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November 12, 2020

November 12, 2020

In Focus This Week

Election Day 2020
A state-by-state look at the general election

By M. Mindy Moretti
Electionline.org

Ballots are still being counted, canvassed and certified. Lawsuits are still being filed. And the misinformation/disinformation game is still being played by some.

But for all intents and purposes, the 2020 election is basically over and while there were a lot of concerns going in, it really turned out be a rather unremarkable Election Day. And as we all know, in the world of elections, unremarkable is a good thing.

Last week we did a quick round up of what happened on Tuesday, November 3 and this week we’ll take a closer, state-by-state look, but to be honest, it’s been hard to find any actual news in some states. And trust us, we looked!

Although we’ve posted dozens (hundreds?!) of stories about the ballot-counting process since November 3, we haven’t included too much of that here because while there has been litigation and lots of screaming and yelling other than a few instances in a handful states, the ballot counting process has been smooth (other than the threats of violence and the aforementioned screaming and yelling).

You can read all of our Election Day Dispatches here and of course all the post-Election Day news can be found in our Daily News sections.

Alabama: With record-breaking turnout some voters in the Yellowhammer State faced long lines at polling places and in some counties, election workers were overwhelmed with the number of absentee ballots to process. Although there were some initial concerns that ballots had gone missing in Tuscaloosa County, it turns out an error in the ballot counting machine made it appear that way.

Alaska: You know you’re in the largest state in the Union when it takes a while to count your ballots. Alaska waits until the week after Election Day to begin tabulating absentee ballots since they have to arrive from an area that is roughly the size of the entire country. While that’s not typically an issue this year with so many people choosing to vote by mail it has been waiting longer for results to come in. What’s still unclear as ballots continue to be counted is whether or not Ballot Measure 2, which would, among other things, move the state to a ranked choice voting system will be approved or not.

Arizona: While Arizona is one of a handful of states that’s been caught in the post-election ballot-counting turmoil ginned up by president, Election Day itself in Grand Canyon State went off with relatively few issues. Probably the most exciting thing, for us anyway, was the report that animal control had to be called to a Tucson-area polling place when a juvenile badger wandered in. According to The Arizona Daily Star, no election workers were harassed, or ballots eaten, during the incident.

Arkansas: Although voting equipment in the Natural State performed well over all, some equipment issues in Jefferson County forced polling places to open late. In Pulaski County, the election commission had to duplicate about 1,200 absentee ballots that were damaged. Officials in Carroll County had to input information from about 1,800 absentee ballots after a glitched forced the need to print new ones.

California: With ballots still be counting in numerous counties, overall the Election Day in the Golden State went well. Los Angeles County, which saw countless problems during its primary earlier this year is getting praise for how well things went on Nov. 3. San Bernardino County did face long lines on Election Day which forced the county to open an additional vote center at the airport. In Orange County, the county DA and the registrar of voters had to investigate an allegedly fraudulent vote center in the city of Westminster.

Colorado: For the “smug marrieds” in Colorado, since we don’t really have anything to report, we’ll include this story about how bad your elections used to be, which is why they are now good.

Connecticut: Long lines greeted some voters in the early hours of voting on Election Day in the Nutmeg State, but much of that was caused by the need to social distance and not because of any technical problems, although there were some of those issues as well such a jammed ballot scanners. Absentee voting was so popular, some in the state are pushing for a constitutional amendment to allow for no-excuse absentee voting moving forward.

Delaware: Although there were concerns about violence at the polls on Election Day, police in Delaware were only dispatched to four locations statewide— three on disorderly-person reports and another for a supposed harassment incident. According to DSP spokeswoman Master Cpl. Heather Pepper, “No enforcement action was required for any incident.” Overseeing his first presidential general election, Elections Commissioner Anthony Albence was pleased with the overall process.

District of Columbia: With all voters in DC receiving a ballot in the mail, and 7-days of early voting in addition to 95 Election Day vote centers, compared to the June primary where problems plagued the vote, Election Day 2020 was relatively smooth in the District.

Florida: Although there were some minor hiccups on Election Day such the relocation of polling places due to a COVID outbreak and a locked closet in the Jacksonville area there were relatively few problems in Florida on Election Day or election night and many credited that to the overwhelming turnout for early voting. As the Orlando Sentinel said in a headline: “No longer a ‘Flori-duh’ laughingstock: How Florida’s vote came in so fast”

Georgia: While the results in Georgia are close enough to trigger an automatic recount—by hand no less—Election Day itself was smooth sailing compared the primary back in June. As is the case with many other states, early voting turnout, which was through the roof in Georgia, contributed to shorter lines and fewer issues on Election Day. There were some polls that were forced to stay open late due to malfunctioning machines early in the day, but those problems didn’t plague voters throughout the day. Spaulding County suffered the brunt of the problems on election morning, but even those were rectified by mid-morning.

Hawaii: Hawaii conducted its first presidential election by mail and overall things went well although for those who chose to vote in person or who needed to register and vote on Election Day, there were some delays at vote centers. At one vote center on Oahu, the last voter cast their ballot at 11:30 p.m., four and half hours after polls had officially closed.

Idaho: Idaho saw a record-high turnout for the November 3 general election and there were very few, if any, reports of problems. The state did have to deploy some emergency poll workers, including flying them from one location to another, in order to fill in.

