National: Senators, bipartisan state officials press Congress for more election funds | Maggie Miller/The Hill

A group of Democratic senators and bipartisan secretaries of state from across the nation piled on the pressure Thursday for Congress to include funding to help states grapple with holding elections in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In a phone call with the press, Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), and Chris Coons (Del.) stressed the need to send states at least $2 billion to implement increased mail-in voting, expand early voting and hire and train younger poll workers less vulnerable to the virus. They argued this was particularly important following the Wisconsin primary this week, during which voters were forced to vote in-person following a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court that the state would not be allowed to count absentee ballots mailed in after Election Day. The decision led to long lines and confusion at some polling places in the state.  “Our goal today is to finally generate real, bipartisan support in the Congress for safe voting so our country does not see another grotesque spectacle like we did this week in Wisconsin,” Wyden said.

National: Trump: GOP should fight mail-in voting because it ‘doesn’t work out well for Republicans’ | Quint Forgey/Politico

President Donald Trump on Wednesday directed Republicans to “fight very hard” against efforts to expand mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that such a shift in ballot-casting practices would yield unfavorable electoral results for the GOP. “Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” The president fiercely criticized mail-in voting as “horrible” and “corrupt” during the White House coronavirus task force’s daily news conference Tuesday, but also conceded that he voted by mail in Florida’s primary last month. Trump offered no legitimate explanation for the discrepancy between his position on mail-in voting and his personal voting habits, but insisted “there’s a big difference between somebody that’s out of state and does a ballot, and everything’s sealed, certified and everything else.” In other instances of mail-in voting, however, “you get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room, signing ballots all over the place,” Trump claimed.

National: Why Republicans Are So Afraid of Vote-by-Mail | Jim Rutenberg, Maggie Haberman and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

President Trump and his Republican allies are launching an aggressive strategy to fight what many of the administration’s own health officials view as one of the most effective ways to make voting safer amid the deadly spread of Covid-19: the expanded use of mail-in ballots. The scene Tuesday of Wisconsinites in masks and gloves gathering in long lines to vote, after Republicans sued to defeat extended, mail-in ballot deadlines, did not deter the president and top officials in his party. Republican leaders said they were pushing ahead to fight state-level statutes that could expand absentee balloting in Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona and elsewhere. In New Mexico, Republicans are battling an effort to go to a mail-in-only primary, and they vowed on Wednesday to fight a new move to expand postal balloting in Minnesota. The new political effort is clearly aimed at helping the president’s re-election prospects, as well as bolstering Republicans running further down the ballot. While his advisers tend to see the issue in more nuanced terms, Mr. Trump obviously views the issue in a stark, partisan way: He has complained that under Democratic plans for national expansion of early voting and voting by mail, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

National: After chaos in Wisconsin, fight intensifies over how to carry out presidential election amid pandemic | Evan Halper and Janet Hook/Los Angeles Times

The political and legal chaos that engulfed Wisconsin’s primary Tuesday marked the beginning of a national battle over how democracy will function in the middle of a pandemic — a months-long struggle that could tip the balance of power between the major political parties. At stake is the most basic function of a democracy — the ability to hold elections that partisans on both sides regard as valid. That consensus, already eroded in the Trump era, is now being further undermined. Prompted by Republicans’ refusal to postpone the state’s primary, the Wisconsin meltdown whipsawed voters with on-again, off-again election plans, polling locations drastically reduced, and makeshift protections against contagion. It provided the most public view so far of partisan tension over election rules and how they threaten to sow chaos in upcoming primaries and the general election. Republicans for years have viewed measures to expand access to the ballot as attempts by Democrats to gain an advantage. In the current crisis, they have launched a coordinated national effort to limit the ramp-up of absentee and mail-in voting, which have been urged by independent election-integrity experts in the face of the coronavirus. If the pandemic continues into the fall — or if the virus recedes during the summer and then returns, as many experts expect — that could force millions of voters to choose between casting their ballots and safeguarding their health. The battle is playing out now because states that don’t currently allow widespread mail-in balloting would have to begin changing their systems soon to have any hope of pulling off a mail-in election in the fall.

