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Electionland 2020: Wisconsin’s Elections Commission, Drop Boxes, Absentee Voting and More

This week’s headlines on misinformation, early voting problems and fixing mail-in ballot errors.

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With All Eyes on Wisconsin, Partisan Gridlock at State Elections Commission Frustrates Voters and Local Officials

The commission that oversees voting in the swing state has deadlocked along party lines this year on a record number of key issues, resulting in inconsistency, turmoil and delays. Read the story with Wisconsin Watch.

What to Do if You Change Your Mind About Voting by Mail

Maybe you requested a mail ballot but changed your mind and want to vote in person. This is what you can do in every state if you’ve reconsidered how you want to cast your vote. Read the story.

Who Is My Member of Congress? How to Find Out What Your Elected Officials Have Been Up To.

Whether you’re voting on a senator or a house representative in 2020, here are some ways to see what your elected officials have been up to — as well as some background on how the whole lawmaking works (and what it looks like when it doesn’t). Read the story.

How to Follow a Local Political Race

While the presidential race has a tendency to hog the spotlight, there’s plenty more at stake every election year. Here’s help with understanding local races, and how to learn more about the candidates on your local ballot. Read the story.

Electionland Stories En Español

We’re translating ProPublica election stories into Spanish. Read them here. They’re also available to republish under Creative Commons.

Stories From Electionland Partners

  • Gov. Greg Abbott Didn’t Require Masks at Polling Places. It’s Made Some Voters Uncomfortable. (Texas Tribune)
  • Jeering Sign-Wavers. Caravans of Honking Trucks. Voter Intimidation or Free Speech? (The Washington Post)
  • Being a Connecticut Poll Worker So a Vulnerable Senior Doesn’t Have To (WSHU)
  • The Best Way to Check Status of Mail-In Ballots in Fairfax County (Patch Greater Alexandria)
  • Maricopa County Recorder’s Offices Now Ballot Drop-Off Locations (Patch Phoenix)
  • “Unusual” Circumstance Sends Mail-In Ballot Back to Voter’s Home (WTVF)
  • N.Y. Early Voter Rights: Stay on Line, Ask for Accessible Accomodations (WSHU)
  • Long Lines for Last Day of On-Demand Voting, Applications for Mail-In Ballots (Levittown Now)
  • Misleading Messages to Mendham Voters Follow Nationwide Trend of Election Misinformation (NJ Spotlight)
  • Bucks County Scrambles to Handle Last-Day Early Voting Crowds (Patch Bensalem)
  • Williamson County Elections Chief: There Are No Mail-In Drop-Off “Boxes” (Patch Round Rock)
  • Placement of Ballot Drop Boxes Far From Ideal in NJ. Some Voters Must Travel Miles To Reach One (NJ Spotlight)
  • Worried Your Mail-In Ballot Still Hasn’t Arrived? Here’s How to Be Sure Your Vote Counts (Texas Tribune)

Vote-by-Mail News

  • Many states won’t have complete results on election night, in part because of mail-in voting. The New York Times put together a 50-state guide about the timing of results. (The New York Times)
  • According to the U.S. Elections Project, more than 42 million of 92 million mail-in ballots requested by voters nationwide hadn’t been returned yet, as of Wednesday afternoon. At the same time, on-time mail delivery rates in several battleground states fell below 60% this week. (The Washington Post)
  • Pennsylvania election workers won’t be allowed to start processing ballots until Election Day after the state’s Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers failed to reach a deal. (Spotlight PA)
  • Hundreds of voters in York County, Pennsylvania, received the wrong envelopes to return their absentee ballots. Election officials said they’ll send out affidavits to fix the mistake. (13 News Now)
  • In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, an analysis of early voting data shows Black and Hispanic voters are more likely to have their ballots flagged for potential errors compared with white voters. (Miami Herald)
  • North Dakota tribal groups say the state’s emphasis on voting by mail is leaving out rural voters with limited access to a post office. (Dickinson Press)
  • One of the nation’s largest producers of ballots, Runbeck Printers, is on track to make four times as many absentee ballots this year as it did in 2016. (The New York Times)
  • About 13,600 voters in Travis County, Texas, are receiving replacement ballots by mail after the county provided inaccurate instructions and mixed up district boundaries on some originals. (KVUE)
  • As of Oct. 22, more than 2,200 voters in Utah had their mail-in ballots rejected because their signatures did not appear to match existing records. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Wisconsin election officials had flagged nearly 1,400 mail-in ballots for potential errors as of Oct. 21. It’s not required, but many clerks are reaching out to voters to alert them and help fix their mistakes. (Wisconsin Watch)
  • Village officials in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, accidentally mailed a completed ballot back to the wrong voter, along with a note asking for a correction on the ballot envelope. (WISN)
  • Virginia’s online portal allowed voters to continue applying for mail-in ballots after a state deadline passed, and it’s causing confusion. (The Washington Post)
  • Depending on when Alabama voters sent in their mail-in ballots, their votes may not count because of a recent court ruling over witness requirements. (
  • A Boston man was charged with intentionally setting fire to a ballot drop box outside a public library last week. Officials said only a handful of ballots were too badly damaged to be counted. In nearby Framingham, the mayor announced that police would be sent to guard the town’s two drop boxes. (WGBH, WHDH)
  • Pennsylvania’s attorney general said the Trump campaign may have engaged in “illegal” voter intimidation when it filmed ballot drop boxes, after the campaign complained of voters dropping off more than one ballot. (The New York Times)

