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June 14, 2024
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DENVER — President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign on Thursday called on top Republicans to drop litigation seeking to curtail aspects of mail balloting now that Donald Trump has begun to embrace the method.

Trump for years falsely claimed voting by mail was riddled with fraud, but his 2024 campaign began a program this month to encourage mail voting if convenient for people. It is part of Republicans’ attempt to increase mail voting among their supporters.

At the same time, the Republican National Committee, newly under the former president’s control, has sued or joined lawsuits seeking to limit certain aspects of mail voting. That includes laws in some states, including Nevada, that allow late-arriving mailed ballots to be counted as long as they are sent by Election Day.

“If Donald Trump is serious about finally recognizing that mail voting is a great option for voters to utilize this November, he should demand the RNC and his MAGA allies drop every one of these lawsuits throughout the country,” Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, said in a statement, referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement.

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June 10, 2024
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With House appropriators set to mark up a spending bill this week that may, or may not, end up including more money for election security, a bipartisan collection of current election administrators and former elected officials is pleading with them to step up before the contentious 2024 presidential campaign gets into full swing. 

The groups, both organized by the nonpartisan government watchdog Issue One, had asked congressional appropriators for at least $400 million in election security grants administered by the Election Assistance Commission. President Joe Biden’s budget requested $96 million.

But the Financial Services and General Government spending bill released Tuesday by House Republicans proposes to cut all funding for election security grants.

“They zeroed out election funding, which is a fundamentally unserious position to take,” said Gideon Cohn-Postar, legislative director for Issue One. 

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June 6, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE — When Gov. Ron DeSantis opted last year to remove Florida from a multistate voter data-sharing agreement, advocates and elections officials feared it would become harder to detect illegal voting.

New data shows they might be right.

DeSantis’ voter fraud unit last year received 93% fewer referrals from other states about double-voters than it did the year before, an analysis by the Times/Herald shows.

The voter fraud unit received 72 tips from other states about people suspected of casting ballots in Florida and another state in the same election, a third-degree felony under Florida law. That’s down from at least 986 in 2022.

Those numbers are minuscule compared to the nearly 7.8 million Floridians who cast ballots in the November 2022 election alone. Far fewer of those tips led to criminal charges.

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May 31, 2024
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WASHINGTON — During the presidential election four years ago, the Equal Ground Education Fund hired over 100 people to go door-to-door and attend festivals, college homecomings, and other events to help register voters across Florida. Their efforts for this year’s elections look much different.

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A state law passed last year forced them to stop in-person voter registration, cut staff, and led to a significant drop in funding. Organizers aren’t sure how robust their operations will be in the fall.

Genesis Robinson, the group’s interim executive director, said the law has had a “tremendous impact” on its ability to host events and get into communities to engage directly with potential voters.

“Prior to all of these changes, we were able to operate in a space where we were taking action and prepare our communities and make sure they were registered to vote — and help if they weren’t,” he said.

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May 28, 2024
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ORLANDO, Florida — Florida election officials are warning that an obscure new ballot rule being put in place by the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis could force them to break state law or face removal from office.

A wave of exasperated election supervisors — meeting at their summer conference — vented to top officials from the Department of State about a recently rolled out proposal that they contend would violate the right to a secret ballot. They also said they worried it would put them in the crosshairs of activists who continually question the validity of elections.

“I deal every day with a bunch of wackadoodles in this state,” said Alan Hays, the Republican elections supervisor from Lake County. “We need clarification. These wackadoodles will take one little bitty thing like that and blow it out of proportion.”

The rule is being proposed to create a uniform way of disposing of “spoiled” ballots and prevent them from being tabulated, said Joseph Van de Bogart, who is general counsel for the Department of State and had worked in the past on poll watching and election monitoring for Florida Republicans.

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May 24, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida wants local elections officials to use data collected by far-right activists, some of whom falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen, to potentially remove people from the state’s voter rolls, according to emails obtained by NBC News.

The network of activists has been collecting voter data in 24 states, and on May 3, one of them emailed the Florida-specific information to a top state election official. It included the names of roughly 10,000 voters from across the state the group insists should be examined for potential removal from the voter rolls, a process commonly referred to as list maintenance.

