Michigan: Election robocall campaigns target Michigan, tell voters nationwide to ‘stay home’ | Tony Romm and Isaac Stanley-Becker/The Washington Post

A wave of suspicious robocalls and texts bombarded voters as they began to cast their ballots on Tuesday, sparking fresh concerns about the extent to which malicious actors might harness Americans’ smartphones to scare people from the polls. Across the country, voters have received an estimated 10 million automated, spam calls in recent days telling them to “stay safe and stay home,” according to experts who track the telecom industry. In Michigan, meanwhile, government officials on Tuesday sounded early alarms about additional attempts to deceive the state’s voters, including one robocall campaign targeting the city of Flint that told people to vote tomorrow if they hoped to avoid long lines today. The origins of the each of the calls and texts remain unclear, reflecting the sophisticated tactics that robocallers typically deploy in order to reach Americans en masse across a wide array of devices and services. State election officials have scrambled to reassure voters in response, with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pledging Tuesday to “work quickly to stamp out misinformation” — and federal officials indicating they are investigating the matter. The reach and timing of the “stay home” calls caught the attention of YouMail, a tech company that offers a robocall-blocking app for smartphones, as well as some of the country’s top telecom carriers, which determined from an investigation that the calls may be foreign in origin. Data prepared for The Washington Post by YouMail shows that the calls have reached 280 of the country’s 317 area codes since the campaign began in the summer.

Source: Election robocall campaigns target Michigan, tell voters nationwide to ‘stay home’ – The Washington Post

National: Why Are Lines at Polling Places So Long? Math – It’s a resource allocation problem, a tough challenge in “queueing theory.” It’s also racism. | Adam Rogers/WIRED

Mark Pelczarski was ready to retire. This was 2011; he was teaching computer science in Chicago by then, but that was really just the capstone on a legendary career in software. In 1979, Pelczarski wrote Magic Paintbrush, an artmaking program for the Apple II, the first personal computer capable of color. He started Penguin Software two years later to publish classics like Graphics Magician, and in the late 1980s he went on to develop music software, create a CD-ROM precursor to Google Maps, and play steel drums with Jimmy Buffett. It’s safe to say that computers look and sound the way they do, at least a little bit, because of Mark Pelczarski’s code. But just when he was about to call it quits, the head of tech for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign called him, asking if any of Pelczarski’s students might have internship potential for their tech team. Pelczarski asked what kind of skills the Obamaites were looking for. “It was a little bit beyond what my students could do, but I was in my last semester at that point,” Pelczarski says. “I said, ‘I might be able to help you a little bit.’”

Full Article: Why Are Lines at Polling Places So Long? Math | WIRED

National: ‘To me, it’s voter suppression’: the Republican fight to limit ballot boxes | Jess Hardin/The Guardian

On the East Side of Youngstown, Ohio, a steady stream of early voters drop off completed absentee ballots into the new drop box outside the Mahoning county board of elections. Gloria Phifer is one of them. The 68-year-old retired mail carrier drove about 15 minutes to the former hospital-turned-county office center. She doesn’t mind walking, so she found a parking spot outside, walked up to the entrance and dropped her ballot into the red drop box – the only one in the county. “My fellow mail carriers, God bless them and everything, but I thought it would easier just to bring it down here,” Phifer said. “This is an important election and I wanted to just make sure [there were] no problems.” In response to safety concerns spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and worries about potential mail delays, drop boxes are popping up all over the country – in many places for the first time. The largely secure voting method has long been available to voters in states like Colorado and Washington. But amid the partisan battles over access to the polls, election officials in battleground states are still fighting to limit their usage with only days left until 3 November.

Source: ‘To me, it’s voter suppression’: the Republican fight to limit ballot boxes | US news | The Guardian

In Florida, voters of color and young voters have had ballots flagged for possible rejection at higher rates than others | Elise Viebeck and Beth Reinhard/The Washington Post

As Floridians rush to vote in the presidential election, mail ballots from Black, Hispanic and younger voters are being flagged for problems at a higher rate than they are for other voters, potentially jeopardizing their participation in the race for the country’s largest battleground state. The deficient ballots — which have been tagged for issues such as a missing signature — could be rejected if voters do not remedy the problems by 5 p.m. Nov. 5. As of Thursday, election officials had set aside twice as many ballots from Black and Hispanic voters as those from White voters, according to an analysis by University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith. For people younger than 24, the rate was more than four times what it was for those 65 and older. While the number of deficient mail ballots in Florida was relatively low one week before the election, at roughly 15,000 out of more than 4.3 million cast, that figure could rise sharply: Roughly 1.6 million Floridians still have outstanding mail ballots.

