Georgia: Case files discredit Kemp’s accusation that Democrats tried to hack Georgia election | Mark NiesseJack Gillum/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and ProPublica

It was a stunning accusation: Two days before the 2018 election for Georgia governor, Republican Brian Kemp used his power as secretary of state to open an investigation into what he called a “failed hacking attempt” of voter registration systems involving the Democratic Party. But newly released case files from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reveal that there was no such hacking attempt. The evidence from the closed investigation indicates that Kemp’s office mistook planned security tests and a warning about potential election security holes for malicious hacking. Kemp then wrongly accused his political opponents just before Election Day — a high-profile salvo that drew national media attention in one of the most closely watched races of 2018. “The investigation by the GBI revealed no evidence of damage to (the secretary of state’s office’s) network or computers, and no evidence of theft, damage, or loss of data,” according to a March 2 memo from a senior assistant attorney general recommending that the case be closed.

National: As Trump rages, state officials quietly press forward with vote by mail | Kevin Collier/NBC

Judging solely by President Donald Trump’s recent diatribes, mail-in voting would seem to have become one of the nation’s most partisan flashpoints. But at the state level — where elections are actually administered — there’s little disagreement. Instead, most state officials are ignoring partisanship and quietly laying the groundwork for an effective, mail-heavy election, including in those states led by Republicans. “State election directors are aware of that conversation, but I think they’ve got their heads down,” said Ben Hovland, the chair of the federal Election Assistance Commission, which regularly videoconferences with state election chiefs and helps advise them in detail on how to deal with a surge of mailed ballots. “They focus on the job at hand. There’s more than enough to do without worrying about political fights that are taking place.” All but four states now offer every eligible voter the option to mail in their ballot, according to a new survey from the Open Source Election Technology Institute, a nonprofit that researches election technology. NBC News has collaborated with the institute since 2016 to monitor U.S. election-technology and voting issues. Of the states offering mail-in options, leadership is almost equally split: 24 have Democratic governors and 22 Republican.

National: Mail ballot surge places Postal Service under spotlight | Reid Wilson/The Hill

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed millions of voters to request their ballots by mail, a rapid increase that is likely to change the shape of the 2020 electorate and put incredible strain on an already limited United States Postal Service (USPS). Now, voting rights activists are raising questions about whether the Postal Service can handle the millions of ballots that will flood their processing centers in the days leading up to the presidential contest. The risk of errors, of voters who cannot receive ballots in time or ballots that do not reach elections administrators in time, could be cataclysmic. With the White House, the Senate and the House on the line, the prospects of finding a few tubs of ballots misplaced or overlooked could throw results of close races into question, adding to President Trump’s repeated efforts in recent days to delegitimize an election that has not yet taken place. The nightmare scenario has already played out twice this year. In a Supreme Court contest in Wisconsin in April, about 1,600 ballots were discovered the morning after Election Day in a mail processing facility in Chicago — 1,600 voters whose ballots did not count. Hundreds more who applied for absentee ballots did not receive them in time, according to a report by the state Board of Elections.

National: US Postal Service Faces Challenges With More Ballots Going In The Mail | Brian Naylor/NPR

Eight states and the District of Columbia are holding primary elections next week amid the coronavirus pandemic, and voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail in record numbers. It is likely to be a preview of what’s to come in the fall, and some worry whether the U.S. Postal Service is up to the challenge. A lot of people like the Postal Service; according to a recent Pew poll, 91% of Americans had a positive view, higher than any other branch of government. But it’s an agency with some big problems. To start, President Trump has called it a joke, demanded it raise its rates, and and made unfounded claims that mailed ballots will be “substantially fraudulent” and that mail boxes will be robbed.That’s  a false assertion, says Tammy Patrick, a senior adviser to the Democracy Fund. She tells NPR that voters need options like voting by mail during this pandemic. “For many, many people this year, it’s going to be to get their ballot delivered to them by the United States Postal Service,” she says. “Now, calling that into question, saying that people will be taking mail out of mailboxes — that’s just not going to happen.”