The state’s chief elections official then forwarded that information to county election supervisors and asked them to “take action.”

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May 24, 2024
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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – A text message asking voters to update or change their Florida voter registrations may be a scam, warns the Lake County supervisor of elections.

On Friday, Supervisor Alan Hays sent an alert about a potential text scam. The alert said some people may get a text message prompting them to log into a website and click a link to update or change their voter registration.

No supervisor of elections office in Florida will send an unsolicited text message to update voter registration. Hays is urging anyone who gets this text message to not click on any links.

“I caution all citizens to be vigilant this election cycle for political scams that can mislead unsuspecting individuals into a frightful experience that can be difficult to overcome,” Hays said in the news release. “Don’t get caught up by aggressive tactics or emotions.”

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May 23, 2024
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Americans in more than half of the states will face voting restrictions this year that weren’t in place four years ago during the last presidential election, a new analysis finds.

Twenty-eight states – ranging from political battlegrounds such as North Carolina to Republican strongholds such as Alabama and Idaho – have enacted laws since 2020 that make it harder to cast a ballot, according to a report released Friday by the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school.

“The most aggressive years for restrictive voting legislation in the last decade have come after the 2020 election,” said Sara Carter, a Brennan Center attorney who analyzed legislation across the country for the new report. “These new laws are making voting harder, really, at every stage of the process – from registration to mail voting to strict voter ID.”

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May 22, 2024
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Florida recently increased criminal penalties for mistakes and possible fraud by groups who work to register voters. The move has led many of the groups to dramatically scale back their efforts to limit their legal risk. That could lead to lower turnout rates for young voters and voters of color in November.

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center and co-reported with the Center for Public Integrity.

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May 21, 2024
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Generative artificial intelligence is already being deployed to mislead and deceive voters in the 2024 election, making it imperative that voters take steps to identify inauthentic images, audio, video, and other content designed to deceptively influence their political opinions.

While election disinformation has existed throughout our history, generative AI amps up the risks. It changes the scale and sophistication of digital deception and heralds a new vernacular of technical concepts related to detection and authentication that voters must now grapple with. 

For instance, early in the generative AI boom in 2023, a cottage industry of articles urged voters to become DIY deepfake detectors, searching for mangled hands and misaligned shadows. But as some generative AI tools outgrew these early flaws and hiccups, such instructions acquired greater potential to mislead would-be sleuths seeking to uncover AI-generated fakes.

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May 20, 2024
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We know it is coming. The array of contestants in four-times indicted former president Donald Trump’s vice-presidential beauty pageant have repeatedly refused to say they unequivocally will accept the election results. Trump has already begun to lie about Democrats enlisting illegal immigrants to vote. If the MAGA forces do not win, Americans can expect an enhanced replay of 2020 election denial — amplified by Truth Social, Elon Musk’s X and China’s TikTok. Americans must collectively prepare for it — and for any violence MAGA forces (from the gang who argued Jan. 6, 2021, was “legitimate political discourse”) might incite.

Democrats can certainly sound the alarm. For starters, they can underscore that only one side is planting the seeds of election denial. President Biden and other top Democrats can talk about it at the convention this summer when they will have the largest national audience of the campaign. But Democrats cannot do it alone. It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment both to ensure all legal votes get counted and to counter expected election denial.

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May 16, 2024
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Top Justice Department leaders promised Monday to respond swiftly to threats against officials overseeing this year’s elections and to combat the increasing use of sophisticated technology to disguise the origins of any disruptions.

With a close-fought presidential campaign looming in November, high-ranking federal officials convened at DOJ headquarters to warn that threats of violence related to the election will be pursued aggressively and prosecutors will seek extra punishment in cases involving artificial intelligence and other digital advances.

“If you threaten to harm or kill an election worker, volunteer or official, the Justice Department will find you and we will hold you accountable,” Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters at the outset of the meeting. “The public servants who administer our elections must be able to do their jobs without fearing for their safety or their families. We will aggressively investigate and prosecute those who threaten election workers.”

