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US Coronavirus cases are surging again. These states have refused to loosen rules on who can vote by mail.

14:46  26 october  2020
14:46  26 october  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Latest Mail-In Ballot Controversies Fact-Checked and Explained

  Latest Mail-In Ballot Controversies Fact-Checked and Explained The topic of mail-in voting has been a point of focus and controversy throughout the 2020 election season. President Donald Trump has consistently "warned" Americans about the dangers and frauds that are attached to mail-in voting through the use of false information and the distortion of the mail-in voting practice. © Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty A woman holds up a mail-in ballot during the Massachusetts state primary on September 1 in Boston. On the other hand, Democrats have expressed their belief in Trump's motivation to depress voter turnout rather than to prevent voter fraud.

The WHO chief warned against “vaccine nationalism”, calling for global solidarity in the rollout of any future coronavirus vaccine, as the number of cases soared across the world. Public anxiety over the safety of flu vaccines has surged after at least 48 people died this month following vaccinations.

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Coronavirus cases are rising again in Texas, but most voters fearful of infection are not allowed to cast ballots by mail. For the limited number who qualify with a separate excuse, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott restricted drop-off locations to one per county. And when the Democratic stronghold of Harris County took steps to make voting easier, GOP leaders sued local officials.

a group of people standing in the grass: Voters stand in a socially distanced line to cast ballots at an early voting location in Houston on Oct. 13. © Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg News Voters stand in a socially distanced line to cast ballots at an early voting location in Houston on Oct. 13.

Texas is one of five red states that emerged as conspicuous holdouts this year as the rest of the country rushed to loosen voting rules because of the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the roughly 30 million registered voters who live there, and in Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee have no choice but to cast ballots in person this fall, even as the rate of coronavirus in the United States approaches its third peak.

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Therefore, 85 percent of the vaccinated have no side effects and no inconvenience from this vaccine You can restore your account within 30 days by following the link sent to the e - mail address you doesn’t follow standard rules of the English language, for example, is typed fully or mostly in capital

But several state officials say they delayed or refused to tell their residents to stay home to keep their fragile economies moving, echoing the "That means businesses will close, people will lose their jobs, the economy will be in worse shape than ever." Before and after photos show impact of coronavirus

The situation underscores how the nation’s decentralized election systems and Republican opposition to mail voting this year are translating into vastly different voting experiences for Americans, depending on where they live. Legal challenges to the voting limits have foundered in some courts, rejected by a federal judiciary that has shifted rightward under President Trump.

The restrictions have become a rallying cry for more liberal voters, with many expressing even more determination to have their ballots count. Voters in Harris County have turned out in droves for early voting, casting more than 1 million ballots so far and putting the county on track to surpass its entire 2016 turnout before Election Day.

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Where are cases and deaths rising? Coronavirus cases have risen over the last few months in several regions The number of daily cases had slowed in August but are now rising again , driven mostly by renewed This has had a devastating impact on the global economy. Damage to the world's major

More than 38.44 million cases of coronavirus have been detected and almost 1.1 million people have died from the infection The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States reached 8 million on Thursday, an increase of 1 million in less WHO Warns Europe COVID-19 Surge of 'Great Concern'.

Across the state, more than 7 million people had already cast their ballots as of Sunday — exceeding the state’s total 2016 early vote by about 2.4 million.

[Across the country, Democratic enthusiasm is propelling an enormous wave of early voting]

“This just feels so urgent,” said Angela Martinez, 46, who was among scores of voters who arrived at Houston’s Metropolitan Multi-Service Center before sunrise to secure a place in line on the first day of early voting this month.

“I expect that older communities and those in poorer places will be disenfranchised, but that’s why I come here,” she said.

Despite the surge in turnout, voting rights advocates said the rules in these states limit access to the ballot box for less-privileged groups, including younger voters, people of color and, this year, people with medical conditions that leave them more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas have some of the country’s highest rates of poverty and chronic health conditions.

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The World Health Organization ( WHO ) has warned that coronavirus cases are surging alarmingly in Europe, as a "very serious situation" unfolds across the continent.

Coronavirus Disease 2019. Several Presidential proclamations established restrictions on the entry of certain travelers into the United States in an effort to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“My big question is: for what?” said Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program, of voting restrictions in Texas. “How many compounding, cumulative barriers do we need to accomplish anything legitimate? . . . The inescapable conclusion is that there are some politicians that don’t want all of their voters voting.”

a group of people standing around a table © Provided by The Washington Post

Abbott and other Republican officials say restrictions are necessary to prevent election tampering and ensure the security of mail ballots, even though there is no evidence that mail voting leads to widespread fraud.

