Long lines, voting machine malfunctions, and untrained poll workers scattered throughout the state. Alabama, on November 6, had its share of Election Day problems similar to what other states experienced. Georgia and Florida had reportedly lines that lasted as long as waiting to get on a ride at Six Flags, according to media reports. Cries about voter “suppression” or “fraud” in each state — depending on a critic’s partisan leanings — have erupted ever since Election Day. “Elections are an incredibly complicated process and there are so many moving parts for it all to go right on Election Day,” said Richard Fording, a political science professor at the University of Alabama. “There will inevitably be mistakes made.” But almost as common as election-related snafus are the subsequent calls for reform. And in Alabama, there will be a push in 2019 for legislation to address some of the problems experienced on November 6.Full Article: After Midterms, will Alabama reform the way you vote? | al.com.
Georgia: Absentee ballots missing birth dates must be counted, judge orders | Atlanta Journal Constitution
A federal judge has ruled that Georgia counties must count absentee ballots even if the voter’s date of birth is incorrect or missing, and he is preventing the state from finalizing election results until that happens.
Although U.S. District Judge Steve Jones agreed with the Georgia Democratic Party and Stacey Abrams’ campaign on this issue, he ruled against them on two others. He will not require counties to accept absentee ballots with incorrect residence addresses or to accept provisional ballots cast by people who attempted to vote in a different county than where they are registered to vote. “Plaintiffs have shown that they are entitled to preliminary injunctive relief as to the absentee ballot (date of birth) issue,” Jones wrote in an order finalized late Wednesday. “Plaintiffs have not shown that they are entitled to preliminary injunctive relief as to the absentee ballot (residence) issue and provisional ballot issues.”
The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s absentee-ballot rules Tuesday, alleging that voters are being disenfranchised by the state’s tight deadlines for returning ballots. “This is not about trying to game the system for one party or another,” ACLU of Pennsylvania legal director Vic Walczak told WESA. “This is about trying to make sure that every voter who was duly registered and wants to vote is able to cast a ballot.” “Pennsylvania has the earliest absentee ballot receipt deadline of any state in the country,” the complaint contends. The time frames are so tight, it says, that many voters are unable to mail them back to county elections officials in time. “Pennsylvania’s Election Code establishes a deadline for receiving completed absentee ballots that regularly disenfranchises Pennsylvanians who … receive their absentee ballot so late that they cannot fill it out and mail it back to election officials before the Election Code deadline.”Full Article: ACLU Sues Over Pennsylvania Absentee Ballot Deadlines | 90.5 WESA.
Absentee voting is a difficult process in Mississippi and will be more difficult for the upcoming runoff elections with three state holidays between now and Nov. 27, state Sen. David Blount said Friday. “There is a very tight window to vote absentee,” said Blount, who spoke about the issue from the Hinds County Courthouse with Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace. Blount said state offices will be closed Monday for Veterans Day and Nov. 22 for Thanksgiving. Most will also be closed Nov. 23. “We believe the more people who vote the better the government will be,” Blount said. “We encourage everyone to go vote in these important runoff elections.” The absentee voting process can’t begin for the runoffs until results from the Nov. 6 general election are certified. The deadline to certify results is Nov. 16.Full Article: State holidays could complicate absentee voting in Mississippi.
A federal judge ruled Friday that Georgia’s “exact match” requirement for voter identification “places a severe burden” on prospective voters and will not apply for next Tuesday’s midterm election. The “exact match” law applied by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who also happens to running for governor in a tight race against Democrat Stacey Abrams, marks an applicant’s registration as “pending” if the personal information on their voter registration form doesn’t exactly match the information on the state’s Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. If marked pending, the applicant has 26 months to provide the accurate information to the secretary of state’s office. In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross said if allowed to stand, the state’s “exact match” requirement would cause some to “suffer irreparable harm if they lose the right to vote.”Full Article: Judge Tosses Georgia's 'Exact Match' Voter ID Rule for Midterm.
