Tennessee: ACLU files suit against Tennessee urging mail-in ballots for all voters in 2020 elections | Mariah Timms/Nashville Tennessean

Tennessee may need to make absentee voting available to all eligible voters by the August primary election, if a lawsuit filed Friday against the state is successful. The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee filed the suit on behalf of several residents who believe their health conditions would make voting during the COVID-19 pandemic a threat to their safety. Currently, eligible voters must provide a qualifying excuse as to why they need to vote by mail, the ACLU said. The suit pushes the state to expand those requirements and allow all eligible voters to vote by absentee ballot. “No one should be forced to choose between their health and their vote. Tennessee can simultaneously keep the public safe and protect democracy, but is refusing to do so. Eliminating the excuse requirement during COVID-19 is a common-sense solution that protects people’s health and their right to vote, which is why many other states have already made vote by mail and absentee voting available,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a release. Fear of contracting the coronavirus doesn’t meet the criteria to vote by mail due to illness in Tennessee, state officials said Tuesday. Even so, officials recommended preparing as though all 1.4 million registered voters who are at least 60 will cast ballots by mail in the August primary election.

Texas: State Supreme Court pauses expansion of voting by mail during coronavirus | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday temporarily put on hold an expansion of voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. Siding with Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Supreme Court blocked a state appeals court decision that allowed voters who lack immunity to the virus to qualify for absentee ballots by citing a disability. That appellate decision upheld a lower court’s order that would have allowed more people to qualify to vote by mail. The state’s Supreme Court has not weighed the merits of the case. It’s the latest in an ongoing legal squabble that in the last three days has resulted in daily changes to who can qualify for a ballot they can fill out at home and mail in. Federal and state courts are considering legal challenges to the state’s rules for voting by mail as Democrats and voting rights groups ask courts to clarify whether lack of immunity to the coronavirus is a valid reason for people to request absentee ballots. A resolution to that question is gaining more urgency every day as the state approaches the July primary runoff elections.

New Jersey: Lawsuit tries to block Internet voting in New Jersey | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Human rights activists and New Jersey law students are suing to block the state from using Internet-based voting systems, which security experts say are fundamentally insecure against hacking. The effort is a shot across the bow for the online systems, which some states have embraced as a solution for people who have trouble voting by mail during the pandemic despite widespread security concerns. New Jersey piloted an app-based system on Tuesday in a collection of 33 small elections for people with disabilities that make it impractical for them to vote by mail. Everyone else had to vote by mail and there was no in-person voting option. New Jersey officials haven’t said whether they plan to repeat the pilot in the state’s July primary or the general election, but the lawsuit is trying to stop those plans before they start. It’s essentially an offshoot of an earlier lawsuit that challenged the security of the state’s voting machines and also dealt with the danger of voting systems going online. “It’s critical that voting be accessible for everybody but not at the expense of security and the risk of a group of people having their votes manipulated,” said Penny Venetis, director of Rutgers University Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, which is challenging the use of online voting on behalf of Coalition for Peace and its New Jersey division as well as a state legislator.

National: ‘It’s Partly On Me’: GOP Official Says Fraud Warnings Hamper Vote-By-Mail Push | Pam Fessler/NPR

Republican state officials who want to expand absentee and mail-in voting during the pandemic have found themselves in an uncomfortable position due to their party’s rhetoric. President Trump has claimed repeatedly, without providing evidence, that mail-in voting is ripe for fraud and bad for the GOP. He and other Republicans have charged that Democrats might use it to “steal” the election. Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams told NPR he got his “head taken off” by some fellow Republicans for his plan to send every registered voter a postcard telling them how they can easily apply for an absentee ballot for the state’s June 23 primary. “The biggest challenge I have right now is making the concept of absentee voting less toxic for Republicans,” he said. Adams said the presumption that absentee voting is less secure is frustrating because Kentucky has safeguards in place to protect against fraud — including requiring people to apply for ballots instead of automatically sending them to everyone on the voter rolls. But Adams admitted he is partly to blame. Like many Republicans, he ran for office on a platform of fighting voter fraud. His campaign slogan was to “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Arkansas: Governor expresses support for no-excuse absentee voting, doesn’t commit to November implementation | Andrew Epperson/KNWA

