Editorials: Ten Recommendations to Ensure a Healthy and Trustworthy 2020 Election | Nathaniel Persily, Charles Stewart, III/Lawfare

It is quickly becoming apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic will fundamentally change the 2020 election. The government’s response to the crisis will affect voters’ perceptions of candidates, to be sure—but the pandemic will also affect whether and how citizens vote in the primaries and the general election. As state and local officials try to navigate an unprecedented situation, their response to the pandemic has been uneven and uncertain. This past week has provided ample evidence that states are in need of reliable plans to carry out elections without interruption in the face of the unfolding medical crisis. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine caused alarm when he decided to postpone the presidential primary the day before it was scheduled to occur. DeWine’s action may have been justified on public health grounds, but it illustrated the confusion that can arise when states are caught between opening polling places and endangering the health of citizens. Meanwhile, the governor of Arizona and the director of elections for Maricopa County fought over whether the county could send out mail-in ballots even to voters who have not requested them. Their battle illustrates that without a definitive statewide plan, state and local election officials can be locked in litigation when they should be cooperating to face serious challenges to the continuity of elections. Despite the challenge presented by COVID-19, the 2020 elections must go forward. The elections to be held on Nov. 3 are not optional. They cannot be postponed, even if dangers to public health remain as great as they are likely to get over the next few weeks. The nation must act now to ensure that there will be no doubt, regardless of the spread of infection, that the elections will be conducted on schedule and that they will be free and fair.

National: Democrats see coronavirus stimulus as last, best chance for vote-by-mail push | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Democrats are pushing hard to include a huge expansion of voting by mail in a mammoth coronavirus stimulus bill being crafted on Capitol Hill, arguing the nation is ill prepared to ensure the November contest is conducted safely and securely. If the virus is still active on Election Day, they worry that could devastate turnout, leading to widespread doubt the outcome reflects the will of the people and damaging faith in the electoral process even more than potential Russian hacking and disinformation. Concerns are rising as seven states have already delayed their presidential primaries because of worries about the health of voters and elderly poll workers. But, as with the fight against Russian election interference, the move to allow states to hold elections by mail is sparking an ideological battle between Democrats who want to require that states dramatically increase such capabilities and Republicans who consider such top-down mandates government overreach. The battle over election funding is just one of many sticking points holding up the unprecedented $1.8 trillion rescue package as lawmakers scramble to respond to the pandemic. Senate Democrats blocked a vote on the bill last night out of concern it tilted too far in favor of businesses and lawmakers will be negotiating again this morning. The price tag for a nationwide vote-by-mail system would likely land between $982 million and $1.4 billion, according to a Brennan Center for Justice analysis. The center estimated it would cost about $2 billion to also make other election improvements such as expanding early voting, maintaining safe in-person voting and making online voter registration easier.

National: Senators urge Congress to include election funds in coronavirus stimulus | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Chris Coons (Del.) urged the leaders of the House and Senate on Friday to include election security funding in an upcoming coronavirus funding package. “As Congress prepares additional legislation to protect the American people from COVID-19 and provide financial relief, we also must protect our elections,” Klobuchar and Coons wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “Americans are facing unprecedented disruptions to their daily lives, and we need to make sure that in the midst of this pandemic people do not lose their ability to vote,” the senators emphasized. Klobuchar, the lead Democrat on the elections-focused Senate Rules Committee, and Coons highlighted a report released by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice that called on Congress to appropriate around $2 billion to states to allow the November elections to go forward following the coronavirus pandemic.

National: States Begin Prep for Mail-In Voting in Presidential Election | Matt Vasilogambros/Stateline

States have begun reshaping election policies to expand access to mail-in voting. Election officials in states with restrictive absentee requirements are looking for ways to allow as many voters as possible to use absentee ballots, a safer alternative to in-person voting in a global pandemic. If this crisis continues into November, however, some experts warn that a pivot to voting by mail could strain state resources and disenfranchise certain voters if not handled properly. U.S. elections have been in flux since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland and Ohio all delayed their Democratic primaries. New York officials also are considering delaying that state’s April 28 primary. But many states are taking their responses to COVID-19 further. Voting by mail looks different in each state. While most states allow all voters to cast a mail-in ballot, 17 states restrict absentee voting to people who have disabilities, who are ill or who would be out of town on Election Day.