Full Article: In Florida, voters of color and young voters have had ballots flagged for possible rejection at higher rates than others – The Washington Post

Ohio: Two conservative operatives charged in a robocall scam are ordered to call 85,000 people back | Kathleen Gray/The New York Times

Two conservative operatives, Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, who have been charged in Ohio and Michigan with election fraud for sending out tens of thousands of robocalls intended to deter people from voting, have been ordered by a federal judge to call those voters back and inform them that the original call “contained false information.” U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, in the Southern District of New York, said in his ruling on Wednesday that the initial robocall sent in August to 85,000 people, “cannot be described as anything but deliberate interference with voters’ rights to cast their ballots in any legal manner they choose.” Mr. Wohl, 22, and Mr. Burkman, 54, both of Arlington, Va., were charged last month in Michigan and indicted by a grand jury in Ohio this week, with sending deceptive robocalls to 85,000 people, mostly in minority communities, that stated authorities would use the information on their absentee ballot forms to create a database to track down people with arrest warrants or outstanding debt. According to Judge Marrero’s ruling on Wednesday, the pair must make calls to everyone who received the robocall and deliver this message: “At the direction of a United States district court, this call is intended to inform you that a federal court has found that the message you previously received regarding mail-in voting from Project 1599, a political organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, contained false information that has had the effect of intimidating voters, and thus interfering with the upcoming presidential election, in violation of federal voting-rights laws.”

Full Article: Two conservative operatives charged in a robocall scam are ordered to call 85,000 people back. – The New York Times

Texas: Federal judge to hear challenge to Harris County’s drive-thru voting already used by 100,000 | Alejandro Serrano/Houston Chronicle

A federal judge on Monday will hear a complaint brought by Texas conservatives that challenges Harris County’s use of curbside drive-thru voting, according to the judge’s schedule and court records. Houston conservative activist Steven Hotze and three Republicans — state Rep. Steve Toth, Wendell Champion, a candidate for Congress, and Sharon Hemphill, who is running for a judgeship — are seeking an injunction requiring all memory cards from 10 drive-thru voting locations be secured and not entered or downloaded into the tally machine until the court issues a ruling on the complaint. The plaintiffs allege that curbside drive-thru voting runs afoul of state and federal election law. They are seeking the rejection of any votes “cast in violation of the Texas Election Code”; an order to make county elections officials review all curbside voting applications and reject those that do not meet parameters set by the code; and a permanent injunction stopping “a universal drive-thru voting scheme” unless it is adopted by the state legislature.By the time the complaint was filed, 100,000 drive-thru votes had already been cast. Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, the only named defendant, said Saturday afternoon the option was “a safe, secure and convenient way to vote.” “Texas Election Code allows it, the Secretary of State approved it, and 117,000 voters from all walks of life have used it,” Hollins said in a statement. “The Harris County Clerk’s Office is committed to counting every vote cast by registered voters in this election. In the event court proceedings require any additional steps from these voters, we will work swiftly to provide that information to the public.”

Full Article: Federal judge to hear challenge to Harris County’s drive-thru voting already used by 100,000 – HoustonChronicle.com

National: Six Republican Secretaries Of State Tried To Stop Facebook’s Effort To Register Millions Of Voters | Ryan Mac and Craig Silvermann/BuzzFeed

On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a major milestone for what he called “the largest voting information campaign in US history.” Launched in August with the goal of registering 4 million Americans to vote, Facebook claimed the effort garnered an estimated 4.4 million registrations across the company’s social media platforms, based on conversion rates the company calculated from “a few states it had partnered with.” “Voting is voice,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post to the company’s internal message board, specifically thanking Facebook’s civic engagement and civic integrity teams. What he didn’t mention, however, was the resistance the voting information campaign faced from Republican-led secretaries of state. In September, Facebook received a strongly worded letter signed by the secretaries of state of Alabama, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia, asking the company to discontinue its Voting Information Center. It argued election officials alone are “legally and morally responsible to our citizens” and said Facebook has “no such accountability.” “While such goals may be laudable on their face, the reality is that the administration of elections is best left to the states,” read the letter, which was addressed to Zuckerberg. “The Voting Information Center is redundant and duplicative of what we, as chief election officials, have been doing for decades.” The six Republican secretaries of state warned that the voting information center could foster “misinformation and confusion.”

