Editorial: Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Top Elections Official, Is Under Fire | Richard Fausset and Stephanie Saul/The New York Times

Brad Raffensperger, the beleaguered top elections official in Georgia, considers himself the most loyal of Republicans. There was no question which candidates he would support in last week’s election. “I’ve only ever voted for Republicans,” Mr. Raffensperger said in an interview in his office at the State Capitol on Tuesday. “I’ve been a Republican, or conservative, you know, since I was a teenager.” Indeed, since taking office in January 2019, Mr. Raffensperger, the secretary of state, has been a target for Democrats in Georgia’s high-stakes, passionate and bitterly partisan voting wars. In his nearly two years on the job, he has championed policies to guard against a threat of voter fraud that Democrats say hardly exists. He has been the subject of multiple lawsuits, and of television ads blaming him for presiding over a botched June primary that left voters waiting for hours in long lines. Democrats have also accused him of “state sponsored voter intimidation.” But this week, he became the target of his own party, with the state’s two incumbent Republican senators calling for his resignation and condemning the presidential election as an “embarrassment,” an allegation he called “laughable.” On Wednesday, he authorized a hand recount of Georgia’s ballots for the presidential race — a move championed by President Trump but one officials have said was unlikely to erase President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s narrow but significant lead in the state.

Full Article: Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Top Elections Official, Is Under Fire – The New York Times

‘We will not allow anyone to stop us’: Day and night, under historic scrutiny, the nation’s vote counters carried on | Amy Gardner, Reis Thebault, Hannah Knowles and Michelle Ye Hee Lee/The Washington Post

A burst pipe in the ceiling of Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, where Fulton County election officials had set up their vote-counting command center this fall, was perhaps the easiest of the challenges the staff faced in this singular year. Water splattering on the floor halted counting for two hours on Election Day, but it didn’t damage any ballots. And it was nothing compared to the seemingly Augean task of processing nearly 150,000 mail ballots, the unfounded accusations of fraud, the physical threats and the online harassment — and the distinctly racial overtones of mostly White protesters outside the building hurling unfounded accusations of wrongdoing as a largely Black staff of election officials inside methodically counted ballots. In the background was an anxious nation hitting “refresh” on their devices for the latest vote tallies, desperate to know who the next president would be, their eyes trained on Georgia and a handful of other states like no election in history. “I knew there was going to be more scrutiny here,” said Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron. “I’ve learned to expect it, and you just deal with the pressure as it comes.”

Full Article: Election workers carried on vote count under historic scrutiny – The Washington Post

National: The Big Success Story of the Election Is the One You Didn’t Hear – Government employees were the unsung heroes of the voting process. | Tom Shoop/Government Executive

The central story of the 2020 election was the one you heard over the weekend: Joe Biden was declared the winner and is president-elect of the United States. But it was the story you probably didn’t see, hear or read that was at least as impressive: At all levels of government, dedicated, patriotic civil servants and local volunteers made sure the election went off without significant disruption. Biden acknowledged as much in his victory speech Saturday night. “To all those who volunteered, worked the polls in the middle of this pandemic, local election officials—you deserve a special thanks from this nation.” They’re not the only ones owed a debt of gratitude: There were the U.S. cyber operators who went on the offensive against Iranian hackers seeking to meddle in the election. The postal workers who moved mountains to deliver millions of mail-in ballots in time to be counted. The local officials who worked tirelessly in the weeks before the election to swat down misinformation. And many more.

Full Article: The Big Success Story of the Election Is the One You Didn’t Hear – Government Executive

National: After Warnings It Could Go Off the Rails, the Election Actually Ran Smoothly | Reid J. Epstein/The New York Times

In Georgia, a high school senior organized her classmates to be poll workers so voters would not have to wait hours in line like they did back in June. In Wisconsin, Milwaukee officials leased the whole floor of a downtown office building to serve as the headquarters to count a record number of absentee ballots. And in Michigan, the secretary of state organized three shifts of more than 700 people each in Detroit who counted twice as many ballots as they had for the August primary in just over half as much time. Even as the nation waited for the call designating the winner — Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the victor on Saturday morning — it had reason to breathe a sigh of relief. Despite warnings of violence, threats of foreign interference, rampant disinformation, cuts to the Postal Service, President Trump’s sowing of distrust and a pandemic that forced the relocation of thousands of polling places, the machinery of American democracy adapted and held up this past week. The result was a relatively smooth election free of the hourslong lines and vote-suppressing shenanigans that have characterized the voting experience in recent years, particularly during the primaries of the coronavirus era.

