Votebeat is a pop-up nonprofit newsroom covering local election administration and voting in eight states, created by Chalkbeat. This is a weekly round-up of stories our reporters have written across our network: Oct. 26 to 30.
- Just like elsewhere around the country, election officials in Pennsylvania are dealing with harassment, anger, and misinformation. Here, reporters from both Spotlight PA and Votebeat dig into what it’s like to be an election administrator right now.
- Bush v. Gore defined the 2000 election, with weeks of litigation centered on Florida that decided who ultimately became president. Could Pennsylvania be the Florida of 2020? For Spotlight PA, Marie Albiges talks to eight legal scholars about the possibility of a narrow election and a drawn-out legal fight over the validity of mail-in ballots without postmarks.
- What is “ballot harvesting” and why do Republicans often use the term pejoratively? In Pennsylvania, only a voter can return or mail their ballot, unless they have a disability and designate someone through official channels to submit it. Read our coverage here.
- Though Pennsylvania allows voters to carry guns to the polls, election officials in this swing county are concerned this might lead to voter intimidation. After at least one open-carry group said they will monitor polls on Election Day, the Erie election administration has banned gatherings of two or more armed voters openly carrying guns at polling places. Tom Lisi reports there’s likely to be a legal challenge.
- Voting in Pennsylvania? Have questions? Spotlight PA wants to answer them. You can read the Q&A here.
- In California, ballots can be scanned before Election Day, but counties don’t compile vote totals. Some registrars even lock up the equipment, and the staff risk dismissal if they break the rules. Lewis Griswold looks at how California keeps early votes secret until Election Day. Read our story in CalMatters.
- Even as California pushes to expand language access for the election, pandemic fears and record early voting numbers have complicated this effort. Michael Lozano at CalMatters reports on how the state is using technology to fill in some gaps.
- 1,400 voters in Wisconsin have already had their absentee ballots flagged for rejection. But Nora Eckert reports that there’s a way for voters to ensure their ballots are counted or ‘cured’ — if they hurry. Read our story in Wisconsin Watch.
- There are more than 500 ballot drop-off boxes in Wisconsin, offering a safe place for voters to drop off their ballot during the pandemic. Read our story in Wisconsin Watch on how voters are using the new pandemic voting fixture. (And, if you need to know if your community in Wisconsin has a ballot drop-off site, check out this tool from Wisconsin Watch).
- State officials in North Carolina say more than 144,000 people voted curbside between Oct. 15 and Oct. 28. Coleen Harry at WFAE reports how helpful this has been for voters like a 77-year-old woman who has never missed an election.
- In Charlotte, election administrators say they haven’t seen any voter intimidation yet — but law enforcement officials are still concerned about Election Day. Read our story in WFAE.
- Want to know what a county board of elections meeting looks like? Our story gives a look behind the scenes at how officials are processing and tabulating the ballots.
- When their absentee ballots never arrived, two Texans living in Washington D.C. drove 3,000 miles to cast their vote in person. For the Texas Tribune, Karen Brooks Harper reports on one extreme example that exemplifies the obstacles voters are facing as they try to cast their ballot during a pandemic in Texas.
- More than 2 million people live in Bexar County. But while other large urban counties expanded voting options, Bexar took a modest approach. Critics are worried that without expansion, a potentially chaotic Election Day could disenfranchise voters of color in San Antonio. Read our story here.
- Worried because your mail-in ballot still hasn’t arrived? Election officials in Texas say ballots are still being sent out a week before Election Day. Read our story on how to ensure your vote counts.
- In a tight congressional race in New Jersey, the work of a “vote messenger” is raising alarms, with critics calling it voter suppression. Jeff Pillets investigates how minority voters may end up being disenfranchised despite state laws meant to protect them.
- Voters in the borough of Mendham were sent election misinformation through email, texts and letters that claimed there will be no in-person voting on Election Day in New Jersey. Genesis Obando reports on the lies that appear to have been sent by the Mendham Borough Republican Committee.
- Absentee voters in Detroit should know: if your signature in Michigan’s voting file doesn’t match your ballot, it won’t be considered valid. Bisma Parvez reports on how signatures commonly change, but the decision to validate a ballot rests on two sets of eyes.
- For people with disabilities, physical polling places can be a barrier to voting. While federal law requires there to be some form of accessible polling place, actually casting a ballot in Detroit can be difficult. Read more in Bridge Detroit.
- President Donald Trump has spent the year complaining about unsubstantiated voter fraud, calling on people to be vigilant at the polls. Madeline Halpert reports that hundreds of poll challengers are being trained in Michigan, despite voter fraud being exceptionally rare. Read the story in Bridge Michigan.