National: Ballot-Collection Battles, Split by Partisanship, Move Through Courts | Brent Kendall and Alexa Corse/Wall Street Journal

With more citizens looking to avoid in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic, legal clashes are emerging over whether third parties should be allowed to help absentee voters by collecting and submitting their ballots. The cases, part of a broader battle over rules amid the public health crisis, break down along partisan lines. Democrats and their allies argue that collection can be a needed service for vulnerable voters who face difficulties navigating the system. Republicans say most voters can submit ballots on their own and describe collection practices by third parties as ballot harvesting, saying they are an invitation for fraud. “It is true there have been occasional ballot collection problems, the most prominent recently being North Carolina’s ninth congressional district in 2018, a legit scandal,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “It’s also true that during a pandemic time, ballot collection can be an absolute lifeline for some voters and save them from what would be a worrisome amount of exposure. Not everyone has reliable mail service right to their door.” Some amount of third-party assistance is permitted in a majority of states, though laws vary widely. In California, for example, ballot collection is broadly permissible, while other states, including Florida and Minnesota, cap the number of ballots any one agent can collect, which effectively limits large, organized campaigns to deliver ballots. Some states allow voters to have a relative, household member or caregiver submit their ballots, but not other third parties.

Alabama: Largest cities pressure lawmakers on ‘no-excuse’ absentee voting | John Sharp/

Three of Alabama’s largest cities are poised to adopt resolutions arguing in favor of no-excuse absentee voting even as the state marches toward this year’s elections with the excuse provision in place. Mobile could join Birmingham and Huntsville on Tuesday in supporting similarly-worded resolutions that supports an option for residents to vote absentee during the coronavirus pandemic without having to submit an excuse as to why they are not showing up physically at the polls on Election Day. “What we want to do is ensure that those who have underlying health conditions and those who are of the senior population are not fearful of engaging in the democratic process,” said Mobile City Council President Levon Manzie. The timing of the resolutions is likely not going to matter during this year’s elections, and the Alabama Republican Party says they “lack teeth.” The runoff contests are scheduled for July 14, followed by the general election on Nov. 3. A majority of Alabama cities are also scheduled to have mayoral and council elections on Aug. 25. The Alabama Legislature is not scheduled to meet until the spring of 2021.

Arkansas: Voting machines arrive, but safe storage an issue | Dale Ellis/Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Two semitrailers were filled to capacity with 148 ballot markers, 148 stands, 80 poll tablets and printers, 41 vote tabulators, and assorted equipment intended to get the county up to the latest standard in voting hardware and software. The equipment, supplied by Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems and Software, was part of a $2.7 million purchase made by the Arkansas secretary of state’s office using state and federal funds to provide new voting equipment to nine Arkansas counties that lacked adequate funding to share the cost with the state. By the March 3 primary, 64 Arkansas counties had upgraded to the new ExpressVote system, purchased through a mixture of local, state and federal funds. Pulaski and Scott counties signed contracts in February to receive new voting equipment. The nine remaining counties — Bradley, Conway, Fulton, Jefferson, Lee, Monroe, Newton, Searcy and Stone — were notified last month that they would receive the equipment without having to come up with matching funds after the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a sharp economic downturn.

Indiana: State won’t change mail-in ballot deadline despite worries | Tom Davies/Associated Press

Indiana’s top election official on Friday rejected a request for extending the deadline for returning mail-in ballots for next week’s primary election, despite worries that thousands of them could arrive late and go uncounted. Some voters scattered around the state have complained about not receiving mail-in ballots that they requested as election officials encouraged voting by mail to lessen the risk of coronavirus exposure Tuesday at in-person polling sites. State figures show nearly 550,000 voters across Indiana requested mail-in ballots — more than 10 times the number of those ballots cast during the 2016 primary — and more than 300,000 have been returned through Thursday. Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge, who oversees the election staff in Indianapolis, sent a letter Thursday to state officials asking them to extend the deadline that requires mail-in ballots arrive at county election offices by noon Tuesday while polling sites remain open.