Illinois: Like many other states, Election Day voting in Illinois went well due in large part to the fact that so many voters had voted early or cast their ballots by mail. McHenry County suffered Election Day problems that can only be chalked up to 2020 because hand sanitizer messed up the county’s voting machines. A technical snafu, voting machine errors and an onslaught of data contributed to election night reporting delays in DuPage and Lake counties

Indiana: Although Election Day got off to a bumpy start in a few spots with long lines and technical glitches things went relatively well. St. Joseph County had a successful roll out of vote centers. In Vigo County, apparently no longer the nation’s bellwether for predicting presidential wins, result reporting was delayed due to a technical glitch. Madison County was plagued with long lines throughout the day. In Marion County, a local nurse who was serving as a poll worker at the Lucas Oil Stadium site in Indianapolis saved a voter’s life went the woman passed out and became unresponsive.

Iowa: There were reports of a few Election Day lines in some areas, but there weren’t any reports of real problems or confrontations at the polls. “I know there’s a couple of trucks around here that have got the big flags on the back and they’ve circled around and go up and down the highways but we’ve not heard of anybody affecting a polling place at all,” Warren County Auditor Traci VanderLinden said. Some Iowans were the target of robocalls telling voters in several states to stay safe at home, but it didn’t seem to impact turnout. Recounts were required in Jasper County and Lucas County.

Kansas: In Johnson County a poll worker said their supervising judge discriminated against them because they are gay. Interim Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt apologized for what happened to the poll worker. “I think anybody that serves as a poll worker is my hero,” Schmidt told the Kansas City Star.

Kentucky: Although some polling sites saw a steady stream of voters, there were not dramatic posts to social media as polls closed with people banging on polling place doors like zombies as we saw in the primary. Secretary of State Michael Adams is proposing that some of the changes implemented to make Election Day 2020 easier in light of the pandemic, should be put into place permanently.

Louisiana: Although Hurricane Zeta tore through Louisiana in the days before the election and there were genuine concerns about polling place power outages and safety, this was not the first post-hurricane election the state has weathered and it did so relatively well. There were reports of short waits and no problems in the New Orleans area. The Baker police department did have to respond to one polling place after there were reports of a man with an assault weapon and a campaign flag. “We did not want the citizens to feel pressured or intimidated, so we kept an officer there to make sure everything went smoothly,” said Chief Carl Dunn. Louisiana will have several runoffs in December.

Maine: While some in Maine had to brave the weather to get to the polls on Election Day, that didn’t seem to impact turnout, especially given the large absentee vote. Some voters that did show up on Nov. 3 to vote were faced with long lines but they were attributed to COVID protocols and not any technical issues. Irregularities and vote counting problems were all but nonexistent according to the Press Herald. The Sun Herald reports that vote changes put in place for the pandemic are likely here to stay in Maine.

Maryland: Although Maryland did not mail every voter a ballot like they did in the primary, many voters chose to cast their ballots by mail for the general election. For those that did show up at the polls on Election Day, in many of the state’s counties and Baltimore City, there were few reports of problems. There were some issues with ballot counting after the polls closed. The state saw a record-number of same day registrations which did not seem to impact lines. And something we would like to see in more places, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot apologized to Election Administrator Linda Lamone for calling for her resignation before the election. “I promised the state Board of Elections, particularly Linda Lamone, whose resignation I mistakenly called for, I guess, a while ago, and deputy administrator Nikki Charlson,” he began, “that if they and the local boards could show us a diligent and dedicated [and] successful election, against my skepticism, which has obviously been demonstrated … I promised on Sept. 23 I would deliver — if I was wrong and everything went well — a few well-earned six-packs of Maryland craft beer, later this week, as a small token of my gratitude.” Cheers to Linda and Nikki!

Massachusetts: Although Massachusetts voters mailed their ballots in record numbers, many still did show up on Election Day causing lines in some locations. The Commonwealth was one of the few places where voters wearing Black Lives Matter gear reported initial problems with being able to cast a ballot at the polls. The voters were eventually able to vote. After the polls closed, North Attleboro had a frustrating election night due to a thumb drive. Ballot Question 2, which would have moved the state to a ranked choice system failed.

Michigan: Michigan may still be in the news at ED +9 — although to be fair to Michigan, that’s not because there are any genuine issues with the ballot counting — the Wolverine State didn’t make too many headlines on Election Day. There were reports of long lines in Flint. Pontiac and Grand Rapids had to request additional poll workers. Voters in some parts of Michigan also received misleading robocalls. Michigan also shattered a same day voter registration record with more than 19,000 people registering and voting for the first time. One county, Antrim, did have an issue with results reporting which lead to wild speculation about the overall results in the state. Antrim’s problems arose from a software update issue and were corrected by ED +3.

Minnesota: Although Minnesotans turned out for early voting in record numbers, some still did head to the polls on Election Day. One polling place in St. Paul was temporarily put on lockdown due to reports of gunfire nearby—which was not related to the election. While ballot counting was slow, there were no issues with the count itself. Voters in Bloomington and Minnetonka approved ranked choice voting.

Mississippi: As one of the few states not to offer early voting or make any major changes to accommodate voters due to the pandemic, Mississippi saw long lines in some places line Adams County. Lafayette County also reported long lines. Despite the long lines, poll workers were able to keep the flow of voting traffic moving. Although there has been some talk to bringing early voting to the Magnolia State, the governor said he would veto any early voting bill that crosses his desk.