Full Article: Republican States Tried To Stop Facebook’s Effort To Register Voters


Pennsylvania: Trump’s election day director is waging war on voting in Philadelphia | Nick Fiorellini/The Guardian

For decades before he worked for the president, Donald Trump’s director of election day operations has called out and made allegations of voter fraud by the Democratic party, building a lucrative career in the process. His name is Mike Roman, and this year he’s claiming an increase in mail ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic will allow Democrats to cheat and steal the election, despite little evidence. Roman is best known for promoting a video of apparent voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers outside a polling place in his home town of Philadelphia in 2008. Filed weeks before George W Bush left office, the justice department investigated the incident that was cited as evidence of Democrats seeking to influence the election. The case was later dropped because it lacked evidence. In the decade after, Roman stayed busy. He wrote about alleged election fraud for conservative websites like Breitbart News. He managed a research unit for the Koch network, did consulting work for various Republicans and oversaw poll watching for Trump’s 2016 campaign. These days he’s focused on peddling the same myth in his hometown of Philadelphia, a key city in the battleground of Pennsylvania that could determine the outcome of the election. Earlier this year, Roman visited battleground states and worked with local candidates and parties to recruit volunteers to monitor election sites. The Trump campaign hasn’t released information about the number of volunteer observers it has recruited in each state but claims it has established a 50,000-plus army of volunteers across an array of swing states.

Full Article: Trump’s election day director is waging war on voting in Philadelphia | US news | The Guardian

‘Just like propaganda’: the three men enabling Trump’s voter fraud lies | Sam Levine and Spenser Mestel/The Guardian

One night in late February 2017, Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative thinktank in Washington DC, fired off an email.The White House was creating a commission to investigate voter fraud, an issue von Spakovsky had long pursued. But he was concerned the Trump administration was considering Democrats and moderate Republicans for the panel, and “astonished” no one had bothered to consult with him or J Christian Adams, a friend and fellow conservative lawyer.

“There are only a handful of real experts on the conservative side on this issue and not a single one of them (including Christian and me) have been called other than Kris Kobach, secretary of state of Kansas. And we are told that some consider him too ‘controversial’ to be on the commission,” he wrote. “If they are picking mainstream Republican officials and/or academics to man this commission it will be an abject failure because there aren’t any that know anything about this or who have paid any attention to this issue over the years.”

The email eventually made its way to Jeff Sessions, then US attorney general. A few months later, Kobach, von Spakovsky and Adams were appointed to Donald Trump’s commission.

It seemed inevitable. For years, all three men had used their positions both inside and outside of government to peddle the myth that American elections are vulnerable to fraud. Though this idea has been debunked repeatedly, and despite the ultimate failure of Trump’s commission, these men continued to promote the idea that widespread voter fraud justified stricter voting regulations.

“We’ve seen this going on for the last few decades,” said Richard Hasen, a law professor and election expert at the University of California, Irvine. “These ideas have moved from the fringes to the center of many Republican arguments about reasons for making it harder to vote.”

Mississippi: Voting while Black: The hurdles have changed, but never gone away | Tim Sullivan/Associated Press

The old civil rights worker was sure the struggle would be over by now.He’d fought so hard back in the ’60s. He’d seen the wreckage of burned churches, and the injuries of people who had been beaten. He’d seen men in white hoods. At its worst, he’d mourned three young men who were fighting for Black Mississippians to gain the right to vote, and who were kidnapped and executed on a country road just north of here. But Charles Johnson, sitting inside the neat brick church in Meridian where he’s been pastor for over 60 years, worries that Mississippi is drifting into its past. “I would never have thought we’d be where we’re at now, with Blacks still fighting for the vote,” said Johnson, 83, who was close to two of the murdered men. “I would have never believed it.” The opposition to Black votes in Mississippi has changed since the 1960s, but it hasn’t ended. There are no poll taxes anymore, no tests on the state constitution. But on the eve of the most divisive presidential election in decades, voters face obstacles such as state-mandated ID laws that mostly affect poor and minority communities and the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of former prisoners. And despite Mississippi having the largest percentage of Black people of any state in the nation, a Black person hasn’t been elected to statewide office in 130 years.

