Editorials: How to minimize 2020 election chaos | Jennifer Rubin/The Washington Post

President Trump warned us this past week: He will not pledge to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election. We should pause to examine the magnitude of this blatant violation of our democratic norms. The head of the executive branch, sworn to uphold the Constitution, which enshrines the process for electing the president and provides for the peaceful transition of power, effectively tells us, Maybe I’ll go along with the results. Maybe not. His comments have not been sufficiently condemned. Trump has already begun to cast doubt on an election that every public national poll and virtually every poll for critical swing states say he is losing, and losing badly. He has repeated the falsehood that voting by mail, which will be used more widely this year than in any previous election in U.S. history, is subject to fraud. The Post’s fact-checking team has repeatedly debunked this assertion. Salvador Rizzo recently explained:

Documented instances of voter fraud are exceedingly rare in the United States, the odds being lower than those of being struck by lightning, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. More than 250 million votes have been cast via mail ballots since 2000, according to the Vote at Home Institute. In 2018, more than 31 million Americans voted by mail, representing one-quarter of election participants. Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — use mail ballots as the primary method of voting.

The percentage of ballots that are even potentially cast fraudulently, rather than as the result of errors, each year is minuscule. As Elise Viebeck explains, “A Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) found that officials identified 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.”

Connecticut: House Overwhelmingly Approves No-Excuse Absentee Ballots | Christine Stuart/CTNewsJunkie

Republican lawmakers loudly objected to the ballot boxes Secretary of the State Denise Merrill bought for every town in Connecticut, but only two voted not to expand absentee ballots in the November election. The House voted 144-2 in favor of a bill that allows anyone concerned about going to the polls on election day to vote by absentee ballot. Reps. Whit Betts and Cara Pavalock-D’Amato of Bristol voted against the bill. Republicans argued that they don’t want to suppress the vote in November. “It’s not about voter suppression as I heard before,” Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said. “It really is about making sure every vote is counted.” Candelora said the absentee ballot process isn’t as simple when you engage in it. He said many of these absentee ballots are often done incorrectly when they don’t have the ability to ask the town clerk questions.

Georgia: Anatomy of an Election ‘Meltdown’ in Georgia | Danny Hakim, Reid J. Epstein and Stephanie Saul/The New York Times

Last month, Daryl Marvin got his first taste of voting in Georgia. Mr. Marvin had previously lived in Connecticut, where voting was a brisk process measured in minutes. But on the day of the primary, June 9, he and his wife waited four hours to vote at Park Tavern, an Atlanta restaurant where more than 16,000 voters were consolidated into a single precinct. An electrical engineer by training, Mr. Marvin was baffled by what he saw when he finally got inside: a station with 15 to 20 touch screens on which to vote but only a single scanner to process the printed ballots. “The scanner was the choke point,” he said. “Nobody thought about it, and this is Operations Research 101. It’s not very difficult to figure it out.” Captured in drone footage, beamed across airwaves and internet, the interminable lines at Atlanta polling sites became an instant and indelible omen of voting breakdown in this pandemic-challenged presidential election year. Elections workers described a cascade of failures as they struggled to activate and operate Georgia’s new high-tech voting system. Next came a barrage of partisan blame-throwing: The Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, accused the liberal-leaning Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta, of botching the election, while Democratic leaders saw the fiasco as just the latest episode in Republicans’ yearslong effort to disenfranchise the state’s minority voters. Six weeks later, as the political calendar bends toward November and the presidential campaigns look to Georgia as a possible battleground, the faults in the state’s balky elections system remain largely unresolved. And it has become increasingly clear that what happened in June was a collective collapse.