Missouri: Election day went smoothly in the Show Me State although there were some interesting stories. A polling place at the WWI Museum in Kansas City was vandalized overnight before Election Day. Workers found spray paint on stonework near the entrance that said, “don’t vote and fight for revolution.” More than a dozen voters in St. Louis County took advantage of a funeral home’s offer of free rides to the polls. Sadly the rides were in a limo not a hearse. A poll worker in St. Charles County died from COVID-19 the day after working the polls on Election Day. The worker had been diagnosed on Oct. 30 but failed to divulge the information. Additionally, nearly half of the employees of the Jackson County election board are now out of the office because of COVID. In Wentzville a the principal at a local high school serving as a polling place saved a voter’s life when the voter collapsed and was unresponsive. While readers of electionline know full well, car crashes into polling places are a bit of a thing, what transpired in Howell County may be a first. At the YMCA serving as a polling place while police were responding to the report of one crash in the parking lot—a driver fell out of her car and the car rolled into a parked car—another crash occurred when a bystander to the first crash went to move his car and his prosthetic leg got stuck and he crashed into another car which then crashed into the polling place. No one was hurt and voting was not affected. Incumbent Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was re-elected to another term.

Montana: With most Montana counties choosing to vote entirely or mostly by mail, it was a fairly quiet Election Day in the Big Sky State. Yellowstone County broke an all-time turnout record. Yellowstone County also saw a large turnout of people registering and voting on Election Day. And Christi Jacobsen (R) won the secretary of state race.

Nebraska: Some Cornhuskers reported receiving similar robocalls as voters in Iowa and Michigan did. There were some reports of early morning lines, but overall not too many issues. The Sarpy County election commissioner and others in the office have tested positive for COVID-19. At least poll worker in the county has also reported testing positive. Madison County Clerk Anne Pruss said that while things went well at the polls, the ballot counting machine had issues. Voters cast a record 62,307 write-in votes in the Senate race. While there was one official write-in candidate, it’s unclear how many of those votes she received and it would certainly not be enough to affect the outcome of the race.

Nevada: With many Nevadans choosing to vote by mail, there weren’t too many Election Day issues to report. A judge did keep some Clark County polling sites open until 8 p.m. Although the county had not anticipated keeping the polls open, the courts did. The police reported zero disturbances at polling places in Las Vegas on Election Day. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the scene outside of ballot-counting sites after the polls closed. Like some other swing states, Nevada elections workers have tireless counted ballots since election night only to be threatened and harassed by angry voters who don’t understand how long it takes to count mail ballots.

New Hampshire: It was a busy, but relatively problem-free day in The Granite State. Some voters did report feeling intimidated that other voters were allowed to wear MAGA hats into polling places. In Bedford, a tent that had been set up so maskless voters could vote was sent airborne by blustery winds and injured one poll worker. Officials in Londonderry had to conduct a recount after a voting machine’s memory card experienced an error. There are recounts happening in several towns where the results were too close to call.

New Jersey: With all voters in New Jersey receiving a ballot in the mail, Election Day was relatively quiet and although ballot counting took longer than normal, there were no reports of problems with the new statewide vote by mail system. Bipartisan poll workers who had been exposed to COVID-19 continued to count ballots in a sequestered trailer in Salem County this week. None of the poll workers exhibited any symptoms and since they would have to quarantine at home, they decided to continue counting ballots in the trailer. A Democrat, a Republican and a sheriff’s officer brings them ballots for counting and three representatives collect the ballots at the end of the day and return them to a secured room. We love their dedication!

New Mexico: There was record turnout in New Mexico, but there weren’t record problems, in fact there were very few issues reported at the polls at all. Statewide, nearly 915,000 voters took part in the election, surpassing New Mexico’s record ballot count in 2008 by about 81,200 votes. The vast majority of voters in Tuesday’s election cast ballots in person during the early voting period that ended Saturday or by absentee ballot. “We didn’t have any incidents, anything real in terms of like voter intimidation or problems at the polls,” Alex Curtas, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said. “There were some lines here and there, some technical little glitches we had to deal with throughout the day. But nothing systemic, nothing that I think impacted anybody’s ability to vote, so that’s really amazing.”

New York: Although lines stretched for blocks during early voting in New York City and counties throughout the state, there weren’t similar reports on Election Day. That didn’t mean the day was without issue. In several areas including Albany and Oswego County early voting technical problems with voting machines plagued the process. There was a report of at least one dispute that erupted outside of a Brooklyn polling place. Also in Brooklyn, a polling site didn’t open until 8a.m. because the site’s board of elections coordinators were in an accident on the way to the site. Eventually experienced poll workers arrived to help out. The biggest news out of New York seems to be happening this week because that’s when most of the mail ballots started to be tallied. And although there weren’t issues with the tallies, people expressed frustration that the tally didn’t begin until now.

North Carolina: While much of the focus has been on a handful of other states, North Carolina elections officials have spent the last nine days processing and counting absentee ballots. Due to the high mail ballot turnout, Election Day itself was relatively quiet with polls in some parts of the state reporting slower than normal turnout after the early morning rush. It wasn’t entirely without issues though. Incorrect ballots were delivered to some precincts in Bladen County. Following some early morning issues, polling place hours were extended in several precincts. A man was arrested outside of a polling place in Mecklenburg County after he had been banned from the site earlier in the day for being a nuisance.

North Dakota: Congratulations North Dakota, we’ve got nothing.

