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All six states require an excuse for voting by mail, which could produce lines at the polls similar to Wisconsin's this month.

The 6 toughest states for voting during the pandemic

The coronavirus has forced a fundamental reassessment of how best to allow citizens to both stay safe and carry out their most important civic responsibility — voting.

Almost half the states have already eased restrictions that would make it tougher to cast a ballot during the pandemic, and more may do so soon. But at the same time, six states now stand out as having the most restrictive voting rules in the country. And those hurdles will either disenfranchise or threaten the health of millions this year, assuming critical adjustments are not made soon and Covid-19 continues to upend normal life until fall.

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A poll worker wipes down voting machines with a disinfectant in Miami Beach, Fla., during Tuesday's primary.

Coronavirus chaos at the polls as primaries proceed in 3 of 4 states

Chaos reigned Tuesday in all three states that pressed ahead with their Democratic presidential primaries in the face of the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic.

Legions of poll workers, who are mainly older people and therefore in greatest danger of Covid-19 infection, canceled at the last minute or failed to show up at voting locations in Florida, Illinois and Arizona.

Voters were caught off guard when they found their usual polling places shuttered because of health concerns. People in the three states were told where to head instead but people in Ohio were told all voting had been canceled for the day. And plenty of Americans with compromised immune systems decided to walk away rather than risk their health at voting sites they reported were not following basic hygiene standards.

"If it were not so tragic, it would be comical," said Ami Gandhi of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. His organization and a collection of other voting rights groups took stock of their reports from the field at midday.

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Companies unite in pledge to give workers time for voting

At least 2 million workers will be given paid time off to vote for president this fall under a pact formed by hundreds of companies, which say boosting turnout is part of their corporate civic responsibility.

The agreement was announced Wednesday by a business coalition, Time to Vote, which said 383 firms have already made such a promise. The goal is to expand the roster to 1,000 by Election Day, doubling the participants in a similar initiative ahead of the 2018 congressional midterms.

The commitment by corporate America to support their employees' civic engagement is notable because efforts to shape turnout have been such a partisan flashpoint in recent years — and because not being able to break away from work is the top reason people cite for not voting.

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Democrats in charge in Richmond are about to make Election Day a Virginia holiday while dropping the holiday honoring Robert E. Lee (above, in Charlottesville) and his Confederate Army colleague Stonewall Jackson.

Election Day holiday to boot Lee, Jackson to Virginia history

Virginia is about to eliminate a holiday honoring the state's two most famous Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and replace it by making Election Day a statewide holiday.

With the state government under entirely Democratic control for the first time in a quarter-century, the symbolically rich switch is part of an array of measures advancing through Richmond that are designed to make it easier to vote — including a first-in-the nation legislative repeal of a photo ID mandate.

Virginia would join eight other states that give all their workers a paid day off for voting in presidential and midterm election years — a move that prompts many businesses, schools and local governments to declare a similar holiday for their employees.

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