National: America is woefully unprepared for mail-in voting. The result will be messy and divisive. | Michael Fraiman/Macleans

Allen Straith has never voted by mail before. But when the 32-year-old customer service agent learned his wife was pregnant with their third child and realized COVID-19 would mean unsanitary voting booths and massive queues, Straith decided it would be better to play it safe, avoid the crowds and register for an absentee ballot. It wasn’t easy. He searched online for the application, but couldn’t find it. He shrugged it off for a few weeks, until he noticed a Facebook post by the chair of a neighbouring county’s Democratic group. The post warned that the deadline to register for an absentee ballot in Tennessee’s congressional election was fast approaching. Straith downloaded the application, assuming it was the same for November’s general election. It wasn’t—different application, different deadline. Now, even with the right paperwork, Straith is still worried. Not about fraud, or whether his ballot will arrive on time, or even whether his vote will count—Jefferson County, where he lives, is so deep-red, they haven’t elected a Democrat since the Civil War era. Instead, Straith believes this year’s election will further divide the nation.

Georgia: Election Board OKs Continued Use Of Absentee Drop Boxes, Early Processing Of Ballots | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

The Georgia State Election Board Wednesday voted to extend a pair of emergency rules that make it easier for some voters to cast absentee ballots and for counties to process them. One emergency rule passed mid-April allowed Georgia counties to set up secure 24/7 drop boxes for voters to return absentee ballots without relying on the mail system or needing to vote in person for the June 9 primary. Several counties opted to purchase and use drop boxes as part of an overall shift to more absentee-by-mail voting in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The amendment passed Wednesday removes language limiting drop boxes to the June primary election and added additional requirements for opening and closing the drop boxes and when county officials had to empty them out. A second amendment allows counties to continue to begin processing absentee ballots before Election Day, as a record 1.1 million people voted absentee for the primary and twice that is expected in November. The State Election Board also voted to require counties to post the dates and times they will be processing absentee ballots more prominently on the secretary of state’s website and on the local county’s site.

National: Red states advancing bills to curb mail-in voting | Gabby Birenbaum/The Hill

GOP legislators in states across the country are advancing bills that would prevent elections officials from sending out absentee ballot applications ahead of November’s election, even in states where those top officials are fellow Republicans. At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, secretaries of state in places like Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, South Dakota and Wyoming encouraged residents to cast ballots from home by sending out absentee ballot request forms. Those forms led to increased participation during the primaries, with many states seeing record turnout. But now, Republican state legislatures are pushing back on those secretaries of states’ efforts by authoring bills to thwart their ability to send out ballot applications for the general election. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) last week signed a bill that requires the secretary of state to receive approval from a bipartisan legislative council before authorizing the mailing of absentee ballot request forms, after Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) sent applications to active voters. Eighty percent of the 524,000 votes cast in Iowa’s June primary were absentee ballots. In Ohio, legislators proposed a measure to bar Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) from sending out request forms en masse, even though the secretary of state’s office has done so for years. The bill was later amended to stop the state from paying for postage on the return envelope after LaRose lobbied legislators.

National: Language to boost election security removed from Senate intelligence legislation | Maggie Miller/The Hill

A measure that would require presidential campaigns to report attempts by foreign nationals to interfere in elections was removed from the Senate’s bipartisan Intelligence Authorization Act, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Tuesday. The clause was based on Warner’s Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act, which requires presidential campaigns to report all contacts with foreign nationals seeking to interfere in the election process to both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission. The Intelligence Authorization Act will be included in the Senate version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but according to Warner, the FIRE Act clause was taken out as part of a “backroom deal” in order to get the intelligence legislation included in the must-pass defense funding bill. Warner announced he was proposing the legislation as a separate amendment to the NDAA in order to force members of the Senate to vote on the record about where they stood on election security. The Senate this week is debating its version of the 2021 NDAA. Warner criticized President Trump and Republicans for removing the clause, noting that the Senate had not voted on any standalone election security legislation since Russian agents interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