With important elections coming up in November, scientists expect another COVID-19 spike before the polls open. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Wednesday expressed support for no-excuse absentee ballots but fell short of saying he’d use emergency powers to implement them before voting season. “If there is an issue that needs to be addressed in November in which we’re still in a public health emergency, I will at that time use the powers for no-excuse absentee voting,” Hutchinson said. The legislature approved Hutchinson’s temporary emergency powers to battle the COVID-19 outbreak. By November, these powers may no longer be wielded, he said.

Florida: Election officials push DeSantis on COVID-19 voting changes | Anthony Man/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Florida elections supervisors said Wednesday that Gov. Ron DeSantis needs to “act immediately” to take steps to alleviate coronavirus-caused strains on the state’s voting systems. They want emergency changes in state rules, and they said DeSantis needs to access $20.2 million in federal money to help pay for election changes necessitated by the pandemic. While Florida waits, other states are out buying up supplies. A letter to DeSantis indicated frustration on the part of the 67 county supervisors of elections, who sent him a detailed request for emergency changes in election rules on April 7. Five weeks later, the supervisors are still waiting. Primaries for congressional, county and state legislative nominations and nonpartisan elections for school board and judges are on Aug. 18. But mail ballots for military and overseas voters go out July 4 and early voting in some counties starts on Aug. 3. “Our request for executive action cannot wait any longer,” Craig Latimer, president of the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections, wrote in Wednesday’s follow up.

Georgia: Judge rules against delaying Georgia’s June 9 primary again | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit that attempted to postpone Georgia’s June 9 primary election because of the coronavirus pandemic. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten leaves the primary date unchanged, with in-person early voting set to begin Monday.Batten wrote that elected Georgia officials have the authority to decide how to run elections — not the courts.“The framers of the Constitution did not envision a primary role for the courts in managing elections, but instead reserved election management to the legislatures,” Batten wrote in a 12-page order after a hearing earlier in the day. Lawyers for several Georgia voters had pleaded for a postponement of the primary, saying it would have allowed more time to vote by mail and prepare for in-person voting. But attorneys for state election officials said everyone will be able to vote safely, and the primary must go on even during the coronavirus.

Georgia: Tech glitches keep Atlanta voters waiting for mail ballots | Ben Nadler/Associated Press

The election director for Georgia’s most populous county said Thursday that technical issues have prevented officials from processing absentee ballot applications sent in by email, causing a backlog of thousands of pending applications ahead of the June 9 primaries. Voters in Fulton County, covering Atlanta and its northern and southern suburbs, have complained of weeks of waiting with little or no information. The issue highlights growing pains Georgia counties are experiencing from the state’s big shift toward absentee voting by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic. Election Director Richard Barron made the remarks at a video conference meeting of the Fulton County election board. He said that while the county was largely caught up with ballot applications sent through the mail, processing emailed applications has caused “a lot of difficulty.”

Massachusetts: Officials want more voting options during coronavirus pandemic, but can’t agree on execution | Chris Lisinski/State House News Service

Speaker after speaker told lawmakers Thursday that more opportunities to vote by mail and more early voting will help the statewide elections in September and November proceed with minimal risks of COVID-19 transmission. But on the specific details of how to do that — whether to mail ballots to every voter or only those who request one, how long in-person early voting periods should last, and how polling places should be spread out to maintain social distancing — there was frequent disagreement. The Legislature’s Election Laws Committee did not take immediate action Thursday after hearing testimony from a range of stakeholders. When it does, its members will need to balance competing preferences from the state’s top elections official, municipal leaders, and their own colleagues, all with the clock ticking and Secretary of State William Galvin hoping to begin printing ballots as soon as June 2.

