November Surprise: Fewer Ballots Rejected by Election Officials | Michael Wines/The New York Times

With absentee ballots flooding election offices nationwide, the officials processing them are tentatively reporting some surprising news: The share of ballots being rejected because of flawed signatures and other errors appears lower — sometimes much lower — than in the past. Should that trend hold, it could prove significant in an election in which the bulk of absentee voters has been Democratic, and Republicans have fought furiously, in court and on the stump, to discard mail ballots as fraudulent. In Fulton County, Ga., home to Atlanta, just 278 of the first 60,000-odd ballots processed had been held back. In Minneapolis, Hennepin County officials last week had rejected only 2,080 of 325,000 ballots — and sent replacement ballots to all of those voters. In Burlington, Iowa, the number of rejected ballots on Monday was 28 of 12,310. And of 474,000 absentee ballots received in Kentucky, barely 1,300 rejects remain uncorrected by voters, compared to more than 15,000 during the state’s presidential primary in June. The number of rejections could fall further. In those jurisdictions and many others, voters are notified of errors on ballots and can correct their mistakes, or vote in person instead. There is no shortage of caveats to those and other upbeat reports from state and local election officials, which are far from comprehensive. In some states, including battlegrounds like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, regulations prevent early processing of millions of mail ballots, and it is impossible to know how many will be turned down.

Full Article: Fewer Ballots Rejected by Election Officials This Election – The New York Times

National: Millions of Votes Are in Postal Workers’ Hands. Here Is Their Story. | Photographs by Philip Montgomery, Text by Vauhini Vara/The New York Times

On the eve of the election, more than 90 million voters have been sent absentee or mail ballots, and 60 million of them have already been returned. In Florida — a swing state with many aging residents, who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 — six million people requested mail ballots, and more than 4.6 million have sent them back. For postal workers there, shepherding the votes is the latest challenge in an already exhausting year. In the spring, as the coronavirus spread, letter carriers began hauling bulky deliveries of toilet paper and bottled water. Then came the quarantines. A worker’s husband or son would test positive, and she would be out of commission. This summer, under the newly installed postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, the agency moved to curtail overtime and get rid of sorting equipment, desisting only after a public outcry and accusations of political motivation. Then the election onslaught arrived.

Full Article: Millions of Votes Are in Postal Workers’ Hands. Here Is Their Story. – The New York Times

National: As Voting Nears End, Battle Intensifies Over Which Ballots Will Count | Jim Rutenberg, Michael S. Schmidt, Nick Corasaniti and Peter Baker/The New York Times

With the election coming to a close, the Trump and Biden campaigns, voting rights organizations and conservative groups are raising money and dispatching armies of lawyers for what could become a state-by-state, county-by-county legal battle over which ballots will ultimately be counted. The deployments — involving hundreds of lawyers on both sides — go well beyond what has become normal since the disputed outcome in 2000, and are the result of the open efforts of President Trump and the Republicans to disqualify votes on technicalities and baseless charges of fraud at the end of a campaign in which the voting system has been severely tested by the coronavirus pandemic. In the most aggressive moves to knock out registered votes in modern memory, Republicans have already sought to nullify ballots before they are counted in several states that could tip the balance of the Electoral College. In an early test of one effort, a federal judge in Texas on Monday ruled against local Republicans who wanted to compel state officials to throw out more than 127,000 ballots cast at newly created drive-through polling places in the Houston area. The federal court ruling, which Republicans said they would appeal, came after a state court also ruled against them. In key counties in Nevada, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Republicans are seeking, with mixed results so far, to force election board offices to give their election observers more open access so they can more effectively challenge absentee ballots as they are processed, a tactic Republicans in North Carolina are seeking to adopt statewide.