New Jersey: Trump keeps touting New Jersey fraud case to attack mail voting. Local leaders say he’s not telling the whole story. | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

Five days before the citizens of Paterson, N.J., selected new members of their city council in May, a postal employee in a neighboring town spotted something suspicious in a local post office: 347 mail-in ballots, bundled together. The discovery kicked off weeks of tumult in New Jersey’s third-largest city, a densely populated and diverse community. Four men, including a city councilman, have been charged with fraud. Amid the controversy, the county election board disqualified 19 percent of ballots cast in the race. The episode probably would have remained a local dust-up but for the sudden interest of President Trump, who has spent the past several months attacking voting by mail as a practice he says is susceptible to massive fraud. In recent weeks, he has seized on the situation in Paterson as the prime exhibit in the case he is making about why the November election will be “rigged,” as he has repeatedly put it. In a tweet Sunday afternoon in which he misspelled the name of the city, he wrote, “The 2020 Election will be totally rigged if Mail-In Voting is allowed to take place, & everyone knows it. So much time is taken talking about foreign influence, but the same people won’t even discuss Mail-In election corruption. Look at Patterson, N.J. 20% of vote was corrupted!”

New York: A month later, this New York City primary is still a train wreck and a warning to us all | Jada Yuan/The Washington Post

The city’s hottest primary election is the 12th Congressional District. In one corner, you have Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a pal of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s who has been in Congress since 1993 and was recently elected chair of the House Oversight Committee. In the other is Suraj Patel, a former Obama campaign staffer and attorney who has never held public office and helped run his family’s business constructing and franchising hotels in the Midwest before moving to New York in 2006. Their contest has everything. The Upper East Side. The Lower East Side. A tenacious, white, wealthy 74-year-old Democratic incumbent. A 36-year-old Indian American challenger who has taught at New York University’s business school and aims to be the state’s first South Asian representative in Congress. Just 648 in-person votes are separating them, with 65,000 mail-in ballots still being counted. And an entire district of 718,000 people across three boroughs have no idea who their next representative will be — a full month after Election Day. “It’s been dysfunctional to the extreme,” said Brian Van Nieuwenhoven, treasurer of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club in the district. At the center of this mess is a massive influx of mail-in ballots — 403,000 returned ballots in the city this cycle vs. 23,000 that were returned and determined valid during the 2016 primary — and a system wholly unprepared to process them. It’s not just delayed results that are at issue: In the 12th District and in the primaries across the country, tens of thousands of mail-in ballots were invalidated for technicalities like a missing signature or a missing postmark on the envelope.

North Carolina: NAACP asks judge to stop touch-screen voting | Associated Press

The North Carolina NAACP has asked a judge to bar the use of a touch-screen voting machine in several counties due to what it says are heightened risks associated with using them during the coronavirus pandemic. The request made to a Wake County judge Wednesday says the ExpressVote machines create “unique and substantial risks to the lives and health of voters” because they will be touched by many people, The Charlotte Observer quotes the request as saying. The request comes more than three months after the group filed a lawsuit against the State Board of Elections and county election boards seeking to stop the use of the machines. The state attorney general’s office asked a judge to dismiss that lawsuit, the Observer reported.

Texas: Disabilities advocates: Texas mail ballot system disenfranchises people with disabilities | James Barragán/Dallas Morning News

A group of advocates for Texans with disabilities sued the state of Texas on Friday claiming its mail ballot system kept people with disabilities from participating in mail voting. The lawsuit filed in a federal court in Austin alleges that the current system, which is done on paper ballots, is inaccessible to blind voters and other voters with disabilities who can’t compete a paper ballot because of their disability. The plaintiffs asked the federal court to force the state to implement a vote-by-mail system that is remotely accessible for people with disabilities before the November elections. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and three individual plaintiffs. They are represented by Brown Goldstein & Levy and Disability Rights Texas. “There is plenty of time to allow Texas to make mail-in ballots accessible in time for the upcoming elections on Nov. 3,” Lia Davis, senior attorney at Disability Rights Texas, said in a statement. “People who are blind have a right to use the mail-in ballot option, and they should not be unnecessarily exposed to the COVID-19 virus at the polls. We believe there is an easy remedy to this problem and the Secretary of State’s obstinance is discriminatory.”