Minnesota: Governor considers ‘next steps’ to increase mail-in voting in Minnesota | Stephen Montemayor/Star Tribune

Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday said he favors conducting Minnesota’s elections primarily by mail after a proposal to expand mail-in voting during the pandemic was struck from a $17 million elections package state lawmakers sent to his desk this week. The legislation the DFL governor signed Tuesday represents a setback for Democrats in Washington and Minnesota who had sought to expand voting by mail during the COVID-19 emergency and into the 2020 elections. But Walz indicated he is looking at other options to make it easier to vote by mail. “The Governor supports universal mail-in voting, especially during this pandemic and considering a second wave of COVID-19 could hit this fall ahead of the November election,” said Teddy Tschann, the governor’s press secretary. “He is considering next steps in how to ensure Minnesotans are safely able to exercise their right to vote.” Executive action by the governor likely became the only way that the state’s Aug. 11 and Nov. 3 elections could be conducted by mail-in balloting after a proposal championed by DFL lawmakers and Secretary of State Steve Simon was dropped from the bill funding statewide elections.

Missouri: Mail-in-voting option tucked into wide-sweeping elections bill | Emily Wolf/Columbia Missourian

An amendment to allow expanded mail-in ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic grew from five pages to 31 overnight, morphing into a piece of legislation that would change Missouri’s voter ID laws, fees for ballot initiatives and running for office. The proposal, passed through the House as part of a larger bill, would allow voting by mail in the August and November statewide elections without voters stating a reason they cannot make it to polls. The bill would expire at the end of the year. Currently, Missouri law only allows people to cast absentee ballots if they say they’ll be unable to make it to the polls for any of six reasons, including absence from the area or confinement due to illness or physical disability. Officials across the state have been split on whether that reason applies to fears of contracting COVID-19. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has not released guidance on how counties should set up voting, leaving it in the hands of local election authorities.

Verified Voting Blog: Letter to New Jersey Governor regarding the use of internet voting options

Download the following letter sent on behalf of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Common Cause, and Verified Voting, to express our concern about the use of internet voting options in New Jersey elections.

Dear Governor Murphy, Attorney General Grewal, Secretary Way, and Director Giles:

We write concerning the use of internet voting options in recent local elections, as well as statements from state officials that this limited implementation will serve as a pilot for potential expanded use in future elections.[1] We agree with the legal conclusions expressed in Professor Penny Venetis’s May 7th letter,[2] that the use of internet voting would violate the statewide court order issued in Gusciora v. Corzine,[3] and we are aware of new litigation brought by Mercer County Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and New Jersey citizen groups arguing the same. As Judge Feinberg recognized in Gusciora, “as long as computers, dedicated to handling election matters, are connected to the Internet, the safety and security of our voting systems are in jeopardy.” While we recognize the challenges that the pandemic poses for our democracy and the need to expand voting options to ensure free and safe elections, these expansions should not be done in a way that jeopardizes election security. And the overwhelming consensus among security experts is that no method of internet voting can be conducted in a secure manner at this time. For this reason, we strongly urge you to refrain from any further use of internet or mobile voting systems in 2020.

Pennsylvania: Election security experts urge Pennsylvania to begin planning for expanded mail-in voting this fall | Deb Erdley/Tribune-Review

With the Pennsylvania primary three weeks away, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security say the state must begin planning immediately for secure balloting in the Nov. 3 presidential election. “Bold action is needed on nearly every front here in Pennsylvania, in the United States and around the world.…

Pennsylvania: Glitch Sends Duplicate Ballots To Voters, But System Prevents Double-Voting, Allegheny County Says | Chris Potter/NPR