National: Can’t Request an Absentee Ballot Online? This Group Wants to Help | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

As state after state has held primary elections in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, interest in voting from home using mail-in absentee ballots has soared. Yet many voters face a barrier when trying to request their ballots online from the safety of their own homes. Though 41 states allow people to register to vote online, only 18 states allow voters to request absentee ballots online, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which works to expand voting access. (In other states, voters need to send in absentee ballot applications by mail or complete them at election offices, a more cumbersome process.) There is, however, a bit of a loophole that exists in 13 of the states that don’t offer an online absentee ballot request: If voters can download, print and sign a ballot request form at home, they can either scan it or fax it back to the election office. Yes, fax it. That relatively archaic technology gave Debra Cleaver, the founder of VoteAmerica, a voting rights group, an idea: Her organization could establish an online portal for voters in those 13 states, and do the faxing, or scanning and emailing, for them.

National: Democrats, voting rights groups pressure Senate to approve mail-in voting resources | Maggie Miller/The Hill

A group of Senate Democrats and multiple voting rights advocacy groups stepped up efforts on Tuesday to pressure Senate Republicans to support and pass legislation that would provide states with election resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), along with five other Senate Democrats, came to the Senate floor in an attempt to pass the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act that would expand mail-in and early voting. “If we are defending our elections, then we must protect our democracy, and if our elections are not safe, then our democracy is not secure,” Klobuchar said of election efforts during the pandemic. The bill was blocked by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who said he was worried the bill could be part of a “federal takeover of elections,” while noting that he may support sending states funding to boost election preparations during the pandemic. This was the second time in less than a week that Klobuchar brought the bill to the Senate floor for a vote and was blocked by Blunt. The two senators lead the Senate Rules Committee, with Blunt saying the committee would hold an elections-focused hearing sometime next month that would include local and state officials as witnesses.

National: The Republicans Telling Their Voters to Ignore Trump | Russell Berman/The Atlantic

There’s a major complication in President Donald Trump’s recent crusade against voting by mail, which he has called “a scam” that will lead to “the greatest Rigged Election” in history: In states that Trump desperately needs to win this fall, Republicans love it. Take Arizona, where polls show Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden after he carried the state narrowly in 2016. Republicans pioneered Arizona’s mail-in balloting system, which now accounts for about 80 percent of the state’s vote. “It’s been remarkably successful,” Chuck Coughlin, a longtime GOP operative and a onetime aide to the late Senator John McCain, told me. “There’s been minimal to no fraud for a long period of time.” Republicans say the same in Florida, the quadrennial swing state where voting by mail has become more and more popular in recent years, especially with older GOP voters. (One of the older GOP voters who uses the system is Trump himself.) “Yes, Florida Republicans over the last two decades have dominated absentees,” Joe Gruters, the state’s party chairman, told me. Trump’s unrelenting attacks on the integrity of mail-in voting are puzzling for a variety of reasons, not least because they are unfounded. But they’re particularly awkward for Republican leaders—especially those allied with the president—who need their voters to continue using a system Trump is trying to discredit. The president has, for example, gone after Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, for mailing absentee-ballot applications to every voter in the state as part of an effort to avoid depressed turnout due to the coronavirus pandemic. But GOP leaders in several other states have done the same thing.

Alabama: State asks U.S. Supreme Court to block curbside voting ruling | Mike Cason/AL.com

Alabama has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a federal judge’s order that the state cannot prohibit counties from offering curbside voting during the July 14 runoff. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state argued that counties should be able to offer curbside voting to accommodate voters who are concerned about exposure to COVID-19. The state argues that if federal courts order the state to allow curbside voting they are effectively changing state law for an election that’s just two weeks away. Alabama Solicitor General Edmund LaCour of the state attorney general’s office filed the emergency application for stay on Monday with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. LaCour asked the Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling in favor of four voters and three organizations who claimed that certain Alabama laws violated the rights of some voters who are at serious risk of illness from the virus.

