Chester County, Pa. election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots at West Chester University, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in West Chester. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
OAN Newsroom UPDATED 6:43 AM PT – Friday, November 13, 2020
After witnessing ongoing incidents of election fraud in the Badger State, a trio of voters in Wisconsin are taking matters into their own hands by filing a suit claiming the rights of all voters have been violated.
In a filing Thursday, they affirmed Wisconsin officials counted illegal votes toward the final tally in violation of the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs said ballot dumping and other instances of fraud disenfranchised legal voters in Dane, Menominee and Milwaukee counties.
As a result, the plaintiffs said Wisconsin results must not be certified unless fraudulent votes are declared invalid. Voters are not the only ones pushing back against fraud as a group of state senators in Michigan are demanding an audit of all election results this year.
In a letter to the Michigan secretary of state Thursday, GOP state senators said they had identified thousands of cases of voter fraud. The senators noted Michigan election officials counted illegal ballots, counted the same batches of ballots twice and backdated ballots.
They added, Democrat officials also used false information to fill-out ballots, counted votes cast by dead people and did not signature-match ballots.
During a demonstration outside of the capitol building in Lansing on Thursday, voters showed their support of their lawmakers while demanding a full recount must take place before the certification of results to ensure the election is fair and transparent.
“We’re on the streets now and we’re in front of the state Capitols,” said conservative commentator Nick Fuentes. “And we’re not leaving until the state legislators allocate their electoral votes to President Trump for another four years.”
County officials have admitted tens-of-thousands of ballots received have had errors from a lack of signature to an incorrect date.
“So yesterday we had to return about 13,000 or so ballots and, you know, there were problematic ballots and we (the commissioners) discussed it,” explained Omar Sabir, the City Commissioner of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “There was approximately about maybe 2,000 or so that, you know, that didn’t have the secrecy envelope or didn’t have a signature on the declaration envelope.”
Amid the controversy, however, some officials are showing their support of the multiple efforts in Philadelphia and elsewhere across the nation for voters to have their voices heard.
Meanwhile, 10,000 votes in Philadelphia are potentially under review due to ballot counting continuing past the state’s deadline. Oral arguments for that case are slated for next week in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
FILE – In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, workers count Milwaukee County ballots at Central Count in Milwaukee. U.S. voters went to the polls starkly divided on how they see President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, with a surprising twist. In places where the virus is most rampant now, Trump enjoyed enormous support. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
IF YOU WANT to see where the momentous events of 2020 had their biggest impact, look not at the national contest but at the governors’ races and local referendums. Covid-19 and other traumas turned competitive races into walkovers and showed that states could still push through social changes even while the country is counting every last vote.
Governors have been the dominant figures of the pandemic response, choosing when and how to lock areas down. As a result, gubernatorial races often turned into referendums on states’ responses to covid-19. Take the contests in New England, where Democrats might have fancied their chances of unseating one or both Republican governors up for re-election, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and Phil Scott of Vermont. Mr Biden won both states easily. But on covid-19, the governors were the un-Trumps. When the president told Americans not to be afraid of covid, Mr Sununu shot back, “I’m afraid of covid. I think everyone should be very concerned.” Mr Scott even endorsed Bill Weld, Mr Trump’s rival in the Republican presidential primary. Both earned sky-high approval ratings for handling of pandemic; both won re-election in blue states by over 30 points.
There was a similar story in North Carolina, where the Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, won by four points in a state where the presidential and Senate races were in essence tied. Mr Cooper, an affable centrist, won plaudits for taking the pandemic seriously from the start. His Republican challenger, in contrast, criticised the health restrictions and mask-wearing.
The only governorship which changed hands (out of 11 races) was in a state where covid-19 policy was barely mentioned. This was Montana, where the Democratic incumbent was term-limited and ran for a Senate seat. Neither candidate for governor made the pandemic an issue, though Montana now has the fourth-highest covid caseload, relative to its population, in America. In the absence of debate, the state reverted to its habitual hue, with Republicans winning every statewide office.
Just as only one governorship changed hands, so only four state houses seemed likely to switch party, the fewest since 1946 (a handful were undecided as The Economist went to press). Democratic hopes of winning the Texas and Michigan legislatures came to naught. The 2020s will see a new round of redistricting, to Democrats’ dismay. Republicans will gerrymander five times as many state maps as they will.
The political impact of covid-19—and of that other upheaval of 2020, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement—was clearest in the state and local ballot initiatives put to voters. There were fewer than usual, about 120 state ones, because lockdowns made it harder to collect the signatures required to get proposals on the ballot. Of those that got through, many tackled health and racial inequalities. Surprisingly, voters tended to approve socially liberal proposals, while rejecting conservative ones.
