Louisiana: Judge rules against Jeff Landry in suit against Zuckerberg-backed nonprofit over free election money | Sam Karlin/The New Orleans Advocate

A judge has sided against Attorney General Jeff Landry in his lawsuit seeking to block millions of dollars in free grants to local election officials, which were offered up by a nonprofit backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with the stated goal of helping local leaders run elections in a pandemic. Judge Lewis Pitman, of the 16th Judicial District in St. Martin Parish, ruled against Landry in the lawsuit last week. Landry said in an interview he would appeal the ruling. Landry spokesman Cory Dennis added the attorney general expects there to be a hearing in the 16th Judicial District Court in the lawsuit against one of the plaintiffs, the Center for Tech and Civic Life, regardless of the appeal. Local election officials across the state last month applied for the grant money, offered by the Center for Tech and Civic Life, after Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin told the clerks and registrars about the opportunity. Zuckerberg had funded the grants with a $300 million donation to the nonprofit, and followed it up with another $100 million earlier this month after receiving a “far greater response” than anticipated, Zuckerberg said on Facebook.

Michigan poll workers shouldn’t be allowed to keep poll challengers 6 feet away, lawsuit says | Taylor DesOrmeau/MLive.com

A candidate for a state House of Representatives seat is suing Michigan for requiring poll challengers to stay six feet from poll workers on Election Day – although state officials dispute the lawsuit, saying challengers are allowed within 6 feet. Republican House candidate Steve Carra, of Three Rivers, filed the lawsuit with the Michigan Court of Claims on Friday, Oct. 23, against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections Jonathan Brater. He’s asking the court to strike down Benson’s guidance that poll challengers and poll watchers must observe social distancing on Nov. 3. “Requiring an election challenger to maintain six feet of distance from election workers significantly impedes, frustrates, and in some instances makes impossible the full exercise of the challenger’s rights and duties,” the lawsuit alleges. But state officials say poll challengers are allowed within six feet. “This frivolous lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to gain media attention and falsely attack the integrity of Michigan elections,” Michigan Department of State spokesperson Jake Rollow said in a statement. “The guidance issued by the Bureau of Elections allows challengers to temporarily stand within six feet of election workers to issue challenges and view the poll book.”

Mississippi: Voting while Black: The hurdles have changed, but never gone away | Tim Sullivan/Associated Press

The old civil rights worker was sure the struggle would be over by now.He’d fought so hard back in the ’60s. He’d seen the wreckage of burned churches, and the injuries of people who had been beaten. He’d seen men in white hoods. At its worst, he’d mourned three young men who were fighting for Black Mississippians to gain the right to vote, and who were kidnapped and executed on a country road just north of here. But Charles Johnson, sitting inside the neat brick church in Meridian where he’s been pastor for over 60 years, worries that Mississippi is drifting into its past. “I would never have thought we’d be where we’re at now, with Blacks still fighting for the vote,” said Johnson, 83, who was close to two of the murdered men. “I would have never believed it.” The opposition to Black votes in Mississippi has changed since the 1960s, but it hasn’t ended. There are no poll taxes anymore, no tests on the state constitution. But on the eve of the most divisive presidential election in decades, voters face obstacles such as state-mandated ID laws that mostly affect poor and minority communities and the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of former prisoners. And despite Mississippi having the largest percentage of Black people of any state in the nation, a Black person hasn’t been elected to statewide office in 130 years.

Missouri Voting Rights Advocates Suffer Another Setback Days Before Election | Dan Margolies/St. Louis Public Radio

Missourians who vote by mail must return their ballots by mail and not in person following a federal appeals court’s order. A coalition of civil rights groups last month sued Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and local election officials, including the Jackson County Election Board, arguing Missouri’s rules for absentee and mail-in voting are “burdensome and unjustified.” Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes agreed that not allowing mail-in ballots to be dropped off in person or by a relative risked disenfranchising voters, and he blocked the requirement. But Ashcroft appealed Wimes’ ruling, and on Thursday the 8 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis stayed the ruling until it can decide the matter. Because the appeals court hasn’t scheduled a briefing for the case and Election Day is little more than a week away, it’s almost certain it won’t issue its decision before then. That would leave its stay in place, effectively leaving the Missouri vote-by-mail requirement intact.