National: Voting Disinformation Surges In Election’s Final Weeks | Pam Fessler/NPR

Dirty tricks and disinformation have been used to intimidate and mislead voters for as long as there have been elections. But they have been especially pervasive this year as millions of Americans cast ballots in a chaotic and contentious election.This has led to stepped-up efforts by election officials and voter advocates to counter the disinformation so voters are not discouraged from turning out. “2020 has been a year like no other because not only have we seen a higher volume of online mis- and disinformation, we have also changed a lot of processes about our society, including the way we administer elections,” said Jesse Littlewood, who leads the Stopping Cyber Suppression program for Common Cause. His nonpartisan group has already identified close to 5,000 incidents this year. Littlewood noted that the shift to more mail-in voting because of the pandemic has opened the way for a whole new wave of disinformation. One of the most high-profile cases involved robocalls that went to tens of thousands of minority voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and New York. The calls falsely claimed that voting by mail could be dangerous. “Mail-in voting sounds great,” a woman’s voice warned. “But did you know that if you vote by mail your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit companies to collect outstanding debts?”

North Carolina Attorney General calls Trump leading source of election misinformation | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

As state election and law enforcement officials continue their efforts to push back against tides of misinformation and disinformation that can potentially undermine voters’ confidence, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein on Thursday laid much of the blame at the feet of President Donald Trump. Speaking on a conference call with reporters hosted by the nonprofit Voter Protection Project, Stein called out Trump’s suggestions to his supporters that they attempt to vote both by mail and in person, and that they swarm polling places on Election Day to act as “observers.” “There’s been people, namely the president, encouraging people to vote twice, which is illegal in North Carolina,” said Stein, a Democrat who is running for re-election himself. “For a leader to encourage people to commit crimes is a shame.” There is credence to Stein’s assessment of the president. A study this month by Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society named Trump as a leading source of misinformation about voting by mail, for which instances of fraud are exceedingly rare.

Editorials: How to minimize 2020 election chaos | Jennifer Rubin/The Washington Post

President Trump warned us this past week: He will not pledge to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election. We should pause to examine the magnitude of this blatant violation of our democratic norms. The head of the executive branch, sworn to uphold the Constitution, which enshrines the process for electing the president and provides for the peaceful transition of power, effectively tells us, Maybe I’ll go along with the results. Maybe not. His comments have not been sufficiently condemned. Trump has already begun to cast doubt on an election that every public national poll and virtually every poll for critical swing states say he is losing, and losing badly. He has repeated the falsehood that voting by mail, which will be used more widely this year than in any previous election in U.S. history, is subject to fraud. The Post’s fact-checking team has repeatedly debunked this assertion. Salvador Rizzo recently explained:

Documented instances of voter fraud are exceedingly rare in the United States, the odds being lower than those of being struck by lightning, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. More than 250 million votes have been cast via mail ballots since 2000, according to the Vote at Home Institute. In 2018, more than 31 million Americans voted by mail, representing one-quarter of election participants. Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — use mail ballots as the primary method of voting.

The percentage of ballots that are even potentially cast fraudulently, rather than as the result of errors, each year is minuscule. As Elise Viebeck explains, “A Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) found that officials identified 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.”

Connecticut: GOP voter fraud task force heightens dispute over balloting | Kaitlyn Krasselt/CTPost

With an eye on November, the state Republican Party has taken its concern for potential voter fraud to a new level, creating its own citizen task force to record and investigate cases of potential fraud. Party Chairman J.R. Romano, who has said he’s not opposed to expanding mail-in balloting, rails against the state’s decision to mail absentee ballot applications to every active voter eligible to vote in the upcoming August primary — about 1.2 million people — claiming the practice will lead to widespread voter fraud. “If someone reported to us that they got an absentee ballot application for someone that has been dead for 12 years, we’re going to investigate to see if this person has actually cast a ballot to be listed as an active voter,” Romano said. The task force would ease reporting of possible abuses to party and elections officials. But as Democrats see it, charges of fraud in elections are a Republican lie and a task force is not needed. “The last 30 years of voting statistics in Connecticut prove that voting by absentee ballot is not a problem, and has never been a problem, in Connecticut,” said state Sen. Mae Flexer, who co-chairs the legislature’s Government Administration & Elections Committee. “The Connecticut Republican Party has got to stop parroting President Trump’s lies about voter fraud, and it has to stand up for democracy and individual rights.”