Two Californian referendums showed the contrast in criminal-justice policy. A proposition permitting felons on parole to vote passed. One that would have toughened sentencing failed. Six cities asked voters to approve or expand the powers of independent panels to oversee local police forces. All passed, including in Columbus, Ohio, a state Mr Trump won easily.
Amy Liu, who tracks state and local governments for the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, argues that cities and states are still able to make social policy through ballot initiatives, despite paralysis at the federal level. Coloradans approved state-wide paid family leave and repealed a constitutional provision that kept property taxes low. A majority of Floridians backed Mr Trump—and a hike in the hourly minimum wage from $8.56 to $15 by 2026.
Even so, there are limits to state progressivism. In Illinois, a constitutional amendment to change the state’s flat-rate income tax to a graduated one (which would have raised taxes on the wealthy) went down to defeat. The governor, J.B. Pritzker, spent millions of his family fortune backing the idea. His cousin, Jennifer Pritzker, spent hers defeating it. Partisanship may be less hyperbolic in state politics but families are still deeply divided.■
This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “The covid races”
If there is an issue with their absentee ballots, such as a signature-matching issue or a missing witness signature, these states allow voters a chance to fix their ballot in some form in order to help avoid their ballot being discarded and their vote not counting.
In at least 18 states, officials are required to notify voters over a missing signature or signature discrepancy and give the voter an opportunity to correct it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In Pennsylvania, Republicans are seeking court intervention to toss out votes in one county that contacted some voters to give them an opportunity to fix their ballots. The lawsuit aims to throw out “as many as 10,000” deficient mail-in ballots that were “cured” during the pre-canvassing process before Election Day.
In some Pennsylvania counties, officials give voters the chance to correct or “cure” errors, such as in Bucks County, where about 1,600 voters were sent notices about ballot errors, and in Montgomery County, where officials notified voters directly about defective ballots and said 49 ballots were cured, according to a local ABC affiliate.
In Arizona, if a signature is missing from the ballot affidavit, county recorders must reject the ballot, according to procedures from the secretary of state. The recorder then must make “a reasonable and meaningful attempt to contact the voter via mail, phone, text message, and/or email, to notify the voter the affidavit was not signed and explain to the voter how they may cure the missing signature or cast a replacement ballot before 7:00pm on Election Day.”
In Georgia, the secretary of state’s website outlines that county elections officials contact voters whose ballots were rejected to provide them with the chance to “correct your ballot envelope.”
“One of the most common reasons an absentee ballot is rejected is because it has not been properly signed,” the website reads.
In Nevada, the secretary of state’s office wrote in a FAQ for reporters Wednesday that voters who require a signature cure have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 12 to provide the required signature confirmation, and once that is done successfully by the deadline, the voter “will have their ballot counted.”
And in North Carolina, before Election Day, officials, under new guidance, are to “spoil” a ballot if it is returned without a witness signature and issue a new one to the voter, unless the voter casts a ballot in-person. If there are other deficiencies, i.e missing voter signature, voter signature in wrong place, the county board will send a voter a certification form to sign and return to ensure that the ballot is counted.
Any ballots received between Election Day and Nov. 12 without witness signature will not be accepted and new ballot will not be issued. If there is a deficiency other than a missing signature those can be cured with a certification document until Nov. 12.
ABC News’ Tonya Simpson and Alex Hosenball contributed to this report.
One man was seen being escorted out by the police.
November 5, 2020, 4:40 AM
• 5 min read
A small group of angry demonstrators attempted to barge inside the TCF Center in Detroit on Wednesday afternoon, chanting “stop the count” as votes in the battleground state were being tallied, a spokesperson for the city’s police department told ABC News.
For capacity reasons, only a certain number of people are allowed inside the center at once, Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said. Challengers, who needed to be approved by the election board, were rotated in and out of the building because of the size limitation, according to Kirkwood.
Michigan election laws permit registered voters in the state to observe ballot counting with approval, though it’s unclear if that was the group’s intent.
“Election challengers may be appointed by political parties and qualified interest groups to observe the election process,” the law states. Once approved, the challenger must abide by several rules, including one where they must wear an official credential while observing the count.
In photos and videos that went viral on social media, the group appeared to bang on the glass walls to be let in. Despite the commotion, Kirkwood said there were “no major concerns.”
“Everything is manageable. There are people out there chanting, but that’s about it,” Kirkwood told ABC News.
A poll challenger was removed from the ballot counting room by police, according to a videographer from Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ who was inside. However, Detroit police told ABC News that they did not make any arrests from the TCF Center.