Indiana: Clerk warns state officials that thousands of mail-in ballots might not be counted; voters can still go to polls | Lesley Weidenbener/Indianapolis Business Journal

Thousands of voters in Marion County who planned to vote by mail in Tuesday’s election may not have the opportunity because they won’t receive their ballots in time, Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge told state officials in a letter Thursday. In addition, some voters who mailed in their absentee ballots might not have them counted because they won’t reach the Clerk’s Office by a noon deadline on Election Day, Eldridge said in the memo to Secretary of State Connie Lawson and copied to Gov. Eric Holcomb and other local and state officials. Eldridge told state officials “it is not too late” to extend the deadline for receipt of mailed ballots. She implored the Indiana Election Commission to act. “What a shame it will be for voters and candidates if thousands of votes sit in stacks uncounted under these circumstances,” she wrote. Even without an extension, most voters have options. Those who did not receive a ballot or who fear their ballot won’t make back to the Clerk’s Office by a noon deadline on Election Day can still go to the polls in person to cast a vote or drop off their mail-in ballots. Eldridge said in her letter that COVID-19-related staffing issues and significant delays at the U.S. Postal Service have contributed to the county’s difficulty in processing 123,000 applications from residents who want to vote by mail. That’s 20 times the number of mail-in ballots voters requested during the 2016 primary election, the last time a presidential race was on the ballot.

Kansas: Despite Trump’s attacks, Kansas voters request 2020 mail ballots at historic rate | Bryan Lowry and Sarah Ritter/The Wichita Eagle

Johnson County election workers spent Memorial Day weekend sending out roughly 380,000 applications for mail ballots — one to every registered voter in the state’s most populous county. Kansas has allowed voters to cast ballots by mail for any reason since 1996. But the unprecedented move by county officials reflects COVID-19’s impact on the mechanics and politics of voting in 2020. Their hope is to prevent long lines in August and November, as voters elect a new U.S. senator and other office holders amid the ongoing the pandemic. “Because of COVID-19, we’re very concerned about our voters and poll workers. So the secretary of state and county officials decided we wanted to encourage vote-by-mail, and in Kansas, we’re lucky to have that option,” said Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt. “And since we don’t know what the pandemic is going to look like in the fall, we decided to go ahead and mail out forms for both elections.” Election officials in Sedgwick County will be doing the same this week and plan on sending another round of applications in September. Douglas and Leavenworth Counties are also mailing applications to all voters, while election officials in other counties have sent postcards to voters explaining how to apply for a mail ballot.

Maryland: Ballot vendor blames Maryland officials for delay in reaching Baltimore voters for Tuesday’s primary | Emily Opilo/Baltimore Sun

Officials at a vendor that state elections officials blame for a delay in ballots reaching Baltimore voters for Tuesday’s primary say the state was at fault, not them, for the holdup because it delivered the voter information files late that the company needed to address and mail ballots. The 330,000 delayed ballots have been the most high-profile glitch during the lead-up to the primary, which is Maryland’s first attempt at a statewide election held mostly by mail. It includes citywide races for mayor, City Council president and city comptroller. Ballots for the race, printed and mailed by Minnesota vendor SeaChange, began to enter the postal system April 27. Baltimore’s were among the last on the state’s county-by-county schedule, due to be mailed May 8. After complaints from city voters about not receiving ballots, state officials revealed May 17 that the ballots hadn’t gone out as planned. They were mailed beginning May 15, with most of them taking another week to arrive at voters’ homes. Amid a public outcry and pressure from Baltimore’s legislative delegation, many of whom felt the city was vulnerable to voter disenfranchisement, state officials said SeaChange misled them, twice telling elections officials the ballots had been mailed on time.