“The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections,” Abbott said in a statement Oct. 1 as he restricted the number of drop-off locations per county. “As we work to preserve Texans’ ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state. These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting.”

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" This is a dynamic situation," Newsom said. It comes as the number of cases in California and the United States skyrocket. The rising toll has medical Trump said the antimalarial drug chloroquine and its analog hydroxychloroquine would be available by prescription to treat the novel coronavirus .

The coronavirus pandemic is prompting unprecedented measures around the world. Some states have already implemented additional restrictions on public life, including banning gatherings of more than 50 people. In Kentucky one resident who refused to self-isolate had a police officer stationed

Abbott has taken some steps to relax rules around voting this year, his supporters note — extending early in-person voting by nearly a week and allowing Texans to return mail ballots in person before Election Day.

“Claims of voter suppression are willfully blind to the fact that this conversation is taking place only because Governor Abbott relaxed elections laws during a pandemic using his emergency powers,” Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R) wrote in a recent online post. “The fact that he has not relaxed them as much as some would like does not change the fact that he has made it easier to vote this cycle, not harder.”

[How to vote in your state — Cómo votar en su estado]

The five states that do not allow fear of the coronavirus as an excuse to vote by mail this year also have some of the strictest rules in the country when it comes to voting generally. All of them have voter ID requirements, and none allow voters to register on Election Day. Mississippi does not offer early in-person voting. Texas no longer allows straight-ticket voting for one party’s slate. And in Tennessee, giving someone an application for an absentee ballot is a Class E felony, requiring between one and six years in prison, unless the person providing the form works for an election commission.

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Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said rules like Tennessee’s “just shock the conscience.”

“It’s almost as if they’ve turned a blind eye to the pandemic,” she said of states that are not letting everyone vote by mail. “But any state that approaches this year as if the status quo will get us through this election season has failed the voters in their state. This is a moment that has made clear the unnecessary obstacles that we put up to voting.”

An election worker handles paperwork as voters cast ballots at an early voting location in Houston on Oct. 13. © Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg News An election worker handles paperwork as voters cast ballots at an early voting location in Houston on Oct. 13.

Legal battles rising

Efforts by Democrats and voting-rights advocates to challenge these rules in court have largely failed, with judges appointed by Trump and other Republicans ruling in some cases that the risks of fraud cited by GOP officials require keeping restrictions in place.

Their decisions contrast with the opinions of many judges around the country appointed by both parties who have ruled that claims about fraud are overstated.

[Courts view GOP fraud claims skeptically as Democrats score key legal victories over mail voting]

“States have critically important interests in the orderly administration of elections and in vigilantly reducing opportunities for voting fraud,” wrote Stuart Kyle Duncan, a Trump appointee on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in a ruling this month that upheld Abbott’s limits on drop-off locations.

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On the conservative 5th Circuit, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, 19 of 27 judges were appointed by GOP presidents, including five by Trump.

Luis Vera Jr., general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said the courts’ shift further to the right has made it harder to fight for voting rights in Texas. While advocates can win brief victories before federal district courts, he said, those gains are reversed once the state appeals to the 5th Circuit. Then their only recourse is to appeal to the Supreme Court, demanding significant time and resources.

“It’s always the same thing,” said Vera, who has represented LULAC for more than two decades and brought the suit over Abbott’s order that is now before the 5th Circuit. “They rely on the court — not on their arguments — to save their butts. It’s harder for us than them. The courts are stacked against us.”

The Texas Supreme Court, which has no Democratic-appointed judges, has also upheld voting restrictions this year, ruling against expanded eligibility for mail voting and blocking Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins from sending unsolicited mail ballot applications to registered voters.

Election worker Romanique Tillman prepares mail-in ballots to be sent out to voters in Houston last month. © David J. Phillip/AP Election worker Romanique Tillman prepares mail-in ballots to be sent out to voters in Houston last month.

A decision last week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit allowed election officials to reject ballots in Texas based on mismatched signatures without guaranteeing voters the chance to fix problems.

On Thursday, the Texas Supreme Court declined an appeal from election workers in Dallas County who were fired for not wearing masks. The court also allowed drive-through voting to proceed in Harris County, which includes Houston, ruling against Republicans who argued the program is illegal.