Arkansas: In filing, state GOP chief, legislator urge dismissal of absentee-voting suit | John Lynch/Arkansas Democrat Gazette

A lawsuit over absentee voting in Arkansas during the covid-19 pandemic should be dismissed because the litigation is unnecessary, the head of the state Republican Party and a GOP state House of Representatives member argue in pleadings filed Monday. Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb and state Rep. Doug House, R-North Little Rock, have responded to the week-old lawsuit before the only defendant, Secretary of State John Thurston, has answered the suit. The lawsuit seeks to ensure that voters who fear exposure to covid-19 do not have to vote at the polls where large crowds carry the risk of infection, but can cast absentee ballots without having to justify their reasons to authorities. Absentee votes can be cast either by mail or by dropping off a ballot before Election Day. Arkansas law requires voters to explain, under penalty of perjury, why they need to vote absentee before being allowed to do so.

Florida: Election supervisors can use auditing systems to recount ballots | Jeffrey Schweers/Tallahassee Democrat

Florida’s local election supervisors can use their independent auditing systems – which are not part of the voting system – to recount ballots under a bill signed over the weekend by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The long-sought permission will save time and taxpayer money resolving disputed or close elections by allowing supervisors to use high-speed automatic…

Georgia: Secretary of State: Audit confirms presidential primary results | Adrianne Murchison/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Following widespread criticism of the voting process in Fulton County, an audit has confirmed the outcomes of the presidential preference primaries. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said a secure paper-ballot system was used Monday to verify Fulton’s results in the June 9 primary. According to the statement, Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections…

Georgia: DeKalb Commissioner Cochran-Johnson sponsors bill to expand to online voting | Roz Edward/Atlanta Daily World

As voting irregularities ranging from technical issues to poorly trained staff emerge across Georgia following the June primary elections, Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson has presented a resolution requesting the Georgia General Assembly research and expand voting options to include online capabilities. The resolution presented by the Governing Authority of DeKalb County requests the General Assembly to establish online voting to create a more secure, convenient and accessible opportunity for citizens to exercise a fundamental principle of American democracy. Through the establishment of online voting, the State of Georgia, counties and local municipalities will be able to reduce the financial burden associated with staffing various elections.

Iowa: Governor signs bill limiting use of voter database | David Pitt/Associated Press

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill Tuesday that will deny county officials the ability to use a voter database to confirm missing or incorrect information on absentee ballot requests. The measure was inserted by Republicans into a massive budget bill on the final day of the legislative session. Reynolds signed the measure into law, opting not to kill the rule change with a line-item veto. Republican Rep. Gary Mohr defended the measure in floor debate as an election security measure that would help “ensure a person who applies for an absentee ballot is the one who casts the absentee ballot.”

Maryland: Partisan divide over voter fraud fears keeps Maryland officials from reaching consensus on Nov. 3 election method | Talia Richman/ Baltimore Sun

A partisan divide over whether voter fraud is a legitimate concern in mostly mail-in elections kept Maryland officials from reaching a consensus on how they believe the state should conduct voting in the upcoming presidential election. The five-member state elections board is tasked with presenting Gov. Larry Hogan a recommendation for how to hold the Nov. 3 election. It’s ultimately up to the Republican governor to make the decision — a choice complicated by great unknowns regarding how the coronavirus pandemic might be affecting society come fall. Because the board didn’t reach a consensus, it will issue a report to the governor later this week that makes no recommendation, but rather summarizes the opinions of both sides. The governor will review the report before making any decisions on next steps, spokesman Mike Ricci said. During its virtual meeting Tuesday, the board debated three options: a traditional election with mostly in-person voting, a hybrid model in which voters are all sent applications for mail-in ballots, or a mostly mail-in election similar to the June primary.