New York: Some ballot requests may be affected by Chenango County cyber attack | Associated Press

A hacker attack against an upstate New York county’s computer system raised concern that some emailed absentee ballot applications may not be processed, but the state Board of Elections said voting won’t be affected overall. The cyber attack on Oct. 18 encrypted about 200 computers operated by Chenango County and hackers demanded ransom of $450 per computer to unlock the files, Herman Ericksen, the county’s information technology director, said Monday. “We are not paying the ransom,” he said. Last week, the county board of elections released a public statement urging anyone who had sent an absentee ballot application by email since Oct. 15 to call the board to verify it had been received. The statement said the cyber attack would not otherwise impact voting because “the board has redundancies in place that will allow the secure and effective administration of the general election.”

Pennsylvania: GOP files second request for Supreme Court to block mail-in ballot extension | John Kruzel/The Hill

Pennsylvania Republicans have returned to the Supreme Court in another effort to roll back the state’s mail-in ballot extension, filing their second such attempt just ahead of the imminent confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett and days after the court deadlocked on the issue. The Pennsylvania GOP asked the justices on Friday night to fast-track a formal review of a major ruling by the state Supreme Court, which held that mailed ballots sent by Election Day and received up to three days later must be counted. The Keystone State is a crucial battleground in the 2020 election after President Trump won it in 2016 by fewer than 45,000 votes. Both Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden campaigned in Pennsylvania on Monday. If successful, the GOP’s long-shot bid could disenfranchise a number of mail-in voters, with the harm likely to fall disproportionately on Biden supporters, who are considered about twice as likely as Trump backers to vote by mail. Republicans’ latest request comes less than a week after the Supreme Court left intact Pennsylvania’s mail-ballot extension with a 4-4 deadlock. The tie vote last Monday broke largely along ideological lines, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s three liberals in denying the GOP’s request to halt the state court ruling, while the court’s four most conservative justices indicated they would have granted it.

Washington: Despite more threats voting system not breached, elections officials say | Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review

Although attempts to disrupt the U.S. elections have increased, Washington’s voting system is safer than it was in 2016 and has withstood any attacks, state and local elections officials said Monday. Those findings dovetail with news that nearly half of all ballots sent out have been returned in an unprecedented early vote. The state’s Elections Security Operations Center has been monitoring the VoteWA system and the 39 counties’ elections systems for any attacks, Secretary of State Kim Wyman said. “We’re confident that our system has not had any breaches, has not been compromised in any way and that it is operating fully secure,” she said. Using some $20 million in federal funds for cybersecurity, the state built strong firewalls around the system and ways to monitor the traffic going in and out of VoteWa. “We have a much higher confidence level than we did, even two years ago, with the cybersecurity of our system,” Wyman said.

Wisconsin can’t count mail-in ballots received after election day, supreme court rules | Maanvi Singh/The Guardian

The US supreme court has sided with Republicans to prevent Wisconsin from counting mail-in ballots that are received after election day.In a 5-3 ruling, the justices on Monday refused to reinstate a lower court order that called for mailed ballots to be counted if they are received up to six days after the 3 November election. A federal appeals court had already put that order on hold.The ruling awards a victory for Republicans in their crusade against expanding voting rights and access. It also came just moments before the Republican-controlled Senate voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, a victory for the right that locks in a conservative majority on the nation’s highest court for years to come. The three liberal justices dissented. John Roberts, the chief justice, last week joined the liberals to preserve a Pennsylvania state court order extending the absentee ballot deadline but voted the other way in the Wisconsin case, which has moved through federal courts. “Different bodies of law and different precedents govern these two situations and require, in these particular circumstances, that we allow the modification of election rules in Pennsylvania but not Wisconsin,” Roberts wrote.