National: Prospect of chaos in November grows as coronavirus cases rise and Trump escalates attacks on voting | Abby Phillip/CNN

The rickety, decentralized election system that has been a hallmark of American life is facing its most significant test yet under the combined pressure of a worsening coronavirus pandemic and President Donald Trump’s determination to undermine faith in the voting system. In November, this year’s presidential election could be unlike anything the country has seen in at least 20 years, when the results of the 2000 election hinged on paper ballots and hanging chads. As Trump’s poll numbers have flagged this summer, he has increasingly resorted to baseless allegations of widespread cheating and claims that Democrats will corrupt the result of the election through mail-in voting. And as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, the need for alternatives to in-person voting is becoming more urgent by the day. Republicans and Democrats are now preparing for a pitched legal battle over which votes will count and when they should be counted. States are struggling to retrofit their voting process to meet the needs of voters concerned about risking their lives to cast their ballot. And primary elections held so far this summer indicate that November could bring historic turnout, albeit via mail-in ballots — and correspondingly, a lengthy wait for election results.

National: Conservative groups sue to make pandemic voting even harder | Nicholas Stephanopoulos/Slate

Until recently, litigation about voting during the COVID-19 crisis followed a predictable pattern. Voters would complain about states’ restrictive regulations, conservatives would rush to the laws’ defense, and courts would referee the disputes. Powerhouse right-wing lawyers, however, have now opened a troubling new front in the voting wars. They now claim that it’s unconstitutional for states to make it easier to vote while the pandemic rages. Relaxations of voting rules supposedly give rise to fraudulent votes that impermissibly dilute the ballots cast by law-abiding citizens. This novel argument should—but probably won’t—be laughed out of court. As it spreads across the country, it threatens to put states in an impossible position: exposed to liability not just if they ignore, but also if they try to alleviate, the pandemic’s effects on the electoral process. Before this new breed of cases began appearing, most suits about voting during the pandemic had the same setup. Some existing electoral regulation—an eligibility limit for voting absentee, say, or a requirement that mail-in ballots be notarized—would prevent certain people from voting. So they would go to court alleging an excessive burden on their constitutionally protected right to vote. In response, some state official would argue that the policy served an important interest, most often the prevention of fraud. In April, the Supreme Court decided one of the many such cases, involving the rules for absentee voting in Wisconsin’s primary election.

Pennsylvania: 2020 election lawsuits could shape who votes and how ballots are counted | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

With four months until November’s election, a flurry of lawsuits in state and federal courts is seeking to change election rules in Pennsylvania and dozens of other states around the country. They could shape how people cast their ballots and whether those votes are counted. The latest salvo landed this week when the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee filed a federal lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s use of mail ballot drop boxes, its procedures for counting mail ballots, and restrictions on poll watchers. It marked a shift, with the GOP on offense in the state for the first time this election cycle instead of defending against Democratic and progressive groups’ legal challenges. That and other lawsuits are part of a national fight unfolding, particularly across swing states such as Pennsylvania, where small margins could decide who wins the presidency in November. And the fight comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has made voting more complicated than normal. “We are seeing a surge in litigation,” said Wendy R. Weiser, head of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. “There’s been an increasing number of lawsuits around election administration and voting rights across the country.”

Mississippi: Jones County election commissioner’s social media comment about Black voters causes uproar | Lici Beveridge/Mississippi Clarion Ledger

A social media comment with racial undertones made by a Mississippi election commissioner sparked outrage across the state on the same weekend state legislators voted to retire the flag and its Confederate emblem. “I’m concerned about voter registration in Mississippi,” the commissioner wrote. “The blacks are having lots (of) events for voter registration. People in Mississippi have to get involved, too.” Gail Welch’s comment caused an uproar Sunday, as screen shots of the comment spread quickly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Welch said she has received calls and messages from all over the country about the post. On Facebook, dozens of people shared their thoughts on the Welch’s words. One Mississippi lawmaker said he doesn’t know if Welch meant what she said, but her words give an impression of racism. “It’s those kind of things that people say until somebody brings it to their attention and then it’s not what they said or it’s not what they meant,” said Sen. Juan Barnett, whose district includes part of Jones County.