Massachusetts: Deal reached on voting by mail | Matt Murphy and Chris Van Buskirk/The Boston Globe

The House and Senate are poised this week to approve compromise early voting and vote-by-mail legislation that should pave the way for a major expansion of options ahead of the 2020 election to encourage participation during the COVID-19 pandemic. All six lawmakers appointed to find a compromise on the bill signed onto a report Monday. Representative John Lawn, the lead House negotiator on the bill, said he anticipates a vote of the full House on the final bill Tuesday while the Senate plans to take it up Thursday, according to a spokesperson for the Senate president’s office. The House and Senate versions of the bill instruct the secretary of state’s office to mail every voter an application to request a mail-in ballot for the primaries on Sept. 1 and the general election on Nov. 3. The goal, lawmakers have said, is to continue in-person voting but to allow voters to cast their votes early if they wish or to avoid the polls altogether if they feel unsafe because of virus transmission risks. The bill also for the first time in Massachusetts creates an early voting window before the statewide primary, and expands early voting before the general election. The state’s in-person early voting period for the general election runs Oct. 17-30 and Aug. 22-28 for the primaries. The mail-in early voting period will begin as soon as local clerks receive all the necessary materials.

Mississippi: Jones County election commissioner’s social media comment about Black voters causes uproar | Lici Beveridge/Mississippi Clarion Ledger

A social media comment with racial undertones made by a Mississippi election commissioner sparked outrage across the state on the same weekend state legislators voted to retire the flag and its Confederate emblem. “I’m concerned about voter registration in Mississippi,” the commissioner wrote. “The blacks are having lots (of) events for voter registration. People in Mississippi have to get involved, too.” Gail Welch’s comment caused an uproar Sunday, as screen shots of the comment spread quickly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Welch said she has received calls and messages from all over the country about the post. On Facebook, dozens of people shared their thoughts on the Welch’s words. One Mississippi lawmaker said he doesn’t know if Welch meant what she said, but her words give an impression of racism. “It’s those kind of things that people say until somebody brings it to their attention and then it’s not what they said or it’s not what they meant,” said Sen. Juan Barnett, whose district includes part of Jones County.

Pennsylvania: Coalition says paper ballots key to preventing voter disenfranchisement in Pennsylvania | Christen Smith/The Center Square

A coalition of unlikely allies said Tuesday that paper ballots will protect voters from disenfranchisement in the upcoming November election. The bipartisan group – including Americans for Tax Reform, R Street, Public Citizen and National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC), among others – penned a letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar urging the leaders to spend federal dollars on security upgrades for November that would discourage the use of touch screen voting machines and ensure that the majority print out “voter-verified paper ballots” as a defense against computer malfunctions. “This should not be a partisan fight,” said Ben Ptashnik, president of NEDC. “Insecure voting equipment and lack of preparedness only serves to disenfranchise voters of both parties.” The letter recommends polling places keep enough paper ballots on hand in case the voting system falls victim to a cyberattack or malfunction. It also suggests 24/7 video monitoring and limits on internet connectivity to reduce avenues for hackers to tamper with machines.

Tennessee: Some first-time voters can’t cast absentee ballot | Jonathan Matisse/Associated Press

Tennessee officials say they plan to enforce a requirement that first-time voters who register by mail cast their ballots in person, despite a judge’s ruling that allows all eligible voters to cast absentee ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. The state attorney general’s office provided the interpretation in response to a separate federal lawsuit that seeks to block the in-person requirement and two other absentee voting laws before the Aug. 6 primary election. In early June, a state court judge in Nashville ordered the expansion for all eligible voters during the pandemic. But her instructions did not directly address the first-time voter requirement. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sought to block the in-person requirement in a mid-June court filing, saying it’s unclear if the judge’s order allows that group to vote by mail. The requirement also applies to forms collected during voter registration drives and registrations collected at offices that provide public assistance and services to persons with disabilities, plaintiffs attorneys added.