Full Article: Which Ballots Will Count? The Battle Intensifies as Voting Ends – The New York Times

National: CISA’s political independence from Trump will be an Election Day asset | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

During four years in which government agencies have been increasingly manipulated to serve President Trump’s aims, the agency tasked with protecting the 2020 election against hacking has managed to steer clear of partisan politics. That straight and narrow path has allowed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to become a trusted hub of election security expertise for red and blue states, which have cooperated with CISA to fundamentally revamp their election cybersecurity protections during the past four years. The agency’s apolitical track record will also be vital on Election Day and afterwards, when CISA plans to run a virtual war room, delivering trusted information about election threats to thousands of state and local officials, political parties, social media companies and others, orchestrating the response to interference from Russia and elsewhere and tamping down unvetted rumors about interference that threaten to sow panic and distrust in the election results. “The folks at CISA continue to just play it straight and call it as they see it,” Suzanne Spaulding, who led a precursor of CISA called the National Protection and Programs Directorate during the Obama administration, told me.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: CISA’s political independence from Trump will be an Election Day asset – The Washington Post

National: Lines, lawsuits and Covid: 5 big questions confront election officials before voting ends | Zach Montellaro/Politico

Election administrators have been scrambling to prepare for Tuesday ever since the coronavirus turned a series of primaries into disasters this spring. Now, all they can do is wait and see if their efforts pay off in the form of a smooth Election Day — and an uncontroversial vote count. Despite the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, voting in the 2020 general election has been remarkably smooth so far, according to eight election experts and administrators surveyed by POLITICO. A record number of Americans — more than 93 million so far, according to the U.S. Elections Project — have already cast ballots, facilitated by local governments and election officials making early and mail voting more accessible than ever. Some states, including Texas and Hawaii, surpassed total turnout from 2016 before Election Day. There have been hiccups and mistakes, including isolated problems with mail ballots and incidents of tension and disruption at early-voting centers. But now, the election is moving into its most unpredictable moment, with late lawsuits, security at polling places and the pandemic itself all among the factors that could test election infrastructure as millions more people vote.

Full Article: Lines, lawsuits and Covid: 5 big questions confront election officials before voting ends – POLITICO

National: One big flaw in how Americans run elections | Kim Zetter/Politico

In November 2016, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein sought recounts of the presidential election results in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — three states critical to Donald Trump’s upset victory. Stein had no evidence of fraud, but she cited Russian hackers’ targeting of the election, known security flaws in the states’ voting machines, a number of voting irregularities and discrepancies among the official tallies, historical voting patterns and polls that had predicted a Hillary Clinton win. Stein had the backing of more than 160,000 people who donated money to help her pay for the recounts, in what she described as an effort to gain certainty about the results for doubtful voters. They weren’t the only ones with questions about the election: Trump alleged that widespread voter had fraud occurred, without offering evidence, and some Democrats were urging Clinton to challenge her narrow losses in the Rust Belt states. But instantly, obstacles emerged to Stein’s efforts: The states charged steep filing fees, eventually totaling $2.3 million for Wisconsin and Michigan. Their recount laws were so confusing, especially in Pennsylvania, that Stein’s lawyers struggled with basic questions, such as in which court to file their petitions, and who could seek a recount. Pennsylvania’s law also had so many administrative hoops and barriers that Stein’s legal team dubbed it “anti-voter.” (“It gives you the illusion that candidates and voters can seek a recount, but in reality they couldn’t,” said Ilann Maazel, a partner in the New York law firm that led Stein’s recount efforts.)

Full Article: One big flaw in how Americans run elections – POLITICO

National: So Far, Trump’s “Army” of Poll Watchers Looks More Like a Small Platoon | Jessica Huseman/ProPublica

Donald Trump Jr. looked straight into a camera at the end of September as triumphant music rose in a crescendo. “The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father,” he said. “We cannot let that happen. We need every able-bodied man and woman to join the army for Trump’s election security operation.” It was an echo of what his father, President Donald Trump, has said in both of his presidential campaigns. At a September campaign rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the president encouraged his audience to be poll watchers. “Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do,” he said. “Because this is important.” But the poll-watching army that the Trumps have tried to rally hasn’t materialized. Although there’s no official data, election officials across the country say that they have seen relatively few Republican poll watchers during early voting, and that at times Democratic poll watchers have outnumbered the GOP’s. In Colorado and Nevada, where the Trump campaign was particularly active in recruiting poll watchers, its efforts largely petered out.