Mailing In Ballots (or Not)

  • Some voters worried about their mail-in ballots are flying back to their home states to cast a ballot in person instead. (The Washington Post)
  • The USPS is investigating the loss of potentially thousands of mail-in ballots from Pennsylvania’s Butler County that haven’t reached voters. (Spotlight PA)
  • Election officials in Marion County, Indiana, said that hundreds of ballots mailed to absentee voters may be missing and can’t be traced using regular postal tracking. (Indianapolis Star)
  • More than half of mail ballots issued in some of Oregon’s largest counties have been returned in person, instead of through the mail. (KPTV)

Pandemic Voting

  • Most states with mask mandates won’t turn away voters who refuse to wear a mask. (CNN)
  • Experts warn that while a relatively small number of voters cast a ballot online, it’s still susceptible to hacking. (CNET)
  • A group called Black Voters Matter has filed a complaint against the election supervisor in Dougherty, Georgia, over extremely long wait times and the sheriff being called on community members. (WFXL)
  • A Maryland man was arrested after he refused to wear a mask in a polling place and declined an offer to use an outside polling booth. He’s now suing the Board of Elections and the sheriff’s office. (The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post)
  • A South Carolina GOP candidate said she was “bullied” by a poll worker when she refused to wear a mask while voting. (Post and Courier)
  • In Monroe County, Mississippi, voters who are ill can vote from their cars. (WTVA)
  • Tennessee voters with COVID-19, or who are showing symptoms, can now vote in-person based on new guidelines. (The Tennessean)
  • An elderly Texas woman fainted in her second attempt to vote in person, and she insisted on voting from the back of the ambulance before EMTs took her to the hospital. (KAGS/NBC)

News on Misinformation

  • The FBI has been alerted to what now appears to be an intentional misinformation campaign in Maryland involving a video of an election judge marking a ballot. (WUSA 9)
  • Robocalls, online misinformation and emails are inundating voters this year with false or confusing information about voting. (NPR)
  • Right-leaning news sites with huge traffic are fueling voter fraud misinformation this year. (The New York Times)
  • Officials in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, are warning voters about robocalls featuring people posing as election officials. (The Daily Item)
  • Misinformation circulating on social media is confusing voters in Daviess County, Kentucky, including instances of voters trying to request a ballot through invalid third-party sites. (Messenger Inquirer)
  • Prosecutors in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, have charged two right-wing operatives with 15 felonies over a robocall discouraging minorities from voting. (State Scoop)
  • Investigators believe a Republican group is responsible for calls to North Carolina voters giving incorrect information about their registration. (WBTV)
  • Local election officials across the country are dealing with a flood of misinformation. (The New York Times)
  • Washington’s secretary of state office reported a website to the federal government that it says has been falsely listing rejected ballots. (My Northwest)
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services incorrectly told hundreds of new citizens in Massachusetts they cannot vote this year. (WGBH)

What’s Happening at Polling Places

  • A New York City police officer has been suspended without pay after endorsing President Donald Trump over his cruiser’s loudspeaker in a Brooklyn neighborhood on the first day of early voting. (Gothamist)
  • MAGA hats will be allowed at California polling places under rules that allow political slogans but not a candidate’s name or image. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Two armed security guards who stood with Trump supporters outside a Florida polling place were off duty and had not been hired by the Trump campaign, officials say. (The Washington Post)
  • A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, man has been arrested for allegedly yelling racial slurs at voters at an early voting site. (WSVN)
  • Two Durham County, North Carolina, sheriff’s deputies were mistakenly turned away from a polling place when the site coordinator misinterpreted guidance that prohibits carrying weapons into and stationing law enforcement at polls. (The News & Observer)
  • An increased number of poll watchers in Guilford County, North Carolina, has sparked complaints from some voters about what they see as intimidation. (Fox 8)
  • Local officials are investigating a caravan of Trump supporters at two early voting locations in a Latino area of Albuquerque, New Mexico, for potentially intimidating voters. (Albuquerque Journal)
  • Prosecutors in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania have published legal guidance that outlines everything from the rules on electioneering to the role of poll watchers. (WHYY)

The Latest Lawsuits

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