Full Article: After Warnings It Could Go Off the Rails, the Election Actually Ran Smoothly – The New York Times

Florida: Where’s the drama? Not in Florida, and that’s fine with elections officials | Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times

Thanks in part to the tumultuous 2000 presidential election of Bush v. Gore, the Sunshine State has long been — often unfairly, sometimes deservedly so — a punchline or cautionary tale of election woes. But in this year’s presidential race, voting ran smoothly in Florida’s 67 counties. With 29 key electoral votes up for grabs in a fraught election, Florida’s counties tabulated and shared results within hours after the polls closed. As other states — Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia — found themselves under the national glare and mounting partisan pressure as they tabulated results, Florida officials exchanged congratulatory tweets. “Florida is a model for the rest of the nation to follow,” Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted Wednesday afternoon, thanking elections officials and poll workers for their hard work. Florida’s elections rules, many created after the 2000 meltdown, put officials in prime position to conduct a presidential election during a pandemic.

Full Article: Where’s the drama? Not in Florida, and that’s fine with elections officials

Pennsylvania: Republican Philadelphia official responsible for vote counting says office getting death threats | Dominick Mastrangelo/The Hill

The Republican city commissioner in Philadelphia whose office is responsible for counting votes in the city, said his staff has been receiving death threats since the count began there last week. “From the inside looking out, it all feels very deranged,” Al Schmidt said during an interview that aired Sunday on CBS News’ 60 minutes. “At the end of the day, we are counting eligible votes, cast by voters. The controversy surrounding it, is something I don’t understand.” Schmidt said critics of his office have been “coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff” about the integrity of the city’s election systems and casting doubt on the impartiality of vote counters. President Trump opened up a sizable lead on projected winner Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, which does not allowed mail-in ballots to be counted before Election Day, on Tuesday evening. But a slew of mail-in votes counted in subsequent days, mostly in the Philadelphia and Pittsburg areas, swung the state toward Biden, and the former Vice President eclipsed the president’s lead early Friday morning.

Full Article: Republican Philadelphia official responsible for vote counting says office getting death threats | TheHill

Virginia: Laws making it easier to vote made counting harder. | Kimberly Pierceall/The Virginian-Pilot

The late-night texts from out-of-state friends and relatives watching cable news on Tuesday night were curious: Virginia? Shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m. in the commonwealth and well into the night, President Donald Trump led former Vice President Joe Biden and, in Virginia’s Senate race, Republican challenger Daniel Gade appeared to hold an advantage over Sen. Mark Warner based on the numbers populating Virginia’s Department of Elections’ ever-updating database. The Trump and Gade leads held well into the late evening, after some Virginians likely already had gone to bed, with all but one precinct reporting in many of Virginia’s localities: the central absentee precinct. That precinct was key for so many ballot decisions and candidates because it held at least 2.8 million votes as of last Saturday, and likely more as ballots wound their way from post offices to registrar offices. One would think with all those votes and all that time they would have been among the first results to be revealed come 7:01 p.m. Tuesday after polls closed in Virginia. It was far from that easy, though. Instead, despite their sizable influence on numerous ballot races, those votes were among the last to be posted, some well after an 11 p.m. deadline set by the state elections commissioner for local registrars to send in results they had in hand on Election Day. Registrars will keep counting votes that were cast by Tuesday but came in later, through noon Nov. 6.

Full Article: What happened in Virginia on Election Day? Laws making it easier to vote made counting harder. – The Virginian-Pilot – The Virginian-Pilot

Wisconsin: ‘Absurd and insulting’: Milwaukee officials ridicule Vos’ call for investigation into vote count | Alison Dirr/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ assertion that Milwaukee’s Central Count operation was inefficient is “absurd and insulting,” the city’s top election official said Saturday.  “For the Speaker to separate out Milwaukee and insinuate that our election workers were not part of the well-trained and efficient operations that allowed Wisconsin to have election results in such a timely manner is absurd and insulting,” Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel. “Our Central Count was open, transparent, well-organized and made up of nearly 70 election workers from Representative Vos’s own Republican Party.” She noted media and observers were present to witness the counting, which she called “smooth, accurate and transparent.” The city also livestreamed the operation.

