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

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

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

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

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

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

National: From 47 Primaries, 4 Warning Signs About the 2020 Vote | Michael Wines/The New York Times

Evelina Reese has been a poll worker for 40 years. And for the last six decades, she says, she has never missed a chance to vote. “We’re all dedicated citizens as far as voting goes,” Ms. Reese, a retired social services worker from the Atlanta suburb of Riverdale, said this past week. But this year, out of concern about the coronavirus, Ms. Reese, 79, skipped her routine of visiting an early-voting site and instead requested one of the absentee ballots that the state promised to all who wanted one. Georgia’s June 9 primary came and went, the ballot never arrived, and Ms. Reese’s 60-year streak was broken. After Tuesday’s votes in New York and Kentucky, 46 states and the District of Columbia have completed primary elections or party caucuses, facing the ferocious challenge not just of voting during a pandemic, but voting by mail in historic numbers. The task for November is not just to avoid the errors that disenfranchised Ms. Reeves and many others, but to apply lessons learned since the Iowa caucuses ended in chaos on Feb. 3. Despite debacles in some states, votes have been counted and winners chosen largely without incident — a feat, some say, given that many states only had weeks to scrap decades of in-person voting habits for voting by mail. But the challenges and the stakes will be exponentially higher in November when Americans choose a president and much of Congress.

National: No presidential winner on election night? Mail-in ballots could put outcome in doubt for weeks| Joey Garrison/USA Today

Kentucky won’t have final results of last week’s state primary until Tuesday. New York could take twice as long. In Pennsylvania, the state’s largest city, Philadelphia, was still tallying mail-in ballots nearly two weeks after its June 2 primary. The unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic has produced hiccups in some state primaries and operated smoothly in others. But one thing is constant: States have shattered turnout records for primaries because of the deluge of mail-in ballots, forcing election officials to need days, even weeks, to count all the votes. Fast-forward to the Nov. 3 presidential election, when all 50 states and the District of Columbia will vote the same day. Many states are expected to turn to mass mail-in voting again but this time for a presidential race that will draw significantly greater turnout than primaries. In the race between President Donald Trump and Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden, down to races for Congress and even local contests, voting experts have a warning: Unless there’s a clear and decisive winner, brace for an election week or weeks, not an election night. “I think ‘weeks’ is potentially being generous,” said Joe Burns, a Republican election attorney for the Lawyers Democracy Fund.

National: Trump’s attacks seen undercutting confidence in 2020 vote | Jill Colvin/Associated Press

It was a startling declaration about one of the pillars of American democracy, all the more so given its source. The president of the United States last week publicly predicted without evidence that the 2020 presidential election would be “the most corrupt election in the history of our country.” “We cannot let this happen,” Donald Trump told an audience of young supporters at a Phoenix megachurch. “They want it to happen so badly.” Just over four months before Election Day, the president is escalating his efforts to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote. It’s a well-worn tactic for Trump, who in 2016 went after the very process that ultimately put him in the White House. He first attacked the Republican primaries (“rigged and boss controlled”) and then the general election, when he accused the media and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign of conspiring against him to undermine a free and fair election. “The process is rigged. This whole election is being rigged,” he said that October when polls showed him trailing Clinton by double digits as he faced a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations. Then, as now, election experts have repeatedly discredited his claims about widespread fraud in the voting process.

National: Voter Registrations Are Way, Way Down During The Pandemic | Kaleigh Rogers and Nathaniel Rakich/FiveThirtyEight

Poll after poll showed a high level of enthusiasm for voting in the general election in 2020, and in the beginning of the year, voter registration surged to match that excitement. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. New registrations have fallen off a cliff. The spring of a presidential election year is often a busy time for adding new voters to the rolls, and a recent report from the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve voter turnout and election security, shows registration numbers were even stronger in early 2020 than early 2016. But things changed dramatically in March, at least in the 12 places where FiveThirtyEight or CEIR were able to obtain data on new voters, a category that includes first-time voters, voters who recently moved to the state and, in some states (Texas, for example) even voters who moved between counties in the state. Consider Florida, for example, where 109,859 new voters registered in February of this year, compared to 87,351 registrants in February of 2016. But in April 2020, only 21,031 new voters registered, compared with 52,508 in 2016. The same pattern holds in 10 other states, plus Washington, D.C.: Each one registered fewer new voters in April 2020 than in April 2016, including in states where online voter registration is available.