National: Experts: Internet voting isn’t ready for COVID-19 crisis | Brett Winterford/CyberScoop

Internet technologies are set to play a critical role in the 2020 presidential election, but precisely which voting alternatives will be pursued – and whether they can adequately be secured – is now a $400 million question. COVID-19 doesn’t – at this point – present an excuse to postpone the general election in November. Chris Krebs, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency told a recent Axios forum that 42 U.S. states have mechanisms in place that allow for alternatives to in-person voting, and the other eight have break-glass provisions for doing the same when emergencies require it. A global pandemic would most certainly meet that threshold. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill (CARES Act) signed into law last week included $400 million of grants the Election Assistance Commission can give to states to help them “prevent, prepare for and respond to Coronavirus.” Earlier versions of the bill stipulated that the grants were conditional on states spending it on election security, but these provisions were later stripped out. States retain the autonomy to make the preparations they each deem necessary, as officials face the daunting task of upholding the most essential function of democracy in the midst of a health pandemic that constrains the movement and assembly of people in public spaces.

National: States plan to expand mobile voting amid coronavirus pandemic, despite security concerns | oseph Marks/The Washington Post

Some states are planning to dramatically expand their use of mobile voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic – even as cybersecurity experts warn such systems are unproven and too vulnerable to hacking. Two states will soon announce that they’ll offer voters who have disabilities the option to cast ballots using mobile phones in upcoming primary elections so they don’t have to risk going into polling places, said Sheila Nix, president of Tusk Philanthropies, which is funding the efforts. The option will extend to voters in the military or state residents who are based overseas. “With coronavirus and the uncertainty about what the situation will be in November, a lot of states and jurisdictions are looking for a solution,” Nix told me, but declined to name the states or the mobile voting vendor they’ll be using, because memorandums of understanding aren’t complete yet. Those states will join West Virginia, which became the first to try statewide mobile voting for military and overseas voters in 2018 and has already announced it will expand to voters with disabilities during its upcoming primary June 9. Nix said she’s also talking with about half a dozen other states about potentially using mobile voting for some residents, which would be a significant expansion for a system that has otherwise been tried for just a handful of counties since 2018 and typically just for military and overseas voters.

National: Voting by mail: Why states will have a hard time setting it up | Amber Phillips /The Washington Post

The safest way to hold an election during the coronavirus pandemic is to not. But canceling elections, especially in a presidential year, isn’t an option. So 15 states have moved their primaries back to the summer, and nearly every state is considering how it can have more people vote in November by mail instead of in person. That means they could either expand absentee balloting while keeping fewer polling places open, or they could mail ballots to all voters. But easier said than done. Only five states have the ability to hold a statewide by-mail election, and it took them years to set it up and work out the kinks. The states considering it now have months, if that, which means they need to decide in the next few weeks whether to push for all-mail elections for November and hope it can be done. Here are the biggest hurdles to having more people vote by mail in November. The equipment that states have to conduct in-person elections won’t work for mail-in elections. The scanners many states have to count ballots in each polling places can’t handle counting ballots en masse from the whole county or state. The kind of scanner that can do that heavy work costs $500,000 to $1 million, said Wendy Underhill, an elections expert with the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.

National: The new coronavirus funding battle over the November election | Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett/Politico

Consensus is growing that Democrats and Republicans will soon hash out a new coronavirus emergency package in the coming weeks. But a major obstacle is emerging: the November election. Democrats are making a push to expand funding for vote-by-mail efforts in a fourth emergency rescue package, citing the need to help states prepare to hold elections during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a public health issue, Democrats argue: That elections carried out as usual could spread the virus this fall. But new vote-by-mail funding is facing stern resistance from Senate Republicans and the Trump administration, who argue against imposing federal guidelines on states. The issue may be a sticking point to any relief package as the U.S. faces mass unemployment and a plummeting economy. “We are getting more and more bipartisan support from secretaries of states across the country,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in an interview, who is leading a bill with Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) to expand early voting as well as vote-by-mail. “In a worst case scenario communities may be facing the choice of either voting by mail or not voting at all,” added Wyden. “We’re already going in this direction and now we’re in the middle of a pandemic and I think this is a very different time.”

