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Electionland 2020: Accessibility Lawsuits, Mail Voting Expansion, USPS Woes and More

Voting During a Pandemic

  • There are a host of anticipated problems ahead of the general election, including poll worker shortages, mail ballot rejections, dislocated voters and funding shortfalls. (The Guardian, Politico)

  • A voter registration project launched by a Massachusetts doctor is being adopted by health care providers around the country to register their patients to vote. (The New York Times)

  • Maryland is short nearly 14,000 election judges and election boards are struggling to fill the vacancies, which may lead to polling place closures. (Baltimore Sun)

Electionland 2020: Inside the EAC, Poll Worker Woes, Cybersecurity and More

New From ProPublica and The Atlantic

How Voter-Fraud Hysteria and Partisan Bickering Ate American Election Oversight

The federal Election Assistance Commission has neglected key responsibilities or ceded them to other agencies — and two of its four commissioners are parroting the president’s unfounded warnings about vote by mail. Read the story.

How Voter-Fraud Hysteria and Partisan Bickering Ate American Election Oversight

Arsh Raziuddin/The Atlantic

The federal Election Assistance Commission has neglected key responsibilities or ceded them to other agencies — and two of its four commissioners are parroting the president’s unfounded warnings about vote by mail.

Electionland 2020: Texas Votes, Voting Misinformation, Election Funding and More

New From ProPublica

“Outright Lies”: Voting Misinformation Flourishes on Facebook

While the social media giant says it opposes voter suppression, the data shows a stark picture: Nearly half of all top-performing posts that mentioned voting by mail were false or misleading. Read the story.

Announcing Four Electionland Reporting Project Grants

This year, the collaborative project will include four local reporting projects that ProPublica will fund and will co-publish with partners. Read more here.

Announcing Four Electionland Reporting Project Grants

Journalists fact-check tips during Electionland coverage on Nov. 6, 2018, at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in New York. (Erin Lefevre for ProPublica)

As part of our Electionland project, we’re announcing four grants that will support local reporting projects on voting.

Electionland is a collaborative project to cover voting problems, misinformation and cybersecurity. Now in its third election cycle, the project has already signed up more than 60 local and national newsrooms in 2020 to participate. Journalists working in newsrooms can find out more and sign up to join the collaboration, which will give them access to data and reporting leads to help cover voting rights and election integrity.

“Outright Lies”: Voting Misinformation Flourishes on Facebook

Photo illustration: Lisa Larson-Walker; source image: Getty Images

On April 3, Terrence K. Williams, a politically conservative actor and comedian who’s been praised by President Donald Trump, assured his nearly 3 million followers on Facebook that Democrats would light ballots on fire or throw them away. Wearing a red “Keep America Great” hat, Williams declared, “If you mail in your vote, your vote will be in Barack Obama’s fireplace.” The video has been viewed more than 350,000 times.

Electionland 2020: NJ Primary, CDC Election Guidance, Fall Voting Plans and More

Delaware and New Jersey Primaries This Week

  • Absentee voting in Delaware was 11 times higher than in 2016. About half of Democratic voters voted by mail, while less than 30% of Republican voters did. (Delaware Public Media)

  • New Jersey’s primary was held largely by mail; most voters who showed up to the polls had to vote with a provisional ballot. In one county, a snafu resulted in the post office returning mail ballots to some voters. (The New York Times, New Jersey Globe)

  • After charges of absentee voting fraud in Paterson, New Jersey, state officials said they were taking measures to ensure ballot security. (The Wall Street Journal)

  • New Jersey briefly shut down its polling place finder website after it was discovered that it was providing inaccurate information to some users. (NJ.com)

  • Voting rights for some 83,000 ex-felons were restored in New Jersey this year. (The Guardian)

Electionland 2020: Florida Felons Case, Drive-Thru Voting, Voter Registration and More

Vote by Mail News

  • In an interview with NPR, Attorney General William Barr claimed, without offering proof, that mail voting isn’t secure because people could steal ballots from mailboxes. Asked for specific evidence, he could not cite any. (NPR)

  • The Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project found that more than 18,000 mail ballots weren’t counted during Florida’s March primary. Younger voters, first-time voters, and Latino and Black voters were more likely to have their ballots rejected. While the overall percentage is small (1.3% of all votes), thin margins in Florida could be key in the fall. (Tampa Bay Times)

Electionland 2020: Kentucky and New York Vote, Trump on Mail Voting, COVID Impacts and more

Elections This Week

  • Kentucky and New York held presidential primaries on Tuesday, with elections also taking place in Massachusetts, Mississippi, the Carolinas, and Virginia.

  • Kentucky was in the spotlight due to a reduction of polling places; a judge ruled against opening additional sites in the state’s most populous counties. There were long lines reported in Lexington. (Courier-Journal, WAVE)

  • In Jefferson County, Kentucky there were shuttle buses to the one polling site, a convention center, and Lyft also offered free rides. (WLKY)

Electionland 2020: Georgia Aftermath, USPS Struggles, Poll Workers and More

New From ProPublica

The Postal Service Is Steadily Getting Worse — Can It Handle a National Mail-In Election?