Pennsylvania: The Trump campaign is suing Pennsylvania over how to run the 2020 election | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

The Trump reelection campaign sued Pennsylvania state and county elections officials Monday, saying mail ballot drop boxes were unconstitutional in the way they were used in the June 2 primary election and asking a federal court to bar them in November. “Defendants have sacrificed the sanctity of in-person voting at the altar of unmonitored mail-in voting and have exponentially enhanced the threat that fraudulent or otherwise ineligible ballots will be cast and counted in the forthcoming general election,” says the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Instances of voter fraud are rare, and there is virtually no evidence of successful widespread conspiracy to commit fraud via mail ballots. (An alleged effort in Paterson, N.J., last month quickly raised flags, and last week the state attorney general charged four men in the scheme.) The lawsuit says mail ballot drop boxes violate the state and federal constitutions because elections officials are making decisions outside of what the law allows, taking the power to make law away from the legislature. The suit also argues that state and county elections officials set up different rules and policies across the state, creating a patchwork system that violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

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.

Georgia: Absentee voting program embraced by Georgia voters, then abandoned by Republican Secretary of State | ark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When election officials mailed absentee applications to nearly 7 million Georgia voters, they responded in droves. Absentee voting rates skyrocketed, from 6% of all ballots cast in the 2018 general election to over half of the votes cast in this month’s primary. A record 1.1 million voters cast absentee ballots in the primary, avoiding human contact during the coronavirus pandemic. Voters won’t have the same easy access to absentee voting again. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who started the absentee ballot request program in April, decided against mailing ballot applications to voters for the presidential election, when turnout is expected to reach a new high of 5 million. He said it would be impractical and too expensive to repeat the effort this fall. Instead, Raffensperger plans to create a website where voters can request absentee ballots on their own. All registered voters are eligible to cast absentee ballots. The move is likely to reduce requests for absentee ballots.

New Jersey: What alleged voter fraud in Paterson, New Jersey tells us about November — and what it doesn’t | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

At some point it becomes blurry whether President Trump is defending a position because he believes it or because he refuses to lose the debate. He has been claiming for four years that American elections are subject to massive, widespread voter fraud, for example, and continues to make those claims despite a complete lack of evidence. Yes, some fraud occurs, but that doesn’t mean that it occurs widely, much less without detection. This is an important distinction, so it’s worth reiterating. It is the case that your car could be stolen. Auto theft exists. There are even local gangs who steal cars regularly and sell them for parts. It is not the case, though, that there exists a national ring of car thieves who operate without detection, purloining and selling millions of cars a year. That auto theft exists does not strengthen the argument that auto theft exists at a scale in which the system of auto ownership is imperiled.

Pennsylvania: Trump campaign sues Pennsylvania over mail-in drop-off sites for ballots | Mark Scolforo/Associated Press

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, the national Republican Party and four Pennsylvania members of Congress sued Monday to force changes to how the state collects and counts mail-in ballots under revamped rules. The federal lawsuit filed in Pittsburgh claims that as voters jumped to make use of the greatly broadened eligibility for mail-in ballots during the June 2 primary, practices and procedures by elections officials ran afoul of state law and the state and federal constitutions. It claims the defendants, which are the 67 county election boards and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, “have inexplicably chosen a path that jeopardizes election security and will lead — and has already led — to the disenfranchisement of voters, questions about the accuracy of election results, and ultimately chaos” ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. A spokeswoman for Boockvar, a Democrat, declined comment about the litigation, as did the head of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, whose members administer elections. The head of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party called the lawsuit an effort to suppress votes as a campaign tactic, noting Democrats far outpaced Republicans in getting their voters to apply for mail-in ballots ahead of the primary.