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May 14, 2024
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Less than six months out from the presidential contest, leading Republicans, including several of Donald J. Trump’s potential running mates, have refused to commit to accepting the results of the election, signaling that the party may again challenge the outcome if its candidate loses.

In a series of recent interviews, Republican officials and candidates have dodged the question, responded with nonanswers or offered clear falsehoods rather than commit to a notion that was once so uncontroversial that it was rarely discussed before an election.

The evasive answers show how the former president’s refusal to concede his defeat after the 2020 election has ruptured a tenet of American democracy — that candidates are bound by the outcome. Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans are now emulating his hedging well in advance of any voting.

For his part, Mr. Trump has said he will abide by a fair election but has also suggested that he already considers the election unfair. Mr. Trump frequently refers to the federal and state charges he is facing as “election interference.” He has refused to rule out the possibility of another riot from his supporters if he loses again.

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May 9, 2024
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An influential left-of-center donor’s charity launched an initiative compelling other philanthropies to pour money into voter mobilization efforts ahead of the 2024 elections.

Democracy Fund, which was founded and is funded by liberal philanthropist Pierre Omidyar, has rallied a group of 174 organizations and individuals pledging to expedite their disbursement of grants related to efforts including get-out-the-vote operations. The pledge calls on its signatories to either make the bulk of their election-related donations by the end of April, to “move up” disbursements scheduled for later in the year or to streamline their grant approval processes.

Alex Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the liberal dark money giant Arabella Advisors, Tides and Democratic megadonor Susan Pritzker are among the major left-of-center philanthropic players who have signed the pledge.

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March 6, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida is legally blocked from enforcing a key portion of the high-profile 2022 law restricting what Gov. Ron DeSantis called “woke” workplace trainings about race after a federal appeals court ruled Monday that the policy “exceeds the bounds of the First Amendment.”

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow to the DeSantis administration by deeming one of the Republican governor’s signature laws — the “Stop Woke” Act — unconstitutional, upholding a previous ruling that prevented it from taking hold. DeSantis officials, meanwhile, disagreed with the decision, signaling that the governor could ask the Supreme Court to weigh in.

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March 6, 2024
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Florida’s voting laws now require voters who wish to request a vote-by-mail ballot to do so after every election cycle. The new law requires that every voter who requested a vote-by-mail ballot before November 8, 2022 must do so again if they wish to receive their mail ballots for 2023 municipal elections, primaries and the 2024 general election. 

In order to apply for vote-by-mail before Florida’s statutory 12-day deadline ahead of upcoming election periods, make sure to go to your county’s web page listed below.

If you need assistance with obtaining a Florida ID or driver’s license, contact VoteRiders at 1-866-ID-2-VOTE / 1-866-432-8683.

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March 1, 2024
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The Biden administration is partnering with voting rights groups to try to boost turnout among key voting blocs this November, in what officials say is a move to counter GOP efforts to restrict voting. 

Why it matters: The move comes as House Republicans are refusing to consider measures to improve voting access pushed by Democrats — and after conservative state lawmakers nationwide introduced more than 300 bills last year that included voting restrictions. 

  • Vice President Kamala Harris is announcing the plan Tuesday.
  • “The president and vice president are doing everything they can to protect democracy, including by calling on all of the federal agencies to do what they can to protect the right to vote,” said Erica Songer, counsel to the vice president.

Zoom in: The Democratic plan includes a call to reinforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which has been weakened by recent Supreme Court decisions. Harris also is announcing new strategies that federal agencies will use to encourage millions of Americans to vote in November.

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February 26, 2024
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RENO, Nev. ‒ Deanna Spikula lasted five years but quit amid relentless harassment, baseless accusations of treason, and death threats. Her replacement lasted just over 500 days- and quit a few weeks after someone sent fentanyl-laced envelopes to her colleagues. Now it’s Cari-Ann Burgess’ turn in the crucible known as the Washoe County Registrar of Voters office, where every one of the 18 people who worked there during the 2020 election has since quit. Statewide, almost every election administrator has left in the past 3½ years. “You have to be somewhat crazy to do what we do,” said Burgess, who in January began serving as the county’s interim chief elections official. “The negative publicity, the harassment.”
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February 23, 2024
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Runoff elections for Primary contests won’t be returning to Florida any time soon. House Speaker Paul Renner said legislation that emerged last week is dead for the Regular Session.

