11/06 Daily Update: Protecting the Integrity of the Vote

Only three days after polls closed, state and local election officials have counted more than 144 million votes — a record turnout. Some votes are still being counted, but the voices of the American people are well worth the wait. Democracy means counting every legal vote. This process can take time, and the voices of the American people are worth the wait.

Today, the VPP hosted a press briefing with current and former law enforcement officials on the election process and the importance of counting every legal vote. The briefing featured VPP National Director Joanna Lydgate, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and former Nevada U.S. Attorney and FBI Deputy General Counsel Gregory Brower. The recording of the press briefing is available here.

Don’t miss our special Friday state leaders spotlight section! Here’s your update:

Social Media

As the results are finalized and a winner declared, our message will evolve. Here you’ll find a social media toolkit that reflects this evolution, which includes topline messages and language for new potential scenarios, and an updated strategy to deliver those messages to the public.

Also, make sure you’ve followed and set alerts for the Voter Protection Program on Twitter to stay updated on the latest voter protection news.

National News

Foreign Leaders Watch Election: Leaders around the world are cautiously watching the U.S. election results, with some expressing relief over Vice President Biden’s lead and others refusing to comment given President Trump’s promise to litigate the results,  according to The Washington Post.

Election Attacks: Unfounded allegations of fraud have persisted as the count has continued, but local officials are uniform in their response: there is no evidence of systemic voter fraud.  Read more here.

Misinformation on Social Media:  With ballots still being counted in many states, misinformation about the tally is percolating on social media, NPR reports. Reuters  reports on fast-growing Facebook groups posting violent rhetoric, while Twitter banned former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon for posting violent content.  Huffpost reported on a voter fraud hotline promoted on Twitter that ended up backfiring. To combat these attempts at election misinformation, Refinery 29 offered suggestions to spot false claims on social media.

State News

  • Arizona: The Arizona Attorney General’s Office said Thursday that it is satisfied that voters using Sharpie markers at polling places were not disenfranchised in Maricopa County.  Read more from the Arizona Republic here.
  • Florida: Poll workers in Palm Beach say they received “ugly and sometimes violent reactions” when they tried to prevent voter intimidation in voting lines. Read more from USA Today here.
  • Michigan: A New York Times investigation found that run-of-the-mill clerical errors have been used as false evidence of voter fraud in Michigan. Read more here.
  • Nevada: Attorney General Aaron Ford called for patience as Nevada’s vote count continued, brushing aside frivolous litigation aimed at stopping the count. “We knew that the process would take time, but the process is working,” AG Ford said. He commended elections officials for ensuring an accurate count. Read more here.
  • Pennsylvania: Today, votes in Pennsylvania are still being tabulated. Yesterday, Attorney General Josh Shapiro appeared on CBS News and Maddow, where he provided updates on the ballot count.

Legal Corner

Today judges rejected more fact-free litigation aimed at obstructing a fair and accurate count in battleground states. Developments included:

Michigan: A state judge in Michigan refused to stop Detroit from completing and certifying its count, rejecting a Republican claim of improper ballot processing. The suit was filed late on Wednesday evening,11/4. It claimed Wayne County was allowing Democratic election inspectors to fill out and count absentee ballots without Republican participation. The problem, the judge found, was that the plaintiffs offered no evidence – just “mere speculation” – to support their allegations. Today, the judge refused to stop the count. The case is Stoddard v. City Election Commission, No. 20-14604 (Third Judicial Circuit Court, Wayne County).

Nevada: A federal judge this afternoon rejected another Republican Party attempt to cast doubt on Clark County’s system for checking signatures on absentee ballots.

Jill Stokke, one of the plaintiffs, says she was told she couldn’t vote in person because her mail ballot had already been returned and accepted. Ms. Stokke denies ever receiving and voting her ballot by mail. Officials at her polling site offered her an opportunity to vote by provisional ballot, but she refused.

Then, two days after the election, she joined with Republican Party operatives and sued. She claimed there was a systemic problem with Clark County’s use of optical technology to verify signatures on mail-in ballots. Her suit also claimed that partisan observers in Clark County are being kept too far away to meaningfully monitor the count. The suit asked a federal judge to stop the county from using optical matching technology and to mandate closer observer access.

Among the problems with the six page complaint: The Supreme Court of Nevada has already refused to order Clark County to stop using the technology.

After a hearing this evening, a federal judge denied the plaintiffs any preliminary relief, finding that they weren’t likely to succeed on their claims and that Ms. Stokke could have avoided any harm if she had accepted the offer of a provisional ballot. The case is Stokke v. Cegavske, No. 20-2046 (D. Nev.).

Postal Service Litigation: The USPS told a federal judge that it had found undelivered ballots from battleground states in its processing facilities: 300 from North Carolina, and 800 from Pennsylvania. The court ordered USPS to expedite the ballots for delivery to county boards of elections no later than 5 PM today. The cases before Judge Emmett Sullivan are Vote Forward v. DeJoy, No. 20- 2405 (D.D.C.) and NAACP v. USPS, No. 20- 02295 (D.D.C.).

The Supreme Court: Today, in response to a request from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Pennsylvania counties to segregate all ballots received after the close of polls on November 3 and to count them separately from the rest of the ballots. The Supreme Court is considering a Republican request to overrule the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which allowed the state to count ballots postmarked by or on Election Day but received until 5 pm on November 6. The case is Scarnati v. Boockvar, No. 20-542.

State Leaders Spotlight

Here’s a roundup of attorneys general activities aimed at protecting the vote:

California

Colorado

Connecticut

  • AG Tong assured voters “democracy is worth the wait.” and advised them to “Vote confidently, and know that your vote will count and your voice will be heard.”

DC

Maryland

Michigan

  • AG Nessel shared a press release applauding a court ruling that rejected a Trump campaign attempt to stop counting ballots.

Nevada

  • AG Ford shared a release applauding a court’s ruling to protect the mail vote in Clark County.

New York

Pennsylvania

Virginia

  • AG Herring thanked poll workers and volunteers for their hard work and voters for voting; shared a video saying, “your voice is your vote” with voting reminders; and assured voters of their protections at the polls.

Vermont

Wisconsin

  • AG Kaul reminded voters that counting lawfully cast ballots is not stealing the election and directed them to the state’s voter assistance hotline.

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