Allegheny County’s efforts to encourage mail-in voting for the June 2nd primary may be almost too successful: A state database has apparently sent out duplicate ballots as it struggles to keep up with demand – although the county says no matter how many ballots come in the mail, no one will get more than a single vote. In a release sent out late Thursday afternoon, the county’s Election Division said that a problem with the state’s SURE system, a voter registration database, has caused the printing of duplicate labels for mailing and absentee ballots. According to the release, that’s because printing orders are so large that the system is “timing out”: When an employee clears that condition, the system sends the rest of the job to the printer, while apparently also returning the job to the queue to be reprinted again. The issue is “impacting only Allegheny County at this time due to the successful effort in encouraging the mail-in ballot option with residents,” the statement said. It said county workers have addressed the problem by requesting smaller print batches and monitoring processing times. It is not clear how many voters have received duplicate ballots, or for how long the problem persisted. A county spokeswoman said there was “no way to know” the scope of the problem. 

South Carolina: Officials brace for hike in June 9 primary absentee ballots | Maayan Schechter/The State

South Carolina election officials say they’re preparing for a potential flood of mail-in absentee ballot requests after Gov. Henry McMaster on Wednesday signed into law a bill to expand absentee voting in the June primary due to COVID-19. Of the state’s more than 3.3 million registered primary voters, the State Election Commission as of Wednesday had received nearly 100,000 absentee ballot applications — already thousands more than the roughly 60,000 absentee ballots cast in each of the 2016 and 2018 statewide primaries, said commission spokesman Chris Whitmire. The number of ballots requested so far still lags far behind the number of absentee votes counted in a general election, especially one with a presidential race topping the ticket. For example, in the 2016 general election featuring the race between now President Donald Trump and then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, 516,755 South Carolinians voted absentee, Whitmire said. Of those votes cast, 139,914 were sent by mail. Another 370,072 ballots were cast by in-person absentee voting.

Texas: Appeals court allows expansion of voting by mail during ongoing legal fight | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

A state appeals court upheld a temporary order Thursday from a state district judge that could greatly expand the number of voters who qualify for mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, rebuffing Attorney General Ken Paxton’s effort to have the ruling put on hold while he appeals it. In a 2-1 split along party lines, a panel of the 14th Court of Appeals of Texas said it would let stand state District Judge Tim Sulak’s ruling from last month that susceptibility to the coronavirus counts as a disability under state election law and is a legally valid reason for voters to request absentee ballots. Paxton has been fighting that ruling and had argued that his pending appeal meant the lower court’s ruling was not in effect. Federal and state courts are considering legal challenges to the state’s rules for voting by mail as Democrats and voting rights groups ask courts to clarify whether lack of immunity to the coronavirus is a valid reason for people to request absentee ballots. Under Sulak’s order, voters can request mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic by citing the disability qualification allowed in the Texas election code.

Utah: Experts agree this year’s election is a big target for hackers, disinformation and foreign interference | Connor Sanders/The Salt Lake Tribune

As the 2020 election nears, the need to strengthen cybersecurity and dispel misinformation grows. “You have to assume you will be targeted by disinformation and misinformation,” said Adam Clayton Powell III, executive director of the Election Cybersecurity Initiative. “Elections and campaigns are too easy of a target for adversaries both foreign and domestic.” Powell and Clifford Neuman, director of USC’s Center for Computer Systems Security, outlined during an online conference Tuesday how hackers and foreign adversaries can not only influence elections through infiltrating the voting system, but also through spreading false information. Neuman mentioned that the first, but rarest, way an election can be compromised is through actual manipulation of the vote count on Election Day. Utah’s transition to mail-in voting not only makes it well-equipped to handle voting in a COVID-19 world, it also makes it difficult for hackers to skew an election through an electronic voting apparatus. But the reach of a hacker extends beyond the ballot box. Powell reported that China, Russia and Iran have already begun to spread false reports online, and foreign countries are now echoing each other’s messages by citing another country’s fake reports as a source.