Full Article: So Far, Trump’s “Army” of Poll Watchers Looks More Like a Small Platoon — ProPublica

National: Election security pros focus on effective partnerships | CyberScoop

Trust the process. That’s the message from a group of election security experts who, during a virtual panel discussion at CyberTalks, said they are working to safeguard the 2020 election from an array of cybersecurity threats. Benjamin Hovland, a commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Jack Cable, an election security technical adviser at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Matt Masterson, a senior cybersecurity adviser at CISA, explained that the goal isn’t only to protect the Nov. 3 election, but also to ensure that the American people can trust the results. The CyberTalks panel was led by John DeSimone, vice president of cybersecurity, training and services at Raytheon Intelligence and Space. In a series of questions, DeSimone, probed the election security experts on the ways that U.S. government entities and the defense industrial base are working together “from a mission assurance perspective” to protect U.S. voting systems from interference or an unexpected technical failure. The ultimate goal would be to prevent America’s electorate from being impacted by any efforts to subvert the true intent of a ballot cast on Election Day.

Full Article: Election security pros focus on effective partnerships

National: Overseas ballot requests set record, but will votes reach U.S. shores? | Abigail Williams and Haley Talbot/NBC

It took two very expensive international phone calls, 15 emails and several wrong web addresses, but Jennifer Sun, an Alabaman living in the Chinese city of Shanghai, finally got the right ballot to send in her vote. “I’m like, come on, guys. It’s ballots! You can’t accidentally send someone the wrong link. That needs to be triple-checked before it’s released, right?” she said by telephone. “I tried to click on the second link, but it still didn’t work, because they hadn’t canceled my first link,” she said before expressing her doubts about Alabama’s capacity to manage votes from overseas. “There is quite a lot of confusion for a lot of people,” Sun said. “There are a lot of Americans here that are not as familiar with the consulate and its services.” The confusion could cost an election back home during what many see as a pivotal presidential race. So-called overseas votes — which are also cast by Americans in Canada and Mexico — could prove crucial.

Full Article: Overseas ballot requests set record, but will votes reach U.S. shores?

National: Inside Democrats’ efforts to fight election security threats | Eric Geller/Politico

Four years after playing an embarrassing starring role in the hack-plagued 2016 presidential election, the Democratic National Committee is staring down its highest-stakes test yet — cyberattacks or disinformation campaigns on Election Day. “I think we’re going to be ready,” said Bob Lord, the party’s chief security officer, in a recent interview. “We have the right plan and the right people.” Lord joined the DNC in January 2018 from Yahoo, where he helped executives recover from two of the world’s largest data breaches. He has spent the past two years rebuilding the DNC’s digital defenses, training its staff to spot cyber threats and offering security guidance to the DNC’s many partners. His efforts paid off during the 2018 midterms, which featured no repeat of the Russian government’s major intrusions two years earlier. Still, Lord and his team face significant challenges. “Given how impermanent campaigns and party committees are, creating an effective long-lasting institutional cyber regime was always going to be a very tough assignment,” said Simon Rosenberg, who was a senior strategist focused on disinformation and election security at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2017-2018. “Most people working at the DNC won’t be there in a few months, and campaigns disappear after two years,” said Rosenberg, the founder and president of NDN, a center-left think tank. “So what Bob has been trying to do, while so incredibly important, is also incredibly hard as it goes against the grain of the fly-by-night culture of modern American politics.”