Wisconsin: Bipartisan Group To Promote In-Person And Mail-In Voting During Pandemic | Laurel White/Wisconsin Public Radio

A bipartisan coalition of high-level Wisconsin politicians has launched an initiative to educate voters about in-person and mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative, VoteSafe WI, supports both in-person voting and absentee voting by mail for the August partisan primary and November general election. Voting by mail has been recently criticized by some Republicans, including President Donald Trump. Wisconsin saw a record number of voters cast mail-in absentee ballots in its April election. About 62 percent of all ballots were cast by mail. Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul and former Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen are leading the group. Van Hollen, who served as Wisconsin’s attorney general from 2007-2015, often focused on efforts to prevent voter fraud while in office. Speaking on a call with reporters Tuesday morning, Van Hollen said there has been a lot of “confusion” about voting by mail in recent years, but he believes the public should have confidence in the system.

Brazil: Who won Brazil’s e-ballot box tender? | BNamericas

Brazil’s superior electoral court (TSE) confirmed Positivo Tecnologia as the winner of a tender to supply 180,000 electronic ballot boxes for the country’s electoral processes. In a first bidding round, Positivo, which is the largest Brazilian electronics manufacturer, competed with the current supplier, the SMTT consortium, comprising the UK’s Smartmatic and Diebold from the US. The price the Brazilian company offered was about 800mn reais (US$153mn), around half that presented by its competitor. With the result, the Brazilian company marks its entry into the supply of electronic voting machines. They will be manufactured in the industrial center of Manaus, Amazonas state. The new ballot boxes will partially replace the current ones, which number roughly 470,000. However, they will not be used in this year’s municipal elections “as there is not enough time for manufacturing and programming,” TSE said in a statement. But the machines will be ready for the 2022 state and presidential elections, TSE said.

North Macedonia: Russia denies interfering in North Macedonia’s July 15 general election | Valentina Dimitrievska/bne IntelliNews

Accusations of Russian interference in North Macedonia’s July 15 snap general election are “absurd”, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told a news conference on July 23. Many anonymous audio recordings were revealed during the pre-election campaign, compromising politicians from both the ruling SDSM and the opposition VMRO-DPMNE. There were also a series of hacker attacks around election day, including against the State Election Commission (SEC) website. However, no official accusations have been levelled at Moscow in connection to the vote. Zakharova commented on the election in response to a journalist’s question, and accused Western politicians of hypocrisy and a “cynical use of double standards”. “It was not difficult to notice a series of video messages posted by senior Western politicians during the election campaign in North Macedonia that openly and persistently called on people to vote for one or another party. Against the background of this foreign interference, speculations about certain Russian influence are absolutely unfounded and completely absurd,” Zakharova said. The election resulted in a slim victory for the SDSM, which won only two more seats in the parliament than VMRO-DPMNE, making the formation of a new cabinet difficult.

United Kingdom: ISC Attributes Cyber-Attacks and Election Interference to Russia | Dan Raywood/Infosecurity Magazine

Russia has been named as a “highly capable cyber-actor” by the UK government’s Intelligence and Security Committee. Claiming that “the UK is one of Russia’s top Western intelligence targets,” particularly given the UK’s firm stance against recent Russian aggression and the UK-led international response to the 2018 Salisbury attack, the ISC warned that Russia’s intelligence services are disproportionately large and powerful and are able to act without constraint. This has allowed a fusion between state, business and serious and organized crime making Russia an all-encompassing security threat. In terms of the cyber-threat, the ISC report stated that Russia employs organized crime groups to supplement its cyber-skills and carries out malicious cyber-activity in order to assert itself aggressively with democratic interference having “undertaken cyber pre-positioning on other countries’ Critical National Infrastructure.” The report claimed: “Given the immediate threat this poses to our national security, we are concerned that there is no clear coordination of the numerous organizations across the UK intelligence community working on this issue; this is reinforced by an unnecessarily complicated wiring diagram of responsibilities amongst Ministers.”

