The Endless Fight Over Voting by Mail

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The Endless Fight Over Voting by Mail: President Donald Trump gave the impression that he had effectively thrown in the towel on the debate over mail-in voting when he tweeted that Florida voters should request a ballot last week.

So why did he then sue Nevada to restrict access to voting by mail? The answer seems pretty clear: polls show that Nevada is a toss-up this November, and Biden supporters generally support vote-by-mail more than Trump supporters.

Trump’s lawsuit echoes much of what Trump and his allies have said in public. The suit claims that the new law will result in widespread voter fraud since ballots received up to three days after Election Day (even if they were postmarked before) must be counted.

The lawsuit’s reasoning appears to be that postmarks can be smudged and ineligible, so officials could not possibly know when the ballot was actually mailed. On the other hand, allegations that the Postal Service is intentionally delaying mail service somewhat undermines this argument because it is theoretically impossible for a ballot to be submitted after Election Day and received by the deadline. (read more)

Speaking of the Postal Service: House Democrats have been raising serious questions about whether the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, is actively working to dismantle the Postal Service and slow down mail delivery in order to disrupt the 2020 election.

DeJoy announced sweeping changes to the organizational structure last week, claiming that the changes will cut costs. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), who chairs the committee that oversees the Postal Service, called it a “Trojan Horse.”

“Deliberate sabotage to disrupt mail service on the eve of the election — an election that hinges on mail-in ballots,” Connolly tweeted. (read more)

Election Offices Operate in Limbo As Congress Debates More Funds: Congress left for its annual August recess this week, and you can bet your bottom dollar that more election assistance will be at the top of the agenda that lawmakers debate when they return. The problem, however, is that state and local election officials needed that money yesterday — every day they go without it is one less day to prepare for the November election.

The House passed $3.6 billion in election assistance as part of its latest coronavirus relief package in May, but Senate Republicans neglected to include any funding when they unveiled their own version of the legislation. Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic candidate for Georgia’s gubernatorial race, warned that the lack of funding could result in a “very uneven election.”

“If the Senate does not do its part, Americans will have to risk their lives to vote,” Abrams said. (read more)

One Simple Administrative Problem Could Impact Election Outcomes: In our latest episode of the Scrutineers Series, Emily Levy speaks with long-time election protection activist Mimi Kennedy, who recently rolled out the election information website 2020 Voters’ Calendar.

In this interview, Kennedy explains what “the surrender rule” is and she details what could go wrong when a voter is listed as having sent a mail ballot and then shows up to vote in person. More often than not, she saw voters that had to cast a provisional ballot because their voter registration file noted that they were sent an absentee ballot — even when they swore that their ballot never arrived. (listen here)

What Are We Doing to Stop Foreign Interference? Intelligence officials have learned that Russia, China, and Iran are actively working to undermine confidence in the 22020 election — but to what end?

National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina issued a statement last week claiming that “Kremlin-linked actors are … seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.” China is aggressively issuing public statements that counter Trump’s claims about the coronavirus. And, Iran is spreading disinformation on social media to sow chaos.

Americans online need to be careful about what they read when scrolling through their Facebook and Twitter feeds. And, if a post seems odd to you, consider reporting it for fact-checkers to review instead of engaging with other users to explain why that post is misleading or untrue. (read more)

In the Courts

  • League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar: Pennsylvania became the 30th state to allow no-excuse absentee voting in 2019, and nearly 1.5 million voters voted by mail during the June 2 primary. But voting-rights groups in Keystone State warn that a signature match verification put tens of thousands of voters at risk of disenfranchisement this November. The lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that the state’s “failure to adopt and maintain a uniform statewide procedure of notice and an opportunity to cure signature-related errors before rejecting mailed-in ballots is unconstitutional under any circumstance.”
  • Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Cegavske: As we mentioned earlier, the president’s campaign is suing Nevada over a new law that will allow election officials to mail every registered voter a ballot this November. So, what’s the latest? Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit this week, arguing that “when this case is stripped of the legal jargon and litigious tone, it becomes clear that the complaint presents a simple policy disagreement about how best to balance voter access concerns against election integrity concerns.”

What We’re Watching

Iowa became the last state to lift its lifetime ban on voting for individuals with past felony convictions. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds issued an Executive Order that automatically restores voting rights once a person completes their sentence — and unlike Florida, they will not have to pay outstanding fines or fees before they can register to vote.

Speaking of Florida, we’re still following the contentious legal battle over whether the state legislature can require former felons to pay outstanding court fees before they can register to vote. Voting-rights groups will be back in federal court on August 18 to argue that this requirement goes against a 2018 ballot measure that Floridians overwhelmingly passed and constitutes a “modern-day poll tax.”

Reminder: There are 84 days until Election Day. Check your registration status and be sure to make a plan to vote. Find more information about how to vote in your state here.

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