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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/23

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/23

PA: Pennsylvania attorney general warns Trump campaign about videotaping voters dropping off ballots

inquirer.com

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, is warning President Donald Trump’s campaign that videotaping voters depositing mail ballots in drop boxes is not covered by the state’s Election Code provisions for poll watching.

CO: Colorado wildfire explodes to over 170K acres, forcing evacuations

denverpost.com

Driven by strong winds and racing through dry fuels and timber, Colorado’s East Troublesome Fire has destroyed numerous structures in its path, forcing evacuations in and around Grand Lake and Estes Park. Emergency officials are concerned it could merge with the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest fire in state history, as the two have each burned into Rocky Mountain National Park.

NJ: Judge tosses Trump campaign’s lawsuit targeting New Jersey’s new election rules

northjersey.com

A federal judge sided with Democrats over President Donald Trump in the president’s attempt to stop New Jersey from implementing new election rules. The judge said Trump’s campaign had no standing to sue and that the campaign’s purported fears of voter fraud are speculative.

MA: Nearly 1.2M people have already voted in Massachusetts, and disparities are stark

bostonglobe.com

One of every four registered voters in Massachusetts — and nearly 1.2 million in total — have already cast a ballot for the Nov. 3 election, underscoring a surge in early action that’s highest in wealthy, mostly White suburbs where most voters have embraced mail-in balloting.

MS: Long after murders, Black voting still troubled in Mississippi

apnews.com

The opposition to Black voters in Mississippi has changed since the 1960s, but it hasn’t ended: By at least one measure, it’s harder to vote in Mississippi than any other state. Voters face obstacles such as state-mandated ID laws that mostly affect poor and minority communities and the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of former prisoners.

UT: Utah governor warns that hospitals are starting to fill up with COVID-19 patients

sltrib.com

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert warned that as Utah experiences record-high coronavirus hospitalizations and case counts continue to climb, the health care system is at or near capacity. On average, 296 patients have been receiving treatment in Utah hospitals each day for the past week.

NH: For transgender and nonbinary New Hampshire voters, casting a ballot can come with some discomfort

nhpr.org

Even if they’ve never been denied the right to vote, some transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming voters in New Hampshire say their experience at the polling place hasn’t always been positive. Some said they’ve been misgendered, challenged on their ID documents or outed by information in the voter file.

IA: Iowa Supreme Court upholds GOP-backed law adding steps to absentee ballot request process

desmoinesregister.com

The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a new law making it harder for county auditors to process absentee ballot requests with missing or incomplete information, days before Iowa's deadline to request a ballot for the 2020 election.

AZ: Arizona officials push early ballots for disabled voters

apnews.com

Arizona is home to over 2,200 assisted living facilities and nearly 150 skilled nursing facilities, whose residents may be locked down or have difficulty casting a ballot as the coronavirus pandemic rages. Elections officials urged relatives and caregivers to help people who need long term care to sign up for an early mail ballot.

ME: Maine deluged with absentee voting request forms

bangordailynews.com

Mainers have been so deluged with confusing absentee ballot request forms during the 2020 campaign that the state’s top election official is considering putting forward legislation to ban them for third-party groups.

WI: Wisconsin voters won’t be required to wear masks at polling places

wpr.org

According to Wisconsin Elections Commission head Meagan Wolfe, local election officials can’t require voters to wear masks in polling places because such a requirement would constitute setting a new qualification for voting. Under the state constitution, only the state legislature can set voting qualifications. 

MN: Young Minnesotans voting early and in record numbers

startribune.com

More than 67,000 early votes have been cast by Minnesotans between ages 18 and 29, enough to make a difference in a close election. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory over Donald Trump in Minnesota was fewer than 45,000 votes. At this time in 2016, fewer than 5,000 votes had been cast by young people in the state.

WA: Washington begins financial assistance for workers living in state illegally hurt by recession

knkx.org

Washington state’s $40 million COVID-19 relief fund for immigrants is open to applications. It’s intended to help workers living in the state illegally who have been hurt financially in the pandemic.

VA: Virginia governor signs new pandemic laws

richmond.com

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has signed more than a dozen new laws, including ones ensuring that information about COVID-19 outbreaks is published for public view and that schools post their plans for mitigating the spread of the virus.

OR: Oregon has yet to distribute millions in federal rent assistance

oregonlive.com

The Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board allocated $60 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to provide rental assistance to struggling Oregonians in early June. Four months later, most of that money has yet to reach renters in need.

AK: Some Alaskans won’t quarantine because they have to work

alaskapublic.org

Some Alaskans who’ve had close contact with people with COVID-19 are refusing to quarantine because they won’t get paid if they don’t go to work, according to state and local public health leaders who said they’re concerned.

WY: Wyoming ICU beds running low as cases hit record

cowboystatedaily.com

The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming increased again, climbing by 114 as the number of people hospitalized for treatment of the illness reached a record. Figures from individual hospitals show the available space in ICU rooms is beginning to run low.

NC: North Carolina universities face budget hole from COVID-19

newsobserver.com

North Carolina colleges are still figuring out how they might bring students, faculty and staff back for the spring semester while balancing safety, budget concerns and the academic experience. There is no question that the year ahead will bring deep financial and operational challenges for the UNC System, President Peter Hans said at a meeting of the UNC Board of Governors.

ID: Hospitals in north Idaho near capacity

idahostatesman.com

Coeur d’Alene’s Kootenai Health said it is at 99% capacity as coronavirus cases, positivity rates and the number of patients requiring hospitalizations are rising in north Idaho. Officials fear that in the next few weeks, the hospital could be overwhelmed as more people experience symptoms of the virus and need medical help.

HI: Federal bailout money speeds up gun permits in Hawaii, but rent help lags

civilbeat.org

The Honolulu Police Department is spending some of its federal relief money to extend the hours for gun registration and permit processing at the same time as money from the Hawaii capital's Hardship Relief Fund is still slow to get into the hands of people who need it. Only about $7 million of the $25 million fund has been disbursed so far.

SC: University of South Carolina nixes spring break

thestate.com

University of South Carolina students will not have a traditional spring break this school year, the school announced. In lieu of the typical one-week spring break, USC will have four extra “wellness days” spread out throughout the semester.

MO: Missouri officials clam up about COVID-19 deaths in prisons

stltoday.com

Prison officials in Missouri, unlike those in other states, are not releasing any detailed information about inmates or staff who die of the coronavirus.

KS: Some Kansans will lose 7 weeks of unemployment benefits as state’s rate drops

kansas.com

Some Kansans will lose an additional seven weeks of unemployment benefits that were triggered by a high unemployment rate in the state, the Kansas Department of Labor announced.

GA: Home delivery of alcohol getting a test run in Georgia

ajc.com

Four months after the concept won approval from the Georgia General Assembly, some stores are gearing up to have the wine, beer and liquor they sell delivered to the homes of customers.

DE: Delaware launches overhaul of prisons’ substance abuse treatment program

delawarepublic.org

Delaware’s new program can handle up to 400 men and 100 women statewide, with some staying in the program up to a year or as little as 3 months.

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