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These 34 states are making voting easier, if only for this fall

Voting in the presidential election ends in 40 days, and states are still making adjustments to their rules and procedures.

The coronavirus pandemic, along with a wave of litigation from voting rights groups and Democrats, has resulted in 34 states deciding to make it easier to cast a ballot this fall — either voluntarily or as the result of a lawsuit. Most of the changes encourage voting by mail and ease the rules governing the completion and tabulation of absentee ballots.

More developments are virtually certain. Many will be prompted by fresh judicial rulings, or appeals upholding or reversing voting easements now in place. And appeals in some of those cases could reach the Supreme Court in the final days before Nov. 3.

But here are the current plans in the two-thirds of states where the rules have already been altered this year:

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Absentee voting fight pressed anew in three Southern states

Thanks to the pandemic and the coming surge of absentee voting, several swing states have already been compelled to grant extra time for ballots to arrive by mail. North Carolina joined this roster Tuesday.

To settle one from the blizzard of lawsuits pushed by Democrats, the state not only extended that deadline on Tuesday but also agreed to allow voters a chance to correct procedural mistakes with their absentee ballots.

The double-barrel agreement came as a fresh federal lawsuit was seeking to make Arkansas give its voters a similar "ballot curing" option, while Republicans appealed a federal judge's extension for mailed ballots in Georgia.

As the record wave of litigation continues to roil preparations six weeks from Election Day, these are the details of the latest developments:

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Two federal agencies have issued a warning that Russians and others may attempt to undermine our election by spreading misinformation.

FBI and DHS warn of foreign misinformation on election results

Remember election security? The Russians? What happened in 2016?

With much of the focus on mail-in ballots, drop boxes and other mechanics of voting during a public health crisis, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security want to make sure Americans know: Foreign actors are again trying again to disrupt our presidential election — including with a disinformation campaign about the results.

"The increased use of mail-in ballots due to Covid-19 protocols could leave officials with incomplete results" the night of Nov. 3, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (a part of DHS) and the FBI emphasized in a joint statement on Tuesday, and "foreign actors and cybercriminals" are expected to spread misinformation and disinformation to "exploit the time required to certify and announce elections' results."

The warning was issued as the Brennan Center for Justice,a progressive think tank that has done significant research on a broad range of election threats, issued a new study concluding that great improvement has been made in securing election systems from hacking, especially in the swing states that will decide the presidency.

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Ingham County Clerk

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum didn't think a retired plumber's joke about voting was funny.

Michigan election jokes? One's about a stool pigeon and a plumber. The other involves Trump.

Sometimes, for sanity's sake, you just have to laugh at what is happening in this crazy year of very serious debates over how our elections are going to be conducted.

Maybe these two related stories out of battleground Michigan in the last few days will help — although, be forewarned, one's a bit more overtly humorous than the other.

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