Canada: ‘I don’t think it should be used’: Northwest Territories legislators hear expert’s concerns on online voting | Hilary Bird/CBC

When election officials in the Northwest Territories announced last year that the territory would be the first jurisdiction to use online voting in any provincial or territorial election, there was some public excitement. But that excitement quickly became overshadowed by warnings from cybersecurity experts who claimed the online voting systems of the day just weren’t secure enough to be used in an election. Regardless of those concerns, Elections NWT went ahead with its online voting plans and in the October 2019 election, 3.7 per cent of voters in the N.W.T. used the Montreal-based Simply Voting online platform to cast their ballot. The controversy surrounding the N.W.T. ‘s use of online voting is back in the public realm this month as a committee of MLAs is spending several days studying the process to see if it should be used in future elections. In her report to the N.W.T. Legislature on last year’s election, the territory’s chief electoral officer Nicole Latour is recommending thevernment amend the N.W.T. Elections and Plebiscites Act so that she can develop a set of procedures so that online voting can be a permanent part of future territorial elections. But in a presentation to the standing committee on rules and procedures Tuesday, one of the world’s leading election cyber security experts Aleksander Essex recommended the opposite.

China: Joshua Wong’s pro-democracy group Demosisto disbands hours after Hong Kong security law passed | Kelly Ho and Tom Grundy/Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

The group announced on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon that it respected the decisions of leading members Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Agnes Chow and Jeffrey Ngo, who decided to step down hours after China’s top legislative body passed a law that is set to criminalise secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong. “Demosisto believes it will be difficult for the group to maintain its current operation… members should use more flexible means to join in protests,” the group wrote on Facebook. “[We] now announce to disband immediately on this day and suspend all committee affairs.” The group was founded in 2016 as a political platform and sought to field candidates for legislative elections. However, its nominees were repeatedly barred from standing for election with authorities citing their stance on “self-determination” for the city.

Pennsylvania: The Trump campaign is suing Pennsylvania over how to run the 2020 election | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

The Trump reelection campaign sued Pennsylvania state and county elections officials Monday, saying mail ballot drop boxes were unconstitutional in the way they were used in the June 2 primary election and asking a federal court to bar them in November. “Defendants have sacrificed the sanctity of in-person voting at the altar of unmonitored mail-in voting and have exponentially enhanced the threat that fraudulent or otherwise ineligible ballots will be cast and counted in the forthcoming general election,” says the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Instances of voter fraud are rare, and there is virtually no evidence of successful widespread conspiracy to commit fraud via mail ballots. (An alleged effort in Paterson, N.J., last month quickly raised flags, and last week the state attorney general charged four men in the scheme.) The lawsuit says mail ballot drop boxes violate the state and federal constitutions because elections officials are making decisions outside of what the law allows, taking the power to make law away from the legislature. The suit also argues that state and county elections officials set up different rules and policies across the state, creating a patchwork system that violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

National: Trump ignores Covid-19 risk in renewed attack on ‘corrupt’ mail-in voting | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Donald Trump has continued to suggest that fear of contracting Covid-19 is not a good enough excuse not to appear at the polls, and that Americans should only be able to vote by mail under limited circumstances. Trump is wrongfully conflating no-excuse vote by mail, a system where anyone can request a ballot, and universal mail-in voting, a system where all registered voters are mailed a ballot. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia allow anyone to request an absentee ballot, but just five have universal vote by mail. While fraud is extremely rare in mail-in voting, the New Jersey case Trump referenced occurred in a local election held entirely by mail and was caught as ballots were being counted. The president and his campaign have repeatedly tried to make the false distinction as part of an effort to explain why Trump and many other administration officials have voted by mail, even though they staunchly oppose the practice.