National: Coronavirus Spurs Vote-By-Mail Push, But Barriers Remain | Carrie Levine, Center for Public Integrity/Time

The coronavirus pandemic has already prompted state after state to delay their primary elections, including a chaotic last-minute scramble in Ohio last week and depressed turnout in states that went ahead. The disruptions are prompting widespread calls for expansion of absentee ballot and vote-by-mail options before the November election. But there are no magic fixes in a country where the rules governing elections make up a confusing patchwork from state to state. Expanding universal vote-by-mail options for November’s election will require either the passage of federal legislation or a series of changes to state laws, especially in the states that now require an excuse for absentee ballots. On March 18, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, both Democrats, introduced legislation requiring, among other things, 20 days of early in-person voting, as well as no-excuse vote-by-mail options in every state. The federal government would reimburse states for the costs of putting the measures in place, though the bill doesn’t specify an amount and the tab could be high. Money and momentum matters, though states would still quickly have to make a series of decisions governing how such ballots would make their way into voters’ hands and be returned, handled and counted securely; the deadline to return ballots to be counted; as well as how to verify them and give voters the chance to address problems — questions different states answer in different ways.

National: The Lessons of the Elections of 1918 | Dionne Searcey/The New York Times

Across the country, citizens were ordered to hunker in their homes to avoid catching a deadly virus even as some people thought it was nothing worse than a seasonal cold. In the midst of fear and sickness, politicians had to decide how to hold scheduled elections, and the global pandemic was subject to political spin. The year was 1918 when a deadly flu outbreak gripped the nation, infecting about a third of the world’s population and killing 675,000 people in the United States alone. That crisis, which was known as the Spanish flu, took place in a completely different time technologically and politically. But the reaction then, where local governments took charge and made decisions on how to proceed with voting, offer some guidance for the situation today as the pandemic arrives in a federal election year. In the 1918 election — midterm contests, where President Woodrow Wilson’s Democratic Party was fighting to keep control of Congress — keeping polling places open was a patchwork of decisions by local officials. “Everything became this kind of wheeler-dealer hustle,” said Kristin Watkins, an expert in pandemics and director of grants at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs whose studies involved reviewing 1918 elections.

Editorials: It’s Time to Protect the 2020 Election, Too | The New York Times

There is no good time for a pandemic to hit. Still, it’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable moment than the one we find ourselves in, only months before some 130 million Americans expected to head to the polls to vote for the next president and thousands of other officeholders. The outcome of the November election could shape the contours of American politics and government for decades. Right now, most people are rightly preoccupied with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus on public health and the national economy. But a functioning democracy requires elections that are free, fair, accurate and on time, even during a global health crisis. It is almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before. Assuming the coronavirus outbreak persists into the fall, it will pose unprecedented challenges to holding a nationwide vote, the most obvious of which is the need to keep people physically separated. For tens of millions of Americans, the traditional visit to the local polling site on Election Day may not be an option. Several states have already postponed their primaries for this reason. That may be the right call for the time being, but it won’t work for the general election in November, the date of which is prescribed by federal law, and which is followed soon after by the constitutionally mandated inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20. The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free option for every eligible voter in the country. This means, at a minimum: printing tens of millions of mail-in ballots and envelopes; ensuring that all registered voters receive one automatically, can request a replacement if they don’t, and can return it by Election Day; and finally, having the human and technological resources, like ballot scanners, available to count those votes quickly and accurately.