Ohio: Secretary of State Frank LaRose deemed the 2020 election a success and while there were some lines and a few minor issues, it was.  In Franklin County, poll workers were forced to shift to paper poll books which could slow the voting process for the state’s largest county. The decision to move to the paper rolls came after an electronic file containing data about who voted early was too large and could not be synced with the e-poll books. “We can’t guarantee all the data would be there for all the most recent absentee activity,” Ed Leonard Franklin Co. BOE director told The Columbus Dispatch. There were reports of voters lining up in several counties in the Miami Valley. Fortunately there were no signs of voter intimidation at the polls. Lines were long in Cuyahoga County where fewer polling sites, more curbside voters and social-distancing played a part. We were a bit worried that the streak of cars into polling places was coming to an end this year because so many people voted early or by mail, but we got our first report of a car into a polling site in Tipp City at 9:57 a.m. Voting was not affected and the driver was not hurt and was still able to cast her ballot.

Oklahoma: Several Oklahoma City polling sites were forced to operate without power when the polls opened but that didn’t seem to cause any issues for voters or election workers. Although the 2020 turnout was record-breaking, Oklahoma still has one of the lowest turnout rates in the country.

Oregon: There was no drama in Oregon on Election Day, that came later in the week [see Election News This Week for all the details]. In the secretary of state race Democrat Shemia Fagan defeated Republican Kim Thatcher for the seat.

Pennsylvania: Although Pennsylvania was in the headlines before Election Day and has most certainly been in the headlines since, there were relatively few problems on Nov. 3 according the governor and the secretary of state. There were some lines early in the morning throughout the state and handful of sites saw hours-long lines, but the problems were not widespread. Some Northumberland County precincts ran low on ballots. A poll worker had to be removed in Pittsburgh for causing a disturbance. Some voters in York County, which has previously been plagued with problems, had to wait up to four hours to cast a vote. Carbon County had to send out extra ballots to some polling places. A woman in Pequea Township set fire to the polling place.

Rhode Island: Rhode Island saw record high turnout and relatively few problems. A ballot-counting machine in Cranston did experience some issues. And although there were no reports of ballot counting issues, some supporters of the president did protest outside of the board of elections demanding a recount.

South Carolina: Like many states, Election Day 2020 was labeled a success in South Carolina. A mislabeled thumb drive in Lancaster County caused 20,000 ballots to be recounted. Poll workers in Dorchester County were forced to hand-count about 14,000 ballots due to a bar code issue. Horry County officials were forced to rescan thousands of absentee ballots after a USB drive malfunctioned. Historic early voting numbers tamped down Election Day lines in Richland County.

South Dakota: Sioux Falls voters had a mostly smooth Election Day experience, save for some long lines and an ongoing pandemic. Early morning voters in some polling places waited up to an hour to cast a ballot Tuesday morning, with some lining up before the polls officially opened at 7 a.m. There were also lines to vote in Rapid City.

Tennessee: There were not real reports of problems at the polls on Election Day in Tennessee and with some of that being attributed to the fact that many people voted early or by mail. The state even set a new turnout record. Maury County did report a few minor Election Day issues.  In Shelby County election night also ran smoothly. All the votes in Knox County were tallied by 11p.m. on election night.

Texas: After record-breaking early voting turnout, Election Day in Texas was pretty darn busy too. Fort Bend County, which experienced a host of technical issues during voting, continued to experience problems on Election Day. Polls in Hidalgo County stayed open until 8 p.m. after technical issues with equipment. Voting times were also extended in Upshur County due to equipment issues. Bexar County polling sites averaged 7,500 voters an hour on Election Day. E-poll books went down in Comal County. The state’s results webpage down briefly on election night. High turnout in Webb County caused a delay in results. There was a kerfuffle in Travis County between poll watchers watching ballot counting and the county election official, but that’s been resolved.

U.S. Virgin Islands: Early votes on St. Thomas were counted twice due to a technical glitch and while that affected some of the election night reporting it has not affected the overall outcome.

Utah: After a few bumpy first tries, Utah seems to have gotten this whole vote-by-mail thing down. Look out Colorado, they’re coming for you. The day and counting weren’t entirely without incident though. In Duchesne County there were reports of a woman standing outside a polling place telling people that they could not vote there. It’s unclear how many voters were turned away and the woman wasn’t found. There were some lines reported at the in the places were polls were open, but they moved quickly for the record turnout. “We’ve broken the record for total number of voters,” said state Elections Director Justin Lee. “Right now we’re at 1.214 million voters. Previously, 1.15 million voters was our record set in 2016.”

Vermont: Vermont was one of handful of states that mailed ballots to every registered voter and that seems to have paid off with relatively few problems reported by those who did show up at the polls on Election Day. The state actually had a surplus of poll workers thanks to the Vermont Bar Association. Secretary of State Jim Condos was re-elected.

Virginia: Virginia saw record-high early voting turnout with lines stretching from Northern Virginia polling sites from the first day it was available until the last. Thanks to that heavy early voting turnout Election Day itself was relatively smooth in the commonwealth. A man was arrested and charged for threatening to blow up a Norfolk polling place. James City County did experience some voting machine issues due to the sanitizing that happened between uses. The high volume of mail ballots kept officials in Fairfax County busy counting long after the polls were closed. Virginia Board of Elections Commissioner Chris Piper had to reach out to law enforcement to help combat what he referred to as a “campaign of misinformation” surrounding how ballots are counted.

Washington: Anticipating a rush of last-minute voters, King County Elections on Tuesday put special traffic controls in place to help facilitate drop-offs at Sammamish’s drop box location. The state and Spokane County saw a record number of voters register and vote on the same day. Incumbent Secretary of State Kim Wyman (R) was re-elected.

