National: Voter registration deadlines could see more online glitches | Nolan D. McCaskill/Politico

A cut cable, an equipment failure at a data center, an online traffic overload that crashed a website — online voter registration systems have already had their share of snafus this election season, amid record-breaking registration totals in battleground states. With registration deadlines approaching in more than a dozen states, voting rights groups and party officials warn there could be more glitches on the horizon, resulting in the disenfranchisement of would-be voters. Registration deadlines were extended last week in Virginia and two weeks ago in Florida after web outages prevented residents from registering online for hours, prompting lawsuits from voting rights groups and even allegations of voter suppression. Jeanette Senecal, senior director of mission impact at the League of Women Voters, said other states should be taking the outages seriously because online systems in states across the country sometimes fail even on regular days. “It can also forecast problems with the state system to support their polling place finder or their ballot lookup or their voter verification system,” she warned. “All of these systems to tend to be connected to one another.”

National: Why the US absentee ballot is so poorly designed | Anne Quito/Quartz

Complaining about the US ballot is centuries-old American tradition. Every election cycle, critics lament how unwieldy, ugly, or downright confusing the voting form is. With the spike in voting by mail this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, many more are noticing how puzzling the piece of paper truly is as they fill out their ballots at home. Turns out, the ballot’s confusing design is less a weakness of America’s participatory democracy than a sign of its robustness. Americans can cast a vote several ways. They can go to a polling station on Election Day or do it in advance via a mail-in absentee ballot; many states allow early in-person voting as well.Voting online isn’t widely available for federal elections. This year, 32 states and the District of Columbia are accepting ballots submitted via a mobile app, fax, e-mail, or an online portal, but this method is mostly reserved for military personnel serving overseas or civilians living abroad. While countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Norway, and Switzerland have have embraced some form of remote voting via the internet, experts caution that it’s not useful to compare them with the American context. That’s because the US operates on a much larger and complicated scale.And so, old-fashioned paper is still the most common and secure voting medium in the US. An estimated 95% of voters will manually fill out and send forms by postal mail, deposit in a drop box, or feed their paper ballots to a machine that produces an auditable paper record at a voting center.

National: Far-Right Trump Supporters Are Infiltrating Polling Stations | David Gilbert/VICE

As threats to disrupt Election Day grow, some members of a far-right Trump superfan group are boasting about securing positions as polling station managers and supervisors while dozens of them are advocating violence on November 3.“Consider this polling station…ON LOCK DOWN” That’s what a member of the far-right message board TheDonald.win posted this week, alongside a picture of a South Carolina poll manager’s handbook. The poster, utahbeachballs1944 responded to other users’ comments, saying “my polling place is gonna be like trying to enter North Korea. Fucking LOCKED DOWN” and added: “I will be honoring the BLM movement by working in Blackface.” Utahbeachballs1944 is among at least four users of TheDonald who have posted pictures showing polling station manuals as evidence that they will be overseeing voting on Election Day next month, according to an investigation by VICE News. VICE News has been unable to independently verify that these people are actually poll workers, but the photos they posted of official materials did not show up on a reverse image search, suggesting that they are photos taken by the posters themselves. The posts on the message board also match a pattern of activity we’ve seen before and come in response to specific suggestions from Trump that his supporters “watch” the vote.

Editorial: The 2020 election could permanently change how America votes | Patrick Howell O’Neill/MIT Technology Review

More than 29 million voters have already cast their ballots in the 2020 US elections, and we’re still more than two weeks from Election Day itself. At the same point in 2016, the number of early votes was about 6 million. But while a great deal of this is the result of the ongoing (and worsening) covid-19 crisis, America’s top election official says that the shift to early and mail-in voting could be permanent—even when the pandemic is over.“One of the things that we’ve consistently seen over time is that as more Americans get exposed to convenience voting options like early voting and vote by mail, the more they like it and the more they want to keep doing that,” says Benjamin Hovland, chairman of the Electoral Assistance Commission, which helps administer and advise on voting guidelines around the nation.Learning from the pastHistory has lots of lessons to tell us about this process. The first mail-in ballots were cast during the Civil War, and today five states hold their elections almost entirely that way.Oregon is the one that really blazed a trail for American mail-in voting. When the idea first popped up in 1981, there were skeptics and opponents everywhere. By the end of the decade, the state was moving at speed to embrace mail-in voting, first for local elections and then for state and national ballots. A partisan fight over the issue was resolved in 1998, when Oregonians themselves overwhelmingly backed a ballot measure to make the state vote entirely by mail.

