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Concerns about postal services and postal ballots force voters to participate in personal sections

Hattie Redfearn waited just over an hour to vote for an early voting place in Charlotte on Thursday, the first day of a personal vote in North Carolina.

“We didn’t want our ballots to be lost, dropped, thrown in the trash, or whatever happens, so to be safe, just come in – stand in line, be prepared, and here we are,” Redfearn said.

As the Covid-19 pandemic escalates, many countries have eased their requirements for voters to vote in absentia, and some countries have changed their laws to hold elections in 2020 almost entirely by mail.

But Trump and his campaign launched a protracted attack on postal voting, filing lawsuits to try to block states from sending ballots to all registered voters, which were largely unsuccessful. Trump has repeatedly made false claims that mail voting has matured into systematic fraud, when many states hold elections by mail with little evidence of fraud for years.
Then this summer, the new director general of the post office, Louis Dejoy, Trump̵
7;s main donor, made changes to postal operations that led to delays in postal services and outrage among Democrats, and postal unions warned it could have an impact on dealing with the wave in absentee ballots this November.
The postal service said it was fully capable of dealing with the huge increase in mail volume resulting from bulletins in absentia, and DeJoy stopped many of the changes it had been making in the wake of returns – and court orders – in recent months.

A record year

The 2020 election will break mail-order records due to the pandemic, as requests for ballots have broken state-by-state records, and nine countries plus the District of Columbia vote mostly by mail.

But hours of early voting in states such as Georgia, Virginia and Texas suggest some voters may be rethinking their plans to mail their ballots.

“It sucks, but you know I prefer to be here doing my civic duty than not, I don’t trust the whole thing about mail voting,” said Sean Terrell, who waited in line at a polling station in Atlanta for two hours on Tuesday. , the second day of early voting in the state. “So I’ll be here and sign it and make sure it goes where it needs to go.”

Asked why he did not vote only by mail, Terrell replied: “I want to say that the system has so far proved unreliable, only throughout history and especially given our current administration.”

Jim O’Connor was one of the first to vote in Fairfax, Virginia, when a personal vote was opened last month. Asked why he was voting in person, he said: “At the moment I do not trust the post office. Therefore, if I have to stay here all day, I will vote today.”

It is difficult to calculate whether early enthusiasm among those who vote in person will worsen the number of people who will vote by mail, but this is a question that has political implications.

A poll by NPR / PBS / Marist this month found that voters who plan to vote in person support Trump 62-35%, while those who plan to vote by mail support Biden 73-23%. And voters who plan to vote on the spot for early voting have favored Biden over Trump by 65-32%.

In total, according to the poll, 65% of Trump’s voters intend to vote in person on election day. Biden’s voters were more divided, with 43% planning to vote by mail, 26% on the spot for early voting and 29% in person on election day.

Democrats warn that with so many voters voting by mail, the initial returns on the night of Nov. 3 could show Trump forward, only to shift as more ballots count.
States have different deadlines for when absence or mail ballots must be submitted and when they can be processed. Two key battlefields, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, will not begin processing absent ballots until election day, meaning a countdown is likely to be delayed.

Switching from mail to personal

After much initial pressure to use postal voting, Democrats have been seeking to change their messages in recent weeks to ensure that their constituents also feel comfortable participating in the ballot box. One problem with voting by mail is the higher percentage of disqualified ballots. Another is the slow USPS service, causing missed deadlines.

States report significant vote counts for both postal ballots and early voting. On its first day of early voting, the North Carolina state announced that 230,000 ballots had been cast, while more than 550,000 ballots had been received since the start of the postal vote there last month.

As of Thursday, Georgia said it had accepted more than 540,000 absentee ballots, while more than 375,000 voters had cast their ballots in early voting. And New Mexico said it had received 72,000 absentee ballots and just under 70,000 votes in person. Two-thirds of absentee ballots in New Mexico were filed by registered Democrats, while registered Republicans slightly exceeded the number of Democrats who voted in person, 34,000 to 28,000.

Wisconsin chief executive Meagan Wolfe said she had not noticed a decrease in interest in missing ballots due to postal problems, but had noticed increased interest from people who wanted missing ballots to choose to return them in person instead of sending them. by mail.

Such was the case in Michigan at the Detroit Satellite Election Service earlier this month, where Marilyn Taylor brought her missing ballots to hand over instead of mailing them.

“I dropped out of my ballot. I went to the ballot box because I didn’t trust the US Post,” Taylor said.

Another Michigan voter, Catherine Porter, offered a similar explanation for why she addressed her ballot directly to the satellite office instead of using the mail.

“I feel it’s safer,” she said. “And this is the first time I’ve done so, I just hope my votes are counted.”

Michigan does not have early voting sites like Georgia and other states, but it does allow voters to submit absentee ballots in person at the employee’s local office, and the state has tried to open more seats for voters to drop out or fill out absentee ballots. . Detroit opened 23 satellite voting centers on Oct. 5 so people could register to vote or participate in their absence.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said her job is to inform citizens about the opportunities they need to vote and ensure they are confident in the process.

“We know that many other voices out there are trying to know that they are deterring some people from feeling safe with one option or the other, and it is also my job to counter that noise with accurate information,” Benson said.

Benson also stressed that voters who choose to vote by mail must do so earlier – if this happens within two weeks of election day, she said, voters must return their absentee ballots in person.

“We don’t want them to wait until the last minute to ask for their ballot back in the mail,” Benson said.

CNN’s Dian Gallagher, Annie Grayer, Ellie Kaufman, Amara Walker, Kristen Holmes, Adam Levy, Harry Anton and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.

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