Arkansas: March 31 runoff to go on despite the health scare | Dale Ellis and Michael R. Wickline/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Jefferson County will not seek to delay its March 31 primary runoff. On Monday, the county’s election commissioners decided to ask the prosecuting attorney to file a suit in circuit court in an effort to postpone the election until May 19 because of coronavirus concerns. The next day, however, Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Hunter responded that the prudent course of action would be to forge ahead with preparations for the runoff rather than try to set a precedent by seeking the delay. There is no mechanism in state law to support a delay. “I got the letter from the commission asking me to go forward,” Hunter said Tuesday. “I sent them back a response today telling them my opinion is to follow the recommendation of the [State Board of Election Commissioners], and the governor’s office, and that the legally prudent thing right now for Jefferson County is to follow that course of action and to prepare for an election on March 31.” The election commissioners Monday advised officials in 12 counties to consider several strategies — including absentee voting — to mitigate any negative effects that the coronavirus may have on their runoffs.

California: Governor declares State Senate special election will be ‘all-mail’ | Sam Metz/Palm Springs Desert Sun

To help contain the spread of coronavirus, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday ordered that all voters in State Senate District 28 and Congressional District 25 should receive ballots in the mail ahead of May 12 special elections triggered by the resignations of state Sen. Jeff Stone, R-La Quinta, and U.S. Rep. Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce. “Whereas hundreds of local governments across the state have also declared states of emergency, imposed or recommended social distancing, and taken other significant steps in response to COVID-19,” Newsom wrote in an executive order released Friday evening, “[The special elections] shall each be held as an all-mail ballot election.” bWith the decision, California joins jurisdictions throughout the country that are adapting their procedures to minimize health risks associated with in-person voting. Seven states and Puerto Rico have postponed their presidential primary elections. Although all voters will receive mail ballots, there will still be a limited number of polling places for voters in need of day-of assistance or replacement ballots.

Indiana: Primary moved to June 2 in response to COVID-19 pandemic | Alexandra Kukulka and Amy Lavalley/Chicago Tribune

The Indiana primary election has been moved from May 5 to June 2 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Friday. The decision was reached in conjunction with Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Indiana Republican and Democratic party chairman a day after Holcomb said he’d support postponing the primary. “While May 5 is about seven weeks away, the work that is needed to properly conduct this election and complete it, whether it be programming the machines themselves or sending out ballots … that is all currently under way,” Holcomb said. “Just as I said from this exact position yesterday, my view on that fast approaching primary election is it needed to be pushed back in order to ensure the safety of our county employees, poll workers and voters.” To that end, all corresponding dates with the primary election will be moved by 28 days to align with the new June 2 date, Holcomb said. Using that formula, Lawson said it is likely that early voting will start May 5, though the Indiana Election Commission will decide when early voting will start in the coming days.

Indiana: Madison County voting machine purchase dispute likely headed to court | Ken de la Bastide/The Herald Bulletin

The dispute between two governmental bodies in Madison County over the purchase of additional voting machines is likely to be settled in court. Last week the Madison County Election Board approved a contract with Election Systems & Software (ES&S) to purchase an additional 170 voting machines and 15 tabulators at cost of $766,376. The election board approved a four year lease/purchase agreement with ES&S and directed Madison County Auditor Rick Gardner to pay the claim. Last Tuesday County Attorney Jonathan Hughes with Bose McKinney & Evans sent a letter to ES&S attorney that since the contract to purchase the additional voting machines was not approved by the commissioners, the company might not be paid. In his letter Hughes said state law requires all contracts and all payments to be approved by the commissioners and that the election board acted outside the scope of its authority. Madison County Clerk Olivia Pratt, a member of the election board, said Friday the additional voting equipment has been ordered and is ready to be shipped. “ES&S wants to be confident that they will be paid,” she said.

Mississippi: Governor Delays a GOP Primary Runoff Amid Pandemic | Emily Wagster Pettus/Associated Press

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced Friday that he is postponing the March 31 Republican primary runoff in the state’s 2nd Congressional District because of the coronavirus. The new date is June 23. Mississippi joins a number of other states that have postponed elections amid the global pandemic. “We face an unprecedented health crisis. Conducting an election during this outbreak would force poll workers and voters to place themselves in unnecessary risk,” Reeves said in a statement. “It’s important that we exercise our rights as Americans to a free and fair election, but so is ensuring the health and safety of all Mississippians.” The Republican runoff is between Thomas L. Carey and Brian Flowers, who are running low-budget campaigns. The winner will advance to the November general election to face Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