Alabama: 17 attorneys general oppose curbside voting ban in Supreme Court | Mike Cason/al.com

Attorneys general for the District of Columbia and 16 states have filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Alabama’s effort to preserve a statewide ban on curbside voting.The AGs said many of the states that joined in the brief have experience with curbside voting and policies that leave decisions on curbside voting to local officials. “Through that experience, states have learned that curbside voting is safe, relatively easy to implement, and not associated with voter fraud,” the brief says. “Moreover, curbside voting is particularly beneficial for vulnerable citizens and those with mobility challenges, including those with disabilities. Especially in the context of the novel coronavirus, it furthers states’ interests to allow counties—within reason, and consistent with the law—to implement common-sense measures like curbside voting meant to safeguard both the franchise and public health.”

Alaska: Emails sent to Deocrats on Tuesday warned them to “vote for Trump or else” | By Nathaniel Herz/Alaska Public Media

Alaskans across the state received emails Tuesday morning warning them to “vote for Trump or else,” in an incident that’s drawn the attention of the FBI and the state Division of Elections. In emails and social media posts, more than a dozen Alaskans reported that messages were sent to people in Anchorage, Soldotna, Kenai, Homer, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Ketchikan, Bristol Bay, Denali Park, Palmer and the Fairbanks area. News reports from Florida indicated that the same messages were sent to at least 183 voters there.In a copy of the email shared by Anchorage resident Kane Stanton, the sender told Stanton that “we are in possession of all your information (email, address, telephone).” “You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure,” said the message to Stanton, a 36-year-old hardware store manager. “You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply.”

Florida: Will the Recount State Be Ready for the Election? | Patricia Mazzei and Frances Robles/The New York Times

Most states have the occasional problems running their elections. Not Florida. Florida has debacles. … More than two decades of scandals and blunders have made Florida the nation’s elections punchline, the state that kept the world at the edge of its seat while votes for president were manually recounted. The shadows of Florida elections past seem to lurk everywhere.“I feel like I’ve seen this movie before,” Judge Mark E. Walker of the Federal District Court in Tallahassee said in a ruling this month after the state’s voter registration website crashed under the weight of thousands of last-minute applications. Now the state, like the rest of the nation, faces perhaps the most daunting test yet: a 2020 election conducted in the midst of a pandemic, amid unsubstantiated fraud claims spread by the president and others. Reasonable predictions suggest that the legal wrangling over the results could stretch far beyond election night. Is Florida ready?

Florida: Emails threatening voters to “vote for Trump or else!” linked to overseas servers | Melissa Quinn, Stefan Becket and Graham Kates/CBS

Dozens of voters in a heavily Democratic county in Florida and across several states reported receiving emails on Thursday purporting to come from a right-wing group threatening to “come after” them unless they vote for President Trump. But an examination of the messages, which are now under investigation by state and federal authorities, shows they were sent via servers located overseas, raising questions about their origin amid concerns about voter intimidation just two weeks before Election Day. Democratic voters in Alachua County, Florida, began receiving the email on Tuesday morning, and voters in Alaska and Arizona also reported receiving the message. Early voting began in Florida on Monday. The emails appeared to come from the right-wing group The Proud Boys, and showed a “from” address of info@officialproudboys.com. The Proud Boys has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy group.

Georgia election chief says tech issues resolved as turnout soars | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that problems with a sluggish voter check-in system have been resolved and wait times have fallen as early voting turnout surges in Georgia. Voters should expect a smooth early voting process after technical changes were made last week to the state computer system that looks up voter registration and check-in information at polling places, he said. “When we saw an issue with speed of the voter registration, we jumped on it because we knew it would impact the voter experience, so we handled that very quickly,” Raffensperger said during a press conference at the state Capitol. “That solution has all been handled.”The technical difficulties of the system, called eNet, resulted in slow-moving lines, with some voters waiting 12 hours on the first day of early voting last week.