National: Trump, GOP challenge efforts to make voting easier amid coronavirus pandemic | Elise Viebeck, Amy Gardner and Michael Scherer/The Washington Post

President Trump and a growing number of Republican leaders are aggressively challenging efforts to make voting easier as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts elections, accusing Democrats of opening the door to fraud — and, in some cases, admitting fears that expanded voting access could politically devastate the GOP. Around the country, election officials trying to ensure ballot access and protect public health in upcoming contests face an increasingly coordinated backlash from the right. Much of the onslaught of litigation has been funded by the Republican National Committee, which has sought to block emergency measures related to covid-19, such as proactively mailing ballots to voters sheltering at home. “I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting,” Trump, who voted absentee in New York in 2018, said at a news conference Friday, offering no examples. “I think people should vote [in person] with voter ID. I think voter ID is very important, and the reason they don’t want voter ID is because they intend to cheat.” Democrats and their allies in the civil rights community are also seizing the moment, arguing that the current crisis has created an urgent need for many of the voting policies they have pushed for years, including mass expansion of mail balloting and relaxation of voter ID, signature and witness requirements.

National: Trump campaign declares war on Democrats over voting rules for November | Alex Isenstadt/Pölitico

“This is about making sure that we’re able to conduct our democracy while we’re dealing with a pandemic. We can do both,” Biden said. “There’s a lot of ways to do it, but we should be talking about it now.” Trump advisers say they are open to certain changes, such as automatically sending absentee ballot applications to voters over age 65. But they’re opposed to other moves Democrats are pushing, such as sending every voter a ballot regardless of whether they ask for one, which Republicans argue would open the door to fraud. Trump has long been fixated on voter fraud. He has repeatedly claimed without evidence that he lost New Hampshire in 2016 because out-of-staters cast ballots, and after the election the president set up a since-disbanded voter fraud commission. Following the disastrous 2018 midterms, Trump said that after voting, some people “go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.” During an appearance on Fox News this week, Trump pushed back against an effort by House Democrats to secure billions of dollars for election assistance in the coronavirus relief package. The bill Trump ultimately signed included $400 million, a fraction of what Democrats had been seeking.

National: Some cash-strapped states turn to election security funds to fight COVID-19 | Matthew Vann/ABC

With the country in crisis mode responding to the coronavirus, several states are now turning to their election security funds from the massive stimulus package signed by President Trump amid plans to cover unanticipated costs stemming from the virus. ABC News has confirmed that several states— including the political battleground states of Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as Rhode Island, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Alabama—are either now using or intend to use election security funds, including coronavirus stimulus money designated to protect the 2020 elections from malicious cyber activity, to fight their own statewide battles against COVID-19. “We are assessing all election security and administration needs and will allocate accordingly,” said Wanda Murren, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Secretary of State. The National Association of Secretaries of State issued guidance to states on how best to prepare for the elections amid concerns about the virus, but says decisions about how to spend election security money in a time of national crisis is up to each state.

National: New election security funds won’t come easy for hard-hit states | Paul M. Krawzak/Roll Call

Cash-strapped states, which Congress just pumped $150 billion into, will nonetheless have to pony up in order to access new election security grants in the massive new coronavirus aid package signed by President Donald Trump last week. The $2.3 trillion aid bill contains $400 million to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for the 2020 Federal election cycle.” The Election Assistance Commission, an independent, bipartisan commission established in 2002, will administer the grants. But consistent with past practice, and EAC guidelines, the money comes with strings attached: States need to put up matching funds equal to 20 percent of their federal aid. Previous election security grants required a state match, most recently the 20 percent state match required for $425 million provided in regular fiscal 2020 appropriations last December. But some election security experts were taken aback that the matching funds requirement wasn’t waived in the latest round of aid, and House Democrats are already planning to include a fix in the “phase four” COVID-19 bill they are prepping.

National: Democrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Democrats and voting rights groups on Thursday pressed President Trump and Republicans to support more funding for elections this year, saying it was crucial to include money ensuring people could cast ballots as part of the next coronavirus stimulus package. Lawmakers and voting advocacy groups took part in what amounted to a sustained campaign calling for the country to ensure people could cast votes either in person or by mail despite the coronavirus crisis. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) argued on one press call Thursday that at least $1.6 billion more was needed to guarantee Americans could vote in November. “This next month is critical for our democracy, I can’t think of another time when we faced something quite like this in terms of our limitations,” Klobuchar told reporters. “I think we can do this, I really do, we simply must make sure that people have the right to vote.”