West Virginia: Many West Virginians voted early or by mail and therefore there were no real reports of any issues on Election Day. Incumbent Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) was re-elected.

Wisconsin: Perhaps it’s because Election Day was the third? fourth? statewide election Wisconsin has conducted since the pandemic began in March things went pretty smoothly at the polls on Election Day. Madison police reported just one incident at a polling place on Tuesday.  After early rush, voting went smoothly in Door County. Although long lines formed in Oshkosh that was from COVID restrictions and they moved quickly. Much of the news actually came after Election Day and not because there were issues, but simply because the results weren’t what was expected and officials had to spend time fact-checking people. The City of Onalaska did have to re-tabulate more than 2,800 ballots. Election workers in Outagamie County where were forced to recreate thousands of ballots due to a printing error were still able to get the job done quickly.

Wyoming: Turnout in the Cowboy State nearly doubled from the primary, but that doesn’t mean there were double the problems. In fact, there were no real reports of any issues on Election Day.

Election News This Week

Late last week, after writing to the candidates for secretary of state to express concerns about the state’s aging election system, Oregon Elections Director Stephen Trout was fired via text while the state is still in the middle of completing the 2020 election tabulation and certification. According to The Associated Press, a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office said Trout was “a knowledgeable advocate for the democratic process on our team” and that he planned to leave on Dec. 15 anyway. Deputy Director Michelle Teed has been named acting elections director, Chiapella said. Trout said in an email to The Associated Press that although he had already planned to seek a new job, he did not want to go this soon. “I would never leave in the middle of an election,” Trout said. “This is the toughest part of the election behind the scenes with the canvass, manual audit, electoral college, and recounts. I would not abandon my staff or the counties before the election is over.” County elections officials backed up Trout’s concerns and Rob Bovett, the lawyer and lobbyist for the Oregon Association of County Clerks, wrote to Secretary of State-elect Shemia Fagan on Monday on behalf of the group, directing her attention to Trout’s letter. Bovett said the clerks are “very concerned” about the Oregon Centralized Voter Registration system.“It’s the primary weak point of our current election system, and is in desperate need of replacement,” Bovett wrote. In response, Fagan she will examine the warnings “Oregon’s former Elections Director, Steve Trout raised critical warnings that concern me as Oregon’s next Secretary of State,” Fagan tweeted late Tuesday, Nov. 10. “I spoke with Mr. Trout personally this week and we plan to speak later this week and go through his memo together, line by line.”

Election Security Updates

CISA: While the president and his supporters have fomented fears that the election has been somehow rigged, according to Politico, CISA’s director Chris Krebs has been using the agency’s “Rumor Control” website to take on the viral conspiracies that are circulating widely in conservative circles. Launched prior to the election to help voters navigate domestic and foreign misinformation, the website has now essentially morphed into a post-election fact-checking operation for the outgoing president and his supporters. Krebs is also using his personal Twitter account to combat the misinformation. “He volunteered to jump on a grenade that no one wanted to jump on,” said former Facebook chief information security officer Alex Stamos, referring to Krebs’ early commitment to making the fight against disinformation a key CISA mandate.

Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) has introduced a bill that would change how the country conducts elections. The Verifiable, Orderly, & Timely Election Results (VOTER) Act would create standards for various vote-by-mail systems that exist across the country and would require all eligible ballots to be counted and reported within 24 hours after polls close on Election Day, according to a press release from Scott’s office.

Georgia U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are co-sponsoring a bill to ensure fair elections. Loeffler first introduced the Securing Our Elections Act in September. It would increase criminal penalties for interfering with the election system, including illegal voting, voter intimidation or ID theft. Under the measure, the current penalty of up to five years in prison would go up to 15 years and up to a $100,000 fine. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) also have joined as co-sponsors.

Alabama: Rep. John Rogers (D) has announced that he will be pre-filling legislation to allow for early voting. “It’s a constitutional right to have the right to vote and we should make it easier. By early voting you make it easier for folks to get to the polls and vote,” Rogers said. His Republican colleague, Rep. Danny Garrett agrees. “I think you could have a process that works that allows people an opportunity to vote and we certainly want people to vote. We want them to exercise that right, and I think we should accommodate them just like we do accommodate people in other areas of life,” Garrett said.

 

California: Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, chair of the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting has introduced legislation require that all active registered California voters be mailed a ballot for all future elections following the successful implementation in the 2020 General Election. “Our democracy is strongest when everyone participates,” Berman said in a prepared statement. “This year we saw historic levels of voter participation following the passage of AB 860, which required every county to send vote-by-mail ballots to all active registered voters. More than 68% of eligible Californians voted in the General Election, which was the highest turnout since at least 1960. Now that we know these changes were successful, I will introduce a bill in the new session to make permanent the key provisions of AB 860.”

Kansas: Kansas State Senator Richard Hildebrand (R-13) is working to introduce a new election fraud protection bill. According to Hildebrand, at issue is what election officials refer to as DREs, or direct-recording electronic machines, which do not give individual paper record for each vote cast. He said despite national criticism and legal action, the machines are still being used in Kansas counties. He said his bill would make the use of DREs illegal in Kansas. “The fact that DRE’s are extremely vulnerable to fraud is not a question,” explains Hilderbrand, “Experts unilaterally agree they are bad practice, but Kansas is moving way too slowly in upgrading machines. Protecting our election process is understandably of the utmost importance to Kansas voters.”