National: Federal Election Commission losing quorum again after Caroline Hunter resigns | Daniel Lipman and Zach Montellaro/Politico

The Federal Election Commission is losing its short-lived quorum after Caroline Hunter, a longtime Republican commissioner of the FEC and former chair of the agency, is resigning, according to a resignation letter obtained by POLITICO. Her departure from the agency means that the FEC will be unable to make major enforcement actions. After almost a year of not having enough commissioners, the FEC had only just regained its quorum last month when the Senate confirmed Texas election attorney Trey Trainor on a party line vote to fill an empty seat on the nation’s campaign finance watchdog. Last week, the FEC had its first meeting after Trainor’s confirmation, during which it approved only three advisory opinions on minor issues. Without four commissioners, the FEC, which is supposed to have six commissioners, is functionally unable to address complaints alleging campaign finance law violations. That meant that at the end of March, there were more than 300 pending cases that hadn’t been addressed, including about three dozen that alleged foreign interference. Hunter will leave the agency on July 3 and said in her letter that she fought against “unnecessary government regulations and unfair enforcement actions” and promoted the FEC being more transparent. During the Citizens United era, which has been marked by an explosion in campaign spending and super PACs pumping cash into elections, Hunter often opposed limits on such activity.

National: Securing voter registration databases takes on added importance in pandemic, DHS official says | Sean Lyngaas/CyberScoop

The expansion of voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic makes it all the more important that election officials secure voter registration databases from hacking, according to a senior Department of Homeland Security official. The greater amount of absentee voting and mail-in ballots “shifts the risk towards voter registration data security,” Matt Masterson, senior adviser at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said Wednesday during a virtual conference. People voting by mail generally won’t have access to the same provisional-balloting process that those voting in person can use if they’ve been left off of voter rolls due to an administrative error. That makes the integrity of voter registration data all the more important in the era of COVID-19, Masterson said. The novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 120,000 people in the U.S., has forced many states to postpone presidential primaries and ramp up voting-by-mail options. Forty-six states currently offer all of their voters some form of by-mail voting, according to the nonprofit Open Source Election Technology Institute (OSET).

National: Trump’s False Attacks on Voting by Mail Stir Broad Concern | Maggie Haberman, Nick Corasaniti and Linda Qiu/The New York Times

President Trump is stepping up his attacks on the integrity of the election system, sowing doubts about the November vote at a time when the pandemic has upended normal balloting and as polls show former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. ahead by large margins. Having yet to find an effective formula for undercutting Mr. Biden or to lure him into the kinds of culture war fights that the president prefers, Mr. Trump is training more of his fire on the political process in a way that appears intended to give him the option of raising doubts about the legitimacy of the outcome. Promoting baseless questions about election fraud is nothing new for Mr. Trump. He has hopscotched from saying that President Barack Obama was elected with the help of dead voters to suggesting that undocumented immigrants were voting en masse to claiming that out-of-state voters were bused into New Hampshire in 2016. But in recent days, Mr. Trump has focused intensive new attacks on voting by mail, as states grapple with the challenge of conducting elections in the middle of surging coronavirus cases in many parts of the country.