Full Article: Vos’ call for probe of Milwaukee vote counting dismissed as absurd

National: Ongoing ballot counts put focus on USA’s disjointed voting system | Pat Beall USA Today

Heading into Wednesday’s marathon absentee ballot count, one of every 10 Wisconsin and North Carolina jurisdictions were scanning absentee ballots on equipment so old it is no longer manufactured. And Georgia was tabulating ballots on a new system marred when electronic poll books failed to check in voters in some counties. America’s aging election equipment didn’t appear to be a major, nationwide factor at the polls Tuesday. Nor did brand-new replacement equipment, which states like Georgia rolled out in a historic presidential contest. “For a system like a roller coaster built on wood with the expectation of high-speed cars driving on it, things went pretty good,” said Gregory Miller, co-founder and chief operating officer of the OSET Institute, an election technology research nonprofit. “Nobody got ejected.” Yet because there’s no way to publicly document election system problems nationwide, no one really knows how widespread election day machine failures were, or whether small stumbles were part of a bigger pattern. Issues at one or two precincts can be shrugged off as glitches even as similar problems might occur in other counties. Election officials – and voters – can be left in the dark.

Full Article: Ongoing ballot counts put focus on USA’s disjointed voting system

Georgia: Fulton County election results delayed after pipe bursts in room with ballots | Ben Brasch/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A broken water pipe at the ballot processing site at State Farm arena caused a delay in Fulton County’s ability to process thousands of absentee-by-mail votes Tuesday night.Despite the broken pipe, which did not lead to any ballots being damaged, elections officials said they performed better than the disastrous June 9 primary, which made national headlines as voters waited hours in line to cast their ballots.Still, the Tuesday’s delayed tallies for the presidential contest and for key congressional races with consequences that could ripple across the nation.Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday evening that the pipe burst at 6:07 a.m. and was repaired within two hours. The burst pipe wasn’t mentioned by county officials during a 10 a.m. press conference. Elections officials were still expecting results from the majority of ballots cast to be counted Tuesday night — including the roughly 315,000 early in-person votes, which represent the most popular way of voting this cycle. As of 10:15 p.m., Fulton was displaying the results of more than 170,000 votes. There are 800,000 registered Fulton voters.

Full Article: Fulton County election results delayed after pipe bursts in room with ballots

National: Lines, lawsuits and Covid: 5 big questions confront election officials before voting ends | Zach Montellaro/Politico

Election administrators have been scrambling to prepare for Tuesday ever since the coronavirus turned a series of primaries into disasters this spring. Now, all they can do is wait and see if their efforts pay off in the form of a smooth Election Day — and an uncontroversial vote count. Despite the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, voting in the 2020 general election has been remarkably smooth so far, according to eight election experts and administrators surveyed by POLITICO. A record number of Americans — more than 93 million so far, according to the U.S. Elections Project — have already cast ballots, facilitated by local governments and election officials making early and mail voting more accessible than ever. Some states, including Texas and Hawaii, surpassed total turnout from 2016 before Election Day. There have been hiccups and mistakes, including isolated problems with mail ballots and incidents of tension and disruption at early-voting centers. But now, the election is moving into its most unpredictable moment, with late lawsuits, security at polling places and the pandemic itself all among the factors that could test election infrastructure as millions more people vote.

Full Article: Lines, lawsuits and Covid: 5 big questions confront election officials before voting ends – POLITICO

Maryland: More than 2.2 million have voted in advance, with long lines anticipated for Election Day | Emily Opilo/Baltimore Sun

More than 2.2 million Marylanders voted ahead of Election Day for an unprecedented pre-Election Day turnout of 55%, and election officials, candidates and voters were bracing for a final day Tuesday of casting ballots. Additional voting centers will open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., although far fewer than on a typical Election Day in hopes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Drop boxes will be open until 8 p.m. Tuesday to accept ballots, and mail-in ballots postmarked Tuesday by 8 p.m. will be counted. City Elections Director Armstead Jones was preparing for lines, particularly at Morgan State University and the Liberty Heights campus of Baltimore City Community College. Those sites have proved to be the busiest during the eight days of early voting that began Oct. 26, he said. Jones said he has maximized the amount of equipment in each voting location for Tuesday to get people in and out as quickly as possible. And the city’s election judges have proven to be reliable thus far, with most showing up for work regularly during early voting and volunteering for extra shifts, he said. After the last voter in line at 8 p.m. anywhere in Maryland has cast a ballot, the focus will turn to returns in the races for president, U.S. House seats, statewide and local referendums and local races, including mayor of Baltimore, City Council president and council members.