Georgia: Anatomy of an Election ‘Meltdown’ in Georgia | Danny Hakim, Reid J. Epstein and Stephanie Saul/The New York Times

Last month, Daryl Marvin got his first taste of voting in Georgia. Mr. Marvin had previously lived in Connecticut, where voting was a brisk process measured in minutes. But on the day of the primary, June 9, he and his wife waited four hours to vote at Park Tavern, an Atlanta restaurant where more than 16,000 voters were consolidated into a single precinct. An electrical engineer by training, Mr. Marvin was baffled by what he saw when he finally got inside: a station with 15 to 20 touch screens on which to vote but only a single scanner to process the printed ballots. “The scanner was the choke point,” he said. “Nobody thought about it, and this is Operations Research 101. It’s not very difficult to figure it out.” Captured in drone footage, beamed across airwaves and internet, the interminable lines at Atlanta polling sites became an instant and indelible omen of voting breakdown in this pandemic-challenged presidential election year. Elections workers described a cascade of failures as they struggled to activate and operate Georgia’s new high-tech voting system. Next came a barrage of partisan blame-throwing: The Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, accused the liberal-leaning Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta, of botching the election, while Democratic leaders saw the fiasco as just the latest episode in Republicans’ yearslong effort to disenfranchise the state’s minority voters. Six weeks later, as the political calendar bends toward November and the presidential campaigns look to Georgia as a possible battleground, the faults in the state’s balky elections system remain largely unresolved. And it has become increasingly clear that what happened in June was a collective collapse.

National: How Voter-Fraud Hysteria and Partisan Bickering Ate American Election Oversight | Jessica Huseman/ProPublica

On March 20, state election administrators got on a conference call with the Election Assistance Commission to plead for help. The EAC is the bipartisan federal agency established for the precise purpose of maintaining election integrity through emergencies, and this was by every account an emergency. In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus had grown from an abstract concern to a global horror, and vote by mail was the only way ballots could safely be cast in the states that had not yet held their primaries. But many officials didn’t know the basics: what machines they would need and where to get them; what to tell voters; how to make sure ballots reached voters and were returned to county offices promptly and securely. “I have a primary coming up, and I have no idea what to do,” Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske said on the call. She and her colleagues didn’t get the help they were looking for. Of the EAC’s four commissioners, only chair Ben Hovland spoke, and his responses were too vague to satisfy his listeners. The lack of direction was “striking,” said one participant, Jennifer Morrell, an elections consultant and a contractor for The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). “It felt to me that there was no leadership. Nobody was saying, ‘Hey, let’s figure this out.’ Questions just went unanswered.” The commission punted. On a follow-up call, Hovland volunteered the state of Washington, which votes almost entirely by mail, to respond to questions and provide materials. But Washington built its vote by mail system over more than a decade and had accumulated thousands of pages of detailed instructions, too much for other states to implement quickly. Hovland agreed in vague terms to pitch in, but others involved saw little evidence. “We started working with the EAC, and then it just started to get kind of cold,” said Kim Wyman, Washington’s secretary of state. “Nothing happened, nothing good or bad. Just nothing.”

National: Trump’s assault on election integrity forces question: What would happen if he refused to accept a loss? | Elise Viebeck and Robert Costa/The Washington Post

President Trump’s relentless efforts to sow doubts about the legitimacy of this year’s election are forcing both parties to reckon with the possibility that he may dispute the result in November if he loses — leading to an unprecedented test of American democracy. With less than four months before the election, Trump’s escalating attacks on the security of mail-in ballots and his refusal again this week to reassure the country that he would abide by the voters’ will have added urgency to long-simmering concerns among scholars and his critics about the lengths he could go to hold on to power. “What the president is doing is willfully and wantonly undermining confidence in the most basic democratic process we have,” said William A. Galston, chair of the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program. “Words almost fail me — it’s so deeply irresponsible. He’s arousing his core supporters for a truly damaging crisis in the days and weeks after the November election.” Most legal experts said it is hard to envision that Trump would actually try to remain in office after a clear defeat by former vice president Joe Biden, considering the uproar that would follow such a challenge to U.S. democratic norms. Trump has previously said he offers up inflammatory ideas to provoke the media and his critics. But his unwillingness to commit to a smooth transition of power has forced academics and political leaders — including, privately, some GOP lawmakers — to contemplate possible scenarios.