National: Officials stress security of election systems after U.S. reveals new Iranian and Russian efforts | Amy Gardner, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Elise Viebeck/The Washington Post

State and local officials hastened to reassure Americans this week that the nation’s election systems are secure after the country’s top intelligence official accused Iran of sending threatening emails to voters in several states and the United States said Russia obtained voter information from at least one county. U.S. officials and cybersecurity experts said the activity did not appear to include penetration of voting systems or access to voter registration databases, or the hacking of equipment that could be tampered with to alter election results. Arizona’s voter registration database remains secure,” said C. Murphy Hebert, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office in Arizona, one of the states where Democratic voters reported receiving the threatening emails. “Some information in the voter record is publicly available in Arizona through a public record request, including party registration and, up until recently, emails. We are vigilantly monitoring all election systems. ”Federal and state officials said they have fortified election systems since 2016, when Russian hackers scanned election-related websites and software nationwide for vulnerabilities.

Georgia: Appeals court halts order requiring paper pollbook backups | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted a lower court’s order that said every polling place in Georgia must have at least one updated paper backup of the electronic pollbooks that are used to check in voters.U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg last month issued the order requiring the backup and other measures amid the context of a broader lawsuit filed by voting integrity activists that challenges Georgia’s voting system. She called the order “a limited common sense remedy” to impediments voters have faced.The state appealed the order to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel of the appeals court voted 2-1 to stay Totenberg’s order while the appeal is pending.The voting integrity activists had asked Totenberg to order the paper backup. They had argued that malfunctioning electronic pollbooks created bottlenecks that resulted in voters waiting in long lines during the state’s primary election in June and runoff election in August.The KnowInk PollPads are part of the new election system the state bought last year from Dominion Voting Systems for more than $100 million.Totenberg’s ruling required Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official, to generate and provide election superintendents in each county a list of electors updated at the close of the in-person early voting period to contain all the information in the electronic pollbook. The secretary of state was then to instruct the election superintendents to provide at least one paper backup at each polling place on Election Day.

National: Russian Hackers Break Into 2 County Systems, Stoking Election Security Fears | Philip Ewing and Miles Parks/NPR

Active Russian cyberattacks are targeting a wide swath of American government networks, including those involved with the ongoing election, federal authorities revealed Thursday. The focus of the effort include “U.S. state, local, territorial, and tribal government networks, as well as aviation networks,” according to a new bulletin from the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.It continued: “As this recent malicious activity has been directed at … government networks, there may be some risk to elections information … However, the FBI and CISA have no evidence to date that integrity of elections data has been compromised. “U.S. officials said separately on Thursday afternoon that systems in two local government jurisdictions had been accessed, granting attackers admission to some limited data about voters.The announcement followed one day after an in-person briefing by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray in which they warned about Russian interference as well as an Iranian scheme to intimidate voters with spoof emails.

National: ‘There is a voter-suppression wing’: An ugly American tradition clouds the 2020 presidential race | James Rainey/Los Angeles Times

A Memphis, Tenn., poll worker turned away people wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts, saying they couldn’t vote. Robocalls warned thousands of Michigan residents that mail-in voting could put their personal information in the hands of debt collectors and police. In Georgia, officials cut polling places by nearly 10%, even as the number of voters surged by nearly 2 million. The long American tradition of threatening voting access — often for Black people and Latinos — has dramatically resurfaced in 2020, this time buttressed by a record-setting wave of litigation and an embattled president whose reelection campaign is built around a strategy of sowing doubt and confusion. Voting rights activists depict the fights against expanding voter access as a last-ditch effort by President Trump and his allies to disenfranchise citizens who tend to favor Democrats. The administration insists — despite no evidence of a widespread problem — that it must enforce restrictions to prevent voter fraud.“We have an incredibly polarized country and we have a political party whose leader thinks it’s to the party’s advantage to make it harder for people to register to vote and to vote,” said Richard L. Hasen, a UC Irvine law professor and authority on voting. “So that is where we are.”

National: When will your ballot be counted in the 2020 election? A look at what goes into the tallying process | Meredith Deliso/ABC

The last day to vote in the 2020 general election is Nov. 3. But ballots may not be counted for several days, if not weeks, after that date, experts said.Due to an anticipated record amount of mail-in voting this election season, combined with ballot counts that won’t start until Election Day in most states, election officials across the country could be overwhelmed in some cases. Deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots also extend past Nov. 3 in several states, all but making it a given that votes will be recorded in the days or even weeks after the election. The issue of mail-in ballot receipt deadlines is also fraught with legal challenges — some of which are still playing out in court with less than two weeks to go until the general election. And President Donald Trump has repeatedly attempted to sow doubt on mail-in voting through false and conspiratorial claims about voter fraud.

