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Voter Registration Around Austin Smashed Records. That May Be a Problem.

Travis County, Texas — the home of Austin — has experienced a massive spike in voter registrations this cycle, which officials there attribute to the heightened interest in the state’s competitive Senate race. The county received around 35,000 registrations on the final day to submit them — that’s 10,000 more than on the same day in 2016.

While the increase in voter participation is good news, the recent surge is complicated by the fact that the registrations were submitted on paper. Texas is one of only 13 states not to have online voter registration. About a dozen county employees are now sifting through thousands of applications, verifying them and entering them into the state’s voter rolls by hand.

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Voter Purges: What Georgians Heading to the Polls Need to Know

Charges of voter suppression have been levied in the governor’s race in Georgia in recent weeks, pitting the secretary of state and GOP candidate Brian Kemp against critics, including his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams, who say that he’s using his perch as the chief election official to benefit his own candidacy.

The race, which the Cook Political Report currently lists as a toss-up, has received national attention. The controversy has raised questions about whether some Georgians will be turned away at the polls.

Here’s what’s happened so far, and what voters need to know.

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Nearly 1 in 10 Mail Ballots Thrown Out in Georgia County

Election officials in Gwinnett County, Georgia, have thrown out almost one in 10 of the vote-by-mail ballots cast. Officials cannot explain why, though they deny it was done out of malice. Citizens whose votes have been rejected can resubmit their ballots or vote in person, but advocates say that this puts an undue burden on voters.

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Arrest Throws Texas Voter Registration Dispute Into Further Confusion

A campaign staffer for a Texas Democratic congressional candidate was briefly arrested at the Waller County Courthouse after delivering a letter demanding that the county address problems with the voter registration status of students at Prairie View A&M, a local, historically black university.

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Confusion for Prairie View A&M Students on the Last Day for Voter Registration

Days before the voter registration deadline in Texas, Waller County realized half of registered students at Prairie View A&M, a local, historically black university, were being sent to the wrong polling place.

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Let Us Know About Voting Problems During the Midterm Elections

The election is only 28 days away. If you’re planning to vote, either on Nov. 6 or during your state’s early voting period, we need you to be our eyes and ears as we look for voting problems across the country.

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Election Experts: We Need You

Electionland is gearing up for the midterms, and we’re looking for experts in election administration and election law to be part of an expert database. We’d love to have you participate. Our goal is to ground real-time coverage of elections in fact and context — you could be a huge part of helping us achieve it.

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How Well Are Your Elections Run?

Election Day is only weeks away. Find out how — and how well — your county or town handles election administration.

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Why Am I Seeing This? Interesting Facebook Ads From Our Political Ad Collector

These ads are collected from participants in our Political Ad Collector project. If you want to help us by submitting the ads you see to our collection, join the project. It’s easy.

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Bipartisan Furor as North Carolina Election Law Shrinks Early Voting Locations by Almost 20 Percent

In June, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation mandating that all early voting sites in the state remain open for uniform hours on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., a move supporters argued would reduce confusion and ultimately make early voting easier and more accessible.

But with the start of early voting only weeks away, county election officials across the state — who previously had control over setting polling hours in their jurisdictions — say the new law has hamstrung their ability to best serve voters. Some officials in rural counties say they’ve had to shrink the number of early voting locations to accommodate the law’s longer hour requirements and stay within their budgets.

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The Overlooked Weak Link in Election Security

More than one-third of counties that are overseeing elections in some of the most contested congressional races this November run email systems that could make it easy for hackers to log in and steal potentially sensitive information.

A ProPublica survey found that official email accounts used by 11 county election offices, which are in charge of tallying votes in 12 key U.S. House of Representatives races from California to Ohio, could be breached with only a user name and password — potentially allowing hackers to vacuum up confidential communications or impersonate election administrators. Cybersecurity experts recommend having a second means of verifying a user’s identity, such as typing in an additional code from a smartphone or card, to thwart intruders who have gained someone’s login credentials through trickery or theft. This system, known as two-factor verification, is available on many commercial email services.

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New York City Primary Voters Find Their Names Missing From Voter Rolls

Some state primary voters — including the mayor’s son — arrived at polling places in New York City only to discover that their registration had been changed or dropped, forcing them to vote via affidavit ballot.

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Agency Takes Back Instructions to Residents in Brooklyn Housing Project to Stay Home on Primary Day

Hundreds of residents of the Marlboro Houses near Coney Island in Brooklyn received notices from the New York City Housing Authority telling them to remain home on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a routine lead inspection. That left residents scrambling for a way to comply with NYCHA’s directive and to vote in the New York state primary election, which runs from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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No, a Teen Did Not Hack a State Election

Headlines from Def Con, a hacking conference held this month in Las Vegas, might have left some thinking that infiltrating state election websites and affecting the 2018 midterm results would be child’s play.

Articles reported that teenage hackers at the event were able to “crash the upcoming midterm elections” and that it had taken “an 11-year-old hacker just 10 minutes to change election results.” A first-person account by a 17-year-old in Politico Magazine described how he shut down a website that would tally votes in November, “bringing the election to a screeching halt.”

But now, elections experts are raising concerns that misunderstandings about the event — many of them stoked by its organizers — have left people with a distorted sense of its implications.

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Fund Meant to Protect Elections May Be Too Little, Too Late

The Election Assistance Commission, the government agency charged with distributing federal funds to support elections, released a report Tuesday detailing how each state plans to spend a total of $380 million in grants allocated to improve and secure their election systems.

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About Electionland

Electionland is a coalition of newsrooms around the country that are covering problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2018 elections. If you’re a journalist covering voting, sign up to find out more about how you can get tips about voting problems in your area. Questions? Read our FAQ.

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