“We had a conversation. It was a short conversation,” Renner told reporters, acknowledging the vehement opposition from many Republicans to the bill (PCB SAC 24-06).

The bill would have brought back runoffs for Primary Elections, which Florida held until 2002. In any Primary contest where no single candidate received 50% or more, the top two vote-getters would square off in a second Primary to see who would go on to the General Election. The change wouldn’t have taken effect until the 2026 election cycle.

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February 21, 2024
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The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature has unveiled another election bill that would further restrict where voters can drop off mail-in ballots and also force party primary candidates into runoffs if they don’t get more than 50% of the vote.

The bill is just the latest in a series of controversial bills since the 2020 election aimed at mail-in voting, all of which have come under fire from Democrats who say they are designed to suppress turnout.

But this proposal also brought immediate pushback from some members of the GOP for what they claimed was an attempt to prevent them from winning primaries without garnering a majority as candidates can do now.

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February 16, 2024
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A strong and healthy democracy reflects the will of the people. It gives everyone an equal opportunity to participate and have their vote counted, regardless of race, gender, wealth, or social status. It ensures that all voters have the ability to advocate for themselves and their communities.   It depends on all of us to take part and strengthen our democracy together, and science has a crucial role to play. The science of elections can help us identify evidence-based best practices to improve voter access, increase public trust in the election process, and ensure fair representation so that elected officials can be held accountable to the interests of their voters.  Past UCS work has called out the role of disinformation in weakening our democracy, the dangers of artificial intelligence in elections, and how voting restrictions harm public health. The 2024 election will have consequential outcomes and we want to ensure that everyone eligible can vote and
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February 12, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE — While saying Florida has repeatedly changed laws to “target” ways Black voters cast ballots, a federal judge Thursday closed the door on allegations that key parts of a 2021 elections law were unconstitutional. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued a 17-page order after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year overturned a ruling in which he found the law improperly discriminated against Black voters. The Atlanta-based appeals court sent the case back to Walker to address two major issues. Walker, in Thursday’s order, appeared to criticize the appeals court for “reweighing” facts in the case. But he entered a judgment in favor of the state, concluding that plaintiffs had not met a legal test for showing that the changes in the law “unduly burden” First Amendment and equal protection rights.
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February 8, 2024
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State Voices Florida was proud to take part in a rally in support of the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Voting Rights Act at the Florida Capitol on Wednesday, February 7. We want to extend our thanks to Equal Ground and  the NAACP of Florida for planning and putting on this event. It was a joyous occasion with many different organizations coming together in solidarity.

While it has no chance of passing this session, it will be the most important piece of voting rights legislation in the history of Florida whenever it does become law.

The legislation is named in honor of Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore, two of Florida’s most important voting rights advocates who died championing the right to vote for Black Floridians.

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February 8, 2024
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State Voices joined with other supporters outside of the Florida Supreme Court in support of Amendment 4. This is the abortion ballot initiative that would legalize reproductive freedom in the Florida Constitution. The Florida Supreme Court reviewed the ballot language on Wednesday, February 7. As Communications Director Larry Hannan explains in the video below, the Supreme Court reviewed whether the ballot language was clear for voters.

Larry was one of the many who showed up for the Supreme Court oral argument to show their support for reproductive freedom. Now that the ballot signature requirement has been achieved we still have the challenge of getting people to the polls in November. Polling shows that the majority of Floridians support Amendment 4, but we must get to 60% to win.

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February 6, 2024
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The disagreement has kept potentially 26,000 kids from getting state-subsidized health insurance. Gov. Ron DeSantis is suing to toss new federal guidelines that require kids to keep their state-subsidized health care insurance even if their parents skip premium payments. If parents don’t pay premiums and kids are allowed to stay on the state-subsidized insurance, as the feds are requiring, the new rules would be costly, the state contends. Estimates are that it could add up to nearly $30 million in unpaid premiums under the current system and nearly $50 million under the state’s expansion of Florida KidCareapproved last year, according to a 411-page complaint the state filed in federal court.
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