Michigan: After botching past elections, Detroit aims to avoid a ‘black eye’ in November | Erin Einhorn/NBC

The workers had signed in. They’d had their temperatures screened. They’d filled out paperwork, and they were waiting for their training to begin when Daniel Baxter strode to the center of the room, grabbed a microphone and launched into a speech that, at times, seemed more suited to the pulpit where he preaches on Sundays than the convention center basement where he trains election workers. “Say, ‘There’s healing power!’” Baxter called to the trainees, his booming voice echoing through the cavernous exhibit hall where 75 workers sat, spaced apart, around large, rectangular tables. “C’mon, say it again,” he said when the group’s response was less than enthusiastic. “Say, ‘There’s healing power in troubled waters. There’s healing power in troubled waters,” the group repeated. Baxter, 55, a former elections director for Detroit who has been enlisted by the city to help with next month’s presidential election, didn’t spell out exactly what he meant by troubled waters. He didn’t need to. Many of the people attending that Wednesday morning training last week, sitting in the very seats where they’ll be processing absentee ballots on Election Day, had signed up for this job precisely because they knew about the problems that have dogged Detroit elections in the past.

North Carolina: Court lets state keep absentee deadline extension | Jonathan Drew/Associated Press

North Carolina can accept absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day for more than a week afterward, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to block an extension for accepting the ballots that was announced in late September. The State Board of Elections decided then that absentee ballots could be accepted until Nov. 12 as long as they were mailed by Election Day, lengthening the timeframe from three to nine days. The change was made as part of a legal settlement with voting rights advocates.State and national Republican leaders went to court to fight the deadline extension. But the federal appeals court denied their emergency request to block the change.The court’s majority opinion notes that ballots must still be postmarked by Election Day to be counted. The opinion says that “everyone must submit their ballot by the same date. The extension merely allows more lawfully cast ballots to be counted, in the event there are any delays precipitated by an avalanche of mail-in ballots.”

Ohio: Nine counties switch to printing absentee ballots in-house due to delays with Cleveland-based company | Robin Goist/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has reported that nine of the 16 counties that contracted with Cleveland-based Midwest Direct to print and mail absentee ballots have switched to printing ballots in-house.The counties of Butler, Clinton, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Mahoning, Miami and Williams have “discontinued their relationship” with the company and are instead printing and mailing ballots from their boards of elections, LaRose said. The other counties with apparently intact contracts with Midwest Direct are Cuyahoga, Lorain, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Union and Wood.LaRose shared the update Monday evening following a report from cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer that thousands of voters were still awaiting absentee ballots nearly two weeks after they were supposed to be mailed.“ Many of you have heard that there’s a vendor in Northeast Ohio that had failed to really meet expectation on getting absentee ballots out on time,” LaRose said, without mentioning the company by name. “It’s truly unfortunate and unacceptable that they over-promised and under-delivered.”

Pennsylvania: Voter confusion rattles election officials near Monday’s deadline to register | Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Elise Viebeck/The Washington Post

Elections officials in Pennsylvania are being inundated with complaints from first-time and absentee voters having difficulty registering to vote or requesting a mail ballot, fueling anxiety in the critical swing state just as the 5 p.m. Monday deadline approaches to join the voting rolls in time for the November election. College students in at least three counties in Pennsylvania who attempted to register to vote online had their applications rejected and were notified that they must provide documentation in person or by mail to meet the Monday deadline, raising concerns among voting rights advocates that an unknown number of students may not be able to register in time. Meanwhile, other voters are receiving rejection notices for their absentee ballot requests without a clear explanation. County officials said the vast majority of these rejections were due to duplicate requests. The voters had already requested a general election ballot when they were applying to vote by mail for the primary election, so they didn’t need to request one again for the fall.