National: Drive-up US citizenship eases backlog, but new threat looms | Ben Fox and Mike Householder/Associated Press

A 60-year-old U.K. citizen drove into a Detroit parking garage on a recent afternoon, lowered the window of her SUV to swear an oath, and left as a newly minted American. It took less than 30 minutes. Anita Rosenberger is among thousands of people around the country who have taken the final step to citizenship this month under COVID-19 social-distancing rules that have turned what has long been a patriotic rite of passage into something more like a visit to a fast-food restaurant. “It was a nice experience in spite of the fact that I was in the car by myself with a mask on,” said Rosenberger, a sales manager for an electronics component company from suburban Detroit. “And I will say that I will remember this.” Similar drive-thru ceremonies are being held around the country, but perhaps for not much longer. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says a budget crisis could force the agency to furlough nearly three-quarters of its workforce, severely curtailing operations as tens of thousands of people wait to become citizens. That could have potential political consequences, especially in states such as Michigan and Florida where the number of newly naturalized Americans already exceeds the narrow margin of victory for President Donald Trump in 2016.

National: The Looming Threat to Voting in Person | Nathaniel Persily and Charles Stewart III/The Atlantic

The daunting logistics of holding an election during a pandemic were on display in Kentucky on Tuesday, as voters in the state’s primary made their way to just 170 polling places—down from 3,700 before the coronavirus arrived. Considering the logistical challenges of social distancing, record absentee-ballot requests, and uncertainties about whether officials could recruit sufficient poll workers, observers on the ground judged the election to be surprisingly well run. Even then, some voters in Lexington faced two-hour waits, and an afternoon traffic jam in Louisville prompted a judge to order the reopening of a polling place after hours. Kentucky’s experience was yet another reminder that the presidential election in November will be held under radically changed circumstances. As the pandemic has unfolded, an expansion of mail balloting has become the central focus of reformers, state lawmakers, and the litigants in voting-rights cases. But Americans will most likely still go to the polls on Election Day, and many of them will go to polling places that are unready to receive them. The current trajectory in many states suggests that the demand for in-person voting will hugely outstrip the supply of poll workers and polling places. This imbalance erects barriers to voter participation and needlessly jeopardizes the health of poll workers and voters.

Alabama: Secretary of State asks Supreme Court to review COVID-19 election ruling | Todd Ruger/Roll Call

Alabama officials asked the Supreme Court to step into the debate over how to conduct election laws in the midst of a national health crisis, in a legal dispute over absentee ballot requirements in three of the state’s largest counties. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill filed an application to the high court Monday to overturn a lower court’s injunction that found that the requirements could violate the constitutional right to vote for some elderly and disabled voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Merrill points out that federal district and appeals courts nationwide are dealing with similar requests to change state election laws because of the health concerns — and ruling in different ways. Voters across the country have looked to cast ballots without the risk of going to public polling places and possibly exposing themselves to the novel coronavirus that causes some severe illness and death. “This confusion in the lower courts will not end without firm guidance from this Court,” the application states. “And as election dates draw nearer, culminating in the 2020 presidential election on November 3, these challenges to the constitutionality of election practices during the COVID-19 pandemic will only increase.”

Georgia: Absentee voting program embraced by Georgia voters, then abandoned by Republican Secretary of State | ark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When election officials mailed absentee applications to nearly 7 million Georgia voters, they responded in droves. Absentee voting rates skyrocketed, from 6% of all ballots cast in the 2018 general election to over half of the votes cast in this month’s primary. A record 1.1 million voters cast absentee ballots in the primary, avoiding human contact during the coronavirus pandemic. Voters won’t have the same easy access to absentee voting again. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who started the absentee ballot request program in April, decided against mailing ballot applications to voters for the presidential election, when turnout is expected to reach a new high of 5 million. He said it would be impractical and too expensive to repeat the effort this fall. Instead, Raffensperger plans to create a website where voters can request absentee ballots on their own. All registered voters are eligible to cast absentee ballots. The move is likely to reduce requests for absentee ballots.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers closer to bringing early, mail-in voting options to 2020 elections | Steph Solis/MassLive