New Jersey: Sen. Robert Singer and Assemblymen Sean Kean, Edward Thomson have introduced legislation that they say is needed to prevent the confusion and election result delays caused by the governor’s executive order to conduct this year’s election primarily by mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus crisis. Unveiled on November 5, the identical bills (SCR136/ACR197) propose a constitutional amendment to provide registered voters with right to cast ballots in person at polling places on Election Day and requires that mail-in ballots must be requested by voters before they receive them in the mail.

 

New York: Sen. David Carlucci (D) is planning to introduce a bill that would speed-up the ballot counting process in The Empire State. The bill, set to be introduced later this week, would allow absentee ballots to be processed and counted as they arrived. “We have to address the fact that now with absentee voting being over 25% of the vote, we are in a new world and have to update how we count mail-in ballots,” said Carlucci. “The fact that we cannot call local races until weeks after Election Day is obscure and confusing to the public. Now we need a political interpreter to tell us who might have won and who has a chance.”

 

Oklahoma: Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa has said she will introduced legislation that would give voters an opportunity to cure their mail ballots if a problem is discovered. Goodwin said voters who cast ballots in person and spoil their ballot are given an opportunity to fix it. “I think the same should be true for people doing absentee ballots,” Goodwin said. About 1% of mail-in ballots received were rejected, said Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman. Tulsa County Election Board member Bruce Niemi supports a route for those who have defective mail-in ballots to correct the errors and have the ballot counted. “There are a lot of hoops to jump through in order to have a correct affidavit and identification or notarization before that ballot is counted,” he said. The state has the computer technology now to identify and notify voters who sent in defective mail-in ballots, he said.

Texas: Lawmakers began pre-filling bills for the legislative session that begins in January 2021 and before noon on the first day to pre-file, nearly 30 pieces of elections-related legislation had already been proposed in both chambers. According the Texas Tribune, mail-in voting and voter registration emerged as two key focal points in bills filed by members of both parties. There was also legislation focused on countywide voting centers, voter identification, access for voters with disabilities, straight-ticket voting and designating any day an election is held statewide, including primaries, as a state holiday. One of those bills, House Bill 25, would prohibit elections officials from automatically sending mail ballot applications to voters.

Washington: State Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) is preparing legislation to return Washington state to in-person voting, require voter ID at the polls and invalidate most absentee ballots that arrive by mail after Election Day. “Nothing is more secure than the neighborhood voting booth, with poll workers checking to make sure every voter is entitled to cast a ballot,” Ericksen said in a statement Tuesday, Nov. 10. “Washington has gotten off lucky for a decade. But the disarray in other states this year ought to teach us that we are vulnerable, too.”

Legal Updates

Arizona: Judge Margaret Mahoney of the Maricopa County Superior Court ordered the president’s re-election campaign and Maricopa county officials to propose a joint scheduling plan by Friday morning to handle a dispute over the use of Sharpie pens to fill out ballots. Mahoney dismissed a suggestion by a lawyer for the president’s re-election campaign to postpone legal arguments in the case for more than two weeks – a timeline that a lawyer for the Arizona Democratic Party argued could delay the final vote tally for Arizona. Thomas Liddy, a lawyer for Maricopa County, asked the judge to move swiftly to restore confidence in the system. “The voters have a right to know that the allegations flying around the internet about Sharpies being dropped from black helicopters to cheat people out of their votes is fake. It’s not true but it’s really scaring people.”

Illinois: White County judge issued a temporary injunction last month that forces the White County Commissioners to pay for outside attorneys that provided guidance for the county clerk and elections board during the primary and general election cycles. A petition filed Oct. 1 in White County Circuit Court asks for a preliminary and permanent injunction against the White County Commissioners – John Heimlich, David Diener and Steve Burton – to approve, appropriate and pay the expenses of White County Clerk Laura Cosgray and the White County Elections Board already incurred, and to be incurred, “under exigent circumstances” in connection with the 2020 Primary and 2020 General elections during the COVID-19 health emergency. At issue, according to court documents obtained by the Herald Journal, is whether White County Clerk Laura Cosgray and the White County Elections Board had the authority to hire two outside law firms for services rendered during the June 5 primary election and whether the White County Commissioners should pay the bill for those services.

Michigan: A new lawsuit seeks a judge’s order blocking certification of election results from Wayne County, citing a range of allegations from Republican poll watchers and a city of Detroit election worker.  The allegations include workers coaching people on how to vote, peeking at ballots to see how people voted before processing them and preventing Republican poll inspectors from being able to effectively watch the counting process. The lawsuit cites six sworn affidavits, but does not include or reference any additional evidence or proof of misconduct.  David Fink, an attorney for the city of Detroit, dismissed the case as “another belated lawsuit, raising baseless allegations, trying to undermine confidence in a well-run election.”  The lawsuit was formally filed Monday afternoon against the city of Detroit, Detroit Election Commission, Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett and the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. Reached Monday afternoon, Winfrey said she is not doing any media interviews. The city of Detroit, Wayne County and the Michigan Democratic Party responded to voter fraud allegations on Wednesday, Nov. 11, submitting more than 230 pages to retort the claims made in Wayne County Circuit Court by Republican poll challengers.