Full Article: Inside Democrats’ efforts to fight election security threats – POLITICO

Alabama: Attorney for Democrats: Hundreds of voters ‘disenfranchised’ in Tuscaloosa | Lee Roop/

An attorney for U.S. Sen. Doug Jones says Tuscaloosa County election officials have been “suppressing qualified Tuscaloosa voters” from voting absentee this year by forcing them to stand in stalled lines for absentee ballots and mailing ballots out too late to be returned by mail. Jones’ campaign attorney Adam Plant mailed a letter to Tuscaloosa County Circuit Clerk Magaria Bobo Oct. 28 saying she was suppressing voters. Two attempts to reach Bobo for comment Friday were not successful. “The volume of absentee voters in Tuscaloosa County was absolutely foreseeable and you did not take adequate steps to allow these voters to cast their ballots,” Plant’s letter said. “You are forcing qualified voters to miss school, work and other parts of their life standing in a line at the courthouse you are in charge of processing.” “Hundreds if not thousands of voters” in Tuscaloosa County have not received the absentee ballots they requested for Tuesday’s presidential election in time to mail them back before the deadline, an Alabama Democratic Party official said Sunday.But a spokeswoman for Alabama’s top election official, Secretary of State John Merrill, said Sunday that Tuscaloosa County voting officials have told him “they are caught up on everything.”

Full Article: Attorney for Democrats: Hundreds of voters ‘disenfranchised’ in Tuscaloosa –

Georgia governor may miss voting Tuesday because of COVID-19 quarantine | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp might not be able to vote because he’s in quarantine after close contact with U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, who tested positive for the coronavirus Friday. Kemp, who tested negative for the virus, has requested an absentee ballot, his spokesman said.But an absentee ballot requested Friday is unlikely to arrive in the mail before polls close Tuesday. Georgia law and a court ruling required all absentee ballots to be received by county election officials before 7 p.m. on Election Day. Kemp also couldn’t vote in person on Tuesday without violating coronavirus guidelines from the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days and stay away from others. Kemp, a Republican, previously served as Georgia’s top election official for eight years as secretary of state. He supports President Donald Trump and appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is now running in a field of 21 candidates to retain her seat.

Full Article: Georgia governor may miss voting Tuesday because of COVID-19 quarantine

Maryland: More than 2.2 million have voted in advance, with long lines anticipated for Election Day | Emily Opilo/Baltimore Sun

More than 2.2 million Marylanders voted ahead of Election Day for an unprecedented pre-Election Day turnout of 55%, and election officials, candidates and voters were bracing for a final day Tuesday of casting ballots. Additional voting centers will open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., although far fewer than on a typical Election Day in hopes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Drop boxes will be open until 8 p.m. Tuesday to accept ballots, and mail-in ballots postmarked Tuesday by 8 p.m. will be counted. City Elections Director Armstead Jones was preparing for lines, particularly at Morgan State University and the Liberty Heights campus of Baltimore City Community College. Those sites have proved to be the busiest during the eight days of early voting that began Oct. 26, he said. Jones said he has maximized the amount of equipment in each voting location for Tuesday to get people in and out as quickly as possible. And the city’s election judges have proven to be reliable thus far, with most showing up for work regularly during early voting and volunteering for extra shifts, he said. After the last voter in line at 8 p.m. anywhere in Maryland has cast a ballot, the focus will turn to returns in the races for president, U.S. House seats, statewide and local referendums and local races, including mayor of Baltimore, City Council president and council members.