Full Article: More than 2.2 million Marylanders have voted in advance, with long lines anticipated for Election Day – Baltimore Sun

Pennsylvania: ‘It’s Just Crazy’: Mail Voting and the Anxiety That Followed | Trip Gabriel/The New York Times

“Hello, Elections.” “Hello, Elections.” “Hello, Elections.” The rapid-fire calls were pouring in to Marybeth Kuznik, the one-woman Elections Department of Armstrong County, a few days before Election Day. “This is crazy,” she told an anxious caller. “Crazy, crazy, crazy. It’s a good thing because everybody should vote,” she added, “but it’s just crazy.” Armstrong County, northeast of Pittsburgh, is one of Pennsylvania’s smaller counties with 44,829 registered voters. But it is a microcosm of the high tension, confusion and deep uncertainty that have accompanied the broad expansion of mail-in voting this year, during an election of passionate intensity. With all Pennsylvania voters eligible for the first time to vote by mail, more than three million ballots were requested statewide — nearly half the total turnout from 2016. One in five voters in Armstrong County requested a mail-in ballot. A complicated two-envelope ballot, uncertainty over the reliability of the Postal Service and a glitchy online system for tracking returned votes have caused Ms. Kuznik to be bombarded by callers. And, though to a lesser extent, she has also been visited by a stream of walk-ins at her small second-floor office in the county administration building, where an American flag was stuck into a dying plant above her desk. “All righty, let’s look you up, see what’s going on,” she told voters who called seeking assistance. “Gotcha,” she said whenever she found a voter’s name in her Dell computer. The state-run portal intended to track mail ballots was unreliable, Ms. Kuznik said. By using a database available only to election officials, she was able to reassure voters about the status of a ballot — in nearly all cases, it had been received.

Full Article: ‘It’s Just Crazy’ in Pennsylvania: Mail Voting and the Anxiety That Followed – The New York Times

Texas: Here’s how votes are counted in Texas | Hanna Kozlowska/The Texas Tribune

There are more votes than ever to count in Texas this year: A record-breaking 9.7 million people cast ballots during Texas’ early voting period — 8.7 million of those were cast in person, and nearly 1 million sent through the mail. By the time Election Day comes and goes, experts predict that the total Texas vote count could reach 12 million. The state’s 254 counties are responsible for tabulating the ballots, but they must follow a certain set of rules. Here’s how the process works in Texas. County officials have already started reviewing mail-in ballots. In counties with over 100,000 residents, early voting ballot boards were allowed to start convening and processing mail-in ballots 12 days before the election. In smaller ones, they could start after the polls closed on the last day of early voting — which this year was Oct. 30. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3, and they must arrive by Nov. 4. Once the early voting ballot board gets the ballot, officials check whether the voter is registered to vote and may entrust a signature verification committee to match the signature on the envelope to the voter’s absentee ballot application. (They may use other signatures the county has on file.) The signature verification committee must have at least one reviewer from each party, and the majority of its members has to agree that the signature matches. Because of a ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 19, Texas officials can reject a mail-in ballot without telling the voter, unlike in states such as California, where voters must be notified of a problem with their ballot and given the opportunity to fix it.

Full Article: Here’s how votes are counted in Texas | The Texas Tribune

National: We Have Never Had Final Results on Election Day | Maggie Astor/The New York Times

For weeks, President Trump and his allies have been laying groundwork to challenge the results of the election if he loses. Now, in the final days of the campaign, he has settled on a blatantly ahistorical closing argument: that the votes in a fair election should not be counted past election night. “The Election should end on November 3rd., not weeks later!” he tweeted on Friday, two days after telling reporters in Nevada, “Hopefully, the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after Nov. 3 to count ballots, that won’t be allowed by the various courts.” “You would think you want to have the votes counted, tabulated, finished by the evening of Nov. 3,” he said at a campaign event a week earlier. In reality, the scenario Mr. Trump is outlining — every vote in a modern election being “counted, tabulated, finished” by midnight — is not possible and never has been. No state ever reports final results on election night, and no state is legally expected to.Americans are accustomed to knowing who won on election night because news organizations project winners based on partial counts, not because the counting is actually completed that quickly. These race calls mean Candidate A is far enough ahead that, given the number of outstanding ballots and the regions those ballots are coming from, Candidate B would realistically be unable to close the gap.

