Civil Rights Groups Fight Disinformation about Voting Coming From President Trump

Voting mail being put in the mailbox.

During the first Presidential debate between Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News asked what both candidates are prepared to do to ensure a fair election. After Biden looked into the camera and told the public to vote, Trump reiterated now refuted claims about mail-in ballot fraud and also claimed a mailman in West Virginia is “selling ballots.”


“They’re being sold. They’re being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country. This is not going to end well,” Trump said. Those claims were inaccurate.

The option to vote by mail was brought to the forefront this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Trump has continuously shared misleading information regarding mail-in voting fraud. On May 26, Trump tweeted that mail-in ballots would be fraudulent because “mailboxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.” Voter fraud is extremely rare and tempering with the mail is punishable by fines or jail time or both.

He also claimed that California Governor Gavin Newsom sent mail-in ballots to “millions of people” that live in the state “no matter who they are or how they got there.” Newsom signed an executive order to send mail-in to every registered voter in the state to ensure a safe and accessible election during the pandemic.

Twitter flagged Trump’s tweets and added a link that provided sources that refuted his claims.As a result, Trump issued an executive order on May 28 that claimed Twitter selectively decided to place a warning label on certain tweets that “clearly reflect political bias.”

Article titled "Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud".

Five organizations, including Voto Latino, Rock the Vote, and Protect Democracy, sued President Trump for spreading misinformation about mail-in voting on Twitter and in response to the executive order. In a press release, the organizations pointed out that several of the President’s tweets about mail-in voting, including one that said universal mail-in voting would contribute to this election to be the “most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history,” are false statements. The press release also said that Trump’s executive order is an act of retaliation and a restriction on speech that violates the First Amendment.

“Voters have a constitutional right to receive accurate information about voting alternatives without government interference, especially from a self-interested President who is lying to gain an advantage in the upcoming election. So when Trump retaliates against private social media companies for fact-checking his lies, it’s not only a First Amendment violation—it’s the kind of behavior you’d expect to see from a dictator,” Kristy Parker, counsel with Protect Democracy, said in the press release. “In the midst of a global pandemic, when far more voters than usual may opt to vote by mail to protect their personal health, the President’s authoritarian actions are especially egregious.”

The United States Postal Service (USPS) released a letter to local and state election officials a few days after Trump’s tweets about mail-in voting to better inform the public about the process. USPS anticipated the increase in mail-in voting and released an election mail kit in March that mentions that voters should mail their ballots at least a week before the due date.

Trump has admitted in an interview with Fox Business News that he blocked additional funding to USPS to hurt mail-in voting. In June, Trump appointed a new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who reduced USPS employees’ overtime hours and ordered them to shut down sorting machines. Due to public outcry though, DeJoy released a statement in August that he would suspend his organizational changes until after the election. The US House also passed a bill that will provide USPS with $25 billion emergency funds and is currently waiting for a vote in the Senate.

Fact checkers will have their work cut out for them with the November 3 general election less than a month away. Wallace’s final question of the debate asked if both men would urge their supporters to stay calm and if they would not declare victory until the election was independently certified. Trump responded that he is urging his supporters to become “poll watchers” to watch “very carefully” what happens at the polls.

Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino President and CEO, tweeted during the debate that “poll watchers” were considered illegal until the law expired in 2017 and that Trump is recruiting these poll watchers to intimidate voters. Kumar encourages people to vote despite Trump’s remarks during the debate.

Early voting has already started in some states with other states starting soon. While the option to vote by mail is available in every state, the criteria and deadlines vary. Most states don’t require an excuse to vote by mail, but a few states, like Texas, require an excuse like being 65 years old or older or having a disability to vote with a mail ballot.

To learn more about how and when to vote in the general election either in person or through the mail, visit vote.org/covid-19 and select your state for more details.

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Women in Texas at the National Women's March, rallying against deadly abortion restrictions.
Lucy Flores

The landscape of abortion rights in the United States has become more restrictive than ever in recent history, particularly in Arizona and Florida, where recent developments represent a major setback for women’s reproductive rights. On April 9, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in a 4-to-2 decision to uphold an 1864 law banning abortion from the moment of conception. The only exception is saving the mother’s life, but there are no exceptions for rape or incest under this law.