Earlier in the day, the Macomb County GOP encouraged supporters to stop by the TCF Center, urging “all hands on deck!,” according to an email that was obtained by ABC News.
“Trained Poll Challengers and or Volunteers willing to be trained needed immediately at TCF Center (Cobo Hall),” the email read.
The Macomb County Republican Party didn’t immediately return messages to ABC News to comment on Wednesday’s incident.
The convention center is the major ballot processing location in Detroit, and ballots were still being counted in the key swing state. It is not clear exactly how many members of the group were at the TCF Center, and it was not clear who they were affiliated with.
ABC News projected that former Vice President Joe Biden will win the state of Michigan as the Democratic candidate led Trump 49.8%-48.6% — or a difference of 61,237 votes — with 97% of the votes tallied.
In New York, 20 people were arrested by the New York City Police Department after attempting to “hijack a peaceful protest by lighting fires, throwing garbage and eggs” in Manhattan Wednesday night, according to authorities.
“We appreciate and value the importance of freedom of speech,” NYPD said in a statement.
Police said they confiscated knives, M80 fireworks and a taser from the protests Wednesday night in the city.
“Bringing weapons to peaceful protests cannot and will not be tolerated. We are currently working to de-escalate the situation. Anyone caught with a weapon will be arrested,” NYPD said.
With the US presidential election underway, voters in 32 US states and the District of Columbia also have the opportunity to approve or reject a wide range of ballot questions ranging from proposals on elections, abortion rights and taxes, to even legalising magic mushrooms.
In all, at least 124 statutory and constitutional questions — known as ballot measures or propositions, some of which are proposed by citizens and others by legislatures — appear on this year’s state ballots.
California, which generally leads the country in ballot measures, sometimes triggering national trends, did so again this year with 12 up for approval, followed by Colorado with 11.
Here are some highlights of this year’s ballot measures.
In Massachusetts and Alaska, citizens have proposed that the states adopt so-called ranked-choice voting in state and federal elections. So far, only Maine uses the method, in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots, statewide.
But several other states use it in some localities.
California’s Proposition 18 would give voting rights in primary elections to 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the next general election, joining 18 other states and Washington DC.
The state’s Proposition 17 would restore the right to vote to parolees convicted of felonies.
Three states — Alabama, Colorado and Florida — are asking voters to change their constitutions to require that “only a citizen” instead of “every citizen” can vote, a nebulous distinction that the Florida League of Women Voters said was “cloaked in xenophobia and false patriotism”.
California gig workers
California’s Proposition 22 is classified as a citizen initiative, but it is backed by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates, and would exempt the companies’ ride-share and delivery drivers from a state law that makes them employees, not contractors.
With $190 million, mostly from the companies, having been sunk into the “YES 22” campaign, the proposal is the year’s most expensive ballot measure and the first gig economy question to go before statewide voters, Ballotpedia said.
By making the drivers contractors instead of employees, the measure would strip them of a host of legal rights, such as unemployment insurance. But it would provide minimum pay rates, healthcare subsidies and some accidental insurance coverage.
Psilocybin, aka magic mushrooms
For the first time, a state would allow the use of psilocybin, a hallucinogen also known in its raw form as magic mushrooms, for therapeutic use for adults at least 21 years old if Oregon voters approve the Psilocybin Services Act.
Citing some research showing benefits of the drug as a treatment for anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions, the 71-page proposal lays out a two-year schedule to further consider the matter and set up a regulatory structure before psilocybin licences could be issued.
Opponents, including the Oregonian newspaper, say the proposal “seeks to jump ahead of the science too quickly”.
In a related citizen measure in Washington DC, voters will consider Initiative 81, which would direct police to rank “entheogenic plants and fungi,” including psilocybin and mescaline, among its lowest enforcement priorities.
Although the measures are no longer trend-setting, voters in five states will consider proposals for legalising marijuana for both recreational and medical uses for adults.
Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota ballots will ask voters to approve recreational use of the drug, in some cases amending their constitutions to do so.
South Dakota also has a referendum on medical marijuana, while Mississippi has competing ballot questions on it — one from citizens and one from the legislature.
Since 1996, 33 states and the District of Columbia have allowed medical marijuana, 11 have approved recreational use and 16, including some medical marijuana states, have decriminalised simple possession, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
The country’s dispute over abortion rights is spilling from the courts and statehouses into the voting booths this year, as it does almost every election cycle.
Colorado Proposition 115 would ban abortions, except those needed to save the life of the mother, after 22 weeks of pregnancy.
While 43 states already restrict abortions at some point during pregnancy, 15 of the restrictions have been blocked by court orders, according to Ballotpedia.
