Elections Across the United States Introduce Security Measures and New Voting Laws – Daily Freeman

By CHRISTINA A. CASSIDY and ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE

ATLANTA (AP) – The U.S. election on Tuesday will be the first to test new voting restrictions in some Republican-controlled states and give election officials a chance to counter a year of misinformation about the security of the nation. vote.

Officials said demonstrating safe, consistent and fair practices could help reassure those who still have doubts about last year’s presidential election as they begin preparations for next year’s midterms. .

“It’s a big dress rehearsal for 2022,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said.

Much of the focus will be on Virginia and New Jersey, where voters vote for governor and other statewide races. For the rest of the country, voters made selections on a variety of local races, ranging from mayor and city council to school board and bail measures. Voters in Maine, New York, Texas and a few other states were considering voting initiatives on a wide range of topics.

For some, the voting experience will be different from last year, when officials implemented pandemic-related changes to make it easier for voters to avoid overcrowded polling stations. Some states have made these changes permanent, while others have rolled back some of them.

In Virginia, lawmakers last year broadened postal voting permanently by no longer requiring an apology. But the requirement for a witness signature on mail-in ballots that was lifted last year is back, and officials have made efforts to contact voters who handed out ballots without them. These voters will have until Friday to resolve the issue or their ballots will not be counted.

In a few states, voters faced stricter voting rules due to laws enacted in states politically controlled by Republicans. Among them are Florida and Georgia, where voters face new identification requirements for the use of postal ballots.

Republicans said their changes were necessary to improve safety and public confidence after the 2020 presidential election. They acted as former President Donald Trump continued his false claims that the election was stolen despite no evidence widespread fraud.

These claims were dismissed by judges and election officials on both sides who certified the results and Trump’s own attorney general, who said federal law enforcement had not seen fraud “on a scale which could have led to a different result in the election ”.

Voting rights groups said a variety of hotlines would be available to help voters who have questions or experience problems at the polls or with their mail ballots. Damon Hewitt, whose group of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under the Act is leading the effort, said Tuesday presented an important test.

“It’s a test for voters to rise to the challenge, to understand these new rules and restrictions,” Hewitt said. “And frankly, this is also a test of our democracy: how strong can it be and are we willing to tolerate these efforts to make voting more difficult for people.”

Tuesday will also be an opportunity for election officials to educate voters on how the system works and to tackle the misinformation that still surrounds the 2020 presidential vote. The false statements have led to harassment and even death threats against local and national election officials.

“We need to do more to combat it, take it into account, and frankly educate the public about the voting process,” said Amber McReynolds, former Denver Election Clerk and CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute. “Because part of the reason there is disinformation and it was able to circulate the way it did, is that the vast majority of Americans don’t understand how the electoral process works. “

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Izaguirre reported from Tallahassee, Florida.

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