Massachusetts residents should expect to be able to vote by mail in a general election for the first time in state history, lawmakers say as they move closer toward getting voting legislation to the governor’s desk. The $8 million voting reform would send applications to residents statewide to enable them to vote by mail in the Sept. 1 primary and Nov. 3 general election — a first in Massachusetts. It would also allow early voting ahead of the primary. Lawmakers said Monday they reconciled differences between the House and Senate bills teed up the bill, H. 4829, for final votes Tuesday and Thursday for the House and Senate, respectively. If approved, the bill lands on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. “The goal was to provide options, make it easier for people to vote this fall despite COVID-19, and give clerks the tools they need to process the ballots expeditiously,” Sen. Barry Finegold, an Andover Democrat and chair of the Senate Election Laws Committee. “We’ve accomplished that in this bill.” Massachusetts voters have mailed in ballots in recent local elections to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but this bill would make state history in making the option widely available to residents for a primary and general election. It also requires safety standards for polling places to let voters cast their ballots in person.

Michigan: Blind voters say Secretary of State Benson broke voting promise | Paul Egan/Detroit Free Press

Blind voters in Michigan are asking a federal judge to find Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in contempt, saying she failed to live up to an agreement to implement a system for them to vote absentee in the August primary. Blind voters Michael Powell and Fred Wutzel, along with the National Federation of the Blind in Michigan, sued Benson in April, alleging that with COVID-19 making it dangerous for blind voters to go to the polls — where they can use special equipment to vote privately and independently — the state’s absentee voting system is unworkable for the blind. But on May 1, the parties in the case agreed to a consent order. That agreement required the state to introduce a Remote Accessible Vote-by-Mail system for the Aug. 4 primary, allowing blind voters to cast an absentee ballot privately and independently, just as other voters can. Under the system, blind voters could easily request and receive an accessible ballot online and read it and fill it out with existing screen reading technology, said Jason Turkish, the Southfield attorney representing the plaintiffs.

New Jersey: What alleged voter fraud in Paterson, New Jersey tells us about November — and what it doesn’t | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

At some point it becomes blurry whether President Trump is defending a position because he believes it or because he refuses to lose the debate. He has been claiming for four years that American elections are subject to massive, widespread voter fraud, for example, and continues to make those claims despite a complete lack of evidence. Yes, some fraud occurs, but that doesn’t mean that it occurs widely, much less without detection. This is an important distinction, so it’s worth reiterating. It is the case that your car could be stolen. Auto theft exists. There are even local gangs who steal cars regularly and sell them for parts. It is not the case, though, that there exists a national ring of car thieves who operate without detection, purloining and selling millions of cars a year. That auto theft exists does not strengthen the argument that auto theft exists at a scale in which the system of auto ownership is imperiled.

Pennsylvania: Trump campaign sues Pennsylvania over mail-in drop-off sites for ballots | Mark Scolforo/Associated Press

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, the national Republican Party and four Pennsylvania members of Congress sued Monday to force changes to how the state collects and counts mail-in ballots under revamped rules. The federal lawsuit filed in Pittsburgh claims that as voters jumped to make use of the greatly broadened eligibility for mail-in ballots during the June 2 primary, practices and procedures by elections officials ran afoul of state law and the state and federal constitutions. It claims the defendants, which are the 67 county election boards and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, “have inexplicably chosen a path that jeopardizes election security and will lead — and has already led — to the disenfranchisement of voters, questions about the accuracy of election results, and ultimately chaos” ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. A spokeswoman for Boockvar, a Democrat, declined comment about the litigation, as did the head of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, whose members administer elections. The head of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party called the lawsuit an effort to suppress votes as a campaign tactic, noting Democrats far outpaced Republicans in getting their voters to apply for mail-in ballots ahead of the primary.