National: Pelosi wants ‘vote by mail’ provisions in next U.S. coronavirus bill | Susan Cornwell/Reuters

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday she wants to virus-proof the November election by including funding to boost voting by mail in the next pandemic response plan being put together by Democrats in the House of Representatives. Pelosi said at least $2 billion, and ideally $4 billion, was needed to enable voting by mail, to give citizens a safe way to vote during the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 4,300 people across the United States. She noted Democrats got just $400 million for that purpose in the $2.3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday. “Vote by mail is so important to … our democracy so that people have access to voting and not be deterred, especially at this time, by the admonition to stay home,” Pelosi told reporters. Trump told Fox News on Monday that voting by mail would hurt the Republican Party. Pelosi rejected that argument.

National: 15 States Have Postponed Their Primaries Because of Coronavirus. Here’s a List. | Nick Corasaniti and Stephanie Saul/The New York Times

As the coronavirus pandemic upends the presidential campaign, states across the country are postponing primary elections and expanding vote by mail options, citing the difficulty of holding elections during the outbreak. Fifteen states and one territory — Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wyoming and Puerto Rico — have either pushed back their presidential primaries or switched to voting by mail with extended deadlines. Six of those states have moved their primaries to June 2, which has unexpectedly become a major date on the Democratic primary calendar. It is among the last dates available before the June 9 deadline set by the Democratic National Committee for states to hold their nominating contests. In New York, officials delayed the presidential primary even further, to June 23. Wisconsin is holding firm to the April 7 date for its primary, but the governor wants to send every voter an absentee ballot. Tom Perez, the D.N.C. chairman, has urged states with upcoming contests to expand their use of voting by mail, no-excuse absentee voting, curbside ballot drop-offs and early voting.

National: Democrats Push for Voting by Mail Amid Coronavirus Pandemic | Lindsay Wise and Natalie Andrews/Wall Street Journal

Democrats are pushing for billions of dollars in federal funds to pay for expanded voting by mail this November, as presidential and congressional election deadlines approach and concerns heighten for the health of workers and voters at traditional polling places. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Wednesday that she wants money for voting by mail to be included in the next stimulus package designed to combat the novel coronavirus, which the House might consider by the end of April. Dozens of states have issued stay-at-home orders, and while a number of health experts expect Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, to peak in the next several months, it is still expected to be a threat in the fall. “Vote by mail is so important to our democracy so that people have access to voting and not be deterred, especially by the admonition to stay home,” said Mrs. Pelosi. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress last week included $400 million for state and local election officials to address complications created by the virus. It didn’t mandate specific reforms or requirements for how that money can be spent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates it will cost at least $2 billion for states to implement voting by mail and take other steps to ensure “free and fair” elections can go ahead.

National: Election chaos: Coronavirus fear of voting could keep people from the polls | Pete Williams/NBC

State officials nationwide are scrambling to adjust to stay-at-home and social distancing orders as they plan the 2020 voting calendar, and many experts warn that the pandemic threatens to be highly disruptive to this year’s elections. “There’s a real possibility that people will be afraid to vote on Election Day and won’t have alternatives,” said Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission who now heads the Campaign Legal Center in Washington. “That’s just unacceptable for the world’s leading democracy.” Fourteen states and Puerto Rico have already postponed their primary elections or caucuses for choosing presidential candidates. Voting rights advocates in Ohio sued challenging the Legislature’s plan to delay the March 17 primary by extending absentee voting through April 28. The challengers argue that it is likely to overwhelm the system for handling absentee votes. They also said the plan cuts off voter registration too early. In Wisconsin, several groups have sued to postpone the state’s primary on Tuesday or at least to make it easier for voters to register and vote by mail, arguing that the virus and the state’s current requirements essentially disenfranchise thousands of voters. But U.S. District Judge William Conley suggested at a hearing Wednesday that he did not believe he had the authority to postpone the voting.

