Election officials hope that Tuesday’s smooth election will prove that the system works after a year of falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election. This includes Republican-led ballot reviews, new voting rules, and new voting rules created by GOP lawmakers.
Local contests for mayor, councilor and school board are held in off-year elections across the country. In some states, voters will decide statewide ballot measures. New Jersey and Virginia will also elect governors.
Jennifer Morrell, who was a former election clerk in Utah and Colorado and now advises elections offices on security issues, said that there is an opportunity to show the world and America that democracy is going forward.
Here are some key election and voting issues for Tuesday.
HAS ANYTHING BEEN CHANGED DURING 2020?
Election officials faced unprecedented challenges last year due to the pandemic. Some states made emergency changes to make mail voting more accessible for those who were worried about crowded polling stations. Some of these changes were made permanent by the pandemic, while others are now inactive.
Virginia voters now have to remember to sign their mail ballots with a witness signature — an obligation that was not waived last year. Officials there are now contacting voters to inform them of how they can fix it so that these ballots count.
WHAT ABOUT NEW VOTING RESTRICTIONS?
This year, several states that are politically controlled by Republicans passed laws tightening voting rules and adding new obstacles for mail ballots. Republican legislators stated that the changes were necessary to increase security and public confidence following the 2020 election. While some of these changes won’t take effect until after the 2020 election, new rules have been established in Florida, Georgia, and Iowa. For mail voting in Florida and Georgia, ID is required. Iowa voters now have fewer options and places to vote in person, and less time to return and request mail ballots. According to the state’s second-largest county, more than 250 people were denied mail votes last week due to a new deadline that requires them be requested at least 15 calendar days prior to an election. This is in addition from the previous 11 days.
VOTERS ARE CONFRONTED WITH OTHER RESOURCES
Louisiana election officials still have to deal with Hurricane Ida’s destruction, forcing them to postpone the election until Nov. 13. Many thousands of voters will cast their ballots at various polling places. Because there are not many buildings nearby that have been damaged by the August 29 storm, some voting sites were set up in tents. Officials use signs, mail and advertising to inform voters about changes in the polling places.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER QUESTIONS PRESENTED TO ELECTION OFFICIALS
A segment of the public believes that Trump stole the 2020 election. However, there is no evidence of widespread fraud. This has led to distrust in election officials. Election officials have received a torrent of harassment and threats related to their jobs as a result of false claims. Last week, election officials representing both parties spoke out at a U.S. Senate hearing. They claimed that they had received death threats and urged Congress for legislation to increase protections for workers in elections.
“I didn’t think when I began in elections that I would have the responsibility of teaching de-escalation tactics for our workers,” Natalie Adona (assistant clerk-recorder for California’s Nevada County), said last week during a discussion hosted by Bipartisan Policy Centre.
WHAT ARE THE ELECTION OFFICIALS DOING ON MISINFORMATION
Election officials have made one change: they are increasing their voter education and outreach efforts to answer questions from skeptical voters and assure others that elections remain fair, secure and free of corruption. “Sunlight is our friend,” Secretary of State Steve Simon in Minnesota said. A group of Florida election officials issued a warning last week about the dangers of misinformation, disinformation sowing discord in America and undermining faith for U.S. Elections. The group urged voters to “dedicate yourself to learning about the many safeguards that ensure the accuracy of Florida’s election results.”
Officials are using questions from voters to help them recruit workers. George Stern, Jefferson County clerk-recorder, said, “I say, “Come on in, work for us.” “When you see the checks being processed, you begin to realize that they are verifying each signature so no one could mail in 20,000 ballots.
Is MAIL VOTING SECURE THINKING ABOUT PERSONAL VOTING?
Many safeguards have been put in place to make sure that mail ballots cast are authentic and people only vote once. It is possible for voter fraud to occur, but this is extremely rare given the number of federal election ballots that are cast every two years.
Officials from the Election Commission claim that the unfounded claims of fraud and relentless attacks on mail-based voting have caused a lot of damage over the years. Amber McReynolds (ex-Denver elections clerk) said that the “it became a bit more of a tsunami disinformation that was really intended to cast doubt on this process.” It is an attack on democracy and the voting process. It makes it very difficult for election officials. It also damages trust in the process, which is a bigger problem.