National: Post office concerns highlighted at Senate hearing on elections amid COVID-19 | Niels Lesniewski/Roll Call

“The post office is a very difficult situation for us right now.” That’s how Rick Stream, a Republican elections official from St. Louis County in Missouri, responded to a question Wednesday at a Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing about concerns over mail-in and absentee ballots not getting to election officials on time as the U.S. Postal Service faces funding and logistical challenges. Stream said that within his jurisdiction, the percentage of absentee voters jumped from about 10 percent seen in normal circumstances to 45 percent in the most recent election, and he expected that figure to increase with legal mail-in voting in November. “To be honest with you, senator, we have had problems with the post office since I’ve been in this office, for three-and-a-half years,” Stream said in response to a query from Rules Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo. Missouri law requires ballots to be received by 7 p.m. on election night in order to be counted, and the state continues to use a complicated system requiring validation from notaries in many cases. “The delivery times are less than optimal for sure,” Stream said. “We have even proposed having one of our employees work in the post office in our local community of St. Ann, to try to speed up the process, but to no avail.”

National: Senators Weigh Spending More to Help States Prepare for Election | Tim Ryan/Courthouse News

With the 2020 election looming and the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage across the country, senators and state election officials debated the need Wednesday for more federal dollars to help states conduct voting safely. “We all know that the counties and the states are suffering badly, so I think that it would be a correct statement to say that they need additional financial help,” Rick Stream, the Republican director of elections in St. Louis County, Mo., told the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. The coronavirus pandemic coincided with primaries in many states, sending elections officials scrambling for ways to conduct voting safely. Many states turned to vote by mail, but long wait times were still common at overwhelmed in-person polling places. Changes to voting procedures have spawned waves of lawsuits and bitter partisan fights. Republicans have raised concerns about the security of mail-in ballots, most vocally President Donald Trump, who has claimed without evidence that mail-in ballots lead to voter fraud. Democrats and voting rights groups, meanwhile, have said not having widespread vote-by-mail during the pandemic will threaten the right to vote, particularly for minority and lower-income voters who could face long lines and risk having to choose between being exposed to coronavirus and casting a ballot. As part of the massive coronavirus response package that became law at the end of March, Congress set aside $400 million in grants for states to use in the 2020 election cycle. Lawmakers are now working out the details of another relief package, leading to renewed calls for another round of election support funding for states. But exactly what that funding will look like remains unclear.

National: Democrats On Offense On Russian Election Interference Ahead Of November | Philip Ewing/NPR

Four years after Russian election interference rattled and embarrassed national Democrats, the party has gone on offense over what it fears are more schemes targeting this year’s presidential race. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate this week demanded an all-lawmaker briefing from the FBI about what they suspect are active efforts aimed at Congress. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s likely presidential nominee, followed up on Wednesday with a more specific gambit. Biden’s campaign said that Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, could be at the receiving end of a pipeline of disinformation that originates in Russia. Johnson and his committee have said they’re continuing to investigate the work Biden’s son Hunter did in Ukraine while Biden was the point man on the country’s new government for the Obama administration. The storyline that a Ukrainian company was paying Hunter Biden in hopes that he could open doors in Washington has chastened the elder Biden, even back in 2014, but investigators in Ukraine have concluded no laws were broken. Johnson and the Homeland Security Committee are still gathering material and interviewing witnesses with the aim of hearings or other activity targeting the Bidens — and Democrats worry that some of what they reel in could be fabricated or manipulated with the goal of hurting Biden and interfering in the 2020 election.