New Mexico: State considers holding mail elections | Dan McKay/Albuquerque Journal

With just 45 days until voting starts, New Mexico is exploring how quickly it could move entirely to a vote-by-mail system for this year’s primary and general elections amid the coronavirus outbreak. Legislative approval in a special session would almost certainly be required to abandon early and Election Day voting sites, election officials said, a potential barrier to launching a mail-in system before the June 2 primary. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has already informed legislative leaders that she expects to call a special session this year to consider budget adjustments, economic relief and other emergency measures. But it isn’t clear yet when it would start. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver – who oversees elections run by county clerks throughout New Mexico – said she expects, at the least, to encourage people to cast absentee ballots by mail for the primary. To that end, her office established an online portal Friday allowing voters to request absentee ballots about a month earlier than usual. Unless there’s a change in the law, in-person and absentee voting for the June primary will begin May 5, or four weeks before Election Day.

New York: Attorney general: Switch to automated absentee voting due to coronavirus | Robert Harding/Auburn Citizen

As the coronavirus outbreak continues, New York Attorney General Letitia James wants the state to suspend in-person voting and mail every registered voter an absentee ballot for the April 28 presidential primary and special elections. James supports the change because it would protect the health of poll workers and voters. She also believes it would lessen the effect on voter turnout if there’s automatic absentee voting instead of in-person voting. “Let’s make it easier for every voter to cast their vote without spreading the coronavirus and jeopardizing public health,” James said in a statement. “Democracy should not be suspended if there is a safe alternative.” Under James’ plan, Democratic voters in New York would be sent absentee ballots to vote in the state’s presidential primary on April 28. There are also five special elections to fill vacant seats, including the 50th state Senate District in the Syracuse area. All voters in those districts would receive a ballot.

North Carolina: Elections officials complete primary work, adjust to coronavirus | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

The gears of democracy are still turning in North Carolina, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, the State Board of Elections certified results from the state’s March 3 primary, with the exception of one county contest requiring a redo and a handful of local races facing protests or appeals. The election, which came in just under the wire before the COVID-19 pandemic hit North Carolina, was run with few bumps and no major issues, according to watchdog organizations like Democracy NC. At the start of its Friday meeting, State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell used her emergency powers to postpone the state’s only runoff election by six weeks. Now, the second Republican primary for U.S. House District 11 is set for June 23. The district includes much of Western North Carolina’s rural counties, as well as the only major urban center, Asheville. Brinson Bell picked June 23 because it is outside the eight-week window recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit gatherings of 50 or more people to control the spread of COVID-19.

Ohio: Secretary of State proposes pre-paid, statewide mail vote for delayed primary | Andrew J. Tobias/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose wants to send postage-paid absentee ballots to millions of Ohioans as part of his plan to complete the state’s presidential primary election, delayed over coronavirus concerns. LaRose on Saturday announced his plan, which would send postage-paid absentee ballot applications to every registered voter who hadn’t yet cast an early vote for the primary, which was postponed from March 17. Voters who complete the application would get the postage-paid ballots, which they could submit until June 2, when LaRose wants to hold in-person voting. But the plan would allow LaRose to call off in-person voting by April 24, if Ohio health officials haven’t rescinded the public-health order that closed the polls in the first place by then. LaRose’s plan, which he said is backed by Gov. Mike DeWine, would require approval and funding from state lawmakers.

Pennsylvania: Governor, legislative leaders reach deal to postpone 2020 primary for coronavirus | Jonathan Lai, Chris Brennan and Angela Couloumbis /Philadelphia Inquirer

Top Pennsylvania lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf have reached agreement on postponing the state’s primary election from April 28 until June 2, The Inquirer has learned, with legislation poised to advance Monday and move quickly through the state legislature. The deal was reached after multiple conference calls throughout the day Sunday, including with legislative leaders of the House and Senate caucuses of both parties and the governor’s office, said State Rep. Garth Everett (R., Lycoming), the chair of the House State Government Committee, which will play a key role in moving the proposed legislation. “My understanding as of right now is everybody’s on the same page,” he said Sunday night. “There’s no partisanship, we’re just trying to work together.” His Democratic counterpart on the committee, State Rep. Kevin Boyle of Philadelphia, confirmed the deal. “We’re still on track to move election day to June 2,” Boyle said, calling the effort bipartisan.

