Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Voters wait outside a polling location on Election Day in Virginia. [Mike Morones/The Free Lance-Star via AP]

Daily Bulletin: Election 2020: Voter Intimidation, Reforms on the Ballot, and Races We’re Watching

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WHAT TO KNOW ON ELECTION DAY

Putting the threat of voter intimidation in context. More than 100 million people have already cast early ballots in person or by mail, largely without incident, and millions more across the country are going to their polling places today. There are reasons to be concerned about disrupted voting or violence after the election. But as we’ve reported, states have taken steps — from making clear the federal laws against intimidation and prohibitions on private militias — to prepare for the worst, even as experts say some fears might be overblown. An “army” of poll watchers? That’s what the president’s campaign has called for as President Trump spreads unfounded accusations of voter fraud. But, as ProPublica reports, early voting locations have drawn what looks more like a “small platoon” of watchers.

Safeguarding the integrity of American elections. On the off chance you encounter intimidation at the polls, here are a few resources:

  • Notify a polling place official: They’re trained on de-escalation and have protocols should law enforcement be needed, election officials told us.
  • ElectionLand: ProPublica has an open tip line and election resource for reporting “problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots.”
  • Election Protection: 866-OUR-VOTE gives you a slew of resources from a nonpartisan coalition of companies, legal experts, and advocacy groups.

Spot something on Election Day we might be interested in? Send us a tip: [email protected]

Election 2020 and guns: Five contests to watch. 👀 We’re paying special attention to the Senate races, as control of that chamber could have momentous ramifications for politics and gun policy — especially if  Joe Biden wins the presidency:

Arizona Senate: Martha McSally (R) vs. Mark Kelly (D)
Why it matters: Kelly is a former astronaut and husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. After she was injured in a 2011 mass shooting, they co-founded the gun reform organization now known as Giffords. The National Rifle Association has spent the third most of its dollars this cycle defending McSally, who was appointed in 2019.
538 forecast: Kelly has a 78 percent chance to win.

Georgia Senate: David Perdue (R) vs. Jon Ossoff (D)
Why it matters: The NRA has spent over $700,000 — it’s fourth biggest haul — opposing Jon Ossoff, a Democrat who supports universal background checks, red flag laws, and a ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifles.
538 forecast: Perdue has a 57 percent chance to win.

Iowa Senate: Joni Ernst (R) vs. Theresa Greenfield (D)
Why it matters:  As the Associated Press describes her, “Ernst burst into national politics in 2014 as a gun-toting, hog-castrating, motorcycle-riding candidate who was going to shake up Washington.” But she is now in an unexpectedly close battle with Greenfield, and the NRA has spent over $530,000 defending Ernst.
538 forecast: Ernst has a 58 percent chance to win.

North Carolina Senate: Thom Tillis (R) vs. Cal Cunningham (D)
Why it matters: The NRA has spent more on this race than any other, an indication that the seat is among the most vulnerable for Republicans this cycle. Tillis has co-sponsored the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, the gun group’s top legislative priority.
538 forecast: Cunningham has a 68 percent chance to win.

Colorado’s 3rd, House: Lauren Boebert (R) vs. Diane Mitsch Bush (D)
Why it matters: Boebert, the owner of Shooters Grill, where staffers are encouraged to openly carry guns, primaried GOP Representative Scott Tipton, a five-term incumbent who had been endorsed by Trump. Boebert has expressed sympathy for the QAnon conspiracy theory and attracted a national following for her incendiary rhetoric on gun rights, law enforcement, the pandemic, and most everything else.
538 forecast: Boebert has a 61 percent chance to win.

Police reforms on the ballot. Last month, we reported that for the first time in six years, there won’t be a gun reform initiative put directly to voters. But there are a number of high-profile criminal justice issues that will be up for a vote in dozens of cities. Here are five to watch:

  • Akron, Ohio: A ballot initiative to require the public release of recordings from police body and dash cameras in cases that result in death or serious injury.
  • Los Angeles County: An initiative to require at least 10 percent of the county’s general fund be used for social services like housing, jail diversion, mental health treatment, and other alternatives to incarceration and police.
  • Portland, Oregon: A measure to create a new police oversight board with subpoena power and the authority to discipline or fire officers in cases of misconduct.
  • San Francisco: Propositions to remove a mandatory police staffing level from the city’s charter and establish a Sheriff’s Department oversight board.
  • Philadelphia: With the city still reeling from the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. last week, an initiative is on the ballot to end the practice of unconstitutional stop-and-frisk.

On Wednesday morning, look for our updates on the races and ballot initiatives above, and a breakdown of what gun reform and gun rights groups spent in the end. Until then, keep up with us on Twitter.