Most experts predict scattered violence is the worst the United States could experience this Election Day, given isolated incidents that have already taken place this year, USA TODAY’s Trevor Hughes reports. There are reports of some people even stocking up and preparing to hunker down to ride out a possible wave of sustained election-related chaos.
The angst follows months of widespread Black Lives Matter social justice protests, more than 90% of which were peaceful. But some conservative news outlets and GOP leaders have pointed to looting and destruction to argue that more federal law enforcement is needed.
Some context: President Donald Trump already has called votes into question and won’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the results are in. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has repeatedly said the U.S. military has no role in the election.
More news to keep in mind: We’re eight days away from Election Day. USA TODAY is keeping track of what’s happening as voters around the country cast ballots. Keep refreshing this page for updates.
If you want a long read: We mailed 64 letters and packages in battleground states to check on mail delays. Here’s what we found.
Voters have been casting ballots in recent weeks: Numbers compiled by @electproject show 59.4 million people have voted. In other numbers, the Guardian and ProPublica report 13.8% of registered voters in swing states have had their mail-in ballots accepted.
What has become an Election Day ritual in Rochester, New York will look different this year.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, people are welcome to make the pilgrimage to Mount Hope Cemetery to pay tribute to Susan B. Anthony at her gravesite. But in a departure, visitors won’t be able to place their “I Voted” stickers directly on the famed suffragist’s headstone.
During a springtime restoration project, it became clear that the fragile marble marker had sustained damage from a combination of adhesive residue and the solvents and methods needed to remove it, Patricia Corcoran, president of nonprofit Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery, wrote in an email.
In an effort to protect the “iconic gravesite,” the group had clear plastic sleeves made for Anthony’s headstone and that of her sister, Mary S. Anthony, for use during election season, and people can put their “I Voted” stickers on the sleeves.
– Marcia Greenwood, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
NYPD officer suspended for saying ‘Trump 2020’ over speaker; almost 194K ballots already cast in NYC early voting
A New York City police officer was suspended without pay after he was filmed saying “Trump 2020” over a patrol vehicle’s loudspeaker, violating the department’s rules.
New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted Sunday that the officer’s comments were “unacceptable” and that law enforcement must remain apolitical. Mayor Bill de Blasio also criticized the officer’s action. “ANY NYPD Officer pushing ANY political agenda while on duty will face consequences,” the mayor tweeted.
The incident comes after the city’s largest police union, the Police Benevolent Association, endorsed President Donald Trump in August.
Meanwhile, voters across New York are experiencing long lines during an unprecedented early voting period in the state. In New York City alone, 193,915 ballots had been cast in two days of early voting, the city’s Board of Elections tweeted Sunday.
A fire was set Sunday in a Boston ballot drop box holding more than 120 ballots in what Massachusetts election officials said appears to have been a “deliberate attack,” now under investigation by the FBI.
The fire that was set around 4 a.m. in a ballot drop box outside the Boston Public Library downtown, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office said.
There were 122 ballots inside the box when it was emptied Sunday morning, and 87 of them were still legible and able to be processed, Galvin’s office said. Voters can go online to see whether their ballot was processed. Those who used that dropbox between Saturday afternoon and 4 a.m. Sunday and can’t confirm the status of their ballot online should contact the Boston Elections Department immediately, officials said.
As they consider which candidate might best help protect them from the dangers of the coronavirus, many Native Americans find irregular mail service, spotty internet access and the remote location of reservations present difficulties to having their voices heard.
COVID-19 has disproportionately sickened or killed Native Americans across the U.S., creating another Election Day challenge for a poor and geographically isolated population already fighting to overcome steep voting barriers ranging from discriminatory election laws to distant polling stations.
– Marco della Cava
This cheat sheet from Columbia Journalism Review offers tips for media organizations reporting on Election 2020.
Voting problems aren’t failures. They happen every year and, as CJR notes, hiccups such as voting machines not working or polling places opening late don’t mean anything is “rigged.”
- Some problems, however, are significant. CJR recommends the media scrutinize areas that have a history of voter suppression or obstructing minority voters, calling out Georgia as a place to monitor.
- Don’t expect a winner on Election Night. This year is different because mail-in ballots could be as high as 30%. Previously, that number was 3%-5%. It will take a while to tally.
- Seriously, expect to wait. State vote certification deadlines differ and don’t have to be reported to the federal level until Dec. 8. Additionally, the Electoral College doesn’t meet until Dec. 14.
As opposed to Michigan, a fellow open-carry state that has moved to ban voters from bringing firearms into polling sites, New Hampshire won’t attempt to keep armed voters away. The Attorney General’s office said it does not have that authority but will be on the lookout for voter intimidation in the upcoming election.
“We are not able to use any of our New Hampshire election laws to prohibit a voter from entering to vote if they have a firearm, and that includes if the polling place is a school,” said Assistant AG Nicholas Chong Yen, according to NHPR.org.
The website said some New Hampshire poll workers and voters have expressed concern about the presence of armed individuals at polling places.
– Jorge L. Ortiz
Worried about voter suppression? Lawyers set up national hotline to answer questions about election laws
Nearly 24,000 lawyers are volunteering to help voters across the country navigate changes in what has become an unprecedented election cycle. Organizers of Election Protection, a national coalition of civil rights and voting rights groups, said the number of volunteers has quadrupled since the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterm elections. They’re bracing for even more calls as Election Day nears and in the days and weeks following.
The Election Protection hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) is available all year, but calls have ramped up in recent weeks as millions started casting ballots early in some states. The hotline has received more than 100,000 calls since July, averaging about 7,000 a day, organizers said. At this point in 2016, the group had fielded 21,000 calls since January of that year.
– Deborah Barfield Berry
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Contributing: Associated Press