National: Security Flaws in US Online Voting System Raises Alarm Over Potential Vote Manipulation | Byron Muhlberg/CPO Magazine

As the 2020 US presidential election draws nearer, concern is beginning to mount over the potential threat of vote manipulation. Alarm over vote manipulation was once again raised after OmniBallot, an online voting system, was found to be riddled with a host of security risks according to the findings of a recent research paper by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Michigan computer scientists. The research paper, which hit the press on June 7, revealed that OmniBallot’s designer Democracy Live leaves the ballots that it processes susceptible to vote manipulation. What’s more, the researchers found that Democracy Live actively collects sensitive voter information and does not ensure adequate protection of the information while online. As a result, according to the paper, the online voting system runs the risk of providing easy pickings for sophisticated cybercriminals—especially those using ransomware—one that is only exacerbated by the fact that no technology currently exists to mitigate the risks in question.

National: Klobuchar: Trump’s opposition to expanded mail-in voting is a ‘blatant effort to suppress the vote’ | Rebecca Klar/The Hill

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) called President Trump’s opposition to expanding access to vote-by-mail amid the coronavirus pandemic a “blatant effort to suppress the vote.” Klobuchar accused Trump of trying to scare voters with unsubstantiated claims that more mail-in voting would lead to widespread fraud in an effort to aid his bid for reelection in November. “He said it himself. I would love to break news on your show that I had some special thing, but he has said that the vote by mail is going to hurt him in his election,” Klobuchar said Wednesday in an interview with The Hill’s Steve Clemons. “So what does he do, which is his typical playbook? He then claims that it’s fraudulent to scare people in a blatant effort to suppress the vote,” she added. Trump has railed against mail-in voting, as Democrats have pushed to expand the option amid the coronavirus pandemic. Klobuchar pushed back on the president’s claims. “He says it is fraudulent, yet if you look at a state like Oregon, which is nearly 100 percent vote by mail … the fraud rate is like 0.0000001 percent or something like that. It’s crazy,” she said.

National: Trump and Barr say mail-in voting will lead to fraud. Experts say that’s not true | Caitlin Huey-Burns and Adam Brewster/CBS

As election officials from both parties are scaling up their vote by mail operations ahead of November’s election, the president and the attorney general are making unverified claims that foreign actors could tamper with those ballots. In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Attorney General Bill Barr said mail-in voting “absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud” and claimed that “a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and (it would) be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot.” It was the second time this month Barr had speculated about election fraud in November. In an interview with the New York Times, the attorney general said a number of foreign countries “could easily make counterfeit ballots, put names on them, send them in.” In a string of tweets on Monday, President Trump followed suit, claiming the 2020 election would be “rigged” because “millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign countries.” The comments have baffled election officials and experts who say a complicated and detailed set of safeguards in place are expressly designed to detect and prevent such interference. “You would have to reproduce the entire election administration apparatus somewhere in the middle of Siberia,” says Charles Stewart, the founding director of the Election Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

National: A Winner on Election Day in November? Don’t Count on It | Shane Goldmacher/The New York Times

The cliffhanger elections on Tuesday night in Kentucky and New York didn’t just leave the candidates and voters in a state of suspended animation wondering who had won. Election officials, lawyers and political strategists in both parties said the lack of results was a bracing preview of what could come after the polls close in November: No clear and immediate winner in the presidential race. With the coronavirus pandemic swelling the number of mailed-in ballots to historic highs across the nation, the process of vote-counting has become more unwieldy, and election administrators are straining to keep up and deliver timely results. The jumble of election rules and deadlines by state, including in presidential battlegrounds like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all but ensure that the victor in a close race won’t be known on Nov. 3. And top election officials are warning that if the race between Donald J. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. is anything but a blowout, the public and the politicians need to recalibrate expectations for when the 2020 campaign will come to a decisive conclusion.

