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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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Texans waiting to vote in the March primary. The state's Democratic Party wants to register 1 million more by November.

Democrats launch bid to register 1 million Texans despite the pandemic

Texas Democrats announced an aggressive plan Tuesday to boost the ranks of voters in the second most populous state by at least a million, despite the coronavirus crisis making such efforts harder than ever.

Texas is one of nine states without online registration, meaning would-be voters must either submit an application in person or print out and mail in a document found online. Several of the required steps are already difficult for poor people and will be further complicated by closures and social distancing until the Covid-19 outbreak subsides.

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Millions can't register to vote without violating stay-at-home curbs

The coronavirus has already drastically compromised campaigns and voting this year. The next looming casualty looks to be registration drives.

With about 95 percent of the population under states' orders to stay at home this spring, face-to-face "Get Out the Vote!" crusades so typical in election years have ceased to exist. Civic engagement groups, now forced to operate entirely online, are expressing alarm that a significant share of people who want a say in electing the president this fall won't be able to get on the voter rolls in time.

The country's digital divide already makes accessing online registration forms and information difficult for many Americans, particularly in low-income and rural areas. And for some 28 million across nine states, it's not an option at all because they have to complete actual paperwork.

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Congress
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Flood of 'spend more on elections' missives in congressional mailboxes

Advocates for making voting safer and easier this year are showering Congress with appeals for help in the next coronavirus response package.

The flow of letters, e-mail and appeals posted online has accelerated in recent days, as lawmakers have started haggling over a fourth aid package since the pandemic took hold. But any decisions have now been delayed at least two weeks, as the Senate on Tuesday joined the House in postponing lawmakers' earliest return until the week of May 4.

The missives have much in common: They are signed mainly by progressive groups, augmented by a handful of cross-partisan good governance organizations. They focus on getting more money for expanding mail-in voting, early in-person voting, online registration and other steps to protect the electorate and election workers from the virus. And they stop short of calling for federal requirements for states spending the aid.

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