National: Native voters struggle amid growing reliance on mail-in voting | Teresa Tomassoni/The Washington Post

Nicole Horseherder lives two miles away from her closest neighbor on the Navajo reservation in Black Mesa, Ariz. She has no mailbox and no street address. The nearest post office requires a 30-mile bumpy ride along unpaved dirt roads.So when Horseherder’s mail-in ballot had not arrived by mid-October, she was worried.“I was seriously thinking I’m not going to receive my ballot,” said Horseherder, who is 50 and head of the Navajo environmental justice nonprofit Tó Nizhóní Ání.Though her ballot eventually did arrive, Horseherder said she is still concerned about her vote being received and counted by Election Day, given coronavirus restrictions have increased reliance on mail-in ballots and exacerbated nationwide U.S. Postal Service delays. Her sentiments are shared by many Indigenous peoples and Native American rights advocates who say those living in isolated areas of reservations with limited transportation were not considered when many states expanded mail-in voting this election season to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. “That shift to all vote-by-mail left Native Americans out of the conversation because vote-by-mail doesn’t work in Indian country,” said Jacqueline De León, an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund and an enrolled member of the Isleta Pueblo, a Native American tribe in New Mexico.

National: Voting Disinformation Surges In Election’s Final Weeks | Pam Fessler/NPR

Dirty tricks and disinformation have been used to intimidate and mislead voters for as long as there have been elections. But they have been especially pervasive this year as millions of Americans cast ballots in a chaotic and contentious election.This has led to stepped-up efforts by election officials and voter advocates to counter the disinformation so voters are not discouraged from turning out. “2020 has been a year like no other because not only have we seen a higher volume of online mis- and disinformation, we have also changed a lot of processes about our society, including the way we administer elections,” said Jesse Littlewood, who leads the Stopping Cyber Suppression program for Common Cause. His nonpartisan group has already identified close to 5,000 incidents this year. Littlewood noted that the shift to more mail-in voting because of the pandemic has opened the way for a whole new wave of disinformation. One of the most high-profile cases involved robocalls that went to tens of thousands of minority voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and New York. The calls falsely claimed that voting by mail could be dangerous. “Mail-in voting sounds great,” a woman’s voice warned. “But did you know that if you vote by mail your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit companies to collect outstanding debts?”

National: Russia Created an Election Disinformation Playbook. Here’s How Americans Evolved It. | Isabelle Niu, Kassie Bracken and Alexandra Eaton/The New York Times

A deluge of misinformation is hitting the U.S. elections, and this time election experts are more worried about it coming from Americans.Back in 2016, Kremlin-linked Russian trolls surprised social media companies with an online disinformation campaign. Russian trolls developed an effective playbook — they used a large network of fake accounts to spread incendiary political content to millions of Americans, took advantage of existing divisions in American society and sowed doubt about the election process. In the years since, the U.S. intelligence community, social media companies and the public have become aware of the threat of foreign disinformation campaigns. But America’s election information problem has evolved.“We see that playbook being used by political operatives in the U.S. and we see that same playbook being used by individuals in their basements who are angry and frustrated with life,” said Claire Wardle, the U.S. director of First Draft, a nonprofit organization focused on addressing misinformation and disinformation.Simply put, disinformation is a falsehood created with the intention to cause harm. Misinformation is also false, but created or shared without the intention to deceive others.