Full Article: We Have Never Had Final Results on Election Day – The New York Times

Florida election officials say 2020 won’t be a repeat of 2000 – Here’s what has changed since the 2000 and 2018 recounts | Skyler Wisher/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Two years ago, a federal judge called Florida the “laughing stock of the world” because of its repeated voting mishaps and failure to conduct smooth elections. The midterm election featured three statewide recounts. Machines in Palm Beach County overheated and broke down. Politicians leveled unfounded allegations of voter fraud. A ballot design error likely cost an incumbent senator thousands of votes. It was deja vu. Back in 2000, the world’s eyes turned to Florida during the Bush v. Gore recount. That election had its own host of problems: butterfly ballots, hanging chad and a Brooks Brothers riot carried out by well-dressed, paid Republican protesters. So has Florida learned its lesson? Will 2020 be the year Florida emerges as a shining beacon of democracy, where votes are counted efficiently and accurately? Will other states look on with envy at the Sunshine State’s competency and civic prowess? Election officials and longtime Florida politicos say they are optimistic that Florida is in a better position than ever to run a drama-free election.

Full Article: Florida election officials say 2020 won’t be a repeat of 2000 – South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Pennsylvania: Harassment, anger, and misinformation plague county officials as they struggle to keep 2020 election on track | Marie Albiges, Tom Lisi, and Angela Couloumbis/WHYY

On a recent weekday, Forrest Lehman was struggling to run two elections simultaneously — one in person and one by mail. Hundreds of people stood in line to request a ballot at the Lycoming County elections office, so they could vote right there and hand it back. Nearby, 800 mail ballot applications sat untouched, waiting to be processed so the county could send ballots to voters. Meanwhile, the phone kept ringing, with callers asking questions the likes of which Lehman had never heard before. “We can’t get anything done,” said Lehman, the county’s director of elections. “People are just so nasty, ugly, distrustful, anxious, and we’re getting the brunt of all that,” he said. County election officials across the state say drastic changes to Pennsylvania’s voting laws, a global pandemic, and misinformation surrounding a high-stakes presidential election are all contributing to the high stress they’re feeling as they work overtime leading up to Nov. 3.

Full Article: Harassment, anger, and misinformation plague Pa. county officials as they struggle to keep 2020 election on track – WHYY

‘Like a yo-yo’: Election officials grapple with flood of confusing last-minute rule changes | Lucien Bruggeman/ABC

Local election administrators are scrambling to keep up with a crush of ongoing litigation winding its way through the courts, with some saying they feel like “yo-yos” caught in the middle of politically fraught legal battles over ballot deadlines and other voting rules. County and municipal clerks are already navigating an election season burdened by unprecedented challenges – with the coronavirus pandemic bearing down on key swing states and a record-setting number of voters casting their ballots by mail. The blizzard of legal challenges, conflicting rulings, deadline extensions and last-minute rule changes, has only compounded the confusion, several officials told ABC News. “It’s like a yo-yo,” said John Gleason, the election clerk in Genessee County, Michigan — a key swing state. “We get a directive, then a judge says ‘no.’ We get another directive, and the appeals court says ‘no.’ It has not been easy.” Partisans in at least 44 states have filed an unprecedented number of lawsuits tied to voting rules changes during the pandemic, according to a tally gathered by the Stanford-MIT Project on a Healthy Election — more than half of which remain pending or on appeal.