National: Coronavirus response is officially a new front in the election security fight | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

The brief detente in partisan bickering over how to ensure people are safe to vote – and their votes are safe – amid the coronavirus pandemic just burst into open warfare. President Trump suggested on Fox and Friends that one reason he opposed a $4 billion infusion of election money Democrats sought for the coronavirus stimulus was that it might have led to more Democratic victories. Democrats wanted the money to go toward expanding secure vote by mail or early voting options to reduce the risk of people getting infected, should the pandemic still pose risks by November. “They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agree to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” he said, seeming to suggest that higher turnout would help Democrats. House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) shot back, calling that “a monstrous example of putting party ahead of America” and accusing the president of forcing citizens to vote in unsafe ways. The stimulus bill ultimately included $400 million for election security related to the pandemic but no rules for how states must spend it. “Every American, regardless of party affiliation, should condemn the president’s apparent belief that it’s a good thing for American voters to risk their lives when safer voting alternatives are possible,” she said.

National: Pelosi, state Democrats push for more funds for mail-in voting | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and more than 50 state Democratic officials advocated strongly on Tuesday for Congress to give states more funding to support mail-in and absentee voting efforts as part of the next coronavirus stimulus bill.  “In terms of the elections, I think that we’ll probably be moving to vote by mail,” Pelosi said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “That’s why we wanted to have more resources in this third bill that just was signed by the president to get those resources to the states to facilitate the reality of life that we are going to have to have more vote by mail.” The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President Trump last week included $400 million to allow states to adapt the upcoming primary and general elections during the coronavirus crisis. That amount was far lower than the $4 billion proposed by Pelosi as part of the House version of the stimulus bill, which also would have required states to send absentee ballots to every registered voter and expand early voting. The final coronavirus stimulus package did not include any requirements for how states must use the $400 million. Pelosi said on Monday that she was disappointed the stimulus did not include funding for the U.S. Postal Service to send ballots to Americans, and said she hoped public opinion would help to push Republicans to support more funding for elections in the next coronavirus stimulus bill.

National: 16 States Restrict Access to Voting by Mail – How That Could Change 2020 Presidential Election During the Coronavirus Pandemic | Ashley Stockler/Newsweek

As the coronavirus pandemic heightens concerns about participation in November’s general election, advocates are calling on officials in the over one dozen states where voting by mail is heavily restricted to expand access to absentee ballots. According to research compiled by the National Vote at Home Institute, 16 states limit the distribution of absentee ballots—which can be mailed or otherwise delivered to the voter’s home—to residents who present a lawful excuse for avoiding in-person voting, such as planned travel or a disability. Of those states, five—West Virginia, Alabama, Indiana, Delaware and Massachusetts—have already waived these limitations for voters in upcoming primary and statewide elections because of public health concerns over the virus’ spread. The abilities of these and other states to expand vote-by-mail options come November are alternately limited by political will, state law or the state constitution.

National: Cyber Warfare Doesn’t Take a Break During Coronavirus Season; US Health Agencies Are Fending off DDoS Attacks and Disinformation Campaigns in the Midst of a Pandemic | Scott Ikeda/CPO Magazine

Unfettered by social distancing measures or economic concerns, cyber threat actors are taking full advantage of opportunities created by the coronavirus pandemic. United States health agencies are being tested by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and social media disinformation campaigns as they scramble to respond to an unprecedented viral outbreak, and these attacks are thought to be backed by a hostile foreign government. A large-scale DDoS attack was directed at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department sometime around March 15. A spokesperson for the National Security Council stated that the attack did not do any substantial damage and that the networks are being “continuously monitored” to mitigate any future attempts. The DDoS attack involved millions of requests on the health agency’s servers over a period of several hours. A Health and Human Services spokesperson indicated that the government does not know who was behind the attack, but suspects a foreign government. The DDoS attack did not involve any network compromise, nor did it significantly slow down operations. The spokesperson indicated that the agency has put unspecified “extra protections” in place going forward.

National: How Russia’s Troll Farm Is Changing Tactics Before the Fall Election | Davey Alba/The New York Times

Ahead of November’s election, American intelligence officials and others are on high alert for mischief from Russia’s Internet Research Agency. Remember it? The Kremlin-backed group was identified by American authorities as having interfered in the 2016 election. At the time, Russians working for the group stole the identities of American citizens and spread incendiary messages on Facebook and other social media platforms to stoke discord on race, religion and other issues that were aimed at influencing voters. To avoid detection, the group has since evolved its tactics. Here are five ways its methods have shifted.

