Americans are heading for Tuesday polls for an election that worries state and local officials across the country as they prepare for potential problems at the polls, contentious legal battles over ballots and fight misinformation on the vote itself.
More … than 41 million pre-election ballots were chosen in 47 states, and officials also expect strong turnout on election day for congressional, state and gubernatorial contests that will determine control of Congress and state legislative chambers.
Most of the tens of millions who will vote tuesday will do so without issue, in an election where early voting exceeded 2018 levels.
At the same time, election officials are grappling with new pressures amid a hyper-polarized political climate that has seen the vote itself come under a sustained barrage of attacks and disinformation for nearly two years amid repeated misrepresentations by former President Donald. Trump that the 2020 election was stolen.
State and local officials and suffrage advocates have sounded the alarm that the political attacks have sparked a exodus of local elected officials in charge of the vote amid a marked increase in threats of violence against election workers.
Early voting provided a glimpse of potential issues, big and small, that could arise on Election Day from armed poll watchers in Arizona accused of conspire to intimidate voters has a legal fight over technical errors invalidating mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.
In all, there was approximately 120 court cases around the vote cast as of November 3, compared to 68 before Election Day in 2020. More than half of the cases sought to restrict access to the ballot, according to the Democracy Docket, a media and voting rights platform in liberal trend following the election dispute.
In Pennsylvania, some counties are urging voters correct postal ballots with missing or incorrect dates that the State Supreme Court ordered to set aside, while a federal court challenge still looms. In Michigan, meanwhile, a judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the GOP secretary of state nominee seeking to throw out mail-in ballots in heavily Democratic Detroit.
Cobb County Georgia Monday extended the deadline for around 1,000 mail-in ballots to be delivered until November 14, after ballots were not mailed out until days before Election Day due to procedural errors in the election office .
Beyond the legal battles, election officials are anticipating a potential clash with election deniers who harassed and threatened officials in the 2020 election and braced for aggressive scrutiny of the upcoming midterm contest.
In North Carolina, about 15 incidents of alleged bullying have been reported to the state Board of Elections since early in-person voting began.
The incidents included people outside a county election board filming video of an election worker’s license plate and a situation where an election worker was followed from the voting site to the election office and then followed in his neighborhood.
In Arizona, the Secretary of State’s office sent 18 referrals to law enforcement regarding drop box bullying, including a threatening message to a government employee and several voters reporting being filmed at drop boxes. filing in Maricopa County last week. A federal judge earlier this month imposed new restrictions against a right-wing group in the state following complaints of aggressive ballot box patrols in the state, including preventing members from openly carrying firearms or wearing body armor.
Federal officials have warned that domestic violent extremists pose an increased threat to the 2022 midterm elections.
The weather is also an unpredictable variable: In Florida, Subtropical Storm Nicole is rolling in the state and is expected to bring rain and gusty winds to the state on Election Day before it turns into a hurricane and makes landfall on Wednesday.
As votes roll in and begin to be processed and counted on Tuesday, election officials are on the lookout for conspiracy theories which often spread like wildfire but are downright wrong.
Because laws in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan prevent early processing of mail-in ballots, those states could take several days before all votes are counted. In Pennsylvania, where the Senate race could determine which party controls the chamber, a “red mirage” is expected because Election Day votes, which are expected to include more Republicans, are expected to be tabulated before mail-in ballots, which more Democrats are expected to use.
The reverse might be true in Arizona, where mail-in ballots are processed as soon as they are received, meaning those ballots will be counted first after the polls close.