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Democrats say the GOP is using voting restrictions and litigation to play politics as demographic forecasts raise concerns about its future in the state.

“They are desperate. They are desperate to hold on to power, and they know that the jig is almost up, and they don’t care — they don’t care if it’s illegal. They just want to succeed at this point because that’s all that counts,” said Dana DeBeauvoir, the county clerk of Travis County, home to the predominantly Democratic city of Austin.

[Early voting begins in Texas with high turnout, despite new legal developments on voting access]

Republicans intensified their focus on Houston’s Harris County starting in 2008, when Democratic votes for president edged out Republican votes for the first time in more than four decades. The blue wave of 2018 solidified Democrats’ power in the diverse and fast-growing region.

This fall, Hollins tripled the number of early-voting locations and is adding options for drive-through and 24-hour voting.

Harris County Republicans said last month that his policies could have “implications for the national election,” a sign of the GOP’s concern about the state’s most populous county as a political battleground.

“In the November 3, 2020 presidential election, as Texas goes so too will the rest of the country,” the GOP stated in a lawsuit against Hollins. “If President Trump loses Texas, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to be reelected. As Harris County goes, so too will Texas.”

Bill Miller, a prominent Texas lobbyist who has worked for both parties, said each side is seeking to play to its advantage when it comes to turnout.

“Republicans probably want to control voter turnout because that’s in their best interest this year,” he said. “This year, huge, huge voter turnout probably doesn’t bode well for them.”

A poll worker helps a voter at a mail-in ballot drop-off location in Austin. © Sergio Flores/Getty Images A poll worker helps a voter at a mail-in ballot drop-off location in Austin.

Burdens on voters

Limits on voting are most prevalent in the South, where changes to state policies previously had to be approved by the federal government because of the region’s history of suppressing the vote among Black people.

Seven years after the Supreme Court overturned key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, efforts to relax rules around mail voting in 2020 have thrown the most extreme restrictions into sharp relief.

timeline © Kate Rabinowitz/The Washington Post

Three states — Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi — prohibit voters from returning a mail ballot in person, forcing them to risk delayed delivery through the mail. About a dozen do not allow ballot drop boxes. And more than 20 offer no guarantee that voters will be notified about mistakes on their mail ballots and allowed to correct them before their votes are rejected.

The Supreme Court has recently upheld some voting restrictions in GOP-controlled states.

Earlier this month, justices ruled that mail ballots in South Carolina must arrive with a witness signature, reversing lower courts that ruled voters could forgo the requirement because of the pandemic. And last week, Alabama won a legal battle over so-called curbside voting when the Supreme Court ruled the state could prohibit counties from offering it to people who are disabled or concerned about contracting the coronavirus. The court’s liberals dissented in the 5-3 decision.

Voters across the country are now turning out in person to cast ballots early in record numbers, including in the five that did not expand eligibility to vote by mail. As of Sunday, all but Tennessee had already exceeded their early vote totals from 2016.

Many voters have said they are turning out now to avoid the potentially large crowds on Election Day — only to encounter hours-long lines.

On Oct. 13, voters waited 40 minutes to an hour in the hot sun to cast ballots at Rice University’s football stadium. Voting machines were set up inside Gate 1, where people typically show their tickets. At one point, the lines stretched around the covered entrance, all the way out of the gate and around the corner, with voters standing six feet apart.

“There’s so much anxiety for me around this particular election that I felt like if I could vote as soon as possible at least I’d have that off my plate,” Emily Kemper, 51, said before voting.

Kemper’s husband, Gregory, 63, has bladder cancer that has spread to his lungs. Under Texas law, being sick counts as an excuse to vote absentee. He said he considered requesting a mail ballot but was worried he would not qualify. So they came to vote in person, despite the crowds and the lack of shade.

“I didn’t trust the fact that I was going to be able to do it, and I didn’t trust that it was going to be counted,” Gregory said of mail voting.

Hernández reported from Houston. Robert Barnes, Lenny Bronner, Jose A. Del Real, Kate Rabinowitz, Neena Satija and Aaron Schaffer in Washington and Brittney Martin in Houston contributed to this report.

Police, experts monitoring extremist groups to see if poll watchers try to disrupt voting .
The states with the highest risk for election-related violence by armed extremist groups are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Oregon.President Donald Trump, who has falsely claimed voter fraud is widespread, has called for an army of poll watchers to ensure the election is fair. Right-wing extremist groups have signaled they plan to heed the call. Left-wing groups have vowed to confront people they believe are engaged in voter suppression.

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