National: As November Looms, So Do Cybersecurity Concerns for Elections | Adam Stone/FedTech Magazine

The action related to the hotly anticipated primary election season was expected to last for months. With dozens of Democratic candidates still on the ballot for the first primary in New Hampshire, social media taking an active role in campaigning and the threat of foreign influence on the election playing out, election officials were keenly aware of the need to keep the elections secure. Heightened public interest came to a near halt in early March — when former Vice President Joe Biden essentially nailed down the Democratic nomination on Super Tuesday, and the COVID-19 pandemic sent voters home and delayed primaries — but cybersecurity experts remain on high alert as they look to November. When voting patterns get disrupted, the bad actors who watch U.S. elections closely may seek to sway the outcomes, either by tampering with systems or by chipping away at public trust, they say. “This is a highly scrutinized space,” says Geoff Hale, director of the Election Security Initiative at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security. “Anything that goes wrong can be used to undermine confidence in the institution.”

National: Election officials praised for sharing information, knocked for sharing passwords | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

State and local election officials have done a “tremendous” job reporting information about potential cyberthreats during the 2020 cycle, a senior Department of Homeland Security official said Tuesday. But some, particularly at the city and county level, are also still in the unfortunate habit of not changing default passwords on new equipment or even sharing credentials, Matt Masterson, a senior adviser at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told the National Association of Secretaries of State online conference. “CISA has observed instances where several people in election-related offices having been sharing passwords over e-mail or default passwords are being used,” read one of the slides Masterson shared. Still, Masterson praised the actions that states’ top election officials have taken over the past few years to secure their network infrastructure and increase the amount of information they share with their counties and with federal entities like CISA, especially through organizations such as the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center. “We really have a much better picture of the election landscape,” he said. “We’re much more likely to feel a tremor in the Force now compared to 2016.”

National: The future of voting probably still requires a paper backup | Andrew Marino/The Verge

The week on our Vergecast interview series, cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter talks with The Verge’s Nilay Patel and Russell Brandom about the state of election security in the United States. The circumstances of a pandemic in an election year has complicated the voting process. In an analysis by NPR, it was found that thousands of mail-in ballots for the 2020 primaries were rejected because of late arrival, even in cases where the voter sent it in on time. In the 2020 Iowa caucus, paper backups of ballets needed to be relied upon after an app that was created to tally the votes started giving error messages. Zetter says if we’re going to use computers and software to count votes in an election, there also needs to be another system in parallel to secure the outcome. “You need to have the paper backup,” she says. “You need to have an auditing mechanism in place and an auditing law in place. And then you need the resources given to election officials for this process to succeed by November.”

National: Joe Biden is putting the Kremlin on notice about election interference | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Democrats are sounding alarms about foreign election interference and pledging to punch back hard against Russia or any other adversary that undermines U.S. voting. In his most expansive statement to date on the subject, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pledged to “leverage all appropriate instruments of national power and make full use of my executive authority to impose substantial and lasting costs on state perpetrators [of election interference]” if he wins the White House. “I am putting the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice,” the former vice president said. “If elected president, I will treat foreign interference in our election as an adversarial act that significantly affects the relationship between the United States and the interfering nation’s government.” Democratic leaders in Congress, meanwhile, publicly released a July 13 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray suggesting Congress itself is being used as a tool to “launder and amplify” foreign disinformation about the election. The letter didn’t specify how that’s happening but a congressional aide said the claim is based on intelligence information included in a classified addendum to the letter. The letter demands a briefing for all members of Congress. on the threats. It was signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

National: Revealed: US spends millions of taxpayer dollars on ineffective voting restrictions | Spenser Mestel/The Guardian

Restrictive “voter identification” laws pushed by Republicans, and widely regarded to be ineffective and discriminatory, have cost taxpayers at least $36m in just a few states, the Guardian can reveal. It’s well documented that restrictive voter ID laws are ineffective and discriminatory. The type of voter fraud they claim to prevent is a myth, and the burden of showing an ID disproportionately lands on students, low-income voters and African Americans. However, these laws are also extraordinarily expensive to implement and defend. Based on information obtained through open records requests, the Guardian has found that the partial costs of litigation, free identification cards, public education and other fees amount to tens of millions across the country. However, even with many states having to slash their budgets due to the economic crisis, one state, Kentucky, has decided to spend millions implementing a new ID law.