Full Article: ‘Like a yo-yo’: Election officials grapple with flood of confusing last-minute rule changes – ABC News

New Hampshire Secretary Of State Says 2020 Is ‘A Once In A Hundred Years Type of An Election’ | Casey McDermott/New Hampshire Public Radio

Secretary of State Bill Gardner has overseen New Hampshire elections for more than four decades and worked on voting policy in the Legislature several years before that — but even he’s never seen anything like 2020. “Here we are, a once in a hundred years type of an election,” Gardner told local election officials during a pre-election huddle Tuesday morning. “But we’ve at least known about it for enough time that we can all have prepared, like you all have.” Gardner’s office has taken extra steps beyond their normal training lineup to prepare pollworkers for what’s to come next week. They’ve hosted near-weekly meetings with local election officials since the summer, which have served as forums for questions and concerns on issues ranging from mail delivery to the use of Sharpie markers on absentee ballots. The state has also equipped local election officials with thousands of masks, jugs of hand sanitizer and single-use pens or pencils, in hopes of limiting transmission of COVID-19 at the polls on Election Day. “It was helpful that we had the primaries back in September, because no one knew for sure how that would all play out,” Gardner said Tuesday morning. “And that was sort of like the spring training, the brief preparation for what’s to come next week.”

Full Article: N.H. Secretary Of State Says 2020 Is ‘A Once In A Hundred Years Type of An Election’ | New Hampshire Public Radio

Georgia Secretary of State’s office releases thousands of pages of election records | David Wickert and Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Georgia secretary of state’s office has released thousands of pages of election documents ahead of a Wednesday hearing in an open records lawsuit. In the lawsuit, the government watchdog group American Oversight says Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office did not respond to dozens of requests for election records in recent months. After a judge scheduled Wednesday’s hearing, Raffensperger’s office released documents in response to many of the group’s requests. The secretary of state’s office “works diligently to give all media unprecedented access to documents they need for research or stories,” Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said.“If we made an error, we are happy to correct it and do so quickly,” Fuchs said Tuesday. “Thank you to American Oversight for bringing this to our attention. It has been corrected.”

Full Article: Georgia releases thousands of pages of election records

Wisconsin: With All Eyes on Wisconsin, Partisan Gridlock at State Elections Commission Frustrates Voters and Local Officials | Vanessa Swales/ProPublica

As ballots began pouring in by mail after Wisconsin’s April 7 primary, local election officials became increasingly perplexed over which ones to count. A federal judge had ordered that ballots arriving as many as six days after the election should be accepted, but the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed that window, ruling that ballots should be counted only if they were postmarked by Election Day. The trouble was that many ballots were arriving without postmarks, or the marks were unreadable. Other mail ballots were lost or delayed, threatening to disenfranchise thousands of voters. Desperate for guidance, the 1,850 municipal clerks who run Wisconsin’s elections turned to the state agency tasked with helping them: the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Three days after the primary, the commission’s three Democrats and three Republicans wrangled over the issue for two and a half hours in a virtual meeting. The Democrats wanted all ballots received in the mail by April 8 — postmarked or not — to be accepted; the Republicans pushed to reject all ballots with missing or illegible postmarks.

Full Article: With All Eyes on Wisconsin, Partisan Gridlock at State Elections Commission Frustrates Voters and Local Officials — ProPublica

Indiana: Court says only election officials can request polling extensions | Johnny Magdaleno/Indianapolis Star

Court says only Indiana election officials can request polling extensions | Johnny Magdaleno/Indianapolis StarHoosiers will not be able to request that their polling places stay open longer on Nov. 3 after a federal appeals court upheld an Indiana election law that gives county election officials the sole power to make those requests. A three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the election law, which was signed into effect by Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2019, does not infringe on Hoosiers’ right to vote.The ruling also said that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana executed poor judgment in its original ruling in September against the election law because the court acted too close to the Nov. 3 elections.  “Just like voters had many months since the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic ensued in this country this March to adjust to the election rules, plaintiff had more than a year to challenge these amendments,” wrote the judges, referring to voting rights group Common Cause Indiana. “The problems plaintiff alleges with the amendments are not new, yet plaintiff asks that these duly enacted statutes be suspended on the eve of the election.”

