Business gifts to help run the vote expand, along with objections on left and right
Conservatives hoping to prevent private money from helping Americans vote have so far taken direct aim at just a couple of billionaires: Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, who on Tuesday announced another $100 million in donations to help local governments conduct comprehensive and safe balloting in three weeks.
The donation follows their previous gift of $300 million, which has prompted lawsuits from the right in eight battleground states arguing that such benevolence should not be permitted to cover election administration costs.
But the Facebook philanthropists are among hundreds of business leaders who have stepped forward to help cash-strapped election officials scrambling to put enough poll workers, protective gear and infrastructure in place to avert chaos on Election Day. From the four dozen stadiums that sports leagues have opened as polling sites to the millions worth of face shields, masks and safety supplies donated to election workers by major corporations — the private sector's investment in this election is without precedent.
Partisan tensions, fears of voter suppression and allegations of cheating are roiling in the early stages of the almost entirely by-mail election in the nation's most populous state. At issue is how far the political parties can push California's rules permitting them to collect the envelopes.
Top Democratic officials are ordering the state Republican Party to remove about 50 drop boxes set up to collect ballots in reliably red parts of the state, maintaining they are illegal and could lead to voting fraud. Party officials say they will not comply with Monday's cease-and-desist order, asserting the boxes comply with a state law allowing campaigns to assist with ballot collection.
The dispute — over the limits of what President Trump and other critics deride as the practice of "ballot harvesting" — is the latest skirmish in the partisan war over voting rights and rules easements for an election upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
Arizona just extended its voter registration deadline from Oct. 5 to Oct. 23. This should give voters more time to sign up, but it also raises a host of issues for election administrators. And there may be complications on Election Day if too many voters register at the new deadline.
Why do some states have voter registration deadlines weeks before Election Day? It's often based on what's needed to process paper, which many states still use to run elections. Voter registration forms are gathered, voter lists are created and turned into paper signature rosters. Paper registers are sent to the polls. Data entry and printing take time when preparing for thousands, if not millions, of voters. States with modernized voter registration are better positioned to navigate the 2020 election.
Arizona voters can now submit registrations or request a mail-in ballot just 11 days before Nov. 3. Potentially thousands of registrations and ballot applications will be submitted close to the deadline. Waiting that long places a greater burden on election offices that are already stretched thin in the midst of a pandemic. It may also create avoidable issues for voters.
Last week, when President Trump complained about Attorney General William Barr's failure to bring charges against his political opponents, the Justice Department lifted restrictions on election-related federal prosecutions. Let's hope these developments do not presage a new kind of October surprise.
Justice Department policy until now has been to prevent election-related announcements, raids or arrests from affecting a campaign. According to ProPublica, federal investigators will now be allowed to investigate certain kinds of fraud before the polls close, even if those actions "risk affecting the outcome of the election."
Newsy's Vote Smarter 2020 series, presented in partnership with The Fulcrum, aims to answer your questions about the most unusual election in modern history. From early voting to counting ballots to staying safe at the polls, get all the information you need to successfully cast your ballot this year.
Performance artist Pegi Christiansen shares lessons lessons from interacting with people during her 150 shows about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Behind the Decision Desk: Fox News, the AP and What to Expect on Election Night
Join PEN America and decision desk editors at the Associated Press, Fox News and others to discuss election calls, projections, and how news organizations plan to navigate the challenges of election night 2020.