National: Mail-In Ballot Postage Becomes a Surprising (and Unnecessary) Cause of Voter Anxiety | ProPublica
At the absentee ballot parties organized by assistant professor Allison Rank and her political science students at the State University of New York at Oswego, young voters can sip apple cider and eat donuts as they fill out their ballots. But the main draw is the free stamps. “The stamp was actually the thing I was concerned about,” one freshman told Rank after she explained the process of completing and mailing in a ballot. According to Rank, only one store on the rural upstate campus sells postage. It has limited hours and only takes cash, which many students don’t carry. It’s not only students who may be short a stamp this election. An increasing number of Americans vote by mail in an age when fewer of us have a reason to keep postage on hand. But it’s long been an open secret among election officials: Even though the return envelopes on many mail-in ballots say “postage required,” the U.S. Postal Service will deliver even without a stamp.Full Article: Mail-In Ballot Postage Becomes a Surprising (and… — ProPublica.
Drawing on her years of military experience, Maureen Heard was careful to follow all the rules when she filled out an absentee ballot in 2016. She read the instructions thoroughly, signed where she was supposed to, put the ballot in its envelope and dropped it off at the clerk’s office in her New Hampshire town. She then left so she could return to a temporary federal work assignment in Washington, D.C. “I have learned over the years, many years in the military of filling out forms, how to fill out forms — and I was very intimidated by the process,” said Heard, who served in the Air Force and was a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to make sure I get it absolutely right.’ And then it didn’t count.” Heard, 57, discovered last year that she was among roughly 319,000 voters across the country whose absentee ballots were rejected during the last presidential election. The reasons varied, ranging from missed deadlines to failure to sign the return envelope. Heard’s ballot was tossed out because her signature did not match the one on file at her local election office.Full Article: Correction: Election 2018-Mailed Ballots story | The Kansas City Star.
Around the state, counties have seen an increased amount of ballots cast through early voting and mail-ins that are far exceeding those tallied during the 2014 midterm election. Election Day is still a week away but voters have already been making their voices heard by casting their ballots early. Since tragedies like the high school shooting in Parkland that left 17 people dead, some young voters have eagerly awaited the midterms to vote on issues that matter to them: gun control, health care and education. Around the state, counties have seen an increased number of ballots cast through early voting and mail-ins that are far exceeding those tallied during the 2014 midterm election. As of Tuesday, more than 3 million people had already voted, according to the Florida Division of Elections, an uptick of nearly a million ballots compared with this time in 2014. About 1.8 million of those ballots were mail-in ballots.Full Article: Young voters' ballots more likely to have glitches.
A federal district judge in Georgia denied Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s request to pause an injunction the judge ordered last week that prevents election officials from tossing out certain absentee ballots. Judge Leigh Martin May said in an order filed late Tuesday that delaying the injunction “would only cause confusion, as Secretary Kemp has already issued guidance in accordance with the injunction to county elections officials,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kemp is also the GOP nominee for governor in next week’s election. May said last week that she was blocking election officials in the state from throwing out absentee ballots when a resident’s signature doesn’t exactly match the signature on their voter registration card. Kemp had requested that May delay the injunction while he appeals the decision to a higher court, the Journal-Constitution reported.Full Article: Federal judge rules against Kemp in Georgia absentee ballot request | TheHill.
Drawing on her years of military experience, Maureen Heard was careful to follow all the rules when she filled out an absentee ballot in 2016. She read the instructions thoroughly, signed where she was supposed to, put the ballot in its envelope and dropped it off at her county elections office in New Hampshire. She then left town so she could return to a temporary federal work assignment in Washington, D.C. “I have learned over the years, many years in the military of filling out forms, how to fill out forms — and I was very intimidated by the process,” said Heard, who served in the Air Force and was a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to make sure I get it absolutely right.’ And then it didn’t count.” Heard, 57, discovered last year that she was among roughly 319,000 voters across the country whose absentee ballots were rejected during the last presidential election. The reasons varied, ranging from missed deadlines to failure to sign the return envelope.Full Article: Rejection of mail-in ballots raises alarm ahead of election.