In Vermont, hope is that universal mail-in balloting becomes the norm | VTDigger

Vermont has gone farther than almost any other state this year in making sure that residents can vote safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, temporarily switching to a universal vote-by-mail system in which every registered voter is sent a ballot. And there are few other barriers to voting in the state. For example, Vermont is joined only by Maine and Washington, D.C., in placing zero restrictions on voting by people who have been convicted of a crime, including while they’re in prison. Still, advocates are pushing for the state to be more proactive and transparent about voting by prisoners, and for the mail voting expansion to become permanent.

Wisconsin: Outagamie County ballot misprint may need to be settled by a judge | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The state Elections Commission told Outagamie County officials Tuesday they would need to go to a judge to find a way to deal with thousands of ballots that can’t be read by counting machines because of a printing error.While the commissioners said it would be up to a judge to decide, they contended the best solution would be to have poll workers make changes to marks on the edges of the ballots so they can be read by tabulators. That would be more efficient than having poll workers fill out new ballots to replace those that have printing errors, they said. It will be up to the county or others to decide whether to take the matter to court. Otherwise, election officials will have to remake thousands of ballots or count all their ballots by hand. Whatever path they take, counting ballots in Outagamie County and a small portion of Calumet County will take longer because of the printing mistake. That means results may not be available until after the Nov. 3 election.

Russia: Justice Department Charges Russian Officers With Cyberattacks : Ryan Lucas/NPR

The Justice Department unsealed charges against six alleged Russian government hackers on Monday and said they were behind a rash of recent cyberattacks — from damaging Ukraine’s electrical grid to interfering in France’s election to spying on European investigations and more. The men work for the Russian military intelligence agency GRU — which also led Russian cyber-interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Justice Department officials said Moscow has only sustained or heightened its intensity of effort since then.”No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” said John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security. “Today the department has charged these Russian officers with conducting the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group. … No nation will recapture greatness while behaving in this way.”

National: How Will the U.S. Combat Election Day Cyberwarfare? With Paper | Kassie Bracken and Alexandra Eaton/The New York Times

The 2016 U.S. election was a game changer for voting technology. Widespread Russian interference in our voting systems spurred new federal scrutiny of the country’s vast and fragmented election infrastructure. Four years later, “The psychological import of what the Russians did may be greater than anything that they actually hacked into, because they have managed to shake the confidence of American voters that their votes will be counted as they cast them,” said David Sanger, national security correspondent for The New York Times. And this lack of trust has led to a renewed examination of the nation’s voting equipment. That, in part, is why some election experts believe that when it comes to the security of election machines, voters should feel more confident than ever in 2020.

National: How officials are protecting the election from ransomware hackers | Patrick Howell O’Neill/MIT Technology Review

Hackers played a significant role in the 2016 election, when the Russian government hacked into the Democratic campaign and ran an information operation that dominated national headlines. American law enforcement, intelligence services, and even Republican lawmakers have concluded, repeatedly, that Moscow sought to interfere with the election in favor of Donald Trump. Meanwhile, in the last four years, ransomware has exploded into a multibillion-dollar business. It’s a type of malware that hackers use to restrict access to data or machines until they’re paid ransoms that can run into the tens of millions of dollars. There’s now a global extortion industry built on the fact that the critical infrastructure and digital systems we rely on are deeply vulnerable. Put those two things together, and you get the nightmare scenario many election security officials are focused on: that ransomware could infect and disrupt election systems in some way, perhaps by targeting voter registration databases on the eve of Election Day. Steps to prevent such attacks are well under way.

National: A ruling against expanding online voting is a win for cybersecurity advocates | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

A federal judge yesterd
ay dismissed a lawsuit that sought to dramatically expand online voting by military service members and other citizens living overseas, halting an effort that critics say could have made the election far more vulnerable to hacking.The overseas voters who brought the suit hail from seven states and said they fear restrictions and slowdowns between the U.S. Postal Service and the postal services where they live raise dangers their ballots won’t arrive in time to be counted. They wanted an option of submitting the ballots as PDF attachments to emails or using a secure fax system managed by the Defense Department. Similar voting methods are available to overseas voters from 30 other states. The ruling underscores how efforts to make voting easier during the pandemic can sometimes clash with efforts to protect the election against foreign interference.