Editorials: The November Election Is Going to Be a Mess Disaster is avoidable—if lawmakers act now | Norm Ornstein/The Atlantic

American voters face a nightmare in November. The recent stretch of primary elections has raised a slew of red flags of glitches, missteps, incompetence, and worse that could plague the national elections in November. In Wisconsin, the failure of election officials to send out absentee ballots requested by voters and the failure of the United States Postal Service to deliver them in time forced those voters to physically go to the polls during the pandemic. Once there, they faced long lines in part because of the sharply reduced number of polling places. In Georgia, a similar situation occurred. The state had a major shortage of election officials, poll workers, and functioning voting machines. All of these glitches produced lines of many hours, and authorities broke their promise to provide enough paper ballots to ameliorate the crunch. Voters witnessed a perfect storm of bad luck, malfeasance, and ineptitude. Kentucky was lauded for its relatively snag-free primary, but also saw an alarming number of votes by mail disqualified on narrow grounds. These states are not the only ones with obvious problems in their election systems. The offenders are not all red states—or ones whose elections are run by questionable partisans. New York, among many others, has long been plagued by mismanagement of its elections, and it is also having problems fulfilling absentee-ballot requests; as the pandemic has caused tax revenues to plunge, the resulting fiscal shortfall may not leave election officials with the resources to print the ballots. The Postal Service is stretched thin and facing a hostile Republican reaction to its pleas for more money, and the perennial poll-worker shortage will likely be exacerbated this year by the reality that poll workers tend to be older and thus more vulnerable to COVID-19 and the flu. Many signs indicate that the spread of COVID-19 this fall could be severe—even more so if all schools are open—and a bad flu season could add complications.

Alabama: Want to vote absentee in Alabama? COVID-19 will be reason enough through end of year | Brian Lyman/Montgomery Advertiser

Voters concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak will be able to vote absentee in the Aug. 25 municipal elections and the November general election. The move does not affect any other of Alabama’s strict absentee voting requirements, but could significantly expand the number of people eligible to vote before Election Day. It comes after six weeks of rising coronavirus caseloads and a statewide mask order aimed at controlling the outbreak. “Amid coronavirus concerns, it is important to remember that Alabamians who are concerned about contracting or spreading an illness have the opportunity to avoid the polls on Election Day by casting an absentee ballot,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said in a statement. The Secretary of State’s office said voters with COVID-19 concerns can mark a box citing a physical illness or infirmity preventing them from going to the polls when they apply for an absentee ballot. Voters could do the same in the July 14th runoff election. Rep. Tashina Morris, D-Montgomery, one of several Democratic legislators who has pushed for more voting options amid the pandemic, called the decision “a great move,” but said there needed to be additional voting options in the state.

Alaska: Lawsuit says automatically mailing absentee ballot applications only to those 65 and older is unconstitutional | Andrew Kitchenman/Alaska Public Media

A lawsuit over the state’s decision to automatically send absentee ballot applications only to those 65 and older is headed to federal court. The lawsuit alleges that the action unconstitutionally discriminates against younger voters. Anchorage lawyer Scott Kendall filed the lawsuit on behalf of several plaintiffs. “Our lawsuit’s very simple: You want to help people to vote absentee? We applaud it. Help all eligible vote absentee in the same way,” he said. “And don’t discriminate in an unconstitutional fashion.” Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer announced in June that the state would be sending requests to vote by mail to all Alaskans 65 and older. He cited the increased risk that older people face for complications from COVID-19. The lawsuit was filed by the Disability Law Center of Alaska, Native Peoples Action Community Fund, Alaska Public Interest Research Group and two residents. The lawsuit said limiting who automatically receives the applications violates the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says the rights of citizens 18 and older to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of age. And the lawsuit said that word “abridged” is key — and that it means some voters can’t have a better opportunity to vote than others. Kendall said the age cutoff is arbitrary.