A federal judge intends to issue an injunction barring Georgia election officials from tossing certain absentee ballots without giving would-be voters advance notice and a chance to rectify any issues. The implementation of the injunction — which U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May plans to file Thursday — could complicate the work of election officials statewide, requiring the review of hundreds or thousands of ballot signatures with less than two weeks until Election Day. But civil rights groups whose lawsuits led to May’s decision have already declared victory in the battle, just one of many voting rights skirmishes to surface in what’s become a contentious Georgia election season. “We are pleased that the court has enforced the due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution,” said Sean Young, legal director of Georgia’s branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Today’s ruling is a victory for democracy and for every absentee voter in the state of Georgia.”Full Article: Judge proposes injunction in Georgia absentee ballot case.
The Missouri Republican Party sent mailers to 10,000 voters across the state with false information about when their absentee ballots are due, the party’s executive director acknowledged Friday. Ray Bozarth said the incorrect information was printed on postcards as the result of a miscommunication between the party and its vendor, which he declined to name. Bozarth also did not say how the miscommunication occurred. A photo of the mailer provided to the Star shows a red bar across the top that says “urgent notice” in all capital letters and encourages voters to return their mail-in ballots “today.”Full Article: Republican mailers with false info sent to Missouri voters | The Kansas City Star.
Nearly one in 10 vote-by-mail ballots have been rejected by Gwinnett County election officials, alarming voting rights groups. Gwinnett is throwing out far more absentee ballots than any other county in Georgia, according to records from the Secretary of State’s Office. Ballots were discarded because of allegedly mismatched signatures, incomplete forms or missing residential addresses. The county rejected 390 absentee ballots through Sunday, which represents 8.5 percent of all mailed ballots received in Gwinnett so far, according to state figures. Across Georgia, less than 2 percent of absentee ballots have been rejected. Gwinnett accounts for about 37 percent of all rejected ballots in Georgia.Full Article: Georgia Election 2018: Gwinnett rejects many absentee ballots.
New Hampshire: Deputy secretary of state says ballot errors flagged by voting group now corrected | WMUR
The progressive New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights this week called on the Ssecretary of state’s office to conduct a “full review” of ballots for the upcoming general election after finding that some incorrect absentee ballots and sample ballots were printed and distributed. WMUR has learned that on Tuesday, the New Hampshire Democratic Party went further and issued a formal election law complaint to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, requesting that “immediate action be taken to audit all ballots issued for the Nov. 6 election.” According to a statement provided by the NHDP to WMUR, “The party has also requested corrections on inaccurate ballots, that voters in receipt of inaccurate ballots be notified and issued a correct ballot, and that an investigation into the publication and distribution of ballots occur immediately.”Full Article: Deputy secretary of state says ballot errors flagged by voting group now corrected.
New Jersey: Thousands of Voters Received Ballots With Errors, but They’ll Still Count | The New York Times
There were two unusual lines, both confusing and concerning, on Jonathan Latimer’s vote-by-mail ballot: “MAIL 6619” and “BROWN UNIVERSITY.” Neither line is part of his actual address in Middlesex County, N.J., and so Mr. Latimer, 76, who went to college in California many years ago, was concerned the erroneous and random insertions threatened to invalidate his mail-in ballot for November’s midterm elections. If the address on his ballot didn’t match the address the state had on record, he wondered, would it be counted given New Jersey’s strict vote-by-mail requirements? Turns out, Mr. Latimer is not alone. More than 43,000 vote-by-mail ballots were sent out, and the Middlesex County Clerk’s office estimated that “a large percentage of them” contained erroneous address information, though they were not able to give an exact number of affected ballots.Full Article: Thousands of Voters Received Ballots With Errors, but They’ll Still Count - The New York Times.
