Fears and Suspicion Hang Over Voting on Cusp of Election Day

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Republican candidates and party officials have also encouraged their voters to cast ballots in person on Election Day, reflecting two years of legal arguments and talk claiming that Democrats used expanded access to absentee voting in 2020 to illegitimately win the election. When candidates at a rally headlined by Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor in Arizona, on Thursday night called on the crowd to vote in person, they were met with cheers.

“I was an absentee, mail-in voter for years,” said Janelle Black, a homemaker from Phoenix who attended the Lake rally. But Ms. Black said that since the 2020 election, which she believed was stolen, she did not trust Ms. Hobbs, who is both the secretary of state and a Democratic candidate for governor, to oversee the process. “I want to vote ‘day of,’” she said, “so it’s counted right there. I don’t want to take any chances.”

In some states, Republicans’ skepticism about mail ballots may help re-create a “red mirage,” where the votes cast on Election Day are reported first and heavily favor Republicans, while mail-in ballots, which lean Democratic, come in later. Mr. Trump used the trend to falsely suggest that Democrats rigged the results two years ago.

But election denial has spread even to places Mr. Trump won handily. In Northern California’s mostly rural Shasta County, where he carried two-thirds of the vote in 2020, tensions over elections and other issues have been rising for months. Local activists have demanded a halt to early voting, pushed to count ballots by hand and sought to require voter ID at polling places — none of which are legal in the state.

In the face of public protest, the county’s chief executive resigned, its health officer quit and the health board publicly denounced the state’s vaccine mandates.

Cathy Darling Allen, the Shasta County clerk and registrar of voters, said she has familiar Election Day worries: A forecast for as much as 10 inches of snow on Sunday night could prevent some of the 180,000 voters in her mountainous county from getting to the polls.

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