National: Group warns of gaps in election infrastructure | Mark Rockwell/FCW

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity agency has worked since 2016 to help states protect their election infrastructure from electronic attack, but it only takes one small breach to dent confidence in the systems, according to a digital rights and technology expert.” There has been a ton of effort from [the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] and others,” said William Adler, senior technologist for elections and democracy at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT).” But cybersecurity is an active process. Threats are constantly changing and evolving, so we need to keep making the case that election officials need to prioritize cybersecurity and not be complacent,” he said during a conference call with reporters on Oct. 16. On the call, officials at the technology and digital rights advocacy group explained the variety of threats facing the upcoming elections, from voter suppression, to misinformation about mail-in ballots and cybersecurity.

National: Eight-Hour Waits. Machine Glitches. Why Early Voting in Some States Has Had a Rough Start. | Reid J. Epstein, Stephanie Saul and Manny Fernandez/The New York Times

Virginia’s online voter registration portal crashed on the final day it was available when roadside utility workers cut the wrong cable. Texans waited in long lines on the first day of early voting in their state’s biggest cities, and in one county in the Houston suburbs, a programming error took down all of the voting machines for much of the morning. On Georgia’s second day of early voting, long lines again built up at polling places in the Atlanta suburbs. The hurdles to early voting on Tuesday resulted from a combination of intense voter interest that stressed the capacity of overwhelmed local elections officials and the sort of messiness that has long been common in American elections and which is now under a microscope as concerns over voter suppression and the unprecedented dynamics of voting during a pandemic collide.The long lines in Georgia and Texas illustrate how eager voters are to cast ballots in the 2020 election — particularly, but not only, in Democratic-trending urban and suburban areas. By 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, had smashed its first-day early-voting turnout record. In Gwinnett County, Ga., north of Atlanta, even with the long lines there was a 450 percent increase in first-day early voting compared with 2016, according to Ryan Anderson, who tracks Georgia voting data on the Georgia Votes website.

National: Critical swing states push for ‘simple change’ to make counting mail-in ballots easier | Allan Smith/NBC

There’s a “simple change” that makes counting mail-in votes easier but some critical swing states still don’t allow it. Already, 32 states — under both Democratic and Republican control — allow for the county-level election overseers to begin processing ballots before Election Day— a process known as “pre-canvassing.” But in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, election officials have not been able to begin doing so until Election Day. Pre-canvassing involves checking the ballots for eligibility, preparing them to be scanned and other manual steps that can be time-consuming. The process does not include counting and tabulating the votes. Election officials, facing record numbers of mail-in ballots, say that if they are able to begin this work before Election Day, they will be able to complete the final vote count much more quickly. President Donald Trump has repeatedly lamented that the counting of ballots may not be completed in some states by the end of Election Day. But pre-canvassing of ballots in those earlier mentioned states will help speed the process, officials said.”It’ll take forever,” Trump said at a new conference last month. “You think Nov. 3? You might not have — I guess, at a certain point, it goes to Congress. You know, at a certain point, it goes to Congress. You know that.”

Alabama Secretary of State announces electronic poll books in 63 of 67 counties | Alabama Political Reporter

A
head of the Nov. 3, 2020, general election, Secretary of State John Merrill’s office said that electronic poll books will be utilized in 63 of Alabama’s 67 counties.In recent years, Alabama has made progress in updating outdated systems and replacing old equipment with the most up-to-date technology, installed with full security measures. Notably, in 2019, the Secretary of State’s office replaced the computers used by local election officials in all 67 counties at no cost at all to the county or state through the use of Help America Vote Act funds.The electronic poll books provided for 63 of Alabama’s counties will be used to increase the security, speed and efficiency of the check-in process for voters.

