Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said that election officials in Texas who offer mail ballots to people who normally wouldn’t qualify but are afraid of catching the coronavirus could be subjected to criminal punishment, the Dallas Morning News reports.
“An emergency plan for Louisiana’s delayed spring elections was approved by the state Legislature after Republican lawmakers rolled back an expansion of mail-in ballots for people concerned about the coronavirus,” the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.
“Lawmakers voted by mail on the emergency plan.”
“A federal appeals court panel ruled Wednesday that a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote is unconstitutional, upholding a judge’s injunction that had banned its use,” the New York Times reports.
“The law was championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who led President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission and was a leading source for Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally may have voted in the 2016 election.”
Rick Hasen: “Make no mistake–this is a huge victory… This is a huge win for voters, and it clears away a law that disenfranchised thousands but prevented no appreciable amount of voter fraud.”
“Kansas Democrats have already more than tripled their turnout from the 2016 presidential caucus after switching to an all-mail May 2 party primary this year,” the Kansas City Star reports.
Just for members: The latest issue of Ballot Access News explores how the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed ballot access requirements for candidates in many states.
A new AP-NORC poll finds Democrats are now much more likely than Republicans to support their state conducting elections exclusively by mail, 47% to 29%.
In 2018, about half as many Democrats were in favor, and there was little difference in the views of Democrats and Republicans on the question.
“A huge surge in voting by mail is coming whether states prepare for it or not — and without clear direction from the federal government, states are preparing to muscle through their own changes to get ready for the glut of mail ballots coming their way in November,” Politico reports.
Amy Walter: “However, most voters in these states don’t use it (except for Colorado, which is a vote-by-mail state). Voters in Arizona are very comfortable with vote-by-mail, as 73% cast their ballots this way in 2016. But, in some of the biggest battlegrounds for 2020, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, less than 10% of voters returned their ballots by mail in 2016.”
“As we saw in the Wisconsin April election, voters can adapt and readjust quickly. But, it is still going to be a lift to convince voters — many of whom are already suspicious of things like machine voting — that sending their ballot in the mail will be safe and reliable. Only eight of these competitive states (Florida, Colorado, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia), require that the state ‘track when their ballot has been sent out by election officials and then when the election official receives the marked ballot back, and whether or not the ballot was counted.'”
“In Florida, a state where the steady rise of mail voting has dramatically transformed the campaign season over the last 20 years, the novel coronavirus could fast-forward the evolution of elections,” the Miami Herald reports.
“Elections offices in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties — home to more than a quarter of Florida’s 13.2 million voters — are preparing to send vote-by-mail registration forms to every voter in those counties amid worries that the virus will disrupt in-person voting this summer and fall.”
“The liberal candidate in Wisconsin’s hard-fought State Supreme Court race this month prevailed in voting by mail by a significant margin, upending years of study showing little advantage to either party when a state transitions from in-person to mail voting,” the New York Times reports.
“The gap suggests that Democrats were more organized and proactive in their vote-by-mail efforts in an election conducted under extraordinary circumstances.”
A majority of voters — 58% — favor nationwide reform of election rules that would allow all eligible voters to cast their ballots by mail, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds.
And nearly 10% more say that, while the rules should not be permanently changed, all voters should be able to mail in their ballots this November because of concerns that the coronavirus may still be a major public health threat this fall.
Rick Hasen: “There are signs from Wisconsin that Republican efforts to make it harder to vote in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic are backfiring in two ways. First, suppressive efforts are firing up Democrats to come out and vote. As the New York Times reported, Democrats voted in large numbers in a highly contested state Supreme Court race — and a less contested Democratic presidential primary.”
“Second, suppressive efforts are making it harder for some staunch Republican voters and Trump supporters, particularly in rural areas, to cast their ballots.”
NBC News: “It was the 1860s, the Civil War was raging and Republicans, led by President Abraham Lincoln, wanted to let Union soldiers vote from the battlefield. The opposition Democrats balked. They warned of rampant fraud and ‘a scheme’ by Republicans ‘to gain some great advantage to their party,’ as one Wisconsin state senator put it before the legislature voted on party lines to become the first state to legalize absentee voting.”
“About 150,000 of the 1 million Union soldiers were able to vote absentee in the 1864 presidential election in what became the first widespread use of non-in person voting in American history.”
“A century and a half later, amidst a new debate over vote-by-mail as the country prepares to hold an election during a different kind of war — this one against the coronavirus, America’s long history of letting soldiers vote from far-flung war zones shows the issue has always been controversial, but that the worst fears of critics have never come to pass.”
“Massachusetts’ highest court on Friday eased the legal requirements for candidates to get on the ballot this September, agreeing with three candidates who sued, that forcing candidates to comply with existing signature minimums is unconstitutional given the ongoing coronavirus emergency,” the Boston Globe reports.
“The Supreme Judicial Court ruling cuts in half the number of signatures required for all candidates to appear on the state’s Sept. 1 primary ballot. The court also, for some offices, extended the deadline by which candidates must submit those signatures to election officials, and it said that Secretary of State William F. Galvin must accept electronic — in addition to the standard ink — signatures.”
“Something unexpected popped up during Friday’s virtual meeting of the Indiana Election Commission on the Zoom online video platform,” the Lincoln Journal Star reports.
“An unidentified participant took over the single screen shared among commission members, numerous state and county election officials and members of the media and used it to display a video of a man masturbating.”
David Wasserman: “America’s decentralized system of means states enjoy broad leeway on setting election rules. Whether voters realize it or not, states’ procedures vary widely on everything from registration deadlines, ID requirements and types of voting machinery to who is permitted to vote absentee and when mail-in ballots must be postmarked in order to count.”
“But in a pandemic, a lack of federal election funding, partisan disunity, and legal disputes could produce last-minute logistical confusion and drastic disparities across state lines in voters’ ability to safely access a ballot.”
A state judge ruled that all voters in Texas afraid of contracting COVID-19 through in-person voting should be allowed to vote by mail during the pandemic, the Dallas Morning News reports.
However, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said he was “disappointed” that the court had “ignored the plain text of the Texas election code to allow perfectly healthy voters to take advantage of special protections made available to Texans with actual illness or disabilities.”
He added that he would appeal the decision.