Massachusetts: State lawmakers propose to expand mail-in voting option amid pandemic | Matt Murphy/Worcester Telegram

Every registered voter in Massachusetts would receive an application by mid-July to request a ballot to vote by mail in the 2020 elections under a plan released Friday by House and Senate Democrats intended to create more options for voters to safely participate in the electoral process during the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal for expanded voting-by-mail would be coupled with in-person early voting before both the primary and general elections in September and November, and traditional voting at a local polling station during both elections. With the bill, Massachusetts state lawmakers are inserting themselves directly into a fiery national debate over the integrity of mail-in voting, with President Donald Trump at the center of the conflagration. Trump has suggested that mailboxes would be robbed and ballots would be forged or fraudulently signed as states moved to vote-by-mail, despite five states already using this system without trouble before the pandemic. The co-chairs of the Election Laws Committee Rep. John Lawn of Watertown and Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover released a bill on Friday night, giving members of their committee 48 hours to review and vote on whether to recommend the bill to the full House and Senate.

Editorials: Vote by Mail Works. Here’s How It Was Done in Michigan. | Jocelyn Benson/Slate

The ongoing war over voting rights and voter suppression has developed a new battleground in recent weeks: The debate over whether every citizen should have a right to vote by mail in the era of COVID19, thus ensuring that no American has to fear risking his or her health in order to vote. On one side of this issue is the president of the United States, who has taken to Twitter to denounce a practice that is time tested and secure—and has backed up these denunciations with threats to withhold funding from states, like Michigan, that have sought to ensure voting by mail is universally accessible to every voter. The other side is the vast majority of voters, millions of whom have voted by mail for decades, and several governors and secretaries of states on both sides of the aisle who in recent months have embraced voting by mail as a way to ensure democracy is preserved amidst the current pandemic. In fact, 46 states have provided a way for every citizen to vote from home this election year. This option is permanent in 34 states, and 12 more temporarily granted their voters this right due to the coronavirus outbreak this spring.

Missouri: ‘There’s no handbook for this.’ Tuesday’s election will test voter safety in pandemic | Crystal Thomas and Allison Kite/The Kansas City Star

The day before he buried his wife, Orville Amos limped into the Kansas City Election Board’s office to vote absentee. For 25 years, the 75-year-old Navy veteran was first in line at his precinct’s polling place to cast his ballot in person. That would earn him a sticker he could show off in the election authority offices, where his wife had worked for 23 years. The excitement Amos once felt about voting is gone now, eclipsed by grief over the death of his wife from lung cancer on March 25. And fear of the novel coronavirus. “You know we are in that age group where we are the target of this virus,” Amos said, clad in a white mask. “It’s intimidating to come out in public even to go to the grocery store.” Concerns about voter safety led Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to move the April 7 local elections to June 2. On ballots across the state will be city council races, school board contests and local sales tax levies for improvement projects. Most votes will be cast in-person, as Missouri does not have “no-excuse” absentee voting. Nor does it provide for early voting outside of its absentee process. There are six valid excuses to vote absentee, but fear of catching a potentially fatal disease for which there is no vaccine or treatment is not an official one. Election authorities have had to struggle to retrofit voting to the pandemic age. Where 115 polling places were once available in Kansas City, there are now 28. Many traditional sites—mostly churches and senior centers—have dropped out. A corps of about 1,200 volunteer election judges who initially signed up, many of them in the at-risk age range of 65-plus, is down to 400.

Montana: Challenge To Ballot Collection Limit Moves Forward | Kevin Trevellyan/MTPR

A Montana district court will move forward with a challenge against a state law limiting the number of ballots a person can deliver on others’ behalf. As of now the law is currently blocked ahead of the Jun. 2 primary. On May 29, Judge Jessica Fehr of the Yellowstone County District Court sided with Native American tribes, Western Native Voice and Montana Native Vote in denying the state’s motion in support of the Ballot Interference Prevention Act, or BIPA. BIPA caps the number of ballots a person or group can drop off for someone else at six. The law also requires people to sign a form letting election officials know they’re dropping off another person’s ballot. Lillian Alvernaz with the ALCU of Montana is representing the tribes and advocacy groups. She says BIPA significantly limits the voting rights of people on rural reservations.

