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Electionland 2020: Voting Begins, Facebook Rules, Pandemic Election Plans and More

This week's headlines on mail ballots, studies on voting and Trump's latest election rhetoric.

This article is part of Electionland, ProPublica’s collaborative reporting project covering problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Sign up to receive updates about our voting coverage and more each week.

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Facebook’s Political Ad Ban Also Threatens Ability to Spread Accurate Information on How to Vote

Two months out from Election Day, Facebook’s changes to its political ad rules cause additional problems for the government officials running the vote. Read the story.

Please Tell Us If You Have Any Trouble Voting This Year

Are you a voter? A poll worker? An election administrator? We want to hear from you about any problems you’re experiencing or witnessing in the voting process. Read the story.

Voting in a Pandemic

  • Here’s how to vote in all 50 states this year. (The Washington Post)
  • Learn how to vote in Florida this year and get the answers to frequently asked questions. (The Tampa Bay Times)
  • Here are 10 things that state officials and election administrators can do to facilitate the voting process during the pandemic. (Stateline)
  • Democrats on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released a report detailing concerns about the ability of Florida, Georgia, Texas and Wisconsin to carry out safe elections this year. (The Hill)
  • A new poll found that six in 10 voters say they want to cast a ballot before Election Day. (The Washington Post)

The Latest on Vote by Mail

  • The USPS launched a marketing campaign to spread awareness about mail voting. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Last week, North Carolina voters became the first in the country to receive mail ballots for the presidential election. (CBS News)
  • Georgia’s secretary of state said his office is investigating 1,000 possible cases of people who voted both by mail and in person during the primary, though it’s unclear how many cases were intentional and how many may have stemmed from data entry problems or other poll worker errors. (GPB, NPR)
  • Pennsylvania officials warned about robocalls making incorrect statements about mail voting. (Penn Live)
  • Tom Ridge, Pennsylvania’s former governor, said that states should allow for mail ballot processing before Election Day. (Penn Live)
  • Here’s how Washington state holds its elections entirely by mail. (The New Yorker)
  • Given the large number of mail ballot requests, one in four Illinois voters may opt to vote by mail in the fall. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • The USPS won’t say if sorting machines have been removed or are still working in Hawaii, raising questions given the state will vote entirely by mail. (Hawaii News Now)

In-Person Voting News

  • One expert estimates that 40% of votes, or 60 million ballots, will be cast in person this fall. (The New York Times)
  • In-person voting will look different this fall, with sports arenas and convention centers serving as polling places in some states, drive-thru options, and other creative locales. (AP)
  • Private companies are helping to recruit poll workers and giving employees paid time off to be election workers and to vote. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Ohio’s secretary of state released a public poll worker data tracker. (Ohio SOS)

New Studies on Elections

  • A Stanford University researcher found that in North Carolina, changing a voter’s polling place location results in a one to two percentage point decrease in general election turnout likelihood. (SSRN)
  • A University of Pennsylvania researcher determined that for every additional hour that a voter waits in line, the probability of that voter casting a ballot in the next election falls by one percentage point. (Science Direct)
  • During New Mexico’s primary, overall voter turnout increased, while Native American participation declined, a Common Cause report found. (Santa Fe New Mexican)

Trump’s Latest on Voting

  • President Donald Trump twice suggested voting both in person and by mail, which is illegal. Some state officials scrambled to inform voters that double voting could be prosecuted. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said she’d consider referring the president for prosecution in cases of suspected double voting. (The Washington Post,, Click On Detroit, Daily Camera)
  • Trump encouraged his followers to act as poll watchers while making unfounded accusations of fraud. (CNN)
  • A small network of conservative lawyers, working with four nonprofits, have promoted voter fraud theories and have been involved in more than 60 election-related lawsuits since 2012, with more than half of the suits filed since 2017. Trump has echoed their rhetoric, and recently appointed one of the lawyers to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. (Reuters)

The Latest Lawsuits

Any newsroom can apply to be part of Electionland. We’re looking for newsrooms — especially local newsrooms — that will be dedicating resources to covering voting problems during the 2020 election. Radio, TV, online and print reporters are all encouraged to apply. Sign up here.

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