Republican voter suppression tactics

Democracy is calling: Poll workers desperately needed for 2020 Election

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Add this to your list of critical essential workers during this pandemic:

Many county elections directors started recruiting poll workers earlier than normal, are using new recruitment strategies, have increased pay and are partnering with the North Carolina State Board of Elections, political parties and voter rights groups to find people to work the election.

Officials anticipate a shortage of poll workers could cause longer lines, last-minute precinct closures and voter confusion. That was the case in Georgia and Wisconsin, where poll worker shortages during primaries caused precinct closures, hours-long lines and disenfranchised voters.

While it's true that absentee by-mail voting is going to increase substantially this year (the more the better), we're still only talking about maybe 1/3 of all votes. We need, now more than ever, properly-staffed and prolific early voting locations, and poll workers for all the precinct voting sites. The fact that many county BOEs have had their budgets cut due to a major drop in local revenues merely exacerbates a problem we knew we were going to have, since elderly volunteers usually make up the bulk of election workers, people who are extremely vulnerable to COVID 19:

Voting during a pandemic: Hearings begin today on lawsuit to ease restrictions

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The differences between a genuine threat (Coronavirus) and a perceived threat (voter fraud):

U.S. District Judge William Osteen scheduled three days of hearings starting Monday involving a lawsuit by two voting advocacy groups and several citizens who fear current rules threaten their health if they want to vote. There's already been a spike in mail-in absentee ballot applications, presumably by voters who prefer not to venture out to in-person voting centers and precincts.

The plaintiffs want Osteen to block several voting restrictions like how mail-in ballots are requested, who can help voters with forms and the hours early in-person voting centers operate. They also want drop boxes for completed absentee ballots and later registration deadlines.

I find it almost absurd that groups have to file their lawsuits against the NC Board of Elections, and not the Republican lawmakers who put these roadblocks in place. The NC BoE has tried to get many of these changes done by asking those Republicans, and have been mostly rebuffed. Granted, if the court rules to do x or y, Republicans will have to comply anyway. But it just seems wrong. But I won't be surprised of those Republicans file their own lawsuit against the Board of Elections over this necessary policy order:

Parsing the changes to Absentee voting by mail in NC

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It's been made easier, but it's still complex:

You can now request an absentee ballot via e-mail or fax with an electronic signature. And starting in June, you only need one witness to fill out a ballot.

"Making sure elections are safe and secure is more important than ever during this pandemic, and this funding is crucial to that effort," Cooper said in a press release Friday. The state will receive over $10 million in funding from the federal government to prepare for the effects of coronavirus on the 2020 election; $424,000 of that will be spent creating a ballot request website.

You need to e-mail or fax that request to your county board of election (as opposed to state website), and you still have to use the proper request form, and it doesn't appear that you can fill it out electronically (save document and make changes). So you'll need to print it out, fill it out, and then scan it (or fax it) as an image. That is until the above-mentioned "ballot request website" becomes operational. But I wouldn't hold your breath and wait for that this year; NC is notorious for taking a long time in developing new platforms such as this. And now to dispel the rumor of Roy Cooper signing Voter ID back into law:

Georgia's voting nightmare is the 2nd canary fatality in the election coal mine

And proof the NC GOP needs to stop fighting mail-in voting:

Problems have been building for weeks as precincts closed, poll workers quit and the primary was postponed because of the health danger posed by the coronavirus crisis. Some voters south of Atlanta waited eight hours to vote on the last day of early voting Friday.

But the election went worse than expected Tuesday, especially in metro Atlanta, when poll workers couldn’t get Georgia’s new $104 million voting system system running. The system uses touchscreens and printers to create paper ballots.

I used this new system when I voted in the NC Primary a few months ago, and it went relatively smoothly. But there were about 9 BoE folks working there that day and no lines of voters backed up. Many of those volunteers I've seen before in previous elections, but most of them were in their late 60's-70's and may not be so willing to expose themselves to COVID 19 come November. Every county BoE needs to be filling their rosters of volunteers, and not just the "maybe" people. And the new systems need to be tested, along with the new volunteers. Because this is crazy:

Voting during a pandemic: Advocates and officials chime in

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Hat-tip to Melissa Boughton for putting this together:

It’s not easy to forget the photos of masked Wisconsin voters standing in large lines waiting to cast a ballot in the middle of a pandemic. Residents there risked their health and lives to make their voices heard; they chose democracy in the face of uncertainty, and now, the rest of the nation has a chance to learn from them.

One big lesson that I hope the NC GOP learned from that fiasco is this: You screw around with the election process to try and protect one (or several) of your candidates, and the people are liable to punish you for it. With Jill Karofsky's win over uber-conservative Daniel Kelly, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is now 4-3 conservative, perched on the edge of a flip to Liberal control. The fact that very Court was poised to purge 200,000 voters from the rolls with Kelly's backing likely played a role also, as well as the Court's decision to force the election itself. Back to NC and the things we need to do to help voters:

Voting alert: Counties want to cut budgets for election boards

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When they should be contemplating increases:

Officials in multiple counties have told their local elections officials to find ways to reduce spending for the upcoming budget cycle, which begins July 1. Such cuts could impact preparations for the 2020 general election, as well as increased precautionary measures to ensure voters' safety at the polls.

State Board of Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell said several local boards have already noted that they expect at least some budget reductions as county commissioners finalize budgets in the coming weeks. That includes Chowan County, whose elections officials were asked to make a 10 percent cut.

Not just no, but hell no. Find those cuts somewhere else, because our democracy is already on a fricking ventilator right now. We actually need to expand early voting sites to keep people from having to travel across the county and lining up, and unpaid volunteers (especially elderly) are going to be even harder to find than usual. And we can't make the mistake of assuming General Assembly Republicans will do the right thing:

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