Full Article: More than 2.2 million Marylanders have voted in advance, with long lines anticipated for Election Day – Baltimore Sun

Michigan: Judge orders USPS to speed up Detroit ballot delivery | Nushrat Rahman/Detroit Free Press

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered the United States Postal Service to accelerate the delivery of ballots in two regions, including Detroit, state officials announced Saturday. Judge Stanley Bastian issued the order on Friday following a status conference with USPS and a coalition of 13 plaintiff states, including Michigan, according to a news release. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in August joined a coalition of states filing a federal lawsuit against the USPS following slowdowns in mail service. Along with Detroit, the post office is also required to speed up delivery in the Lakeland region in Wisconsin under the order. “The slowdown of mail delivery in our state — especially in Detroit — has had a dramatic negative impact on the timely delivery of absentee ballots,” Nessel said in the release. “This has been a serious impediment to voters who have made the effort to request, receive, vote and return their absentee ballots. The Court’s order is an important step in righting this wrong but it is only a temporary fix to an ongoing problem.”

Full Article: Judge orders USPS to speed up Detroit ballot delivery

Nevada: Judge blocks Trump lawsuit challenging how Clark County counts mail-in ballots | Colton Lochhead/Las Vegas Review-Journal

A Carson City judge on Monday blocked a lawsuit brought by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that attempted to change how Clark County is processing mail-in ballots in the final days of the election. The Nevada Republican Party and Trump’s re-election campaign filed the lawsuit on Friday asking the the court to force Clark County to alter how it has been counting and verifying mail ballots, to allow “meaningful” observation of all stages of the process, including allowing a camera inside the room where ballots are stored at the county facility, and for a way to challenge mail ballots. They claimed that the county’s process was creating risk of voter fraud and was “diluting” the votes. Carson City Judge James Wilson disagreed. “There is no evidence of any debasement or dilution of any citizen’s vote,” wrote Wilson, who added that the Republicans’ attorneys failed to present evidence to back up any of their claims alleged in the lawsuit or in the hearing held last week. Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald said in a statement Monday that they might file an expedited appeal to the state Supreme Court. Election Day is Tuesday.

Full Article: Judge blocks lawsuit challenging how Clark County counts mail-in ballots | Las Vegas Review-Journal

North Carolina could see deluge of postelection litigation, challenges and protests | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

In an election year that has seen more lawsuits than any election ever before, in which President Donald Trump has broadcast plans to heavily litigate the results, and a month of legal fights in North Carolina over changing election rules, a spokesperson for Republican state Senate leader Phil Berger’s office said nobody wants protracted postelection litigation. “That’s never good,” Pat Ryan, Berger’s spokesperson, said. That is, however, what is expected. Tomas Lopez, who runs the voter rights group Democracy NC, expects to see voter challenges and election protests on Election Day and before Nov. 13, when counties are scheduled to make their vote counts official. “I think that if there’s a litigation option that’s out there on all sides of this, there’s a good chance that it will be invoked,” Lopez said.The first rush of election litigation has passed, but it in many ways simply set the field for postelection legal fights. While lawsuits can no longer much affect how voters cast their ballots, the coming fight will be over which ballots are counted. Lopez’s group wants every lawful vote to be counted, he said. But the litigation brought by political parties seeks more to influence the outcome of the election.

Full Article: Forecast: NC could see deluge of postelection litigation, challenges and protests – Carolina Public Press

Oklahoma power outages won’t stop Tuesday’s election | Carmen Forman/The Oklahoman

Tuesday’s election will go on as planned even if some polling places are still affected by power outages from the ice storm that rocked the Oklahoma City metro area last week. Power companies have put a priority on restoring electricity to polling locations, state officials said last week. “If any of our local election locations actually report an outage, we’re responding to it as a critical emergency,” said Mark Gower, Department of Emergency Management director. Gower said he asked OG&E and other power companies to prioritize restoring electricity to those locations. If power cannot quickly be restored to some polling places, the department is working on supplying generators in time for Election Day. OG&E’s director of Corporate Affairs, Brian Alford, said crews are planning on having power restored to all polling locations within its service area before Election Day. “We continue to coordinate with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management to make sure polling stations have power for Tuesday’s elections,” he said. “According to our most recent data, power has been restored to the vast majority of polling places within our service area — more than 96% of the approximately 800 stations.”