National: ‘Too early to call’: why it’s unlikely we’ll have a winner on US election night | Sam Levine/The Guardian

As Kentucky voters wait to see which Democrat will challenge Mitch McConnell this fall, Americans are quickly realizing there’s a new normal for elections during the pandemic: we’re not going to know the winner on election night. Over the last few months, states across the US have seen record numbers of their voters cast their votes by mail as states expand and encourage its use during Covid-19. It’s a change that means election officials are going to need more time to count votes as ballots flood election offices on election day and afterwards – some states count ballots postmarked by election day if they arrive in the days after the election. There are worries about how the US will react to delayed results during November’s hotly contested presidential election. Americans are used to the spectacle of election night – anchors on major networks breathlessly analyze and call races and the evening culminates in a late night speech from victorious candidates. That’s very unlikely to happen this year – Americans are going to be waiting a while to find out whether or not Donald Trump will be president for another four years.

National: GOP senator blocks bill to boost mail-in and early voting during pandemic | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to push legislation through the Senate that would promote mail-in voting and expand early voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Blunt, who serves as chairman of the elections-focused Senate Rules Committee, blocked Klobuchar’s attempt to pass the bill in a Senate by unanimous consent due to concerns that it would federalize the election process. “I just don’t think this is the time to make this kind of fundamental change,” Blunt said, pointing to concerns that passing the bill would lead to state and local election officials having less control over elections. The Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act, introduced by Klobuchar and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in March, would provide $3 million to the Election Assistance Commission to implement new requirements in the bill. These include requiring states to expand early voting to 20 days prior to the election, and extending the time for absentee ballots to be counted.

National: Here’s why all election officials should pay attention to Kentucky’s primary | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Kentucky’s primary contest yesterday marked a rare bright spot after a string of primaries where officials proved wholly unprepared to hold safe and secure elections during the pandemic. The Kentucky primary Tuesday was far from flawless. Indeed, some in-person voters waited up to two hours in Lexington. But the state managed to evade the fate of Wisconsin, Georgia and the District of Columbia where large numbers of requested mail ballots never arrived, poll workers were unprepared and voting lines stretched for four hours and longer. And it did it while shattering the record for primary voter turnout, largely driven by interest in a contentious Democratic primary to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Secretary of State Michael G. Adams (R) predicted total turnout would exceed 1 million voters with a large percentage of them casting ballots by mail, Amy Gardner, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Elise Viebeck report. The Kentucky situation was a welcome victory after speculation the state could face major primary day challenges — especially because a dearth of poll workers healthy enough to brave the pandemic forced the state to just open 200 polling sites, down from 3,700 in a typical election year.

National: ‘An embarrassment’: Trump’s justice department goes quiet on voting rights | Sam Levine/The Guardian

The Department of Justice (DoJ), the agency with unmatched power to prevent discrimination at the ballot box, has been glaringly quiet when it comes to enforcing voting rights ahead of the 2020 election, former department attorneys say. Amid concern that the attorney general, William Barr, is using the department to advance Trump’s political interests, observers say the department is failing to protect the voting rights of minority groups. Remarkably, while the department has been involved in a handful of cases since Donald Trump’s inauguration, it has largely defended voting restrictions rather than opposing them. The department’s limited public activity has been striking, particularly as several states have seen voters wait hours in line to vote and jurisdictions are rapidly limiting in-person voting options because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “It just seems like there’s nobody home, which is tragic,” said William Yeomans, who worked in the department’s civil rights division, which includes the voting section, for over two decades. “This is especially sad considering the plethora of voting issues crying out for action, from Georgia to Wisconsin.” Until late May, the justice department had not filed a new case under the Voting Rights Act, the powerful 1965 law that prohibits voting discrimination, during Trump’s presidency. (In 2019, it settled a Voting Rights Act case in Michigan that was filed in the final days of the Obama administration.)

National: Trump’s war against mail-in voting lacks Republican allies | Michael Warren, Manu Raju and Marshall Cohen/CNN

Donald Trump’s campaign against mail-in voting isn’t getting much support from other Republicans, either in Washington or in some key swing states. After Trump tweeted Monday morning that mail-in ballots would make 2020 the “most RIGGED election in our nation’s history,” CNN spoke with numerous GOP senators, including members of the GOP leadership team. None of them said they agreed with the President’s views on mail-in voting, and a number of them said they supported expansions as a way to deal with the coronavirus. “I think it’s fine,” Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, a member of the Senate GOP leadership team, said of the expansion of mail-in voting in her state. “It’s worked well in Nebraska. We had tremendous turnout in the primary in May. No issues that I’ve heard from our secretary of state. It’s worked well.” Fischer was joined by several other Republican senators Monday who said they did not believe more voting by mail — which has been expanding in states in recent years and has accelerated since the coronavirus outbreak began — would unfairly rig the election.