Bolivia: In limbo – Bolivia needs an election, but covid-19 makes that hard | The Economist

On April 21st, a month into Bolivia’s lockdown, police in riot gear swarmed the home of Patricia Arce, the mayor of Vinto, a city in the department of Cochabamba, and a senate candidate for the left-wing Movement to Socialism (mas). Her family, their driver and a friend were celebrating her son’s 27th birthday with cake and chicha, a fermented-corn drink. All nine were jailed for two nights and charged with violating quarantine orders. Two weeks later, photos surfaced on Facebook of a birthday party in La Paz, Bolivia’s administrative capital, for the daughter of the country’s interim president, Jeanine Áñez, a conservative Catholic. Two guests had hitched a ride from Tarija, a department in the south, on an air-force jet. Ms Áñez’s critics accused her of hypocrisy. She had denounced such abuses of power by Evo Morales, her mas predecessor, who resigned late last year after an attempt to rig his re-election led to protests in which at least 36 people died.

National: Why A Voting App Won’t Solve Our Problems This November | Kaleigh Rogers/FiveThirtyEight

At 106, MacCene Grimmett is one of the oldest voters in the state of Utah. Though women didn’t have the right to vote when she was born in 1913, by the time she was of voting age, the 19th Amendment had passed. She has voted in every election since, she told her local Fox affiliate, including the Utah County municipal general election last November. But that time, the centenarian cast her ballot in a novel way: She voted via an app. America is 174 days away from a presidential election. It’s also in the middle of a pandemic that upended normal life, requiring mass shutdowns and social distancing. Those two things don’t exactly jive. Having millions of Americans stand in crowded polling places for hours to cast a ballot on Election Day sounds like the makings of a public health disaster — especially if there is a second surge of COVID-19 infections in the fall, as some experts predict. So now, election officials are looking for ways to hold elections remotely. One option that has been proposed is voting via an app on a smartphone or electronic device, just like Grimmett did last fall (though so far, states seem to only be considering this option for certain groups of voters, such as voters with disabilities).

National: Experts sound alarms about security as states eye online voting | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Experts are sounding alarms about potential security risks as several states consider allowing online voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia are planning to allow overseas military personnel and voters with disabilities to return their ballots electronically for elections this year amid concerns about voting during a pandemic. But federal officials and cybersecurity experts are strongly urging states to stay away from online voting, arguing that it could open up new avenues for interference less than four years after Russia meddled in the 2016 elections. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) joined a group of federal agencies in condemning the idea of online voting in guidelines first reported by The Guardian last week. The guidelines, sent to states privately, described online voting as “high risk.” “Electronic ballot return, the digital return of a voted ballot by the voter, creates significant security risks to voted ballot integrity, voter privacy, ballot secrecy, and system availability,” the agencies wrote in the guidelines. “Securing the return of voted ballots via the internet while maintaining voter privacy is difficult, if not impossible, at this time.”

National: Experts say mobile voting tech isn’t the answer to COVID-19 | Alexander Culafi/TechTarget

Despite a need for alternatives to in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say mobile voting will not be ready for this year’s general election. Nearly a dozen pilot programs for mobile voting apps and internet voting portals have been launched across the U.S. in the last few years. And that was prior to the coronavirus pandemic, which postponed some state and primary elections this spring and caused concern over the safety of potentially crowded polling locations. “It’s pretty obvious that the coronavirus is making it difficult to have our standard election. That’s having an even bigger impact in urban centers where voting lines can already last for hours and be quite packed. And people are looking for other ways we can have the constitutionally mandated vote without putting people at risk,” said Jim Hendler, artificial intelligence researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as well as a fellow at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

National: Republicans and Democrats barrel toward collision on voting by mail | Zach Montellaro/Politico

