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Our panel of experts will be analyzing voting controversies until the 2020 winners are clear.

Early voting in Georgia began with long lines and tech issues.

Why long lines in early voting may signal voter suppression

With only 11 days before the 2020 presidential election, more than 2.3 million Georgians have voted. Even more plan to do so before the state's Oct. 30 early-voting deadline. And just as in the primaries earlier this year, Georgia voters experienced extremely long wait times at the polls. On the first day of early voting, some Georgians waited more than eight hours to vote. Voters should never have to take an entire day to participate in democracy.

In response to excessively long lines, Walter Jones, a representative from the Georgia secretary of state's office remarked, "What this means is people are really energized and engaged in this race, and we prepared for it. "

Jones failed to mention that Georgia's extreme wait times are disproportionately affecting Black and Latino voters, or that voter suppression strategies are also drivers of the state's long voting lines. While it's undeniable that states across the country are experiencing record voter turnout in this year's election, we shouldn't ignore the intentional actions taken to suppress the vote. This is a key reason why Black and Latino voters are still waiting in hours-long lines.

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Ty Wright/Getty Images

The ballot drop box outside the Board of Elections in rural Athens County in southeastern Ohio.

Why, Ohio? Drop boxes kicked to the curb in another battleground.

There won't be any more ballot drop boxes set up in Ohio, assuring more hassle for as many as 700,000 people who might still cast their votes remotely and early in one of the essential presidential battlegrounds.

Voting rights groups announced Thursday they were giving up the legal battle they've been waging since the summer to get many more bins dispatched. They said it has become pointless to ask the Supreme Court to reverse an earlier appeals court ruling restricting the boxes to just one place in each of Ohio's 88 counties.

Drop boxes for completed absentee ballots have sprouted in plenty of places across the country that have never seen them before, a response by election officials to anxieties about voting in person and relying on the mail during the coronavirus pandemic. But as with so much else about election rules this fall, many of those initial accommodations (including for Ohio's primary) have run into stiff opposition from Republicans claiming the potential for fraud.

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New Hampshire students don't lose their voting rights because of the pandemic

College students are frequent targets of disinformation campaigns — especially in New Hampshire. The latest attempt to suppress the state's student vote came from the New Hampshire Republican Party, which requested that the state attorney general instruct local officials that college students attending a New Hampshire school remotely should not be allowed to vote there.

The GOP's request flies in the face of state law and was roundly rejected by Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, a Republican. A student who is enrolled in a New Hampshire college is eligible to vote in New Hampshire if they are 18 or older and have established "domicile" in New Hampshire, as MacDonald's office confirmed Oct. 21.

The term domicile might sound like confusing legal jargon. But in New Hampshire, it simply means a place considered home for social and civic purposes. So even though many college students are currently learning remotely due to Covid-19, they likely can still vote absentee in the Granite State.

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North Carolina election officials warn people about voter intimidation at polling sites

Education and outreach can beat voter intimidation

Millions of Americans are already voting, and concerns about possible voter intimidation have been on the rise. President Trump's comments at the first presidential debate, along with similar calls for "poll watchers," have put a focus on groups that may try to interfere with the right to vote.

Thankfully, voter interference is against the law, and election officials can address the issue ahead of Election Day. Here's what we know: When it comes to intimidation, election officials are empowered to protect voters and maintain peace and safety at their polling locations. In fact, this is a core part of their responsibilities.

Education and community outreach are key to preventing potential trouble or defusing conflicts once they begin. Local election officials are well positioned to reach voters. They're among the most trusted sources of government information.

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