Texas: Citing coronavirus threat, Democrats sue to expand mail-in voting | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Following fruitless negotiations over how to proceed with the upcoming primary runoff elections, Texas Democrats are looking to the courts to push for an expansion of voting by mail in the state. In a lawsuit filed in Travis County district court late Friday, the Democrats are asking a judge to declare that a portion of the Texas election code allowing voters to cast a mail-in ballot if they suffer from a disability applies to any voter in Texas “if they believe they should practice social distancing in order to hinder” the spread of the new coronavirus. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Texas Democratic Party and two individual voters who would seek to vote by mail given the state of the coronavirus outbreak. “Whatever happens from this moment forward with respect to the pandemic, numerous voters, including the two individual Plaintiffs herein, seek to avail themselves of the option of mail-in ballots,” the lawsuit reads. “Similarly, the Texas Democratic Party needs to know how state law permits local election officials to handle such ballots cast in the Texas Democratic Party Runoff Primary Election so the [party] can determine how it desires to proceed in selecting nominees who were facing a runoff.”

Wisconsin: Judge sides with Democrats, re-opens online registration | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

A federal judge ordered that Wisconsin reinstate online voter registration to make it possible for more people to cast absentee ballots ahead of the April 7 presidential primary and spring election, handing Democrats who sought even broader changes in light of the coronavirus pandemic a partial victory. U.S. District Judge William Conley issued the ruling Friday night, just hours after both sides submitted written arguments. The state and national Democratic parties brought the lawsuit and were opposed by Republicans who control the state Legislature as well as the Wisconsin and national Republican parties. Under state law, the deadline for Wisconsin voters to register online to cast absentee ballots was Wednesday. But Conley ruled that the state must open online registration again because of disruptions to daily lives caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said in a statement late Friday night that it was working to comply with the court’s order and reopen online registration “as soon as we can make and test the changes to our systems. ”

National: Nationwide changes needed to make election coronavirus-ready could cost $2 billion: study | Marty Johnson/The Hill

Costs for the federal government to make it safe for voters to participate in the general election could add up to $2 billion, should the coronavirus still be a concern in November, a new study by an independent think tank shows. The study, which was conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice, outlines several sweeping nationwide changes to the current voting system such as universal mail-in voting, easier online voter registration and more. According to study, the process of mailing and receiving ballots would cost between $413 million and $593 million alone. For example, costs would be incurred in many states from ballot box construction — a place where voters could go and drop off their mail-in ballots. At least four states — California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — already have drop-off ballot boxes.  Another big chunk of the cost — approximately $270 million — would go to maintaining and bolstering in-person polling places.

National: HBO’s ‘Kill Chain’ reveals scary reality: U.S. voting system under attack | Nadine Matthews/New York Amsterdam News

Is America’s voting process broken? Recent developments aren’t encouraging. For instance, in May of 2019 Sen. Kamala Harris along with twelve other senators, introduced the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act in the senate. It sought to mandate that states secure elections by use of a paper ballot and new cybersecurity standards for federal elections. Republicans, though, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have proven to be better at blocking bills than Hakeem Olajuwon was at blocking shots; the PAVE Act was just one of five election security bills Republicans didn’t even allow to come to the floor. They also give no indication of allowing any such bill to the floor, even in the face of reports by U.S. Intelligence just last month that Russia is currently attempting to interfere with the 2020 elections. Harris and the other senators introduced the act after reports, from both Former FBI Head and Special Counsel Robert Mueller and members of the nation’s intelligence apparatus, found that Russia had, in fact, tried to influence the 2016 elections via electronic means, and continues to do so daily.