In Louisiana, the legislature is asking voters to approve an amendment that would make clear that the state constitution does not protect abortion rights or funding for abortions.
The amendment would clear the way for the state to outlaw abortion if the US Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v Wade decision that protects abortion rights under the US constitution.
The once-endangered gray wolf is on the Colorado ballot, where supporters are asking voters to create a commission that would reintroduce the animals and manage them in the western part of the state that was once their home.
Supporters of Proposition 114 say bringing the wolves back over the next three years after they were killed off more than 80 years ago would restore a needed balance to Colorado’s environment with widespread benefits.
Gray wolves have been reintroduced in Montana, Idaho and Yellowstone National Park.
Opponents argue that the predators are already making their way in from neighbouring states and are a threat to ranchers, hunters and endangered species.
Letting voters, rather than wildlife management experts, decide the issue, they say, is a “ballot box biology”.
The decision would be made days after the Trump administration said it would remove the wolves from a list of federally protected species, allowing them to be hunted in the lower 48 states where their numbers have risen to about 6,000 from 1,000 in the 1970s.
“It shows how unprepared some of these states are, particularly a key state like Pennsylvania, for the deluge of ballots coming in,” said Thiessen, a Fox News contributor. “The Democrats have pushed for this early voting and mail-in voting. State laws are unprepared.”
“Never in the history of this city have so many people voted by mail,” Kenney wrote in an open letter released earlier Monday. “By law, staffers are not allowed to start opening and counting these ballots until Election Day itself. That means getting a tally of mail-in ballots will easily take several days. This may determine the outcome in Philadelphia, and in the Commonwealth as a whole.”
“It makes perfect sense not to start counting the ballots are sorting them or touching them until Election Day if you only have a small number,” Thiessen added, “but if you have a massive number, then it’s an entirely different matter, so I think Pennsylvania is going to drag this election out.”
The Late-arriving ballots will be counted separately for the sake of “effective and clear election administration in Pennsylvania,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar said in October. Hours before the Supreme Court declined the GOP plea, Boockvar told counties to set those ballots aside and not count them.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia District Attorney Lawrence Krasner warned last week he has “a jail cell” prepared in case of aggressive behavior from unauthorized poll watchers supportive of President Trump.
Turning to the rest of the electoral map, Thiessen remarked that Florida has been allowed to count its mail-in votes for several weeks and could be the “canary in the coal mine” on election night.
“A lot of the early voters that you showed on your screen, their votes are counted and they are going to get numbers in pretty early,” he said. “How Florida goes will tell us a lot about how the rest of the country goes. If Donald Trump loses Florida, the election is probably over. If he wins Florida comfortably, by three points, that means … he’s got a very good chance of winning the whole thing.”
“If it’s narrow, it means we are going to be litigating Pennsylvania for the next month.”
During the segment, former DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee added that he sees Florida, North Carolina and Georgia as three competitive swing states that should have their final counts in earlier than others.
“Then there’s going to be other states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and a number of others that are close and will likely remain close,” he said. “We will not know who wins for days afterward, and that’s OK.”
SA Labor’s Left faction is celebrating a “moral victory” in a strongly-fought internal ballot, but Senate heavyweight Penny Wong has slammed the “perverse” interpretation of a new rule designed to help democratise the party, saying members will be “rightly disappointed” in the process.
The Upper House ballot, which saw incumbents Kyam Maher, Ian Hunter and Tung Ngo returned to Labor’s Legislative Council ticket along with state secretary Reggie Martin, was the first under new rules designed to give rank-and-file members greater say in the preselection process.
Under a rule change steered through by now-Labor leader Peter Malinauskas when he headed the powerful Shop, Distributive and Allied Employee’s union, ordinary party members could vote in state and federal upper house ballots, with their votes counting towards a third of the overall result.
The other two thirds are split equally between union and sub-branch delegates.
But as InDaily reported last week, candidates in the Legislative Council ballot were told the party returning officer’s interpretation of the rule meant the rank-and-file vote would be weighted as a proportion of the total number of eligible members, potentially diluting the impact.
The interpretation was a blow to unaligned regional hopeful Ben Browne, but in the event he didn’t command enough rank-and-file votes to win a spot on the ticket either way.
But Penny Wong, the Left faction’s most senior SA parliamentarian, told InDaily the party must move “immediately” to ensure the same rule could not be applied the same way in subsequent elections.
“Party rules were changed to give members a greater say in the preselection of Labor’s candidates for parliament – Labor Party members will be rightly disappointed that the rule has been drafted and interpreted in a way that undermines that intention,” she said.
