by-mail system by November. There are two obstacles to that goal — one practical, one political. Lurking behind both is the fear that President Donald Trump will seek to disrupt the vote to maintain power, and that Republicans and right-wing media will help him succeed. The practical problems with voting in the midst of a pandemic are evident. Poll workers are often elderly — precisely the people who are most at risk. Some poll workers in states voting in the primary March 17 simply didn’t show up. Due to years of underfunding and neglect, even after Russian interference in 2016, election infrastructure in many states is substandard. Many states are not currently equipped to manage large-scale vote by mail. All states will send absentee ballots to voters who request one. But only five states have transitioned to all-mail elections. Others have a hodgepodge of regulations governing vote-by-mail. And when millions of votes are involved, questions about ballot design, who qualifies as actively registered, how to forward ballots when residents change address and even postage costs become more complicated. Fraud is also a more legitimate (if still limited) concern when ballots are mailed.

Delaware: April primary still on, Chris Coons pushes for vote expansion | Sarah Gamard/Delaware News Journal

Delaware’s beaches and nonessential businesses have closed. The governor has ordered residents to stay home until mid-May. And coronavirus cases as of Monday have climbed to 87 in the state. But as of Monday, Delaware’s April 28 presidential primary is still a go even though other states have postponed elections because of the fast-spreading virus. State officials are discussing possible changes to the election, according to Gov. John Carney’s spokesman, Jonathan Starkey. He did not offer details. “Delawareans have a basic, fundamental right to vote, and we’re working to make sure they can stay healthy and exercise that right,” Starkey said on Monday. The state may get help from its congressional leaders through a federal bill that would mean Delawareans don’t have to show up to the polls in person if the virus is still a public health threat by that time.

Idaho: Election officials work on alternatives to in-person voting for May primary | Rachel Spacek/Idaho Press

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney and the 44 Idaho county clerks are discussing possible changes to the upcoming May 19 primary election, amid concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus. On Wednesday, Denney released a statement saying the state would be encouraging voters to request absentee ballots for the election. The same day, the Idaho Democratic Party released a letter asking Gov. Brad Little and Denney to hold an all absentee ballot election. Absentee voting requires the voter to request a vote-by-mail ballot. An all-mail ballot election means the counties would automatically mail ballots to all registered voters. Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane said he, the other county clerks and the Secretary of State’s Office have been looking at a number of options for the May 19 election. He said he expects to “have clarity” as early as Monday on what the election will look like. McGrane said the group is looking at consolidating polling locations, mailing out absentee ballot requests to voters and what authority the state has to delay the election.

Rhode Island: Governor orders primary postponement | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal

Governor Raimondo has signed an executive order moving Rhode Island’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 2, as requested by the state Board of Elections. She announced her decision in a tweet that said: “Last week, the Board of Elections requested that the presidential primary election be postponed from April 28 to June 2 and that the election take place primarily by mail ballot. “I am following the advice of the Board of Elections, and will sign an executive order to do this.” Later in the day, she signed an executive order that looked back at the 2016 presidential primaries when “over 180,000 Rhode Islanders cast their ballots at.. over 146 polling places,’’ and then ahead to this year’s primary with a potential 182 polling places with a minimum of 8 poll workers each.

Virginia: Election officials raise questions about safety of upcoming elections | Alison Graham/The Roanoke Times

Electoral boards and registrars across the state are concerned about offering in-person voting for the upcoming May and June elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter sent last week, two associations asked the state to close polling locations and accept only mail-in ballots. The Voter Registrars Association of Virginia and the Virginia Electoral Board Association sent a joint letter to Chris Piper, the Virginia Department of Elections commissioner, detailing potential issues connected to in-person voting. The letter cited concerns about the safety of voters who come to polling locations, sanitizing voting machines and materials, previously closed polling locations opening to the public, and the participation of election officials, who are often seniors and retirees expected to self-quarantine. “Voters should not be forced to choose between exercising their constitutional rights and preserving their own health and that of their community,” the letter read. “Conducting the May and June elections entirely by mail is common sense and strikes the correct balance between protecting voter’s rights while simultaneously protecting their personal health.”