Nevada: Mailing of ballots to all voters in Las Vegas area puts sharp focus on election safeguards | Elise Viebeck/The Washington Post

The decision by Nevada’s most populous county to mail ballots to all registered voters ahead of the state’s June 9 primary has intensified a partisan debate about the security of all-mail voting, putting sharp focus on how states are handling a process President Trump claims without evidence leads to widespread election fraud. Officials in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, began sending ballots to 1.1 million active voters this month as part of Nevada’s first all-mail election, prompted by the coronavirus epidemic. Roughly 200,000 more inactive voters — those who did not reply to a postcard sent to verify their address within 30 days, after it was determined they moved — also received ballots in the mail after Democrats sued to make voting in the primary more accessible. In recent days, Republicans have seized on a few accounts of what appeared to be unattended or discarded ballots in residential areas of Las Vegas as proof that mailing ballots to all voters opens the door to massive election fraud that will benefit Democrats.

Nevada: Cutting through the hysteria: The facts about Nevada’s mostly mail election | Daniel H. Stewart/Nevada Independent

The continuing arguments against Nevada’s pandemic-forced, vote-by-mail system lack merit. There are enough bad things in the world to worry about right now without manufactured terror. With plague and economic catastrophe pressing down on us all, it is hard to see a political challenge to our democratic foundations as the calming balm the doctor would order. We have real things to panic about, and our collective ticker is handling too much stress already; theoretical panic can wait. Unfortunately, I have little to offer on the issues of jobs or health. But I would like to try to cool unnecessary electoral fears. I am, among other things, an election-law attorney who has mostly represented Republicans. And I understand the instinct behind the initial response. Pictures of unused ballots piling up in trash cans trigger kneejerk nausea. Voting is sacred; ballots are too. But there is more to the story, and even a superficial dive into relevant law and actual practice should comfort, not concern. Our elections are in good hands, run by good people, who know what they are doing.

New York: Advocates Sue Board of Elections to Make Absentee Voting Accessible for the Primary | Ethan Stark-Miller/City Limits

Disability rights groups sued the New York State Board of Elections (BOE) last Friday in a bid to make absentee voting accessible for voters with disabilities by the state’s June 23 primary. There was a hearing on the lawsuit Thursday morning. But the plaintiffs are already seeing some success outside of court, with the BOE passing a resolution on Wednesday to try to make PDF ballots available to some of those who request them for the primary. The groups filed the lawsuit with the Southern District of New York (SDNY), alleging the BOE is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing an accessible absentee voting system. They aim to compel the BOE to provide accessible absentee voting options to New Yorkers with disabilities, because the paper ballots the board currently uses are inaccessible to those with visual impairments and dexterity issues. This is so voters with disabilities can vote privately and independently without going to polling sites to use the accessible voting machines called ballot marking devices, which is a risk to their health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New York: Election Officials Expect Surge in Absentee Ballots for Primary | Jimmy Vielkind/Wall Street Journal

Election administrators in New York are bracing for a crush of paper ballots for the state’s June 23 primary contests as voters avoid the polls to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order in April allowing any state voter to apply for an absentee ballot, and then told county officials who administer elections that they had to mail an application for an absentee ballot to every voter with an active contest on the ballot. That includes all 6.5 million enrolled Democratic Party voters, who can vote in the party’s presidential primary, as well as voters in other parties with primaries for the U.S. House of Representatives and state and local elections. The state Board of Elections tried to reduce the amount of voting by canceling the Democratic presidential primary after former Vice President Joe Biden emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee. But a federal court overturned the board’s resolution.