National: 16 Trump officials who have voted by mail recently, despite Trump’s warnings about it | Aaron Blake/The Washington Post

President Trump spent much of his Monday on Twitter decrying the supposed dangers of voting by mail. And in that effort, he got an assist over the weekend from Attorney General William P. Barr. Appearing on Fox News with Maria Bartiromo, Barr said twice that expanded voting by mail would open “the floodgates of potential fraud.” “Right now, a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and [it would] be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot,” Barr said. Barr’s allegation has astounded election experts, who say something on the scale he’s talking about is simply unthinkable. Basically, localities know who they’ve sent ballots to and would be aware of duplicate ballots or ballots being returned by people who were never sent them. Yet here Barr is raising it again — and with no pushback from the Fox host. Barr’s commentary, though, is similar to Trump’s in one key respect: While warning against the dangers of voting by mail, Barr himself has used it. As The Washington Post reported earlier this month, Barr voted absentee in both the 2019 and 2012 elections. Voting absentee and opposing making voting by mail easier aren’t inherently at odds, it bears noting. One could know that their own absentee ballot is legitimate, for example, while believing that expanding the practice could lead to problems with other ballots. And one could believe that being out of state is a valid excuse but not wanting to show up to vote during the coronavirus pandemic isn’t.

National: Democratic election officials punch back on Trump mail voting claims | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Democratic election officials are punching back at President Trump’s unfounded claims that voting by mail leads to widespread fraud. In a new digital ad, Democratic secretaries of state describe the president’s assault on mail voting as an effort to suppress minority votes and link it to a long history of racist voting requirements such as poll taxes. The video also attacks Trump and Republicans for other actions that make it harder to vote, such as voter ID laws and purging the files of people who haven’t voted in several elections. “White supremacy has no place in our elections and no place in our country,” the ad declares. It pledges Democratic secretaries of state will work to ensure voting by mail is an option for everyone during the coronavirus pandemic. The ad – released at the same time as a new website promoting Democratic secretary of state candidates – marks a significant rhetorical escalation from election officials who’ve spent much of the pandemic countering the president’s unfounded claims with facts and figures that show fraud rates from voting by mail are exceptionally low. It also underscores the stakes as election officials struggle to maintain public faith in the security and credibility of the 2020 elections while Trump continually undermines it.

National: Kentucky, New York Primaries Face Scrutiny After Complaints | Alexa Corse/Wall Street Journal

States holding primaries Tuesday are facing scrutiny after some voters raised concerns about delays in receiving absentee ballots in New York and voting-rights groups criticized a reduction in the number of in-person voting sites in Kentucky. The contests come after a string of chaotic voting days—including mail-voting snafus and long lines in Georgia and elsewhere—have raised concerns about the country’s preparedness to run a smooth election if the coronavirus pandemic continues through November. Kentucky and New York have presidential primaries on the ballot, along with some tightly contested Senate and House primaries, and they are dealing with challenges that contributed to voting problems in other states, including many more requests for absentee ballots than in previous elections and difficulty finding poll workers to staff in-person voting stations because of coronavirus fears. Virginia is also holding primaries Tuesday for U.S. Senate and House races, and North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi have primary runoff elections. In Louisville, Ky., voting-rights groups criticized the decision by officials in Jefferson County—the state’s most populous county with a large population of African-American voters—to open only one in-person polling location Tuesday, compared with the usual 231 voting sites.

