10/30 Daily Update: State and Local Efforts to Protect the Election

Key Dates & Deadlines

Early Voting Ends

  • TODAY, Friday, October 30th in AZ, GA, ID, ME, MA, NV, TX,  and UT. 
  • Saturday, October 31st in VA, NC, NM, WV, FL, and OK.
  • Sunday, November 1st in WI and NY.
  • Monday, November 2nd in MN, SD, WY, VT, IL, MI, MT, CA, IA, NE, DE, SC, IN, OH, KY, KS, RI, WA, AK, AR, CO, ND, HI, MD, NJ, and DC.

For detailed information on voting-related deadlines, visit vote.org.

Social Media

  • Follow the Voter Protection Program on Twitter to stay updated on the latest voter protection news!

National Updates

Legal Explainers: In response to the rapidly changing election litigation landscape, the Wall Street Journal breaks down the bigger picture of how dramatically the voting system has changed for 2020, with turnout heading toward a 100-year high. Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria dives into the legacy of Bush v. Gore and the possibilities for a U.S. Supreme Court decision that decides the election. Finally, NPR delineates the key takeaways from SCOTUS’s election-related decisions this week. 

Election Integrity: POLITICO unpacks the nature and origins of Americans’ concerns about voting. The piece features a deep dive into Luzerne County, PA, the site of a U.S. DOJ “inquiry” into nine accidentally discarded (but recovered) ballots.  The local U.S. Attorney’s office rushed to issue a press release about the allegations, contrary to longstanding DOJ policy calling for restraint in publicizing elections-related investigations in the lead-up to an election.    The piece details how, despite incredible advances in technology affording voters more security than ever before, rising distrust now haunts an institution that has worked for more than two centuries. Read more here.  As a reminder, the VPP released guidelines this week that outline what federal government behavior around elections is normal and legal – and, on the other hand, what should set off alarm bells. 

Voter Intimidation: Governing highlights  the efforts that state and local officials are taking to protect voters from Election Day violence. The article notes that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and other state leaders across the country have been deploying “soft power” through their press statements and news conferences.

State News

Arizona: A conservative advocacy organization asked the Arizona Supreme Court to hold the Maricopa County Recorder in contempt for allegedly putting incorrect voting instructions in publicity pamphlets. AZCentral explains here. 

Michigan:  With high voter turnout, Michigan poll workers and election clerks discuss their fears around Election Day, emphasizing their worries about voter intimidation and the potential for violence at the polls. Read more in the Michigan Free Press here. 

Nevada:  Attorney General Aaron Ford says he and other state officials are prepared for a number of scenarios on Election Day. “We will not let anyone interfere with the integrity of our elections,” he said during a conference call on election safety earlier this week. He added, “I stay ready so I don’t have to get ready.” Read more here.

New Mexico: A New Mexico court yesterday dismissed a GOP lawsuit aimed at forcing the Secretary of State to mandate video monitoring of drop boxes. Read more from the Las Cruces Sun-News here

Pennsylvania : Attorney General Josh Shapiro spoke with MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid about preparations for Election Day and with Hallie Jackson about counting mail-in ballots after November 3rd and the President’s attempts to sow doubts about vote-by-mail

Legal Corner

Only four days away from Election Day, voting rights cases continued bubbling in state and federal courts today. As always, an up-to-date litigation tracker is on the VPP’s website. Today’s court action includes:

Minnesota: Petitioners asked the U.S. Supreme Court to enjoin an executive order signed by Governor Walz requiring Minnesotans to wear face coverings in indoor public settings, including polling places. The petitioners argue that the order conflicts with a Minnesota law criminalizing wearing a mask in public, and that the order violates the First Amendment by restricting a form of political expression (not wearing a mask) in and around polling places. The case is Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Walz, No. 20A81 (U.S.).

Wisconsin: Plaintiffs asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an injunction against various Wisconsin municipalities’ acceptance of private grants to support election administration. The grants were part of a massive effort by the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life to bolster election capacity in the face of significant public funding shortfalls. Justice Kavanaugh summarily denied the application today without referring it to the entire Court. The case is Wisconsin Voters Alliance v. City of Racine, No. 20A75 (U.S.).

Texas: The federal Fifth Circuit blocked a lower court order requiring voters to wear protective masks at polling places. The case arose after the Governor of Texas created a polling place exception to Texas’ face mask rule. Plaintiffs challenged the exception, arguing that it placed a burden on the right to vote by forcing voters to choose between health and voting.  A federal district court entered a preliminary injunction, requiring mask wearing in polling places, but the Fifth Circuit reversed, reasoning that changing the rules in the middle of the election would create disparate treatment of voters and cause confusion among voters and poll workers. The case is Mi Familia Vota v. Abbott, No. 20-50907 (5th Cir.).

State Leaders Spotlight

Here’s a roundup of what attorneys general are doing  to protect voters and discourage voter intimidation:

California

  • AG Becerra issued guidance to law enforcement on voter interference, voter intimidation laws, and how to protect voters through Election Day.

Connecticut

Delaware

  • AG Jennings shared guidance reminding voters of their rights and affirming the state’s commitment to prosecuting voter intimidation.

DC

  • AG Racine issued an advisory informing residents that destroying election signs violates District law.

Iowa

Massachusetts

Minnesota

  • AG Ellison issued an advisory about federal and state laws that protect voters from interference or intimidation.

New York 

Rhode Island 

Virginia 

  • AG Herring shared a training video that his office produced, outlining voter intimidation protections and ways to deal with potentially illegal conduct at the polls. 

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