National: Russians Who Pose Election Threat Have Hacked Nuclear Plants and Power Grid | Nicole Perlroth/The New York Times

Cybersecurity officials watched with growing alarm in September as Russian state hackers started prowling around dozens of American state and local government computer systems just two months before the election. The act itself did not worry them so much — officials anticipated that the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election would be back — but the actor did. The group, known to researchers as “Dragonfly” or “Energetic Bear” for its hackings of the energy sector, was not involved in 2016 election hacking. But it has in the past five years breached the power grid, water treatment facilities and even nuclear power plants, including one in Kansas. It also hacked into Wi-Fi systems at San Francisco International Airport and at least two other West Coast airports in March in an apparent bid to find one unidentified traveler, a demonstration of the hackers’ power and resolve. September’s intrusions marked the first time that researchers caught the group, a unit of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., targeting states and counties. The timing of the attacks so close to the election and the potential for disruption set off concern inside private security firms, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

California: How To Vote In A Pandemic When You’ve Lost Your Home In A Wildfire | Isabella Bloom and Marco Torrez/CalMatters

In August, as lightning strikes ignited fires around his Napa County home, Ian MacMillan escaped the flames with his wife, three kids and mother-in-law. A month later, when another wildfire roared through Northern California’s wine country, they had to flee their home again.“It sounded like a war zone,” MacMillan, 41, said. “The fire was blazing, the winds were bad and you could hear the propane tanks going off.” This time, their house didn’t make it.MacMillan spent the next few weeks attending to urgent matters, like finding a place to live. Now that he and his family are temporarily settled, however, he is planning to pick up his ballot at the post office where his mail is being held. “I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it’s there,” he said.California has tried to make it easier for residents to vote during the pandemic by sending a vote-by-mail ballot to every registered voter. But for MacMillan and thousands of others who have lost their homes to wildfires this year, mail-in voting poses a unique set of challenges. “Ballots, in some cases, were mailed when the fire was going on and may have been destroyed in their mailbox or in their homes,” said John Tuteur, the Napa County Registrar of Voters. Replacement ballots can be mailed outside of voters’ registered counties, even out of state, as long as they are requested by October 27.

Florida voting rights group combats threats over Trump | Lawrence Mower/Miami Herald

Florida Republicans’ request last month for police and the FBI to investigate a program to pay off felons’ court fees and fines hasn’t amounted to criminal charges or a formal probe.But it has created a “chilling effect” and sparked threats from white supremacists, according to Desmond Meade, executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which has raised tens of millions of dollars to pay off court fees and fines for felons over the last 18 months. Meade said Friday he’s hired lawyers and security experts to combat threats from people who now believe he and his organization are working to undermine President Donald Trump’s reelection. “White supremacist groups were encouraging people to go to our website and do nefarious things and trying to sabotage the site,” Meade said. He’s now trying to remind everyone that his organization is nonpartisan. In 2018, Meade and his group led the effort to overturn the state’s 150-year-old ban on felon voting, which was successful because it had support from both Republicans and Democrats. He has largely stayed out of the litigation over a law Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last year requiring felons to pay off all court fees, fines and restitution to victims before being allowed to vote.

Georgia: In high-stakes election, State’s voting system vulnerable to cyberattack | Alan Judd/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Headed into one of the most consequential elections in the state’s history, Georgia’s new electronic voting system is vulnerable to cyberattacks that could undermine public confidence, create chaos at the polls or even manipulate the results on Election Day. Computer scientists, voting-rights activists, U.S. intelligence agencies and a federal judge have repeatedly warned of security deficiencies in Georgia’s system and in electronic voting in general. But state officials have dismissed their concerns as merely “opining on potential risks.”Instead, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office weakened the system’s defenses, disabling password protections on a key component that controls who is allowed to vote. In addition, days before early voting began on Oct. 12, Raffensperger’s office pushed out new software to each of the state’s 30,000 voting machines through hundreds of thumb drives that experts say are prone to infection with malware. And what state officials describe as a feature of the new system actually masks a vulnerability. Officials tell voters to verify their selections on a paper ballot before feeding it into an optical scanner. But the scanner doesn’t record the text that voters see; rather, it reads an unencrypted quick response, or QR, barcode that is indecipherable to the human eye. Either by tampering with individual voting machines or by infiltrating the state’s central elections server, hackers could systematically alter the barcodes to change votes.