National: ‘Nonsense’: Election experts reject Trump’s claim that foreign countries could counterfeit millions of mail-in ballots | Joey Garrison/USA Today

President Donald Trump delivered a new line of attack Monday in his crusade against expanded mail-in voting during the November election, warning that it could lead to “foreign countries” printing ballots to undermine results. Voting experts and election officials swiftly disputed the claim, characterizing the warning as a bogus conspiracy and pointing to safeguards that states use to protect the authenticity of absentee ballots and envelopes. Trump tweeted: “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” Trump echoed a claim that Attorney General Bill Barr made during an interview on Fox News on Sunday when he said vote-by-mail “absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud.” Barr said: “Right now, a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and it’d be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot. So, I think it can – it can upset and undercut the confidence in the integrity of our elections.” Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program for the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York School of Law, called the Trump administration’s assertion “nonsense.” “It doesn’t make any sense as an attack against our election system,” he said. “It would be too easy to catch. You just wouldn’t be able to do it. There’s obviously other ways – cyber warfare – of attacking election infrastructure. I think we have to be worried about them. But forging mail ballots is not a serious threat.”

National: With unsubstantiated claim, Trump sows doubt on US election | Eric Tucker/Associated Press

President Donald Trump opened a new front Monday in his fight against mail-in voting, making unsubstantiated assertions that foreign countries will print up millions of bogus ballots to rig the results and create what he called the “scandal of our times.” The claims not only ignore safeguards that states have implemented to prevent against widespread fraud but they also risk undermining Americans’ faith in the election, spreading the very kind of disinformation U.S. authorities have warned foreign adversaries could exploit to foment doubt in the voting process. Trump accelerated his attacks following a bruising weekend for his reelection campaign, when a lower-than-expected turnout at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, left him seething, and as he fights for a second term during the worst unemployment since the Great Depression. The rhetoric, coming as states scramble to adjust voting processes because of the coronavirus pandemic, represents a two-track approach of trying to both block mail-in balloting in advance and setting the stage for challenging the results once it’s over. “It’s a way of trying to turn the foreign interference claims that have been made on their head,” said Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. “Typically we’ve heard that the Russian government and others were working to help elect Trump, and here is Trump using fears of foreign interference as a way of bolstering his own side.” “This potentially lays the groundwork,” he added, “for him contesting election results.”

National: Trump spreads new lies about voter fraud, stoking fears of a ‘rigged election’ | Marshall Cohen/CNN

Reeling after a weekend campaign rally with lower-than-expected turnout, President Donald Trump changed the subject Monday morning with a series of widely debunked lies about alleged voter fraud in US elections, stoking fears of a “rigged election” this November. Trump tweeted an article highlighting Attorney General William Barr’s recent comment that expanding mail-in voting “absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud.” (This specific claim has been debunked many times.) Trump added his own commentary to the article, tweeting, “This will be the Election disaster of our time. Mail-In Ballots will lead to a RIGGED ELECTION!”
Trump then tweeted an all-caps missive with many of the debunked claims he’s been pushing all year: “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” In a third tweet Monday morning, Trump said “Because of MAIL-IN BALLOTS, 2020 will be the most RIGGED Election in our nations history – unless this stupidity is ended,” and accused his political opponents of “using Covid in order to cheat by using Mail-Ins,” without providing proof.

National: Election chaos renews focus on gutted Voting Rights Act | Bill Barrow/Associated Press

When some Georgia voters endured a pandemic, pouring rain and massive waits earlier this month to cast their ballot, President Donald Trump and other Republicans blamed local Democrats for presiding over chaos. “Make no mistake, the reduction in polling places is a result of a concerted effort by Democrats to push vote-by-mail at the expense of in-person voting,” said Justin Clark, the Trump campaign’s senior counsel. “Nothing more and nothing less.” But the meltdown was also a manifestation of a landmark Supreme Court case that gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The 2013 decision — Shelby County v. Holder — was heralded by conservatives at the time for invalidating a longstanding “preclearance” process that required certain states and jurisdictions with high minority populations and a history of discrimination to get federal approval for any changes to voting procedures. Seven years later, the fallout from that decision is colliding with unprecedented changes to the way elections are being conducted. In response to the coronavirus, many states are encouraging mail-in voting. That — combined with a reduction in poll workers — has prompted the consolidation of polling places.