In a separate suit filed in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Michigan seeks a judge to stop the certification of Michigan election results that contain “fraudulent or unlawfully cast ballots.” The lawsuit relies heavily on anecdotes from the affidavits to support the claim that fraud occurred. The most common complaints cited in the affidavits relate to challengers allegedly being obstructed by or feeling intimidated by election workers at the TCF Center in Detroit, where absentee ballots cast in the city were counted. Some people say this obstruction made it difficult or impossible to observe the counting.

The Michigan Court of Appeals warned the president’s re-election campaign Monday that his appeal seeking a stop to the counting and certification of Michigan’s election results would be dismissed because of a failure to attach necessary filings. Lawyer Mark “Thor” Hearne told The Detroit News he plans to file the additional documents Monday afternoon. He had filed an appeal with the court on Friday after state Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens denied a preliminary injunction seeking to stop the counting of ballots. But Hearne’s filing lacked copies of Stephens’ order, the lower court docket or register of actions, a transcript of the lower court hearing and additional copies of a brief, according to a Monday letter from the appellate court.

New York: In New York, at least 26 lawsuits have been filed to have the courts supervise any disputes in counting many of the record-shattering 1.5 million absentee ballots returned amid the coronavirus pandemic that could decide more than a dozen congressional and state legislative races, according to The New York Post. Suits have been filed all over the state from New York City to upstate and the Hudson Valley. As is custom, the state, city or county boards of elections are listed as defendants in the suits since they count or invalidate ballots and certify the results.

 

North Carolina: Allen v. City of Graham was filed Nov. 2 on behalf of three people and a group called Future Alamance at the now notorious police crackdown on the Oct. 31 “I am Change” march in downtown Graham. Allen v. Graham was filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Covington and Burling law firm representing Sylvester Allen Jr., Dejuana Bigelow, Tabatha Davis, and a group called Future Alamance. It is not focused on the organizer of the “I am Change” march Oct. 31, Drumwright, but on participants who in some cases missed their chance to register and vote on the last day of same-day registration. Other plaintiffs missed the a last chance at early voting but still had the opportunity to vote on Election Day and others just got pepper sprayed participating in a peaceful demonstration and march to the polls. The suit also names the county, city and 30 unidentified police officers and sheriff’s deputies as defendants as well as Cole and Johnson.

Pennsylvania: Bucks County Judge Gary Gilman dismissed a lawsuit filed against the county that sought to prohibit disclosure to observers watching the ballot county whose ballots were being challenged. County Commissioner Bob Harvie and County Solicitor Joseph Khan said that some observers took the information to try to alert the voters so they could then go to the polls to cast a provisional ballot. “We were successful. The case was thrown out and the county’s practices continued through the day,” County Solicitor Joseph Khan said Wednesday during the county commissioners meeting.

The U.S. Supreme Court directed Pennsylvania election offices to comply with a state ruling to segregate mail-in ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day because of pending legal challenges from Republicans. The ruling was moot however PA Sec. of State Kathy Boockvar issued the same over one month prior to Election Day and there are no counties that are not complying.

Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson rejected an eleventh-hour request by Republicans to block counties from counting provisional ballots cast by voters whose mail ballots contained mistakes and were going to be disqualified. Brobson ordered those ballots be separated, but said they could be counted if they are found to be eligible through the normal process counties use to verify provisional ballots.

The president’s re-election campaign filed in the United States District Court against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and several county elections boards including Allegheny, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia seeking to stop the Pennsylvania results from being certified. The lawsuit claims, “defendants, the very officials charged with ensuring the integrity of the election in Pennsylvania, have so mismanaged the election process that no one, not the voters and not President Trump’s campaign, can have any faith that their most sacred and basic rights under the United States Constitution are being protected.” The suit goes on to say the election was “shrouded in secrecy” and also charges that “Democratic-heavy counties violated the law by identifying mail-in ballots before Election Day that had defects and allowed the voter to fix it to ensure their vote counted.”

Claiming they have verified evidence of illegalities, three Centre County residents and one Montour County resident want a federal judge to invalidate the results of the presidential election in certain Pennsylvania counties. On Wednesday, they asked Judge Matthew W. Brann to consolidate their complaint with that of Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and two individuals that raises similar issues. The new complaint contends there is evidence illegal ballots were included in the vote totals to change or place in doubt the result of the presidential election in Pa. Former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the winner of the election by most major media outlets on Nov. 14. Pirkle, Dannerth, Danks and Flynn do not allege any voter fraud in their counties but cite unsubstantiated allegations in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware and Allegheny counties.

Texas: Kelly Reagan Brunner a social worker in the Mexia State Supported Living Center has been charged with 134 felony counts in an election fraud investigation. Brunner allegedly submitted voter registration applications for 67 residents without their signature or effective consent, while purporting to act as their agent. If convicted, Brunner faces up to 10 years in prison for the alleged offenses.

The Texas Supreme Court declined a request from the Travis County Republican Party to intervene in a case that alleges the county’s central counting station is violating state law by forcing poll watchers to observe ballot counting from a “media room.” The court denied the party’s petition for a writ of mandamus five to four late Sunday. In a Nov. 8 filing, Attorney General Ken Paxton had argued that poll watchers must be permitted to observe ballot counting by election officials, under the Texas Election Code. Holding watchers in a separate room “violates the Election Code,” the AG’s office wrote in the filing.