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

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

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

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

International election observers in the U.S. consider this year the most challenging ever | Carol Morello/The Washington Post

As the eyes of the world focus on the U.S. election, teams of international observers are heading out across the United States amid concerns about the vote’s integrity.For the ninth time, observers affiliated with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have come to the United States to watch over an election and recommend improvements, a mission little-noticed by most Americans.But the 2020 campaign is different.As fears rise about voter suppression, violence and a potentially contested outcome in the United States, the Europeans say they hope their efforts will help assure Americans the vote is legitimate.“This is one of the most important elections we have ever observed as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly,” said Roberto Montella, secretary general of the group, which will dispatch 59 lawmakers and a staff of 16 to monitor voting in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

National: Election night marks the end of one phase of campaign 2020 – and the start of another | Drew DeSilver/Pew Research Center

On Nov. 3, millions of Americans will trek to their local polling places to cast their ballots for the next president. That evening, after the polls close, they’ll settle down in front of their televisions to watch the returns roll in from across the country. Sometime that night or early the next morning, the networks and wire services will call the race, and Americans will know whether President Donald Trump has won a second term or been ousted by former Vice President Joe Biden. Just about every statement in the previous paragraph is false, misleading or at best lacking important context. Over the years, Americans have gotten used to their election nights coming off like a well-produced game show, with the big reveal coming before bedtime (a few exceptions like the 2000 election notwithstanding). In truth, they’ve never been quite as simple or straightforward as they appeared. And this year, which has already upended so much of what Americans took for granted, seems poised to expose some of the wheezy 18th- and 19th-century mechanisms that still shape the way a president is elected in the 21st century. Here’s our guide to what happens after the polls close on election night. While you may remember some of the details from high school civics class, others were new even to us. Keeping them in mind may help you make sense of what promises to be an election night like no other.

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

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

National: As Trump and Biden battle, election officials are running out of time, money for November | Pat Beall, Catharina Felke and Elizabeth Mulvey/USA Today

Heading into Georgia’s primary June 9, McDuffie County Elections Director Phyllis Brooks had no choice but to assemble a last-minute crew to count votes. Two of her three staffers were out with COVID-19. She had more than 2,500 absentee ballots to tally by hand. Brooks brought in a handful of county employees and hired teenagers to do the counting. There’s no money left in her election office budget. Not for poll workers. Not for extra hands to count what is likely to be a record number of mail-in ballots. Not even for stamps to send out the absentee ballots they expect to need. Sixteen weeks before the presidential election, Brooks and hundreds of other cash-strapped elections supervisors across the nation are waiting to see how much state and federal money will come their way. Experts said the coronavirus pandemic tacked on hundreds of millions of dollars in unexpected costs to this year’s election, and there are clear signs that an emergency federal infusion of $400 million made in March will fall far short of what’s needed.

Colorado: Secretary of State institutes permanent election rules, tweaking administrative procedures | Michael Karlik/Colorado Politics

Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office has permanently adopted several election rules first proposed in May to adjust the administration of voting centers and account for the emergency closure of polling places. Among the changes, county clerks would be able to close or alter the hours of any polling site, but would need to relocate operations to a backup facility if the closure would drop the number of polling places below the minimum required by law. Clerks must also notify tribal nations that border their jurisdictions of their right to have a voter service and polling location within their borders. There is guidance for verifying the registration status of voters, and instructions for clerks to maintain a supply of provisional ballots equal to 10% of the turnout in the previous election where similar offices were on the ballot. Finally, the rules contain provisions related to the testing of equipment and the risk-limiting audit, which validates the accuracy of election results. Griswold’s office noted that some of the changes are to comply with state law governing mail ballot elections and federal rules for addressing voters whose eligibility cannot be immediately determined.

Indiana: Lawsuit challenges Indiana limits on voting time extensions | Tom Davies/Associated Press

An Indiana law violates the U.S. Constitution by blocking voters and candidates from asking courts to keep polling places open past the state’s 6 p.m. closing time because of Election Day troubles, a voting rights group argued in a lawsuit filed Wednesday. The law passed by Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature in 2019 prevents anyone other than a county election board, which oversee voting matters, from requesting court orders to extend voting hours. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Indianapolis on behalf of Common Cause Indiana cites equipment troubles, delays in opening polling sites and ballot shortages during the November 2018 elections in Johnson, Porter and Monroe counties. It argues that the state law wrongly thwarts voters and political parties from protecting the right to vote. “Shutting the courthouse doors to voters and erecting a multi-step process to obtain an extension of polling-place hours to correct irregularities places a severe and unconstitutional burden on all Indiana voters,” the lawsuit said.