Full Article: Oklahoma power outages won’t stop Tuesday’s election

Pennsylvania voters who plan to turn over mail ballots and vote in-person add to concerns about Election Day waits | Ellie Silverman/Philadelphia Inquirer

Voting by mail is supposed to help Pennsylvanians like Suzanne Matthiessen, a 64-year-old with asthma, stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. But, since receiving her ballot in early October, she has left it on her desk, unopened.She plans to turn over that ballot to election officials at the polls Tuesday and vote in person. She said she is worried about making sure her vote counts in a critical swing state. “Just watching what was happening, what Trump was saying, I thought ‘I don’t want to mess around with this. I want my vote to count on Election Day,’ ” said Matthiessen, a registered Independent in Mercer County, one of the handful of counties in Pennsylvania that have said they won’t begin counting mail ballots until Wednesday. “Knowing it is going to be counted that day, that is the most important thing.” Other Pennsylvanians have made similar decisions, at first fearful their vote would not arrive on time if mailed, and now nervous President Donald Trump will declare victory before all the votes are counted. But Pennsylvania officials warn that people trading in their mail ballots to vote on a machine could lengthen the lines and the amount of time it takes to cast votes. “The injury is that you’re potentially slowing down voting,” Al Schmidt, a Republican and one of three city commissioners who run Philadelphia elections told The Inquirer two weeks ago. These voters are “adding to the line, and to the work the election boards need to do to get voters voting.”

Full Article: Pa. voters with mail ballots who vote in person add to Election Day 2020 poll lines

Pennsylvania: ‘It’s Just Crazy’: Mail Voting and the Anxiety That Followed | Trip Gabriel/The New York Times

“Hello, Elections.” “Hello, Elections.” “Hello, Elections.” The rapid-fire calls were pouring in to Marybeth Kuznik, the one-woman Elections Department of Armstrong County, a few days before Election Day. “This is crazy,” she told an anxious caller. “Crazy, crazy, crazy. It’s a good thing because everybody should vote,” she added, “but it’s just crazy.” Armstrong County, northeast of Pittsburgh, is one of Pennsylvania’s smaller counties with 44,829 registered voters. But it is a microcosm of the high tension, confusion and deep uncertainty that have accompanied the broad expansion of mail-in voting this year, during an election of passionate intensity. With all Pennsylvania voters eligible for the first time to vote by mail, more than three million ballots were requested statewide — nearly half the total turnout from 2016. One in five voters in Armstrong County requested a mail-in ballot. A complicated two-envelope ballot, uncertainty over the reliability of the Postal Service and a glitchy online system for tracking returned votes have caused Ms. Kuznik to be bombarded by callers. And, though to a lesser extent, she has also been visited by a stream of walk-ins at her small second-floor office in the county administration building, where an American flag was stuck into a dying plant above her desk. “All righty, let’s look you up, see what’s going on,” she told voters who called seeking assistance. “Gotcha,” she said whenever she found a voter’s name in her Dell computer. The state-run portal intended to track mail ballots was unreliable, Ms. Kuznik said. By using a database available only to election officials, she was able to reassure voters about the status of a ballot — in nearly all cases, it had been received.

Full Article: ‘It’s Just Crazy’ in Pennsylvania: Mail Voting and the Anxiety That Followed – The New York Times

Rhode Island to use modems, private Verizon network for transmission of unofficial resultsOSET Institute expert says State is taking misguided risk | Mark Reynolds/The Providence Journal

After the polls close on Tuesday, Rhode Island election officials will take a risk when they rely on modems and a private Verizon network to collect tabulated election results from voting precincts across the state, according to leading election technology experts. Election officials say the cybersecurity of the modem arrangement has been greatly enhanced and only unofficial results will travel across the network. An election technology expert with the Silicon Valley-based OSET Institute, Eddie Perez, asserts that the arrangement is “a bad idea,” citing “broad consensus” in the cybersecurity field. “Any attempts to try to shore up and justify the use of modems to transmit even unofficial results in this threat environment, I would say is a misplaced mandate,” Perez said. The use of networks, including private networks, for transmitting election results has come under fire from prominent election technology experts in Florida.