Just a few days earlier, on April 1, the Florida Supreme Court also ruled in favor of upholding a 6-week abortion ban, which will take effect on May 1. This further reduced the legal threshold for abortions in Florida, which used to be 24 weeks of pregnancy before Republicans passed a law in 2022 banning abortions after 15 weeks. Both of these rulings have sparked intense debate and outrage about their impact on women’s rights.

Overview of the Near-Total Abortion Ban in Arizona

The Arizona Supreme Court voted to uphold an 1864 law, a law passed even before the state officially was a part of the United States of America, that makes all types of abortion illegal, including medication abortion, from the moment of conception. Though there are exceptions in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, the ban makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest and imposes severe penalties, including imprisonment, on medical professionals performing abortions.

Medical professionals have spoken out about how dire the situation will become for women with this near-total abortion ban. Dr. Jill Gibson, chief medical director of Planned Parenthood in Arizona, told CNN that this ruling will have “absolutely unbelievable consequences for the patients in our community.” She continued by saying, “Providers need to be able to take care of their patients without fear of legal repercussions and criminalization.”

Representatives from Arizona and other states across the country have also spoken up against this near-total abortion ban.

Video by Shontel Brown Member of the United States House of Representatives on InstagramVideo by Shontel Brown Member of the United States House of Representatives on Instagram


Image by Rub\u00e9n Gallego Member of the United States House of Representatives on InstagramImage by Rubén Gallego Member of the United States House of Representatives on InstagramImage by Rubén Gallego Member of the United States House of Representatives on Instagram

Until this Arizona Supreme Court decision, abortion had been legal in the state up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. The right to abortion via Roe v. Wade prevented the enforcement of the near-total abortion ban, but since a majority vote in the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe, those opposed to abortion rights had been fighting to enforce the 160-year-old 1864 law.

This new abortion ban in Arizona is not effective immediately as the court has paused its ruling for 14 days until additional arguments are heard in a lower court about how constitutional the law is. However, the law will likely come into effect in May, a few weeks from now. Planned Parenthood Arizona, the largest abortion provider in the state, will continue serving the community until the ban is enforced.

An Overview of Florida's Six-Week Abortion Ban

The landscape of abortion in Florida has also undergone a significant change with the enforcement of a 6-week abortion ban, replacing the previous 15-week limit. This ban, similar to Arizona's, severely restricts access to abortion care and poses a significant challenge to reproductive rights in the state. Providers are bracing for a public health crisis due to the increased demand for abortion and limited options for patients.

Practically speaking, a 6-week abortion ban is a near-total abortion ban because pregnant people often don’t even realize they could be pregnant by this early stage. Combined with Florida’s strict abortion requirements, which include mandatory in-person doctor visits with a 24-hour waiting period, it’s nearly impossible for those who may want an abortion to be able to access it before 6 weeks. Not to mention that fulfilling the requirements is particularly challenging for low-income individuals.

Video by theluncheonlawyer on InstagramVideo by theluncheonlawyer on Instagram

Moreover, this Florida law also restricts telemedicine for abortion and requires that medication be provided in person, effectively eliminating mail-order options for abortion pills. While exceptions for rape and incest exist in Florida, the requirements are also strict, asking victims to provide police records or medical records. For victims who don’t always report sexual violence for many different reasons, these exceptions don’t make a difference.

The consequences of Florida’s ban extend to neighboring states with more restrictive abortion laws. For instance, residents of Alabama, facing a total ban on abortion, and Georgia, with its own 6-week abortion ban, have relied on Florida for abortion services. That will no longer be an option, further limiting care alternatives.

The Road Ahead

These recent abortion bans in Arizona and Florida are a major setback for women's rights, particularly impacting Latina women who already face barriers to accessing quality healthcare. These bans not only restrict women’s reproductive freedom but also endanger their lives.

Efforts to challenge these bans through legal means and ballot measures are ongoing, but the road ahead is uncertain. While there’s hope for overturning these abortion bans, the challenges of conservative laws and legal battles are formidable. The November ballot in both states will be crucial in determining the future of abortion rights and access for all.