Opinions This Week

National Opinions: Election workers, II, III | It takes a village | Transparent elections | 2020 election | Election litigation, II | Election fraud, II, III, IV | Federal election oversight | Paper trails | Ballot counting | Vote by mail | Election officials | False allegations | Popular vote

Alabama: Election integrity

Arizona: Results | Election litigation | Election defense | Election integrity

California: In-person voting | Vote by mail

District of Columbia: Ranked choice voting

Florida: Poll workers | Smooth elections | Recount

Georgia: Secretary of state | Senators

Indiana: Poll workers

Maine: Poll workers

Maryland: A job well done | Poll workers

Massachusetts: Ranked choice voting

Michigan: Election workers

Mississippi: Election process

Missouri: Access to voting

Montana: Poll workers

Nevada: Clark County | Election workers

New York: Vote by mail | Election reform, II | Ballot counting

North Carolina: Ranked choice voting | Polling places

Ohio: Election reform | Election night | Poll workers

Oregon: Vote by mail

Pennsylvania: Poll workers | Death threats

South Carolina: Early voting

Tennessee: Washington County

Texas: Election transparency | Turnout

Virginia: Election reform | Election integrity

Washington: Same day registration | Nonpartisan secretary of state

Upcoming Events

Elections GeoSummit: Each year, the Elections GeoSummit brings together the nation’s leaders in elections management and geographic information systems (GIS) to share leading-edge findings and craft best practices to enhance election systems. When: Dec. 10, 1pm-5pm. Where: Online.

The 2020 Voting Experience and Goals for Reform: Following an unprecedented year of uncertainty, adaptation, and innovation in voting 2020, the Bipartisan Policy Center will host its fourth post-presidential election cycle event bringing together election administrators, policymakers, academics, advocates, and campaigns to examine the voting experience. We will discuss the impact of election administration reforms on improving the voting experience over four years ago as well as securing the voting process. Topics to be covered include: the shifts needed for voting during a pandemic; the rise of voting by mail, the use of technology in the election ecosystem, and how it can be secured; the future of funding elections in America; how changes in election laws and litigation impacted the election; how improved data collection and analysis can further improve the administration of elections. This event is sponsored by Democracy Fund and Carnegie Corporation of New York. More information will be forthcoming. When: Dec. 15, 11am-5pm Eastern. Where: Online

Job Postings This Week

electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to mmoretti@electionline.org.  Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.

Clerk, Douglas County, Colorado— This position (4 openings) serves as office support for the Elections Division of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office.  The Election Clerk provides customer service, assists with clerical functions, and performs data entry for voter registration.  Other duties in support of the conduct of elections or mail ballot processing may be assigned. Must be detail oriented, well organized, productive, and able to adapt in a high change environment. This role requires both independent judgment and the ability to work well as a part of a team. Professional representation of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to the public is required to include standards outlined in the Vision, Mission, and Core Values of the Office. Provides daily customer service; answers phones; greets and serves in person customers; Performs general scanning, typing, filing, and collating functions; Performs complex data entry for new, changed, and canceled voter registrations; Performs verification and tracking of data entry; Assists with election judge coordination; Assists with processing incoming and outgoing mail; Administers state election laws and rules, and federal election laws to provide successful voting experience to staff and public; Maintains confidentiality of information consistent with applicable federal, state and county rules, and regulations; Provides support to election coordination, including deployment of materials to coordinating entities and Voter Service and Polling Center. This task may require operation of a motor vehicle; Assists with various special projects; Lives out the Vision, Mission, and Core Values of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, maintains a supportive environment conducive to teamwork. Salary: 13.50 – 16.90 per hour. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Certification Project Manager, Hart InterCIvic— The Certification Project Manager manages state and federal certification projects of our Hardware and Software products, under the direction of the Sr. Director of Product Management.  The Certification Project Manager must be able to exercise sound judgment and interact with regulatory authorities in a professional manner, particularly in high-pressure situations. Essential Duties and Responsibilities (Other duties may be assigned): Submit state/federal certification application materials; Plan for and coordinate logistics for onsite state/federal certification activities; Lead onsite state/federal certification activities; Provide follow up to state/federal certification activities. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Customer Success Manager, Dominion Voting Systems, Denver— The Customer Success Manager role started on a simple promise of transforming customer engagement from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’. Our CSM’s know that when our elections customers purchase Dominion Voting products that this is only the start of a meaningful exchange between Dominion Voting and our customers. Our CSM’s build value over time by balancing customer benefits and company profits. As the CSM, you will be the first voice of the customer and you will be responsible for the customer’s overall success, as defined by the customer. You will be successful in this role if you have superb people leadership skills, customer empathy, elections knowledge and experience, Dominion Voting product knowledge, and excellent project management skills. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

HAVA Administrator, Nevada Secretary of State— The Nevada secretary of state’s office is seeking a HAVA Administrator. The incumbent in this position will manage the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant and in this capacity will work with members of the State Elections Division, county registrar of voters, and other elections related positions in the federal, state, and county governments to manage the application of the HAVA grant and support the conduct of state and federal elections. This position will be a key member of the State elections team and will be primarily responsible for the analysis and interpretation of federal and state elections law. This position will supervise up to six other elections-related employees. State employee Benefits – Medical, dental, vision care, life and disability insurance programs are available; eleven paid holidays per year; three weeks of annual leave; three weeks of sick leave; state defined benefit retirement plan; tax-sheltered deferred compensation plan available. State employees do not contribute to Social Security; however, a small Medicare deduction is required. Salary: $66,628.08 – $100,161.36. The Secretary of State’s Office is located in downtown Carson City, near beautiful Lake Tahoe in Northern Nevada, which offers a destination location to live, work and play. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

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