Postal delays and mistakes have marred primary voting, and after years of budget cuts and plant closures, mail delivery has slowed so much that ballot deadlines in many states are no longer realistic. Read the story.

The Postal Service Is Steadily Getting Worse — Can It Handle a National Mail-In Election?

Mail boxes taped up near a post office during the coron​avirus outbreak in Virginia on A​pril 12. (Mark Peterson/Redux)

Two weeks after the polls closed in this year’s Ohio primary, two U.S. Postal Service employees showed up in the office of Diane Noonan, the director of elections in Butler County. The workers carried a tray of 317 unopened ballots that had been sitting in a Postal Service warehouse since the day before the election.

Electionland 2020: Georgia’s Chaotic Primary, NJ Mail Voting Problems, Election Legislation and More

This Week’s Elections

Georgia, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia held elections this week.

Here’s how the primary in Georgia went: “It’s a hot, flaming, f—-ing mess,” Nse Ufot, executive director of voting rights organization New Georgia Project, told Politico.

The election there resulted in an investigation by the secretary of state and criticism from prominent figures ranging from Hillary Clinton to LeBron James.

Electionland 2020: June Super Tuesday, Trump’s Voter Registration, Election Bills and More

New From ProPublica and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Law Enforcement Files Discredit Brian Kemp’s Accusation That Democrats Tried to Hack the Georgia Election

Kemp’s explosive allegation, just days before the closely contested 2018 election, drew wide attention. But newly released documents show that there was no such hack. Read the story.

Law Enforcement Files Discredit Brian Kemp’s Accusation That Democrats Tried to Hack the Georgia Election

Volunteers and staff for Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp hold a phone banking event at his campaign office in Atlanta on Nov. 5, 2018. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

It was a stunning accusation: Two days before the 2018 election for Georgia governor, Republican Brian Kemp used his power as secretary of state to open an investigation into what he called a “failed hacking attempt” of voter registration systems involving the Democratic Party.

But newly released case files from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reveal that there was no such hacking attempt.

Electionland 2020: Trump on Vote by Mail, Poll Worker PPE, Naturalizations and More

Trump’s Crusade Against Vote by Mail

In both his public appearances and on Twitter, President Donald Trump has continued to rail against mail voting, and has accused Democrats of trying to rig the election. This set off alarm bells among voting rights advocates and experts who believe the president is setting the stage to delegitimize the election if he loses. Then, this week, the president tweeted again about mail voting, and Twitter labeled his tweets with a message “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” which linked to this fact-check page. After falsely accusing Twitter of interfering in the election and stifling free speech, Trump threatened “Big action to follow!” On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that aims to limit the power of social media companies.

Ignoring Trump and Right-Wing Think Tanks, Red States Expand Vote by Mail

An Ohio voter drops her ballot into a box outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on April 28 in Cleveland. (Tony Dejak/AP Photo)

On April 23, during the same week that Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state said he was contemplating a “significant expansion” of vote by mail, the Public Interest Legal Foundation emailed one of his employees under the subject line “28 MILLION ballots lost.”

A Conservative Legal Group Significantly Miscalculated Data in a Report on Mail-In Voting

Mail-in ballots being reviewed in Ohio last month. A study from a conservative legal group suggesting that voting by mail opened the door to widespread fraud appears to have been based on flawed data. (Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

In an April report that warns of the risks of fraud in mail-in voting, a conservative legal group significantly inflated a key statistic, a ProPublica analysis found. The Public Interest Legal Foundation reported that more than 1 million ballots sent out to voters in 2018 were returned as undeliverable. Taken at face value, that would represent a 91% increase over the number of undeliverable mail ballots in 2016, a sign that a vote-by-mail system would be a “catastrophe” for elections, the group argued.

However, after ProPublica provided evidence to PILF that it had in fact doubled the official government numbers, the organization corrected its figure. The number of undeliverable mail ballots dropped slightly from 2016 to 2018.

Whether the Ballot You Mail Is Counted May Depend on Where You Vote

A voter waits to drop off a ballot at the Board of Elections in Dayton on Tuesday after the Ohio primary shifted to an exclusively vote-by-mail system to reduce the coronavirus spread. (Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty Images)

The April 6 guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court seemed final: Election officials in Wisconsin should only count absentee ballots postmarked on or before the next day’s voting. Then, in the days after the chaotic primary, thousands of ballots poured in with missing or illegible postmarks — an issue the court had not directly addressed. Throwing up its hands, the Wisconsin Elections Commission left it to local officials to decide if ballots had been mailed on time.

2020 Political Ad Collector

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Who Has Emergency Authority Over Elections? Nobody’s Quite Sure.

Primary day in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, on March 10. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed severe limits on how election officials can respond to emergencies. (Erin Kirkland/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The tug of war over whether and how to hold Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary exposes a national problem: State and local officials with the most experience running elections lack the power to revamp or postpone voting during a crisis.

About Electionland

ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

Questions? Read our FAQ.

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