Votebeat Roundup: How local officials across America are overcoming hurdles to conduct a fair election

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Votebeat is a pop-up nonprofit newsroom covering local election administration and voting in eight states, created by Chalkbeat. This is a pre-election round-up of stories our reporters have written across our network from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2. 

 

The biggest challenge for election officers this November hasn’t been the pandemic — it’s been Republican lawmakers and the Trump campaign. Votebeat managing editor Kira Lerner writes about how election officials’ diligent preparations for the 2020 election created an opportunity to expand voting access, but in many states those efforts were thwarted by  changing rules and confusion. And the only ones making it easier for beleaguered election officers? The voters. Read her analysis in Slate.

 

MICHIGAN

 

Election officials in Michigan are preparing for the worst: election hacking, foreign government interference, and human error. The good news is that they have planned for each of these scenarios. Read how in our story in Bridge Michigan.

 

Local clerks in Michigan are taking advantage of a new law that will help them quickly count more than 2.6 million absentee ballots this year. Votebeat’s Madeline Halpert reports on how some communities are banding together to count election results.

 

All absentee ballots in Detroit will be counted in a single 99,000-square-foot hall with high-speed tabulators. Votebeat’s Bisma Parvez gives an inside look at how the giant exercise will take place in her report for Bridge Detroit.

 

PENNSYLVANIA

 

Election officers in the second-most populous county in Pennsylvania had a big mess in their hands less than three weeks before Election Day. Almost 29,000 voters had received the wrong mail-in ballot, thanks to an error by a private mailing and marketing company. Votebeat reporter Tom Lisi investigates how this happened for Spotlight PA.

 

Even as it increasingly becomes clear that we won’t know the result of Tuesday’s election for several days, the decisions by some counties in Pennsylvania aren’t helping. Votebeat’s Marie Albiges reports how some election officials won’t begin counting absentee ballots on Tuesday.

 

The fatal police shooting of a Black man in Philadelphia last week has brought attention to a police reform question on the ballot this election. Votebeat’s Sojourner Ahebee reports on how voters in the city have the choice to increase police oversight when they cast their ballots. Read her story at WURD.

 

WISCONSIN

 

Even as a majority of Wisconsin voters have chosen to vote using mail-in ballots, there are still a sizable number of eligible voters who are expected to show up at polling stations across the state. Read our story in Wisconsin Watch on what to expect in this state, where masks are not mandatory for voting and guns are allowed in some places.

 

NORTH CAROLINA

 

Many voters in North Carolina are struggling to fix their “spoiled ballots” after their mail-in votes were flagged for errors. Many of these have been set aside thanks to lawsuits in the state, reports Votebeat’s Michael Falero for WFAE.

 

TEXAS

 

The Texas voting system is very decentralized, reports Votebeat’s Hanna Kozlowska, which means each of its 254 counties might handle the way it processes and counts its votes differently. Read her story in The Texas Tribune on how votes are counted in the state.