Michigan; Gun groups sue Secretary of State for banning open carry at polls on Election Day | Taylor DesOrmeau/MLive

A trio of Michigan gun rights groups are suing Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson over her directive for local clerks to prohibit the open carry of firearms at the polls on Election Day.While Benson argues the ban is within her powers to make elections safe, the lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims argues it forces people to choose between their right to vote and their right to bear arms.“One must choose one right or the other, but not both,” plaintiffs argue in the lawsuit, if the ban stands. … Benson sent guidance on her directive to all clerk’s offices on Oct. 16. As Michigan’s chief election officer, state law says Benson has supervisory control over elections. Benson also cites MCL 168.31, saying she has the authority to issue policy directives for polling places. A separate law prohibits bribing, influencing, deterring or interrupting people from voting. None of the laws mention guns. “We want to recognize that the threat of open carrying of firearms can create a threatening environment through both visual and other ways,” Benson said earlier this week. Some law enforcement agencies have said they won’t enforce the directive in their polling places. Michigan State Police will enforce the ban in places where law enforcement can’t or won’t enforce it, Benson said.

Minnesota Attorney General Ellison wins assurance Atlas Aegis will not recruit or provide private security for elections | Red Lake Nation News

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has won a written assurance from Tennessee-based security company Atlas Aegis that it is not recruiting and will not recruit or provide private security at or near polling places in Minnesota in conjunction with the November 3 election. The company admits that its statements that it was doing so are incorrect. Attorney General Ellison announced on October 20 that his office had launched an investigation into Atlas Aegis.As part of the settlement, Atlas Aegis agrees not to provide any security services in Minnesota around the November 3 election; not to intimidate any voters in Minnesota; and to communicate through its channels that it was wrong to suggest it was recruiting security for “protection of election polls” in Minnesota. “Minnesotans should expect that our elections will run as safely, smoothly, and securely as they always have. One of the reasons is that my office and our partners are actively enforcing our laws against threatening, frightening, or intimidating voters,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I’m holding Atlas Aegis to account for their misstatements about recruiting security for polling places in Minnesota that potentially frightened Minnesota voters. They won’t be doing it again and will not be anywhere in Minnesota before, during, or after Election Day.”

Nevada judge denies GOP request to halt mail ballot counting in Clark County | Rory Appleton/Las Vegas Review-Journal

A Carson City judge Friday denied to halt ballot counting in Clark County in response to a lawsuit filed by Republicans that contends the county has violated state election law.The Nevada Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign filed the lawsuit against Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria and Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske on Friday.The lawsuit asked a judge to stop the counting and verification of mail ballots until the case could be heard.But Attorney General Aaron Ford, whose office defends Cegavske in litigation, tweeted Friday afternoon that his office had “defeated President Trump’s and Nevada GOP’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the counting of the ballots.”

New Hampshire: Guns Will Be Allowed In Most Polling Places, But ‘Voter Intimidation Will Not Be Tolerated’ | Casey cDerott/New Hampshire Public Radio

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office says state and local authorities can’t prevent people from bringing guns into polling places, even those located in school buildings — but they will be on alert to respond to anyone, armed or otherwise, who is interfering with someone else’s ability to vote. “We are not able to use any of our New Hampshire election laws to prohibit a voter from entering to vote if they have a firearm, and that includes if the polling place is a school,” Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Chong Yen, who leads the state’s Election Law Unit, during a call with local clerks earlier this week. This policy isn’t new, and state officials similarly said ahead of the 2016 elections that voters could not be barred from entering polling places because they’re carrying a gun. Some voters and pollworkers have voiced anxiety about firearms around polling places on Nov. 3, particularly after President Trump called on supporters “to go into the polls and watch very carefully.” New Hampshire is an “open carry” state, meaning gun owners can openly carry a loaded firearm without a license or permit. Since 2017, the state has also allowed any lawful gun owner to carry a concealed weapon. Officials in at least one other state, Michigan, recently announced plans to ban people from openly carrying firearms at polling places on Nov. 3, though the state is now facing a lawsuit over that policy.