West Virginia: Pair of delegates urges governor to send absentee ballots to all voters | WV News

Two members of the West Virginia House of Delegates on Monday sent a letter to Gov. Jim Justice urging the institution of voting by mail statewide through absentee ballots. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Secretary of State Mac Warner announced the expansion of the state’s requirements to qualify for an absentee ballot to include health concerns due to the virus. Those who apply for an absentee ballot will be able to cast their vote for the statewide primary election in May by mail. However, Dels. Barbara Evans Fleischauer and Evan Hansen, both D-Monongalia, contend in their letter that this policy does not go far enough to ensure the safety of poll workers and the public. “We think the best solution to safeguard the health of our citizens for the upcoming primary would be to mail ballots to all eligible voters with clear explanations of new procedures for their return to county clerks,” the letter said. According to the delegates, Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean for Health Sciences at WVU, agreed that from a health standpoint, any solution that allows many people to congregate in close quarters and touch machines, pencils and paper is not an optimal solution.

Wisconsin: Election Officials Across Wisconsin Eliminate, Scale Back In-Person Early Voting | Laurel White/Wisconsin Public Radio

Some Wisconsin communities, including Milwaukee and Madison, are shutting down or sharply cutting back in-person early voting locations for the state’s April 7 election as the new coronavirus continues to spread in the state. The moves come as election officials continue to grapple with challenges posed by the virus and some groups call for the election to be postponed. Officials have for weeks been urging voters to request mail-in ballots for the election. The deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot online or by mail is April 2; the deadline for their return is 8 p.m. on Election Day. Milwaukee announced Sunday its three in-person early voting sites — Zablocki Library, the Zeidler Municipal Building, and the Midtown Center — would close effective immediately, citing challenges with maintaining adequate staffing levels at the sites. “We’re having more and more workers at our early election sites who are declining to come in,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said on a call with reporters Monday morning. “And they are making, in most cases, the prudent decision by not coming in.”  Many polling place workers are over 60 years old, which puts them at higher risk of contracting the new coronavirus.

Wisconsin: Governor Considering Making Spring Election Mail-Only | Todd Richmond/Associated Press

Gov. Tony Evers said Monday that he’s considering allowing people to vote in Wisconsin’s spring election only by mail in order to protect voters and poll workers from the coronavirus. The April 7 election includes the state’s presidential primary, a state Supreme Court race and hundreds of races for local office. Several states have postponed their presidential primaries to prevent people from congregating at the polls and spreading the virus, but Evers has thus far insisted that Wisconsin’s take place as scheduled and has been urging people to vote by mailing in absentee ballots to avoid the polls. Evers told reporters during a conference call on efforts to control the virus that he still wants all eligible voters to cast absentee ballots. Later in the call, he was asked if he would consider restricting voting to mail-in absentee ballot only. He said his administration was “evaluating” that option but that “the message is still stay at home (and) vote by mail.” State elections officials have warned Evers’ administration that holding a traditional election on April 7 would be fraught with problems ranging from poll workers refusing to show up to a lack of hand sanitizer at the polls. On Monday, the state elections commission put out a call seeking people to replace older poll workers.

Europe: EU parliament moves to email voting during COVID-19 pandemic | Natasha Lomas/TechCrunch

The European Parliament will temporarily allow electronic voting by email as MEPs are forced to work remotely during the coronavirus crisis. A spokeswoman for the parliament confirmed today that an “alternative electronic voting procedure” has been agree for the plenary session that will take place on March 26. “This voting procedure is temporary and valid until 31 July,” she added. Earlier this month the parliament moved the majority of its staff to teleworking. MEPs have since switch to full remote work as confirmed cases of COVID-19 have continued to step up across Europe. Though how to handle voting remotely has generated some debate in and of itself. “Based on public health grounds, the President decided to have a temporary derogation to enable the vote to take place by an alternative electronic voting procedure, with adequate safeguards to ensure that Members’ votes are individual, personal and free, in line with the provisions of the Electoral act and the Members’ Statute,” the EU parliament spokeswoman said today, when we asked for the latest on its process for voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.