Americans want to be able to vote by mail in November — but Democratic proposals to require it appear to be going nowhere fast in Congress. House Democrats have sought to drastically overhaul the American electoral system in light of the pandemic, arguing dramatic change is needed to allow Americans to vote safely. In a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted last weekend, nearly three-in-five voters nationwide said they either strongly or somewhat support a federal law that would mandate that states “provide mail-in ballots to all voters for elections occurring during the coronavirus pandemic.” Just a quarter of voters either somewhat or strongly oppose the idea, with the remainder not having an opinion. However, support for the idea is split along ideological lines. A supermajority of voters who are registered or lean Democratic — 77 percent — back the idea. Republicans are more divided: 48 percent are opposed and 42 percent in favor. House Democrats have proposed mandating that states send all voters a ballot in the case of emergencies — in their most recent coronavirus relief package, dubbed the HEROES Act, along with other sweeping changes to the elections. The bill would also require universal “no-excuse” absentee voting, online and same-day voter registration and expanded early voting, among other changes.

National: Activists Vow to Protect USPS as States Expand Mail-in Voting | Gabriella Novello/WhoWhatWhy

The latest victim of the attack on voting rights appears to be the United States Postal Service (USPS). As more states make changes to their election laws due to fears about the coronavirus, it remains uncertain how prepared local officials are to offer alternative methods of voting. In California, for example, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced last week that the state would move toward an all-mail election — which means tens of millions of ballots will go through the postal system. Local election officials have raised concerns about the surge in absentee ballots and whether there is enough funding to process every returned ballot. And, in part because the White House has turned funding the postal service into a partisan debate, the cost of mailing every Californian a ballot could amount to a figure that the state has never had to meet before. The challenges may intensify, as the USPS, the agency charged with delivering and returning millions of ballots, is facing unprecedented uncertainty after reports that President Donald Trump will veto any legislation that includes funding for the beleaguered agency. Without federal aid, states may be forced to make difficult budgetary decisions in order to pay for the surge in mail ballots — so voting-rights groups are turning to the courts for help.

California: Long Beach group sues Los Angeles County Registrar over Measure A recount | Anita W. Harris/The Signal Tribune

Local activists the Long Beach Reform Coalition (LBRC) hired Los Angeles election-law specialists Strumwasser & Woocher to file suit in the LA County Superior Court against LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) Dean Logan on Monday, May 11. “Our litigation seeks a writ of mandate and injunctive relief to force Mr. Logan to restart the recount of Long Beach Measure A as a traditional, paper-ballot recount at a reasonable cost,” LBRC said in a May 11 statement. Measure A had passed by a thin margin of 16 votes in the March 3 election, according to results certified by Logan’s office on March 27, with 49,676 voting in favor and 49,660 against. The measure’s passing extends an extra 1% Long Beach sales tax imposed in 2017 beyond its previous sunset date of 2027. The additional revenue bolsters public safety and improve infrastructure, including fire stations, libraries and parks, the City says. Given Measure A’s very narrow approval margin, LBRC requested a recount of the ballots beginning April 8, raising $26,000 from community supporters, according to its website.

Connecticut: State making plans to protect elections from cyber threats, pandemic | Joe Wojtas/The Day

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is scheduled Monday afternoon to announce a plan to secure election systems across the state from cyberattack this fall and prepare polling places to safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates outlined the challenges the state faces to ensure a safe and secure election in an op-ed published Monday in The Day. “We’re trying to do all we can do before this election to address the twin challenges of the pandemic and cyber security,” he told The Day on Sunday. Bates said the state will be using more than $15 million in federal funding to ensure outside groups can not interfere with the election and to make polls safe for both voters and workers.

Florida: State election officials provide little direction as election season arrives amid the pandemic | Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times

As local election officials across Florida scramble to prepare for one of the most divisive presidential races in U.S. history, they say state officials are providing little support to help them brace for the added challenge of protecting voters in a global pandemic. A chief concern among county elections officials is whether the state will take $20 million in federal funds awarded to protect the 2020 elections in the state as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that became law in March. On Wednesday, the Florida Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan group that represents the state’s 67 county-level elections offices, urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to accept the money. “I…want to express my concern that Florida is lagging behind nearly every other state in securing (federal) funding for elections,” Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer wrote for the group on Wednesday. “While we wait, the goods and services we need are becoming scarce.”

