11/3 Daily Update: Communicating on Election Day & Beyond

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National News

VPP in the News: Today, VPP held a press briefing with state attorneys general and law enforcement leaders in key states to share today’s encouraging voter turnout numbers and to assert their confidence in the democratic process.  On a VPP call with reporters on Monday, a group of state attorneys general reassured voters that the election will run safely and smoothly. The AGs stressed that voter intimidation will not be tolerated and that the election will not end until all lawfully cast votes have been counted — despite rhetoric from the president, who has argued that no ballots should be counted after Election Day. The Washington Post article quoted Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Read more here.

Robocalls: Unidentified robocallers have placed an estimated 10 million calls across the United States in the past several weeks, warning people to “stay safe and stay home,” spooking some Americans who saw the calls as an attempt to deter them from voting. The F.B.I. is investigating. Read more from the Washington Post hereNew York Attorney General Tish James released a statement announcing her own investigation. Today, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein  alerted voters on Twitter not to answer robocalls circulating in the state. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also shared guidance on Twitter with voters to not respond to these robocalls and to report them immediately.

Election Results: The Washington Post profiled last minute campaign efforts to get out the vote. The article highlighted Attorney General Josh Stein’s comment from a VPP press briefing on Monday, during which he told reporters that state officials expect to count up to 97 percent of North Carolina votes on Tuesday night. AG Stein added that the state will take the time to count every legal vote and is committed to reaching an accurate result.

Counting the Vote:  Election Day news continues to highlight the importance of counting every vote. Media is following an ongoing dispute over ballot counting after Election Day, following a ruling in Texas that will allow the contested 127,000 mail-in ballots from a drive-through ballot drop box in Harris County to be counted. Read more from the New York Times here.

State News

North Carolina: The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department said they arrested an armed man Tuesday who returned to a polling place after being banned from the site earlier in the day. Read more here.

Pennsylvania: Attorney General Josh Shapiro appeared on Rachel Maddow last night to reassure voters that “the will of the people, whatever it is, whoever they choose, however this comes out, will be respected and voters will not be intimidated here in Pennsylvania.” AG Shapiro also published an op-ed with Crooked Media discussing Pennsylvania’s undefeated record in voting rights court cases.

Legal Corner

USPS Litigation: A federal judge this morning ordered the U.S. Postal Service to “sweep” mail processing facilities to ensure that ballots are collected and delivered. Washington, D.C. district court Judge Emmett Sullivan ordered USPS to dispatch investigators to Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Colorado/Wyoming, Atlanta, Houston, Alabama, Northern New England, Greater South Carolina, South Florida, Lakeland, and Arizona. This afternoon, though, the USPS reported that it had not fully complied with the order. Developments are ongoing in the case, NAACP v. USPS, 20-2295 (D.D.C.), which could implicate more than 300,000 undelivered ballots.

Nevada: The Trump Campaign and the Nevada Republican Party asked the state supreme court to step in after a trial court refused to stop the absentee ballot count in Clark County, Nevada’s most populous county. Yesterday, the state district court denied the plaintiffs’ emergency petition, which claimed that the county was violating rules allowing observers to witness mail-in ballot authentication. The case is Kraus v. Cegavske, No. 82018 (Nev.).

Pennsylvania: This morning, a Pennsylvania Fourth Congressional District candidate sued to stop Montgomery County officials from permitting voters to cure absentee ballot deficiencies. They also asked the court to block the county from counting any ballots that have been cured.  The plaintiffs argued that Montgomery County officials are violating the Equal Protection Clause by arbitrarily allowing some voters a cure opportunity while denying the same opportunity to other voters. The federal judge ordered a hearing at 9 am on November 4. The case is Barnette v. Lawrence, No. 20-cv-5477 (E.D. Pa.).

Texas: After a federal judge dismissed their lawsuit and an appellate panel denied relief, plaintiffs seeking to stop drive-through voting in Harris County, Texas have announced that they will seek review from the full Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The plaintiffs claim that Harris County violated state law by setting up 10 drive-through polling stations at which more than 127,000 residents voted in the leadup to Election Day. But yesterday, on November 2, district court Judge Andrew Hanen threw out the suit, finding that the plaintiffs had no “standing” – that is, that they couldn’t show they were harmed by the voting expansion. Still, in an abundance of caution, with the case on appeal, Harris County officials closed 9 out of 10 of the facilities for Election Day. The case on appeal is Hotze v. Hollins, No. 20-20457 (5th Cir.)

11/03 Messaging Guidance:  Communicating On Election Day And Beyond

DO:

  • Reassure people that state leaders are determined to ensure every legal vote is counted.
  • Set expectations: it’s important to count every legal vote, no matter how long it takes.
  • Emphasize the good state and local leadership of both parties that run elections.
  • Be confident! State and local election officials are trusted, non-partisan sources of information.
  • Focus on values—free and fair elections, the will of the people, democracy at work.

DON’T

  • Don’t play into hypotheticals. Answer with facts about the process.
  • Don’t focus on process over values.
  • Don’t repeat the negative (i.e. avoid repeating phrases/red herrings like “mail-in voter fraud”)

TOP LINES

  • Millions of people voted. With record turnout during early voting, vote-by-mail, and on Election Day, there are millions of votes to count.
  • We won’t let any candidate steal the election. The people will decide the winner through their votes.
  • Voting by mail is safe and secure. Mail ballots are closely monitored by election officials and representatives of both parties. Our soldiers overseas vote by mail. Our president has in previous years. And this year, millions more people due to COVID  all cast their votes safely and securely by mail.
  • State leaders and election officials know how to administer elections, they know how to count legal votes, and they know how to resolve election disputes.
  • Voters decide the winners and the states run elections, not the federal government, not politicians, not the president.
  • Here’s the bottom line: the people will decide the outcome of this election.
  • No matter how long it takes, if our democracy is going to work, we need to respect the will of the people.

A one pager of the messaging can be found on our website here.

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