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Pinellas sheriff investigates report of armed voter intimidation

Here's why the U.S. can handle voter intimidation

There's been growing concern about voter intimidation in the presidential election. Last month, Philadelphia officials turned away a group of Trump campaign poll watchers who were breaking Pennsylvania law. In Virginia, supporters of the president temporarily blocked an early voting site, forcing officials to escort voters to cast ballots. And in Minnesota, a private security company recruited former soldiers to guard polling sites, alarming election officials.

Voters often speak of "running the gauntlet" of partisan supporters to get to the polls. No one knows for sure how the rest of the election will play out, or how this "enthusiasm" will be interpreted by voters. But voters should know that officials are aware of these threats and have been planning for them.

We are both former local election officials who have observed voter intimidation in previous cycles. We now study elections, both within and outside of the U.S., and regularly interact with current election officials. We want to share what we know officials are doing to make voting secure.

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"If you have to register on a paper form, mail it in as soon as you can," writes Tammy Patrick.

Voter registration deadlines — it's complicated

Arizona just extended its voter registration deadline from Oct. 5 to Oct. 23. This should give voters more time to sign up, but it also raises a host of issues for election administrators. And there may be complications on Election Day if too many voters register at the new deadline.

Why do some states have voter registration deadlines weeks before Election Day? It's often based on what's needed to process paper, which many states still use to run elections. Voter registration forms are gathered, voter lists are created and turned into paper signature rosters. Paper registers are sent to the polls. Data entry and printing take time when preparing for thousands, if not millions, of voters. States with modernized voter registration are better positioned to navigate the 2020 election.

Arizona voters can now submit registrations or request a mail-in ballot just 11 days before Nov. 3. Potentially thousands of registrations and ballot applications will be submitted close to the deadline. Waiting that long places a greater burden on election offices that are already stretched thin in the midst of a pandemic. It may also create avoidable issues for voters.

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