Full Article: OSET Institute expert says Rhode Island election system taking misguided risk.

Texas: Here’s how votes are counted in Texas | Hanna Kozlowska/The Texas Tribune

There are more votes than ever to count in Texas this year: A record-breaking 9.7 million people cast ballots during Texas’ early voting period — 8.7 million of those were cast in person, and nearly 1 million sent through the mail. By the time Election Day comes and goes, experts predict that the total Texas vote count could reach 12 million. The state’s 254 counties are responsible for tabulating the ballots, but they must follow a certain set of rules. Here’s how the process works in Texas. County officials have already started reviewing mail-in ballots. In counties with over 100,000 residents, early voting ballot boards were allowed to start convening and processing mail-in ballots 12 days before the election. In smaller ones, they could start after the polls closed on the last day of early voting — which this year was Oct. 30. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3, and they must arrive by Nov. 4. Once the early voting ballot board gets the ballot, officials check whether the voter is registered to vote and may entrust a signature verification committee to match the signature on the envelope to the voter’s absentee ballot application. (They may use other signatures the county has on file.) The signature verification committee must have at least one reviewer from each party, and the majority of its members has to agree that the signature matches. Because of a ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 19, Texas officials can reject a mail-in ballot without telling the voter, unlike in states such as California, where voters must be notified of a problem with their ballot and given the opportunity to fix it.

Full Article: Here’s how votes are counted in Texas | The Texas Tribune

Wisconsin officials have been preparing to respond to problems on Election Day — but don’t expect there to be any | Laura Schulte Alison Dirr and Sarah Volpenhein/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On the eve of Tuesday’s election, state and local officials sought to assure residents that the voting process is safe and secure — and drive home the message that quick results should not be expected. During a call hosted by the Voter Protection Program on Monday, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said so far with early in-person voting and absentee ballots arriving, there have been few issues. He said there has been a lot of communication with law enforcement departments on how to handle situations of intimidation or attempts to make polling places unsafe. “In Wisconsin, if you use force or threaten to use force to prevent someone from voting, or put somebody in a state of duress to prevent them from voting, that’s a felony and anybody who commits that crime should be prepared to be investigated and spend time behind bars,” Kaul said. There is no information leading officials to believe that there are specific physical threats against polling sites, Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe said during a virtual news conference Monday. And officials do not have evidence of disinformation or misinformation campaigns specifically targeting Wisconsin, she said.

Full Article: Wisconsin’s election process is safe and secure, officials tell voters

Wisconsin Faces a Challenge: Getting Out the Vote When Most People Have Already Voted | Reid J. Epstein/The New York Times

As Wisconsin weathers the worst coronavirus outbreak of any presidential battleground, the state Democratic Party is calling and texting voters instead of going door to door. The Biden campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort in the state is all virtual. Stepping into the void to make face-to-face contact with voters are people like Rita Saavedra, who is taking Election Day off from her job as a community relations officer for a local health insurance company so she can drive friends and family members to their polling sites. “I’m reaching out to everybody I know, all the people who haven’t voted yet,” she said. “I’ll even go to the house and get them out of bed.” With early voting over and no time left for a mailed ballot to arrive by the Election Day deadline in Wisconsin, the typically herculean task of reminding voters in person to get to the polls and, in many cases, transporting them there, is being left to an informal group of volunteers like Ms. Saavedra, 43. This is happening as the entire infrastructure of the state Democratic Party and Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign is focused on calling and texting the small universe of would-be supporters who still haven’t voted.

Full Article: Wisconsin Faces a Challenge: Getting Out the Vote When Most People Have Already Voted – The New York Times