Wisconsin: Appeals court limits Wisconsin early voting to 2 weeks before election, stops voters from receiving ballots via email, fax | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In a sweeping decision that took more than three years to come out, a panel of federal judges on Monday reinstated limits on early voting and a requirement that voters be Wisconsin residents for at least a month before an election. The three judges also banned most voters from having absentee ballots emailed or faxed to them and told a lower court to continue to tweak the system the state uses to provide voting credentials to those who have the most difficulty getting photo IDs. The unanimous decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago was mostly a setback for the liberal groups that challenged Wisconsin’s voting laws, but it did give them some victories. The appeals court upheld a decision that allows college students to use expired university IDs to vote and barred the state from requiring colleges to provide citizenship information about dorm residents who head to the polls. A lower court judge struck down many of Wisconsin’s election laws in 2016 because he found they disproportionately affected the ability of minorities to vote. But the appeals judges concluded GOP lawmakers wrote the laws to help their party, and not specifically to discriminate against anyone based on race.

Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds signs law limiting Iowa secretary of state’s powers in elections | Ian Richardson/Des Moines Register

Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed into law new restrictions that will prevent Secretary of State Paul Pate from mailing ballot request forms to Iowans in November’s election without first seeking approval from legislators. The law will also prohibit county election officials from decreasing the number of polling places by more than 35% during an election. The legislation was passed by state lawmakers after Pate and county election officials took similar steps before the primary because of the coronavirus pandemic. Leading up to the primary, Pate extended the mail-in voting period from 29 to 40 days and mailed ballot request forms to every registered voter in Iowa. The primary had record turnout, with nearly 80% of those casting ballots voting absentee. But Republicans in both chambers of the Legislature looked to limit Pate’s power, with some saying he had pushed the limits of his authority and that another secretary of state could use the same powers in an effort to reduce voter turnout.

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: ‘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.)

Kentucky: State votes amid COVID-19, suppression claims as late voters are allowed into polling site | Phillip M. Bailey and Joe Sonka/Louisville Courier Journal

Kentuckians streamed into polling places across the state on Tuesday during a historic primary election that withstood a global pandemic and outside worries of voter suppression. When polls opened at 6 a.m., a line had formed at the lone voting location in Jefferson County — the cavernous Kentucky Exposition Center at the state fairgrounds. Those who showed up throughout the day described their experience as quick and easy, with most saying the traffic entering and leaving the parking lot was the most difficult task. Conflict erupted, though, when the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office closed the doors at 6:03 p.m., just after the announced time for voting to cease throughout the state, leaving a crowd of about 50 people outside. About a dozen voters pounded on the glass doors and shouted, “Let us in!” The campaign of state Rep. Charles Booker, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, sought an injunction to allow the polling place to stay open until 9 p.m., according to a tweet from campaign manager Colin Lauderdale.

Wisconsin: Lawsuits aim to ease rules limiting Wisconsin college voters | Kayla Huynh/Wisconsin State Journal

On the day of the Wisconsin spring primary in February, Peter German was determined to vote. In between strained breaths, German — a freshman from West Bend attending UW-Madison — said he had been running from building to building in an attempt to cast his ballot. “I haven’t missed an election yet,” he said. The previous day, he tried to register to vote at the Madison City Clerk’s office with no luck. He lacked the required form of identification and documents under Wisconsin’s voter ID law, implemented in 2015 after a series of legal battles. On Feb. 18, Election Day, he again could not vote because he did not have a voter-compliant photo ID card. This sent German crisscrossing campus for nearly an hour, where he was finally able to cast his ballot — thanks to a freshly printed student voter card. As German learned, for students living away from home, Wisconsin is one of the most difficult states in which to vote. Student IDs issued by state colleges and universities in Wisconsin are not sufficient for voting, requiring students to go through additional hoops if they wish to vote using their college address.

Iowa: Vote by mail: After record primary turnout, Iowa Senate Republicans try to limit vote-by-mail in presidential election | Nicole Goodkind/Fortune

Iowa set a new record for primary election turnout this month after secretary of state Paul Pate sent applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters. More than 520,000 ballots were cast, according to Pate’s office, beating the previous record of 450,000 set in 1994. Now, Republicans in the state senate are trying to prevent him from doing the same in the general election this November. The Iowa Senate State Government Committee advanced a 30-page bill on a party-line vote late last week that would prohibit Pate, also a Republican, from proactively sending applications for mail-in-ballots to all registered voters. Anyone who wanted a mail-in ballot would need to submit a written request on their own and show proof of valid voter identification. The bill would prohibit the secretary from taking emergency election action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The secretary can make changes in cases of extreme weather or during wartime, it says, but not during a health crisis. It also prevents Pate from making any changes to the early or absentee voting process, even in an emergency.