Ohio: About 5,500 provisional ballots rejected because voters didn’t qualify to vote in person | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch

About 5,500 ballots that were cast in person on Ohio’s delayed primary election were not counted because the voters were neither disabled nor homeless and didn’t request an absentee ballot on time. That represented a small fraction of the 1.8 million ballots that were counted in the election. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose released the official results of the 2020 primary on Friday afternoon, about 2 1/2 months after Ohio’s originally scheduled March 17 Election Day. After the polls were closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, state lawmakers extended the election to April 28 and forced most voters to cast absentee ballots through the mail. It carved out two exceptions: voters who were disabled or did not have access to mail, mostly the homeless. But mail delays plagued the system, and some voters never received their ballots. Those who showed up at their Board of Elections on April 28 to cast an in-person provisional ballot had to certify that they fell into one of the two exempted categories. LaRose directed boards of elections not to count those who did not unless the board could verify that the voter had requested an absentee ballot ahead of the deadline at noon on April 25. Democrats in the Ohio General Assembly and voting rights advocates objected to that decision.

Pennsylvania: Days before the primary, Democrats and progressive groups continue push for more time to vote by mail | Jonathan Tamari and Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Just days before Pennsylvania’s primary election, key ground rules are being challenged in four cases now pending before state courts. In the last week alone, Montgomery and Bucks Counties have asked their local courts to extend mail ballot deadlines in their counties; a group of voters in Southeastern Pennsylvania asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to give voters statewide an extra week to return ballots; and Democrats appealed to the state Supreme Court for a one-week extension and to allow third parties such as friends, family, or political activists to collect and turn in mail ballots. The legal challenges have so far been unsuccessful but remained live Friday afternoon. The courts could scramble the election rules just days before people are set to cast their votes on or by Tuesday. State law requires that ballots be received by county elections officials by 8 p.m. on an election day; postmarks don’t count. County officials warn that thousands of voters will receive their ballots too late to return them in time. But Republicans opposing the lawsuits have said changes would invite voter fraud.

Pennsylvania: State election officials see finish line in focus for primary | Julian Routh/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tuesday will mark the end of a monthslong sprint by Pennsylvania officials to disease-proof the 2020 primary election in the face of COVID-19, and finally reveal the results of counties’ improvisational decision-making as some voters head to physical polling places and others — many others — wait for their mail-in ballots to be tallied. On ballots across Allegheny County, for example, are one contested Congressional primary, two state Senate races, 10 state House contests, a presidential primary — though technically uncontested — and an auditor general race featuring one of their own. But perhaps more important than who’s on the ballot this year is how that ballot’s administered, and whether voters are able to safely and efficiently exercise their right to vote. Though much of that will remain unknown until the end of Tuesday, it’s an undeniable fact that Pennsylvania received more mail-in ballots than most counties were prepared to process, and that voting will look different on Election Day for those who choose to vote in-person or missed the mail-in deadline. Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will arrive at this moment in history after about 80 days of fierce advocacy for vote-by-mail, an all-hands-on-deck bureaucratic blitz to process those ballots, and a scavenger hunt for state and federal resources that some experts allege wasn’t enough.

Pennsylvania: Republicans don’t want to vote by mail: ‘We’re listening to Trump on this’ | Andrew Seidman /Philadelphia Inquirer

President Donald Trump has said voting by mail is “fraudulent” and will result in “rigged” elections. In Pennsylvania, Republican voters appear to be listening — despite efforts by national and state party officials to encourage mail voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. As of Thursday morning, about 1.3 million registered Democrats had requested and been approved for mail ballots for the June 2 primary election, compared with about 524,000 Republicans. Republicans made just 29% of the requests, even though they represent 38% of registered voters in the state and 45% of those registered with either major party. “I must tell you that locally, in my county, we’re not advocating and we’re not pushing the mail-in voting,” said Lee Snover, chairwoman of the Northampton County GOP. “We’re concerned about fraud. We’re not happy with the process. Trump has sent the message out there that he’s concerned about it as well. “I think that we need to inspire Americans to get out and go to the polls,” she said. “Sign in, identify yourself, and vote.”

