On Tuesday, more than 250 reporters from over 125 newsrooms will be working together toward one goal. We are all part of Electionland, a collaborative journalism project dedicated to identifying problems with access to the ballot.
We’ve already seen our coverage make a difference. Tips sent to local partners have produced stories that pressed officials to fix problems, helping people vote more easily.
Our partners at the Houston Chronicle took up an Electionland tip about voter registration issues at Prairie View A&M — a historically black university in Waller County. Administrative errors were keeping hundreds of registered voters at the school from casting a ballot at the voting location on campus. What’s more, the county was asking them to fill out forms to remedy the problem — a step advocates say could confuse students and keep them from voting.
Meanwhile, as the Chronicle also documented, a Democratic campaign staffer complaining about the issue was briefly arrested after taking a photo of the county clerk.
After all the coverage, the Texas secretary of state’s office stepped in and allowed the students to vote on campus without filling out additional paperwork.
A tip we sent to the Chronicle also sparked action before the paper even had a chance to publish a story. A voter who had been booted from a polling location because she wore a T-shirt with the logo of a progressive Texas group reached out to Electionland. She told us that the Harris County clerk’s office had sent a memo to poll workers singling out three progressive groups for removal from the polls, including hers.
We shared the memo with the Chronicle, which then called the clerk’s office. Soon after, the county rescinded the memo. The Texas secretary of state’s office also later weighed in, advising the county against the prohibition.
We also got a slew of tips about Resistbot — a texting service that reminds voters of their polling place and of early voting deadlines — when the service texted voters across Florida that early voting ended a day earlier than it really did. While counties in Florida are not required to keep polling places open the Sunday before the election, many do. After we passed the tip to a reporter at WLRN in Florida, he tweeted at Resistbot asking the organization to correct the error. It did, sending updated texts to voters in the affected areas.
Over the past few weeks, we received a huge number of tips about voter intimidation, leading to stories from partners across the country. In Dallas County, Texas, we heard about name-calling and the interrogation of voters waiting in line to vote. We contacted the county’s election director, who said it was the worst she’s seen in decades.
Our partners at The Dallas Morning News followed up with on-the-ground reporting, shedding new light on the often confrontational, but entirely legal electioneering scenes outside polling locations in the county.
With early voting complete, we’re now receiving hundreds of tips a day, but we’ve been tackling voting issues and honing our reporting strategy for months. During the New York gubernatorial primary in New York in September, we tracked down a tip that the New York City Housing Authority instructed hundreds of residents in a Coney Island building to remain home for a routine inspection on Election Day. After a ProPublica reporter reached out to the agency, a spokesperson said it was an oversight and promised not to schedule inspections on Election Day.
Our partners at Bklyner and WNYC also reported on an official New York City voter guide that incorrectly stated felons can vote only after completely parole. After the story, the agency updated its website and even corrected a blog post from two years earlier that included the outdated information.
We also quashed a rumor that Immigration and Customs Enforcement planned to patrol polling locations. We explained what to do if you’re on the Georgia “exact match” list. And we provided a state-by-state guide for navigating complicated voting laws on Election Day.
We expect many of the issues we’ve seen to crop again up on Election Day. If you experience or witness something, let us know:
SMS: Send the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply).
WhatsApp: Send the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 850-909-8683.
Facebook Messenger: Go to m.me/electionland.