This week's start of in-person voting in a pair of battleground states has produced some of the year's first hints of cautious optimism about electoral democracy's resilience, dispute the extraordinary challenges of a public health crisis and a president fueling doubt about the integrity of the result.
Long lines outside polling places, but only minimal problems inside, continued Wednesday as voting stations were open for a third day in Georgia and the second day in Texas. Both states reported record turnouts for their opening days of early voting.
While tens of thousands queued up at a social distance for several hours to cast ballots at libraries and schools, however, attorneys were in courthouses continuing their partisan war over whether aspects of the election should be made easier in the closing days.
October is the last chance for most Americans to register if they want to vote for president this year. But 86 million eligible Americans, or one-third of the national total, can even sign up — and then proceed to cast a ballot — on Election Day.
That's because they live in the 19 states (plus D.C.) that allow what's known as same-day registration. Eligible residents will be able to show up at their neighborhood polling places on Nov. 3 and, so long as they can prove who they are and where they live, will be allowed to register and then head into a voting booth.
NBA legend Magic Johnson, who just watched his Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Miami Heat in the league finals, has thrown his considerable star power behind the campaign to open most primaries in Florida to all voters, regardless of party.
The referendum on this fall's ballot in the nation's biggest purple state is being watched by many good-government groups as closely as any contest for office, because they view open primaries as one of the best ways to depolarize the nation's politics.
Although he ended his playing career 24 years ago, Johnson has remained one of basketball's most visible and charismatic ambassadors. And his endorsement follows on the heels of increased player activism that has led to dozens of sports arenas and stadiums being used as voting locations this fall.
There's a double irony in California's ballot drop box controversy, where the state Republican Party has placed private ballot collection boxes in several counties. Though the boxes are intended to make voting more convenient, the California secretary of state has issued a cease-and-desist order prohibiting them.
First, it's ironic that in several other states Republicans are the ones asking courts to limit ballot collection boxes. When voting rights groups (for instance in Ohio and Texas) or state officials (for instance in Pennsylvania) have attempted to increase the number of official ballot collection boxes, Republicans have said this isn't explicitly authorized by state law. The boxes aren't sufficiently secure, or they would lead to voter confusion, Republicans said.
Alleged security issues with official drop boxes have little basis in reality, but there are real concerns about the unofficial drop boxes in California. No state or local election officials are responsible for these unauthorized boxes. A voter who entrusts a mail-in ballot to a private organization leaves the ballot at the mercy of that organization.
Following up on Kevin Johnson's Election Dissection post Tuesday about the dangers of politicizing election fraud investigations, it's a good time to highlight the Election Reformers Network's comprehensive report examining how the presence of elected secretaries of state can undermine confidence in the vote. Secretaries of state need to be umpires, not players, in the elections they supervise, the report says.
While the Trump-Biden debate was surely unique in its eminently poor quality, what's important to remember is this: It was not exactly an outlier from the contemporary American political scene, writes incoming Harvard Law student Thomas Koenig.
Join Nonprofit Vote for a discussion about how nonprofits can engage staff in voting and elections to make civic participation a part of organizational culture this year.