National: Trump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances | Maggie Miller/The Hill

President Trump said Monday that the vote-by-mail proposal in the original Democrat-backed House version of the coronavirus stimulus bill would have ensured that no Republicans were ever elected again. “The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to, you would never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.” “They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of drawbacks. They had things that were just totally crazy.” Trump was referring to provisions that would have given $4 billion to states to boost mail-in and absentee ballots. Specific proposals included requiring states to send absentee ballots to every registered voter, requiring online and same-day voter registration, and expanding early voting by 15 days. House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who spearheaded the addition of the election funds and policies to the House version of the stimulus package, pushed back strongly against Trump’s comments on Monday, describing them as “morally bankrupt.” “The President says that if we make it easier to vote, Republicans will lose elections,” Lofgren said in a statement. “He is apparently willing to expose voters to the deadly COVID-19 for purely partisan political advantage.” She emphasized that “this is morally bankrupt and a monstrous example of putting party ahead of America. Every American, regardless of party affiliation, should condemn the President’s apparent belief that it’s a good thing for American voters to risk their lives when safer voting alternatives are possible.” Ellen Kurz, the founder and CEO of iVote, a political action committee, told The Hill that Trump’s “sentiments bring into stark relief why Republican officials across the country have taken every opportunity to keep people from voting.” 

National: Trump: If it’s easy for people to vote, Republicans will never win again | Emily Singer/The American Independent

Donald Trump on Monday offered insight into why Republican lawmakers opposed a Democratic proposal in the coronavirus relief package that would’ve allowed states to shift their 2020 elections to all-mail ballots. “If you look at before and after, the things they had in [the bill] were crazy,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning. “They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Democrats have been pushing for a shift to absentee ballots in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that states could still hold elections even if the virus is still raging in November. Already, a number of states that do not allow for no-excuse absentee voting — that is, allowing voters to vote by mail for any reason — have had to postpone their primary contests, as requiring voters to show up at polling sites, and possibly wait in crowded lines for hours, could further spread the virus. “Without federal action, Americans might have to choose between casting a ballot and protecting their health. That’s wrong, and we must take swift action to address the problem,” Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ron Wyden of Oregon — who introduced a bill to shift states to all-mail elections — wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “The best way to ensure that this virus doesn’t keep people from the ballot box is to bring the ballot box to them. We must allow every American the ability to vote by mail.”

National: Trump says Republicans would ‘never’ be elected again if it was easier to vote | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Donald Trump admitted on Monday that making it easier to vote in America would hurt the Republican party. The president made the comments as he dismissed a Democratic-led push for reforms such as vote-by-mail, same-day registration and early voting as states seek to safely run elections amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Democrats had proposed the measures as part of the coronavirus stimulus. They ultimately were not included in the $2.2tn final package, which included only $400m to states to help them run elections. “The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. “They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of clawbacks. They had things that were just totally crazy and had nothing to do with workers that lost their jobs and companies that we have to save.” Democrats often accuse Republicans of deliberately making it hard to vote in order to keep minorities, immigrants, young people and other groups from the polls. And Republicans often say they oppose voting reforms because of concerns of voter fraud – which is extremely rare – or concerns over having the federal government run elections. But Trump’s remarks reveal how at least some Republicans have long understood voting barriers to be a necessary part of their political self-preservation. “I don’t want everybody to vote,” Paul Weyrich, an influential conservative activist, said in 1980. “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

National: HackerOne cuts ties with mobile voting firm Voatz after it clashed with researchers | Sean Lyngaas/CyberScoop

HackerOne, a company that pairs ethical hackers with organizations to fix software flaws, has kicked mobile voting vendor Voatz off its platform, citing the vendor’s hostile interactions with security researchers. It’s the first time in its eight-year existence that HackerOne, which works with companies from AT&T to Uber, has expelled an organization from its bug-bounty-hosting platform, a HackerOne spokesperson said. The decision comes after Voatz assailed the motives of MIT researchers who found flaws in the company’s voting app. “After evaluating Voatz’s pattern of interactions with the research community, we decided to terminate the program on the HackerOne platform,” a HackerOne spokesperson told CyberScoop. “We partner with organizations that prioritize acting in good faith towards the security researcher community and providing adequate access to researchers for testing.” It is the latest security-related setback for Voatz, which is trying to make inroads in a market dominated by traditional voting machine manufacturers. In the last two years, a smattering of U.S. counties have used the Voatz smartphone app in elections to try to improve turnout.