A study of Florida’s past two presidential elections finds that mail ballots were 10 times more likely to be rejected than votes cast at early voting sites or on election day. The study also found that mail ballots cast by youngest voters, blacks and Hispanics were much more likely to be rejected than mail ballots cast by white voters, and that those voters are less likely to cure problems with their ballots when notified by election supervisors than other voters. The study also shows that rejection rates vary widely across the state. The report was produced by Daniel Smith, chairman of the political science department at the University of Florida, on behalf of the ACLU of Florida, whose director, Howard Simon, cited the state’s “uncertain history in election administration” in a conference call with reporters.Full Article: Florida rejects tens of thousands of mail ballots | Miami Herald.
The chances of a Kansas voter’s ballot being counted might depend on which county he or she lives in — especially if they vote by mail. The issue of counties having different standards for determining whether a ballot should be counted came up last week (Monday) during a meeting of the State Objections Board, where Davis Hammet of Topeka objected to Republican Kris Kobach’s victory in the Aug. 7 GOP primary for governor. Hammet’s objections involved how the election was administered and whether the varying standards could have influenced the outcome of a race that Kobach won over Gov. Jeff Colyer by less than 350 votes. Hammet noted Johnson County rejected 153 mail-in ballots because the signature on the envelope used to mail the ballot back to the county did not match the voter’s signature on file in the county election office. In contrast, Shawnee and Douglas counties’ election officials didn’t reject any ballots because of mismatched signatures, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.Full Article: Different county policies could impact Kansas voting | Myrtle Beach Sun News.
Calling the lack of evidence of fraud irrelevant, a divided federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld Arizona’s ban on “ballot harvesting.” In a 2-1 ruling, the judges acknowledged arguments by the state and national Democratic parties that the Republican-controlled Legislature adopted the HB 2023, the 2016 law, without any proof that anyone who was collecting ballots had, in fact, tampered with them. And the majority noted there are other state laws which have, for years, made it illegal to tamper with ballots. But Judge Sandra Ikuta, writing for the majority, said none of that is required for lawmakers to do what they did. “A state need not show specific local evidence of fraud in order to justify preventive measures,” she wrote for herself and Judge Carlos Bea. She said courts are entitled to uphold such laws if they serve the state’s interest in maintaining public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process, “even in the absence of any evidence that the public’s confidence has been undermined.”Full Article: Judge upholds state's ban on 'ballot harvesting' | Elections 2018 | paysonroundup.com.
New Hampshire: Citing Federal Judge’s Ruling, State Tells Towns Not to Compare Absentee Voters’ Signatures | NHPR
State officials are not challenging a federal judge’s decision to strike down New Hampshire’s “signature mismatch” procedures. Instead, they have instructed pollworkers not to compare a voter’s handwriting on their absentee ballot with the handwriting used on their absentee ballot application. According to instructions sent to local election officials on Aug. 24, local moderators should move forward with counting someone’s absentee ballot as long as it belongs to a registered voter whose name appears on the local checklist, the affidavit attached to the ballot “appears to be properly executed” and “the signatures appear to be the signatures of a duly qualified voter who has not voted at the election.”Full Article: Citing Federal Judge's Ruling, N.H. Tells Towns Not to Compare Absentee Voters' Signatures | New Hampshire Public Radio.
Pennsylvania: Absentee-ballot problem: Votes come in late because of tight deadlines | Philadelphia Inquirer
Every vote counts. But the reality in Pennsylvania is that not every vote is counted. In fact, if past patterns hold, more than 2,000 absentee ballots cast by Pennsylvanians this November won’t be tallied — and the voters won’t know it. The problem is the deadlines, election officials say: Outdated election laws set timelines that are too compressed. Would-be voters who wait until the end — and of course, people do — have almost no chance of getting their votes counted if they use standard mail service. Just three days separate the deadlines for requesting a mailed absentee ballot and for returning it to county officials. “We’re in the 21st century and we’re relying on a 19th-century system,” said David Thornburgh, head of the Philadelphia-based good-government group Committee of 70. “It’s just absurd in 2018 to be basically back in the Pony Express era.”Full Article: Pa.’s absentee-ballot problem: Votes come in late because of tight deadlines.