“While it’s clear this hasn’t impacted the outcome of this ballot, the interpretation of the rules in a way that diminishes the value of the votes of Party members is perverse.
“As Peter Malinauskas has said, the Party must act immediately to ensure the rules are amended to fix this perverse outcome.
“I look forward to working with him to ensure this is done.”
The text of the rule, as shown to InDaily, appears poorly drafted, with numerous typographical errors including one referring to “25 per cent” instead of one third and another assigning the wrong bullet point number to the inserted new rule. Most significantly, the wording of the rule relating to the rank-and-file vote is phrased differently to that of the union and sub-branch components.
An excerpt from the relevant rule (above) and (below) the wording for the union component.
Labor can’t change its rules until the next state convention, expected to be held early next year. It’s unclear whether further ballots to determine the rest of the Upper House ticket and, more significantly, the next Senate ticket, will fall before or after that.
It’s understood a meeting of the ALP state executive today resolved to review last week’s ballot and the application of the rule changes.
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But the process has proved significant for the Left faction, which plays second fiddle to the dominant Right in the party machine – but whose two candidates garnered a significant majority of the grassroots vote.
While Right-wingers Martin and Ngo won the sub-branch delegates ballot, and the unions split their support between Maher and Martin, Maher and Hunter easily won the rank-and-file vote, with 648 and 414 votes respectively.
Ngo followed with 366 ahead of Martin on 319, with Browne garnering 307 votes.
“It’s a moral victory,” said one Left-aligned source.
“It just conforms the rank and file naturally lean Left, and the stronger unions pull us Right.”
Another insider dubbed it “an outstanding result”.
“What it shows is the active branch membership throughout the Labor Party is overwhelmingly inclined to support Left candidates,” they said.
“Ultimately [the new system] is a remedy to branch-stacking.”
But others in the Left argue the strong result is reflective of a concerted campaign, which saw Wong petition grassroots members in mass-distribution SMS messages to back Maher and Hunter.
They also note Maher is a popular figure among the party’s rank and file, regardless of factional alignment.
Martin, who will remain state secretary until the state election, told InDaily: “Being the first preselections conducted under new rules designed to increase the say that rank and file members have, it is to be expected that a review of both the rules and guidelines under which these ballots were conducted will take place.”
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Police say a 39-year-old man has been charged with lighting a fire in a Boston ballot drop box and damaging dozens of ballots
By ALANNA DURKIN RICHER Associated Press
October 26, 2020, 6:40 PM
• 3 min read
BOSTON — A man was charged with setting a Boston ballot drop box on fire and damaging dozens of ballots, police said Monday.
Worldy Armand, a 39-year-old Boston resident, was taken into custody late Sunday, hours after he started a fire inside a drop box outside the Boston Public Library in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood, authorities said. The box contained more than 120 ballots.
Armand faces a charge of willful and malicious burning, police said. It was not immediately clear whether he has an attorney to speak for him.
The FBI had said Sunday that it’s investigating. Federal authorities urged members of the public to “remain vigilant and immediately report any suspicious, election-related activity.”
Massachusetts’ elections chief said he has directed local officials to boost security at drop boxes with guards and video surveillance, and to empty the boxes frequently.
Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said in an interview Monday that he’s also advising communities to lock their ballot drop boxes on Saturday night, which is Halloween.
“We’re concerned that for that period of time, especially after dark, that they could be the object of pranksters or other individuals,” Galvin said.
Armand was arrested after drug control unit officers on patrol saw a man who matched the description of the suspect authorities were looking for in the ballot box fire, police said. Police said he also had an active warrant for receiving stolen property.
It’s the second fire reported at a ballot box in the U.S. this month. A fire inside an official Los Angeles County ballot drop box is also being investigated as arson, authorities said last week.
An FBI Boston spokesperson declined to comment on whether authorities believe the two fires are connected.
Officers called to the scene in Boston saw smoke coming out of the box before firefighters managed to extinguish the fire by filling the box with water, police said.
There were 122 ballots inside the box when it was emptied Sunday morning, and 87 of them were still legible and able to be processed, election officials said. Galvin said most of the 35 damaged ballots were largely intact and should be readable. Five to 10 of them are too damaged to be counted, he said.
Voters can go online to see whether their ballot was processed. Those who used that drop box between Saturday afternoon and 4 a.m. Sunday and can’t confirm the status of their ballot online should contact the Boston Elections Department immediately, officials said.
Voters whose ballots were affected can either vote in person or by a replacement ballot that will be mailed to them, officials said. If those voters don’t submit a new ballot, “their original ballot will be hand-counted to the extent possible,” election officials said.