Texas: Texas Says Coronavirus Is Not A Good Enough Reason To Vote By Mail | Ashley Lopez/NPR

In an effort to keep voters safe, states of all political complexions are finding ways to expand access to mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Then there’s Texas. The state has some of the most restrictive laws limiting vote by mail in the country. Under Texas law, the program is open only to people who are 65 or older, people who will be out of the county during the election, people who are in jail and not convicted, and people who are disabled. And after a series of often-contradictory court orders over the past month, it’s still unclear whether more Texans will be able to use mail-in ballots during upcoming elections in July and November. There are currently multiple legal challenges to those policies working through various state and federal courts. Lower court judges have ordered the state to allow voters greater access to mail-in ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher courts have routinely overturned those orders – often a day or two later. The most recent legal decision, made by the Texas Supreme Court on Wednesday, said lack of immunity to the virus was not sufficient grounds for requesting a mail-in ballot.

Texas: Three top Texas GOP officials who oppose expanding mail-in voting have each used it | Alexa Ura/The Texas Tribune

Three of Texas’ top Republican leaders are vigorously fighting efforts to expand mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing it will lead to increased voter fraud, yet all three have themselves cast absentee ballots at least once in past elections. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — then a state senator — voted by mail in 2007 for a May Houston municipal election and an ensuing runoff, though Harris County records show his first mail-in ballot was rejected because of a signature verification issue. Patrick is a regular voter in both local and state elections and favors casting his ballot during the early voting period. He’s been voting in Montgomery County since 2017. Although he’s a regular in-person voter in Collin County, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton used the voting-by-mail option to cast a ballot in a 2011 municipal election, according to county records. In recent elections, he’s opted for voting early. Travis County election records show Gov. Greg Abbott cast a mail-in ballot in a 1997 special election when he was a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. Abbott consistently votes in local and state elections.

Virginia: Federal judge denies complaint against Virginia officials over absentee voting rules | Justin Mattingly/Richmond Times-Dispatch

A federal judge has denied a request from six Northern Virginia voters challenging Virginia election officials over the loosening of absentee voting restrictions. Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. in the Eastern District of Virginia issued the ruling Friday, saying that while the voters’ complaint “may be well-founded, the court is constrained at this time from remedying these constitutional grievances.” Jim Bopp, who represented Citizens United in the landmark 2010 campaign finance case against the Federal Elections Commission, filed the lawsuit this month on behalf of the Northern Virginia voters. In the lawsuit, they say letting residents vote absentee if they are not sick and do not have a disability encourages them to make a false statement. Under current law, Virginians must list one of a number of state-authorized excuses for why they cannot vote in person on Election Day, such as a work, family or school obligation or an out-of-town trip. Under a law that takes effect July 1, voters will be able to cast absentee ballots without providing an excuse. Gov. Ralph Northam and state election officials have encouraged voters to list “disability or illness” as their reason for requesting an absentee ballot for the June 23 congressional primaries.

Wisconsin: Election Commission approves $4 million for vote by mail, lawmaker not happy | Benjamin Yount/The Center Square

Wisconsin’s 1,850 local election managers will share $4 million to mail almost every voter in the state an absentee ballot application this fall. Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe made the announcement Friday.  “We are using the lessons we learned from the spring election in April and the federal grant funds to ensure we are prepared for November,” Wolfe said. The money is coming from Wisconsin’s share of the federal coronavirus stimulus package. The WEC unanimously voted this week to send nearly three million voters absentee ballot applications. The WEC will not be mailing actual ballots, however. Mailing ballots “would require the legislature to pass and amend existing law, and the Wisconsin Elections Commission does not have the authority to make these changes,” the WEC said in its announcement.