The ballots are printed, election workers trained and voting locations scouted. But with just a month to go before Election Day, the rules under which the midterms will be conducted remain in flux in four key states. The outcomes of legal challenges could determine just who is eligible to vote on Election Day — and, in states where Senate and gubernatorial races are nail-bitingly close, just who wins when the votes are counted. In Wisconsin, voting rights advocates have appealed to Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, seeking an injunction to halt the state’s voter identification measure. A federal district court in Texas is weighing whether to block a voter identification law after hearing arguments last week. Justices on the Arkansas Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday over the constitutionality of a similar law. And North Carolina officials are seeking an injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the state must allow eligible residents to register and vote on the same day, and to cast provisional ballots if they show up at the wrong precinct.
A case in another state, Ohio, was temporarily resolved this week when the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order allowing the state to cut the number of early voting days from 35 to 28. The decision, an injunction reversing a lower court’s ruling against the state, eliminates the state’s “Golden Week,” when voters could both register and vote at the same time.
The four states where litigation is pending are all the more important because of closely-fought contests in each. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) narrowly leads his opponent, Madison school board member Mary Burke (D); Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is in a tough fight against Rep. Tom Cotton (R), and both parties are battling for an open governor’s mansion; North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D) holds a slim advantage over her opponent; and in Texas, Rep. Pete Gallego (D) and his Republican opponent are weathering hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside spending.