Connecticut: A challenge to expanded absentee ballot use loses again in court, for the second time in two days | Edmund H. Mahony/Hartford Courant

The widespread use of absentee ballots in the August primary election grew more certain Tuesday when another judge – the second to do so in two days – rejected an argument by four Republican candidates that expanded use of the ballots is illegal. Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher rejected the central claim in a suit by the candidates that an emergency pandemic order by Gov. Ned Lamont expanding absentee ballot access is illegal because only the General Assembly has the authority to decide who can vote absentee. The suit landed before Moukawsher Tuesday because a day earlier Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson dismissed the it on technical grounds, saying it had been improperly filed with that court. After hearing an hour of argument by video conference, Moukawsher issued a brief order rejecting the contention that the governor, under the state Constitution, lacks the authority to expand or restrict the use of absentee ballots. He said a written opinion would be forthcoming.

Florida: Vote-by-mail settlement clears decks for voting in crucial Florida primary, general elections | Michael Moline/Florida Phoenix

A weekend settlement doesn’t resolve every point of contention between voting rights organizations, the state, and Florida’s 67 county supervisors of elections over access to early and mail-in voting during the pandemic in the country’s largest electoral swing state. But to the extent the outcome helps disadvantaged groups — Blacks, Latinos, the disabled, and more — overcome the state’s allegedly “gross inaction,” it could help decide an historic election. And in expanding access to both voting alternatives and mandating that the state and supervisors promote them among the public, it leaves those organizers free to use limited financial resources to move these voters to the polls instead of paying lawyers. That was the analysis representatives of those groups offered during a Zoom conference call Monday as U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle signed off on the settlement agreement. The day marked the deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 18 primary elections for state offices and Congress. “This settlement is a clear victory and a step forward for black and Latinx voters, as well as for all Floridians. Florida has finally done one thing right about the COVID crisis — Florida is settling this case,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project.

Georgia: Hourly Voting Data Shows Where Georgia’s Process Failed – And Flourished | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

In the first hour of voting on June 9, 148 people used the state’s new poll pad check-in system to cast their ballot in Georgia’s primary election at the Newnan Centre polling place in Coweta County. Across the metro Atlanta area at Cross Keys High School in DeKalb County, that number was one. As national media outlets, voting rights groups and concerned voters continue to turn their eyes towards our state’s election administration, GPB News is publishing another set of data from the primary that paints a more complicated and nuanced picture of what went wrong – and right. Analyzing the hour-by-hour check-in data from the secretary of state’s office, some larger trends about voting emerge. Across the state, there were more people processed as the day progressed, peaking with 104,422 voters from 5-6 p.m., more than double the number of voters in the first hour of the day. Some of the largest polling places mirror that trend. At its slowest, the Newnan Centre saw 88 check-ins from 8-9 a.m. At its peak, 216 voters passed through in the 4 p.m. hour, more than a quarter of the state’s polling places saw the entire day of voting.

Michigan: Trump repeats false voter fraud claims as millions in Michigan request absentee ballots | Dave Boucher/Detroit Free Press

It’s possible, if not likely, more Michiganders will vote by mail than in person this year. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced that more than 1.8 million absentee ballots have been requested and 600,000 already have been completed and returned ahead of the Aug. 4 primary. If that trend holds for the Nov. 3 general election, that means the millions of absentee ballots may make the difference in a presidential race decided in the state by the slightest of margins in 2016. Yet President Donald Trump repeated his unsubstantiated attacks on mail-in voting in a tweet Tuesday, alleging the practice may lead to a “rigged election.” “Mail-In Voting, unless changed by the courts, will lead to the most CORRUPT ELECTION in our Nation’s History! #RIGGEDELECTION,” the president stated in the tweet. Chris Gustafson, a Trump campaign spokesman in Michigan, did not directly address questions about the president’s tweet. But he said the GOP does not oppose mail-in voting. “Republicans have always supported absentee voting with safeguards in place. What we oppose is a nationwide experiment that would eliminate those safeguards, invite fraud, and weaken the integrity of our elections,” Gustafson said in an emailed statement Tuesday.