Republicans Restrict Mail-in Voting Amid Pandemic

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Oklahoma’s GOP-led state legislature quickly reinstated a requirement for absentee voting that the state Supreme Court struck down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Supreme Court ruled last Monday that absentee voters would not have to include a notarized signature on their ballot. However, by the end of the week, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed the legislature’s bill reinstating the requirement. Oklahoma is one of the few states that still has this kind of requirement for mail-in voting. (read more)

States Grapple With Germ-Ridden Voting Equipment: Scientists say the coronavirus could survive for days on voting machines, and local election officials are worried that they won’t have the necessary funding to accommodate the recent expansion of mail-in and early voting.

There will likely be millions of voters who will still cast a ballot in person this November, so officials have been looking at ways to clean voting machines between each use. The problem? Some voters could bring their own alcohol wipes and mess up the machine, and some voting machines need to be powered down first — which could take some time to reboot and lead to long lines at polling places. (read more)

Lawsuit in North Carolina to Reform Absentee Voting: The lawsuit was filed by the Right to Vote Foundation and National Redistricting Foundation, and the groups are asking the court to waive witness signature requirements on absentee ballots, extend the receipt deadline so any ballot without a postmark is presumed to be mailed by Election Day, and allow time for voters to fix signatures before having their ballots rejected.

Efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 has led to mass closures of county election offices and polling stations. The plaintiffs claim in their lawsuit that not enough is being done by county officials to address the reality that the pandemic could extend well into November, effectively denying a majority of voters a safe way to cast a ballot. (read the complaint)

Federal Judge Waives Witness Requirement for Absentee Ballots: If it hasn’t been made obvious already, Democratic-backed groups are filing lawsuits across the country to expand access to mail-in voting for as many voters as possible.

And, the courts appear to be siding with them one ruling at a time.

The League of Women Voters and the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Virginia because absentee voters were required to have a witness sign their ballot to confirm their identity. The coronavirus pandemic, they argued, makes this requirement a health risk for voters — and a federal judge agreed. Voters that want to mail a ballot for the state’s June 23 primary can now do so without the witness signature requirement. (read more)

California Becomes First State to Implement All-Mail Election Amid COVID-19: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Friday that all voters will be asked to vote by mail in the upcoming November election, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a major risk for traditional voting procedures. Physical voting stations will still be an option to those with disabilities, although there will be strict rules for those seeking to vote in person.

There are 14 counties in California that already conduct all-mail elections, but Newsom’s announcement marks the first time in history that the state will be sending every voter an absentee ballot. (read more)

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