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Voting & Elections 09.30.2020

Politico: Trump calls for poll watchers. Election officials call for calm.

Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, also noted that fears over mass voter intimidation efforts in past years have not materialized, even when Trump urged supporters to go to the polls in 2016. “He likes the chaos, he wants to create chaos, because he thinks it benefits him,” Albert said. ‘We don't want to give him what he wants, which is fear and intimidation and chaos.”

Voting & Elections 09.28.2020

Washington Post: Courts view GOP fraud claims skeptically as Democrats score key legal victories over mail voting

“The positive thing that we can say is that the majority of election officials in this country have moved to provide more access to the ballot,” said Sylvia Albert, director of Common Cause’s voting and elections program, on a call with reporters last week. Albert said voters have benefited from a general shift toward mail voting this year but added that a clear winner in the legal battles has not emerged. “I would actually say it’s a mixed bag, and that’s the reflection of the decentralization of our election system. So while state judges have actually found generally more in favor of expanding voting rights, federal courts have generally deferred to the wants of the local election officials,” she said.

Voting & Elections 09.26.2020

Associated Press: Voters’ poorly marked ovals could lead to contested ballots

“This could be 2000′s hanging chad in Pennsylvania,” said Suzanne Almeida, interim director of the state chapter of the nonpartisan watchdog Common Cause. “Potential challenges, delays in results, questions on which ballots count and who counts them — there are just a lot of questions, and that could open up Pennsylvania to a lot of uncertainty.” The group is working with election officials statewide, emphasizing clear and consistent guidelines for dealing with questionable marks, such as when a voter circles a name or uses an X or a checkmark rather than filling in the oval — or even crosses out one selection and marks a second.

Voting & Elections 09.25.2020

HuffPost: Mail-In Voting Rules Still Up In The Air As Republicans Appeal Election Decisions

“The federal judiciary is not being a great avenue for relief,” said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, a nonpartisan nonprofit. “Some state courts have provided more. And that’s where you’ve seen more orders for expanded access.” ... The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling extending the ballot receipt deadline could be the first case to go before the U.S. Supreme Court. Normally, decisions made by a state’s highest court are the last word on election matters. “What this appeal is saying is that that state court got it so wrong that it can’t stand,” said Albert, adding, “That’s unusual.”

Voting & Elections 09.25.2020

Reuters: Special Report - Will your mail ballot count in the U.S. presidential election? It may depend on who's counting and where

Some inconsistencies likely arose from confusion over the last-minute court rulings, according to Jay Heck, state director for Common Cause Wisconsin, a government watchdog group. The appeals court reversed the district court’s lifting of the witness requirement just days before the election, he noted, leaving election officials disoriented. Heck also pointed to Wisconsin’s “unusually decentralized” election administration system, in which 1,850 separate municipalities handle voter registration and absentee ballots.

Voting & Elections 09.25.2020

Washington Post: Philadelphia election official warns ‘naked ballots’ may lead to tens of thousands of rejected ballots for November

“The silver lining of this decision from the state Supreme Court is now that we know the rules, we can educate voters about the rules,” said Suzanne Almeida, director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, a good-government group that works on voter access matters. “And I have every confidence that voters can learn the rules right. There are plenty of ways, plenty of places in election law where we require voters to know specific steps that they need to take. This is just one more of those,” Almeida said.

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