National: ‘We Need To Go To Paper Ballots’: Director Sarah Teale Talks 2020 Presidential Election Ahead Of HBO Doc ‘Kill Chain’ | CBS

The 2020 presidential election is less than eight months away and there are still major concerns about the country’s election technology. A new documentary from HBO called “Kill Chain: The Cyber War On America’s Elections” follows hacker and cyber security expert Harri Hursti as he travels around the world to expose the issues with America’s voting system. Director Sarah Teale has been following this issue since the mid 2000s and not much has changed since her first documentary “Hacking Democracy.” “We did the first film in 2005 and it came out in 2006. It got nominated for an Emmy and thought it would institute and awful lot of change and nothing changed,” said Teale in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “In 2016, here we were facing attacks from outside the US, which was very scary, and still wide open. Coronavirus presents its own particular challenge because potentially for the primaries, people are not going to be able to go to their local precinct. In a way, it’s quite good because it would lead to paper mail in ballots.”

National: Everything to know about states moving and changing their primaries over coronavirus | Zach Montellaro/Politico

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown America’s electoral system into shock, prompting officials in six states so far to move presidential primaries as the federal government urges people not to gather in large groups. Connecticut became the latest state to push back its vote on Thursday, and even more states are considering delays. Meanwhile, election officials are also gaming out the changes they can make to voting systems to allow Americans to participate in elections while keeping themselves safe and preventing the spread of the virus. Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has urged states not to postpone their primaries and instead embrace expanded voting by mail. But Perez has little authority over how individual states conduct their elections. 23 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and other territories have yet to vote in the presidential contest, and we are tracking developments in every one as the calendar shifts and states puzzle through when — and how — people can vote. Here’s what has happened so far in all the states that were scheduled to vote from mid-March through the end of April.

National: Coronavirus threatens the November election, can vote by mail save it? | Evan Halper/Los Angeles Times

As states scramble to postpone presidential primaries, election workers abandon their posts, and voters worry about the risk of contagion in crowded polling places, the question of how the nation is going to pull off a general election in November has generated increasing anxiety. Some states are much better prepared than others. In a significant swath of the nation, however, most voters still lack the one viable option for casting ballots that doesn’t put their health at risk in a time of pandemic: voting by mail. Now the decades-long push by advocates and many lawmakers to make that alternative universally available has gained new momentum amid a public health crisis. Backers are racing to overcome longstanding political barriers so that states that have resisted can start confronting the huge logistical challenges involved in a quick shift away from in-person voting. “Ohio, Louisiana, Georgia and other states are showing that without vote-by-mail, states might not be able to hold elections at all,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said in an email, referring to states that have postponed scheduled primaries. He and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are rallying colleagues behind their bill that would require all states to allow citizens to vote absentee. “I understand that standing up a new election system will be a heavy lift, but in the face of this pandemic, vote by mail is the best choice we have to keep our democracy running,” Wyden said.

National: Coronavirus pandemic makes U.S. more vulnerable to serious cyberattack, lawmakers warn | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

The United States is increasingly vulnerable to a cyberattack targeting hospitals, food supplies or other vital functions during the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers and experts say. They’re calling on the Trump administration to take bold action to keep adversaries at bay. Already during the outbreak, unidentified adversaries launched what appears to be an unsuccessful digital attack aimed at overwhelming computer networks at the Health and Human Services Department. A separate effort spread misleading claims that President Trump planned to impose a nationwide lockdown over text message, encrypted apps and social media platforms. “There are actors out there in cyberspace that think we’re vulnerable,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R- Wis.), who co-chaired the recent Cyber Solarium Commission on the future of U.S. cybersecurity, told me. “At a minimum, we need to impose costs on whoever did this. We don’t want the signal to be that now is a good time to take advantage of the U.S.” The pandemic has heightened concerns among cyber hawks that the United States hasn’t done enough to deter digital attacks from adversaries such as Russia and China. And they worry a lack of serious consequences now could embolden adversaries to target vital services such as medical care or food supplies and cost people’s lives.

