11/1 Daily Update: Guidance for Responding to Disruptive Caravans

Key Dates & Deadlines

Early Voting Ends

Early Voting Ends

  • TODAY, Sunday, November 1st in WI and NY
  • Monday, November 2nd, in  AK, AR, CA, CO, DC, DE, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MI, MN, MT, ND, NE, NJ, OH, RI, SC, SD, VT, WA, and WY.

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

Prematurely Calling Results: It was reported today that President Trump allegedly has told confidants he will declare victory on Tuesday night if early results indicate he may be ahead in the vote count. Furthermore, he has indicated he will claim (falsely) that mail-in ballots counted after Nov. 3 are evidence of election fraud. On Sunday evening, President Trump denied that he would declare victory early, adding: “We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers.” Read more from Axios here.

USPS Slowdowns: Millions of mail-in ballots haven’t been received in critical battleground states, where recent mail slowdowns may mean that some votes won’t arrive in time to count. As of Friday, more than 7 million mailed ballots had not been returned in the 13 most competitive states that require ballots to arrive on or before Election Day. Voting rights lawyers and judges are pushing hard for solutions. On Friday, federal district court judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the U.S. Postal Service to adopt “extraordinary measures” at some processing locations to ensure the timely delivery of millions of ballots before Tuesday’s election. Read more from Reuters here.

National Guard: On Friday, the Washington Post published a story about newly formed National Guard “regional response units” of about 600 members split between Alabama and Arizona, intended to rapidly help with civil unrest. The VPP has published guidance on the proper use of the National Guard on election night.

Voter Intimidation: Business Insider tracked four instances of voter intimidation from the past week, including a police officer who wore a Trump campaign mask while threatening a landlord to double rent if Biden wins. In addition, the weekend saw car convoys of partisan political supporters clogging roadways in different parts of the country. These convoys came on the heels of an incident in which a partisan phalanx of trucks encircled a Biden campaign bus on the highway en route to Austin, Texas on Friday, leading the campaign to cancel its planned event. Today, the VPP published guidance for law enforcement on best practices to respond to caravans of drivers who threaten public safety or intimidate voters.

State News

California:  A business owner in San Francisco says he observed someone breaking into a local mailbox and tampering with ballots on Friday. Read more here. 

Georgia: In Floyd County, a planned rally today ahead of Trump’s visit to Rome, GA  was canceled because “a large militia presence” was expected. Read more here.

Michigan:  A U.S. district court judge ordered the United States Postal Service on Saturday to accelerate the delivery of ballots in two regions, including Detroit.  Read more from the Detroit Free Press here.  

Minnesota: Attorney General Keith Ellison pushed back on reporting by The Intercept today that failed to cover the latest in Minnesota regarding private security firms that were alleged to be recruiting  former special operations service members to “patrol the polls.” AG Ellison reassured voters that “Minnesota and federal law are clear: it is strictly illegal to intimidate or interfere with voters.” Full thread here

Missouri: This Friday, a noose displayed in an exhibit near polls in Stone County, MO drew outrage and was reported to federal civil rights authorities because it was viewed as a form of voter intimidation.  Read more here

New Mexico:Four Republican poll watchers were kicked out of an absentee vote counting warehouse in Las Cruces on Friday for “disrupting and intimidating” poll workers. Read more from the Santa Fe New Mexican here

North Carolina: With early voting ending in North Carolina, over 4.3 million residents had voted as of early Saturday — 3.4 million in person and 900,000 by mail. The total surpasses the 3.1 million early votes recorded during the 2016 presidential election and equates to 59% of all registered voters. Read more here

Pennsylvania: The Governor and Secretary of State urged counties to start counting mail-in, absentee ballots on Election Day, after some counties indicated that they planned on beginning their absentee count on November 4. During a press briefing on Friday, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said that she’s having “conversations” with at least seven counties that reported they would start the process of canvassing ballots on the Wednesday after Election Day. More than 2.1 million mail-in ballots have already been received in Pennsylvania, and roughly one million more could be returned as the election approaches, Newsweek reported.

Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Elections Commission provided information on “spoiling ballots,” referring to the process wherein a submitted mail-in ballot can be canceled out if a voter submits a new vote in a different format, whether that’s in-person absentee or in-person voting.  Read more from WSAW here.

Legal Corner

Texas: As litigation slowed in the immediate runup to Election Day, national voting rights advocates turned their attention to two related Texas cases. (As always, summaries of all major voting rights cases are on the VPP’s website.) 

Both arise out of Harris County — Texas’ largest county, home to Houston and more than 4.7 million people. To accommodate the county’s significant population of people with disabilities and COVID-19 sensitivities, the county clerk set up 10 drive-through polling stations. These are not absentee-balloting drop boxes. They offer verified, in-person voting — albeit from the relative comfort and safety of a car. And they were approved by Texas’ Secretary of State, who oversees the state’s voting system.

Republican activists protested and brought a lawsuit, which, after working its way unsuccessfully through the state court system, was rejected by the Texas Supreme Court on October 22. In the meanwhile, more than 127,000 voters used the drive-through system. 

Then, on October 28, the drive-through opponents came back to court. First, they brought a new petition to the Texas Supreme Court. In re Steven Hotze, no. 20-0863 (Tex.). The petition asked the court not just to stop the voting prospectively but also to throw out all the drive-through ballots already cast. Today, though, the Texas Supreme Court denied the petition without comment.

Second, the voting rights opponents brought a collateral federal court case attacking the rule and demanding that all the votes cast under the rule be segregated and not counted. Hotze et al v. Hollins, 20-3709 (S.D. Tex.). They argue the polling stations were not authorized by state law and therefore violate the Elections and Electors Clauses of the Constitution, which dictate that state legislatures — and, for plaintiffs, only legislatures — must approve every aspect of state election procedures.A preliminary injunction hearing is set for 10:30 am on November 2. Read more about the suit’s weaknesses here.

Messaging Guidance: Voter Intimidation

  • Sate leaders and law enforcement are working together to make polling places across the country safe and secure.
  • Voter intimidation is illegal, and law enforcement will not tolerate it.
  • Here in [insert state], we look out for each other, and we’ll take care of each other at the polls.
  • In this election, the people will decide the outcome—and we will protect you and your vote.
  • In America, we solve our problems through the ballot box, not through threats and violence.

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