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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

TIME: 'They Have Lost So Much But They Will Not Lose Their Right To Vote.' Advocates Fight To Enfranchise Americans Displaced by Wildfires

Kate Titus, executive director of Common Cause Oregon, says another problem is just the uncertainty of the period. Someone whose home has just burned down doesn’t necessarily know they will be living more than five weeks from now. “A lot of people in this chaotic situation aren’t sure yet where they will be on Election Day,” she says. (Common Cause supports the voter registration deadline being moved to as close as election day so people can re register new addresses as needed.)

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.

Voting & Elections 09.24.2020

NPR: How To Sign Up To Work The Polls On Election Day

"In normal circumstances, election officials find it very difficult to have enough poll workers to run elections," says Sylvia Albert, Director of Voting and Elections at the watchdog group Common Cause. This year, she says, "the problem is exponentially larger."

Voting & Elections 09.24.2020

The Guardian: Two decades after the 'Brooks Brothers riot', experts fear graver election threats

Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, an elections watchdog group, said she believes disruption of the voting process is unlikely, but she shared the concerns of others that the counting process could be at risk. “There are strong laws on voter intimidation,” said Albert. “Counting comes into regular laws around disturbing the police or being in a group; there’s nothing specific on that issue. That’s not to say laws don’t cover it, they do – various laws cover being a nuisance but how that’s interpreted in the situation is going to vary by location.” Albert stressed that she did not believe it was probable there would be altercations at vote-counting sites, but she said: “I’m fearful of violence in a way that I was not in 2000.” “We have seen that the rhetoric on the right, both from the president and Republican lawmakers, has encouraged people to take up arms. And whether directly or indirectly, encouraged violence. And that was not happening from George Bush.”

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