National: Congress must act now to help states with vote-by-mail in November, experts say | Gopal Ratnam/Roll Call

The November presidential and congressional elections are a little more than four months away, and Congress must act now to help states prepare for a surge in Americans seeking to vote by mail because of pandemic-driven fears that are likely to keep them from voting in person, according to election experts, advocates and lawmakers. As many as 30 states have already lowered barriers for voters seeking to mail in their ballots because of COVID-19. Some, like Nevada, have gone as far as sending pre-printed mail-in ballots to all registered voters in some counties. But states scrambling to scale up voting by mail also need to be prepared for voters to show up in person at regular polling places because of glitches in the mailing process or a failure to receive mail-in ballots in advance. That could increase costs not only for new equipment but for staffing to handle both ways to vote, experts say. Several states that postponed their primaries from March to late May and early June saw voters turn to voting by mail in large numbers, said Edgardo Cortés, an election security adviser at the Brennan Center for Justice. “It doesn’t matter whether you encourage it or not, that’s what voters want,” he said about voters’ preference for mailed ballots. “So you have to be ready for it, and state officials need to be ready to handle that influx.”

National: Voter Fraud and Fake Ballots in Mail Elections, Explained | Mike Baker/The New York Times

As states grapple with how to safely carry out elections during a pandemic, President Trump has made an escalating series of fantastical — and false — accusations about the risks of embracing mail voting. Without evidence, the president has warned that mail elections would involve robbed mailboxes, forged signatures and illegally printed ballots. In a tweet on Monday, this one in all-caps, Mr. Trump warned of a “rigged 2020 election” and claimed: “Ballots will be printed by foreign countries, and others. It will be the scandal of our times!” That claim about foreign-made ballots was the latest misleading statement from Mr. Trump: He offered no evidence, and the tampering of ballots is widely seen as a nearly impossible scenario because they are printed on very specific stock and often have specific tracking systems like bar codes. Mr. Trump himself has voted by mail, yet at the same time he has claimed in the past that mail-in voting could mean “thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room, signing ballots all over the place.” “Kids go and they raid the mailboxes and they hand them to people signing the ballots down at the end of the street,” Mr. Trump said in May. Officials in 11 of the 16 states that limit who can vote absentee have eased their election rules this spring to let anyone cast an absentee ballot in primary elections — and in some cases, in November as well.

National: Why You Can’t Just Vote on Your Phone During the Pandemic | Sue Halpern/The New Yorker

When Alex Howard, a resident of Washington, D.C., failed to receive an absentee ballot for the city’s June 2nd primary, he assumed that he would have to vote in person. Then, by chance, on the day of the election, he saw a Twitter post alerting voters of the option to vote remotely over the Internet. Howard, a digital-governance expert at Demand Progress, an advocacy group for good governance, decided to give it a try. “I’m a poker and a prodder and a professional evaluator of government I.T. programs,” he told me. “I like to see how things work.” He was directed to a Web site typically reserved for members of the military, which sent him to a site where he confirmed his date of birth and address. He then logged on to another site to vote. A few minutes later, he e-mailed his completed ballot to the Board of Elections. “There were people who stood in line for hours and hours to vote, and here I was, voting at home on my laptop,” he said. “It was really good for my family from a health standpoint, but whether it’s a good idea at scale—I don’t think so.” He is still waiting to hear if his ballot was received.

National: Verified Voting Comments On VVSG 2.0 v3

Download the letter here  June 22, 2020 TO: The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG) 2.0. Verified Voting’s mission is to strengthen democracy for all voters by promoting the responsible use of technology in elections. Verified Voting applauds the diligent…