Florida voting machines ripe for Russian hackers, experts say | John Pacenti/Palm Beach Post

Bad actors working for the likes of Russia and other nation-states are lurking on the internet, waiting for their chance to infiltrate the American voting system. Florida may be ripe for the picking, computer scientists say, because numerous counties rely on voting machines that are drawing fire for their vulnerability to a cyberattack. These computer scientists along with election integrity groups familiar with the model that Palm Beach and 48 other counties use, say there are potentially numerous ways for a foreign entity to alter results. They say that state election officials have accepted wholesale the spin from the manufacturer that these machines — which voters at polling places feed ballots into after marking candidates of their choice — are secure. “It has been asserted that voting machines are not vulnerable to remote hacking because they are never connected to the Internet, but both the premise and the conclusion are false,” states a Sept. 15 letter sent to Florida’s Division of Elections by nearly 30 of the country’s top computer scientists and election integrity groups.

Georgia’s new touchscreen voting system survives court challenge | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge has once again denied an effort to throw out Georgia’s touchscreen voting computers because of election security concerns. Her decision came late Sunday, just hours before the start of early voting.U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled against switching the state to paper ballots filled out by hand. She wrote that it was too late to make such a sweeping change that would disrupt the election as tens of thousands of voters are expected to go to the polls. Georgia’s new $104 million voting system adds paper ballots to the voting process for the first time in 18 years. Voters will make their choices on touchscreens connected to printers that will produce paper ballots. Totenberg criticized state election officials for problems with voting equipment during this year’s primary elections but acknowledged that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that courts must exercise restraint in changing procedures near an election.

Georgia: Technical breakdown hangs over Georgia early voting | Brad Schrade and Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The first week of early voting once again tested Georgia’s voting system, and technical breakdowns and long waits returned. An overloaded statewide voter registration system, combined with high turnout, created long lines of frustrated voters, raising questions with two weeks of early voting remaining: Have the problems been solved, or was last week a precursor to larger challenges as Georgia races toward a Nov. 3 Election Day that is expected to be like no other?By late Friday, the office of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top election official, couldn’t assure voters that the problem was fully fixed. His office could offer no details about the nature of a bandwidth problem that reportedly caused the delays. They said they had worked with their vendor, Civix, to expand the system’s capacity.

Idaho: Ada County Election’s Office purchases almost half a million dollar ballot-sorting machine | Nicole Camarda/KIVI

With almost 144,000 absentee ballots already mailed, Ada County sent out their own record number of mail-in ballots for this year’s November election. Ada County purchased a machine to help with the sorting and signature verifications of absentee ballots. The almost half a million dollar Bluecrest ballot-sorting machine, nicknamed “Bessie,” allows the Ada County election’s office to scan in mail-in ballots as soon as they arrive. “It takes a picture of everyone’s signature that we then cross verify with our system,” Ada County elections director Saul Seyler says. Once the signatures are verified, the ballots will get re-run, and the machine will alert to anything that wasn’t adequately verified or causes of concerns.

Michigan appeals court reinstates Election Day mail-in ballot deadline as early voting surge continues | Elise Viebeck, John M. Glionna and Douglas Moser/The Washington Post

A state appeals court in Michigan moved up the deadline for voters to return mail-in ballots, reimposing a cutoff favored by Republicans during a continuing surge in early and mail-in voting around the country.With a little over two weeks until the election, a panel from the Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday reversed a lower court’s ruling that said ballots could be counted if they were postmarked before Election Day and received within 14 days. The extension would have made Michigan’s deadline one of the most generous in the country. Voters in the state now must return their mail-in ballots by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.The decision — and the plaintiffs’ plans to appeal — arrived amid further signs of record turnout in mail-in and early voting this year, continuing a trajectory that could lead to a majority of votes being cast before Election Day for the first time in U.S. history.

New Jersey Election Officials Scramble on First Mostly Mail-In Vote | Joseph De Avila/Wall Street Journal

New Jersey’s election system will be tested in the coming weeks as most voters will be casting their ballots for the presidential election by mail or dropping them off for the first time in the state’s history.The state is one of four in the U.S. that this year opted to automatically mail ballots to voters to minimize in-person voting to limit the spread of the coronavirus. A handful of other states, including Utah and Oregon, already take the approach for every election.Local election officials have begun delivering nearly six million ballots statewide to active registered voters, the most ever mailed in the state. More than 1.25 million ballots had been returned as of Thursday, according to the New Jersey Secretary of State’s office, or 32% of the total number who voted in the 2016 presidential election.