Editorials: We Can’t Let Coronavirus Postpone Elections | Jon Meacham/The New York Times

Darkness reigned. It was 1864, and the nation was split into two warring camps. Casualties rose steadily — previously unimaginable numbers, ultimately reaching about 750,000 dead — and fighting continued throughout the year. Gen. George McClellan, the Democratic nominee, posed a genuine threat to a second term for Abraham Lincoln. McClellan promised a quick, negotiated end to the war; a Lincoln defeat would have led to a permanently divided nation and the preservation of slavery in the Southern states.  The fate of the war, the future of the Republic, the nature of the American experiment: Everything hung in the balance. And to preserve that experiment, Lincoln insisted that the presidential election go forward. The president was fully prepared to lose the election and, according to due constitutional form, to surrender power the following March. In August 1864, in a private note, he wrote, “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected.” But he would accept the verdict of the voters. Here was an incumbent president, the commander in chief of a nation facing a sustained armed rebellion, unilaterally subsuming his own ambitions and his own priorities to the very constitutional order currently under siege.

Editorials: Postponing An Election: Prudent or Bad Precedent? | Michael Thorning/Bipartisan Policy Center

A key principle of an election’s legitimacy is that the public knows when, where, and how the election will take place and that it is widely accessible to qualified voters. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has struck in the middle of various election contests and states now confront difficult, last-minute questions about how or when to run their planned elections. There are unprecedented and difficult decisions to make. Should elections move forward as planned or be postponed until the virus is more under control? Should they go on only with absentee voting and no in-person voting? Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio faced precisely these decisions in the lead up to their primary elections this week. Postponing an election, especially a primary, does not have to be a legitimacy crisis, but there are certain steps states should take to avoid doing so imprudently. For most of the country, voting involves showing up to sometimes crowded polling places, waiting in line, sharing the use of technology and pens, and generally being closer than six feet from groups of more than 10 people at a time. This is a nightmare for the social distancing necessary to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Connecticut: Governor says primaries moved to June | Kate Sullivan/CNN

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday that the state’s primaries have been moved to June 2, making Connecticut the sixth state to postpone its elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. “In coordination with other states and our Secretary of the State, and in an effort to carry out Democracy while keeping public health a top priority, I have decided to move our presidential primary to June 2nd,” Lamont tweeted. Connecticut’s Democratic and Republican primaries had been scheduled to take place on April 28. Over the past week, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland and Ohio also postponed their primaries, citing public health concerns over coronavirus. Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill tweeted that the decision to move the primaries was made after consulting with Lamont, local election officials, bipartisan leadership in the General Assembly and colleagues in other states.

Kentucky: Bill Requiring Secure Voting Machines Advances, Without Funding | Ryland Barton/WFPL

As the Kentucky legislature continues to meet during the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers advanced a bill that would require counties to purchase more secure voting machines whenever they replace their old ones. The measure would provide no funding for counties to purchase the equipment, though Kentucky will soon get about $6.4 million in federal funding to boost election security. That’s a tiny fraction of the overall need, though—state election officials estimate Kentucky needs about $80 million to upgrade voting machines across the state. Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams told a legislative committee on Thursday morning that there are 29 counties that only use outdated voting machines that don’t create a paper backup. “It’s primarily rural counties that have equipment that’s functionally obsolete, or at least aging. Those will be the first places that we allocate the funds to,” Adams said. Electronic voting machines that create paper copies of individual ballots have become the industry standard in recent years amid worries about foreign actors being able to hack domestic elections.

Guam: ‘What’s another six months?’: Election Commission debates whether to postpone, cancel Yona election | Steve Limtiaco/Pacific Daily News

The March 28 special election for Yona mayor should be canceled because of the ongoing coronavirus public health crisis, said Guam Election Commission member Jerry Crisostomo. “I think it should be canceled altogether,” he said, noting the village already has been without a sitting mayor for months. A General Election for village mayors will be held later this year, anyway he said. The special election was scheduled to fill the seat left vacant after former Yona Mayor Jesse Blas, who faces federal criminal charges, resigned. Guam law states an election to fill the vacancy must be held within 60 days. March 28 is the 60th day, commission members said. Commission members met late Thursday afternoon to discuss the special election, with most taking the position it should be postponed or canceled. They cited the governor’s executive order prohibiting large gatherings and questioned whether the Election Commission staff would be capable of conducting a safe election, following Centers for Disease Control guidelines. The governor’s executive order is in effect through March 30.