National: The Postal Service, in trouble before covid-19, is fighting for its life | Joe Davidson/The Washington Post

The $2 trillion congressional coronavirus assistance package would provide badly needed relief for millions of Americans and businesses but little for one organization already in desperate financial health. The U.S. Postal Service has been in money trouble for years. Now, covid-19, the disease the virus causes, is forcing the quasi-governmental agency into a fight for its life. “What we’ve seen in the pandemic is the collapse of mail,” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the government operations subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, said by phone. “While people are shipping packages, mail volume has collapsed.” Unless Congress acts quickly, the decline in mail because of covid-19 could soon close the constitutionally mandated mail service, according to Connolly and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the full Committee on Oversight and Reform. They called the situation “a national emergency” as they proposed postal relief measures. “As a direct result of the coronavirus crisis, it has become clear that the Postal Service will not survive the summer without immediate assistance from Congress and the White House,” Maloney and Connolly wrote in a letter Tuesday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “Postal Service officials warn that, without immediate intervention, the precipitous drop off in mail use across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic could shutter the Postal Service’s doors as early as June.”

National: Stimulus package provides United States Postal System no funding, postal service could shutter by June 2020 amid coronavirus | Nicole Goodkind/Fortune

Fifty years ago, a postal worker strike halted mail delivery. The eight-day strike, carried out by 150,000 letter carriers across 30 cities, prompted then-President Richard Nixon to declare an emergency and send in the National Guard to deliver mail. “The United States Postal System is a vital element of our entire communications system. The poor depend heavily upon it for medical services and also for government assistance,” Nixon said in an address to the nation. “Veterans depend on it for their compensation checks. The elderly depend on it for their Social Security checks.” Today, the Postal Service is just as essential: It delivers about 1 million lifesaving medications each year and serves as the only delivery link to Americans living in rural areas. Working with other delivery services like UPS, the agency supports $1.7 trillion in sales and 7.3 million private sector workers year, and this year will prove essential to delivering the 2020 Census to citizens as well as any vote-by-mail initiatives. The USPS is the federal government’s most favorably viewed agency, with an approval rating of 90%. Yet once again, the USPS is in crisis mode.

National: Coronavirus cripples voter registration efforts. Millions could be denied. | Alex Seitz-Wald/NBC

Presidential elections are typically prime time for bringing new people into the political process, but the coronavirus pandemic is making voter registration more difficult than ever, prompting concerns that many young Americans and other nonvoters might miss their chance to get onto the rolls before November. “This is the moment when we historically see people take action to register to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The public health crisis has brought all of that activity virtually to a grinding halt.” Voter registration happens year-round, but the months leading up to a presidential election are crucial as interest in politics spikes and funding for registration efforts flows in. In the runup to the 2016 presidential election, Americans filed more than 77.5 million voter registration applications, according to the Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency that helps states administer elections, and total registration topped 200 million.

National: How Will We Vote? Outbreak Revives Debate on Mail-In Ballots | Nicholas Riccardi and Rachel La Corte/Associated Press

As the coronavirus pandemic knocks primary election after primary election off schedule, Democrats argue the outbreak shows the country needs to move toward one of their longtime goals — widespread voting by mail — to protect the November election. But Democrats’ hopes for using the crisis to expand voting by mail face firm Republican opposition, as well as significant logistical challenges. In some states, it would amount to a major revamp of their voting system just eight months before an election. Vote-by-mail boosters already lost the first round of the fight. Democrats tried and failed to insert a broad mandate expanding voting by mail in the stimulus bill, a proposal that could cost as much as $2 billion. Instead, the bill included $400 million to help states adjust elections however they see fit before November. But Democrats in Washington say they will keep pressing the issue, pointing to the increasing number of states that are shifting to mail-in voting for primaries as evidence that the time is right. A poll from the Pew Research Center released Monday found that about two-thirds of Americans would be uncomfortable voting at polling places during the outbreak. “Practically every single Tuesday, we see another state reacting to their inability to run their election in the middle of this incredible health care pandemic,” said Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the first state to vote entirely through the mail. He called expanded mail voting “not even a close call.” Former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, joined the push Sunday. “We should be looking to all-mail ballots across the board,” Biden said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We should be beginning to plan that in each of our states.”