Florida: Supervisors want DeSantis to take CARES Act money | Alex Daugherty and David Smiley/Miami Herald

Florida is one of just four states that have yet to accept federal funds to prepare for elections during the coronavirus pandemic, and the state’s election supervisors are urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to take the money now. The Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan group that represents county-level election supervisors across the state, sent a letter to DeSantis on Wednesday urging him to take $20 million in funds awarded to Florida as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that became law in March. The letter is a follow-up to one the group sent a month ago, asking DeSantis to help supervisors prepare for the coming August and November elections by granting them some flexibility under the law — a request that has gone unanswered. “I … want to express my concern that Florida is lagging behind nearly every other state in securing CARES Act funding for elections,” Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer wrote Wednesday. “While we wait, the goods and services we need are becoming scarce.”

Illinois: Lawmakers Debate Vote-By-Mail Ballots for 2020 Election Amidst Pandemic | Katie Kim and Lisa Capitanini/NBC Chicago

With less than six months to go until the general election and with concerns over social distancing at polling places, some Illinois leaders are pushing to significantly expand the use of vote-by-mail ballots. State Sen. Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Lake Forest, plans to introduce a bill that would allow the state to mail a ballot to every registered voter in Illinois. Under the provisions of the bill, select polling places would remain open for early voting and on Election Day for those who don’t feel comfortable casting ballots by mail. “I’ve heard of a lot of interest in having a vote by mail program so that people do feel comfortable and safe on Election Day,” said. Sen. Morrison. Current law allows Illinoisans to request a vote-by-mail ballot as early as Aug. 5. Sen. Morrison said her bill would only apply to the 2020 Election as a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic, so voters don’t have to choose between their right to vote and their health and to protect poll workers.

Maryland: About 1 in 10 ballots went undelivered to Baltimore City voters during 7th Congressional District special election | Emily Opilo/Baltimore Sun

Nearly 1 in 10 ballots could not be delivered to Baltimore City voters during the special election in April, raising concerns for the June 2 primary, which is also being conducted by mail. The data, released by the Maryland Board of Elections late Tuesday, shows that 20,367 of the more than 230,500 ballots sent to Baltimore City voters could not be delivered before the April 28 special election. An additional 4,355 ballots were undeliverable to Baltimore County voters, while 3,886 were not delivered to Howard County voters — about 3% of all ballots in those two jurisdictions. The figures are being calculated as state election officials take stock of the lessons learned from Maryland’s first election held primarily by mail. The special election, which was held to choose a successor for the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, was conducted by mail by order of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in response to the new coronavirus pandemic. The rapidly spreading virus has killed nearly 1,700 Marylanders and sickened more than 34,000 others, forcing the closure of businesses and a stay-at-home order that has been in place for Maryland residents since March. More than 480,000 ballots were mailed for the special election, which included only voters in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. The district includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County. Voters were strongly encouraged to return the ballots via mail using postage-paid envelopes or by placing them in drop boxes offered in each of the three jurisdictions in the district.

Minnesota: Older voters file suit to change absentee voting rules Stephen Montemayor/Star Tribune

A group of older Minnesota voters is suing the secretary of state over concerns that the state’s absentee voting rules could put their vote — and their health — at risk this year. Part of a broader movement to change absentee rules across at least five states, the Minnesota challenge argues that many older voters who are self-quarantining to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus won’t be able to get the required witness signatures on their mail-in ballots. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court by the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund, looks to stop the state from enforcing that requirement and also to adopt a postmark deadline on mail-in ballots. State law requires absentee ballots to be hand-delivered to county elections offices by 3 p.m. on Election Day or received by mail by 8 p.m. in order to be counted. Anticipating a dramatic uptick in mail voting because of an expected spike this fall in COVID-19 cases, the plaintiffs worry a cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service may not be able to deliver such ballots in time. Secretary of State Steve Simon’s office declined to comment on the litigation.