New Mexico: Concerns about voter intimidation loom in election run-up | Bella Davis/Daily Lobo

Albuquerque resident Eleanor Chavez was driving by the 98th and Central early voting site on Saturday, Oct. 17 when she passed a caravan of flag-waving Trump supporters who drove through the parking lot. Hours later, she went back and saw a man with a Trump flag on the back of his truck yelling at voters before the police arrived. “Who does that? I’ve been voting for a hundred million years, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” Chavez said. Chavez said she was planning to vote that day but decided to wait because of the activity she observed, which she called “threatening.”According to an Albuquerque Police Department report, officers responded to a call about the same man Chavez observed. The presiding judge on site told an officer that she was afraid he was going to “shoot up” voters.Officers issued a criminal trespass notice against the man, who was identified in the police report as Isidro Casarez. The notice was issued not because Casarez intimidated voters, but because he was “acting disorderly” in the parking lot of a business. He had been parked in front of a T-Mobile store in the same shopping center as the polling site and refused to leave when an employee asked him to.The Bernalillo County district attorney’s office is investigating the Trump caravan incident, spokesperson Brandale Mills-Cox said.New Mexico election officials and local nonprofit organizations are taking a number of steps — like training hundreds of poll watchers and setting up a legal hotline — to prepare for the potential of more incidents like that of Oct. 17.

North Carolina GOP asks Supreme Court to roll back extra time for accepting mail-in ballots | Pete Williams/NBC

Republicans in the presidential battleground state of North Carolina asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to block lower court rulings that allowed six extra days to accept ballots sent by mail. The Trump campaign, the state and national Republican parties and Republican leaders of the state Legislature said decisions by North Carolina’s Board of Elections, upheld by federal courts, “pose an immediate threat to the integrity of the federal elections process.” The board changed the mail ballot deadline from Nov. 6, which the Legislature set in June, to Nov. 12. A federal district judge refused to block the change, and so did the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules that counties cannot reject mail ballots because of mismatched signatures | Angela Couloumbis/The Philadelphia Inquirer

Counties cannot reject mail-in and absentee ballots if a voter’s signature on the outer envelope does not match what’s on file, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Friday, making drawn-out challenges on Election Day less likely.In a 7-0 decision, the high court said there are no provisions in the state’s election code that specifically require counties to match voters’ signatures. And, the court noted, in writing the law, the legislature could have explicitly mandated signature matching but did not. “We decline to read a signature comparison requirement into the plain and unambiguous language of the election code,” the justices wrote in their decision.Friday’s ruling stemmed from a request earlier this month from Pennsylvania’s top election official, Kathy Boockvar, to bar county election officials from rejecting mail-in ballots solely on the basis of perceived differences in a voter’s signature. The decision is the latest in a crush of litigation in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 election, as Republicans and Democrats wage pitched battles over gray areas in Pennsylvania’s year-old law that greatly expanded the ability to vote by mail.

Texas order allowing counties to have multiple mail-in ballot drop off sites is upheld, but appeal will likely halt openings| Jolie McCullough/The Texas Tribune

A state appeals court has upheld a Travis County State district court order allowing Texas counties to have multiple drop-off locations for hand delivery of absentee ballots, undercutting Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent directive limiting counties to one drop-off site.But it remains unclear if the intermediate court’s decision will lead to the reopening of ballot drop-off locations that were shut down in Harris and Travis counties after Abbott’s order. Abbott and Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs planned to immediately appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court to again block the order from taking effect, the attorney general’s office said.The lawsuit, filed in Travis County, is one of several state and federal court challenges to Abbott’s Oct. 1 order, which shut down three ballot drop-off locations in Travis County and 11 in Harris County and halted plans for more drop-offs in other counties. Last week, a federal appeals court upheld the Republican governor’s order under federal law, overturning a lower court’s ruling.

Texas Supreme Court stays order that had blocked Gov. Greg Abbott’s mail ballot drop-off limits | James Barragán/The Dallas Morning News

The Texas Supreme Court on Saturday stayed a lower court’s order that had blocked Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting counties to one mail ballot drop-off site. The decision followed a ruling Friday by Texas’ Austin-based Third Court of Appeals that had upheld a state judge’s order blocking Abbott’s order. The state had appealed the Third Court of Appeals order. The state Supreme Court was still reviewing whether to take further action in the case and ordered both sides to file their responses by 5 p.m. Monday. By then, there will be just more than one week left for voters to return their mail ballots in person to early voting clerks around the state. The case centers on whether local elected officials can accept mail ballots at satellite offices. Harris County had told voters it would accept such ballots at 11 of the early voting clerk’s annexes. Travis County and Fort Bend Counties also planned to offer multiple drop-off sites.