The huge turnout and the record number of Californians who cast their votes by mail in last week’s election could mean the end of the line for the garages, school cafeterias and other spots that for decades have been neighborhood polling places. Because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, every active voter in California received a ballot in the mail this fall. And what looks to be 80% of the more than 17 million voters used them. Even the counties that clung to their traditional polling places found few voters willing to use them on election day. In San Francisco, which had 588 polling places open for business, only 6% of its 443,000 voters cast their ballots in person in their local precincts, said John Arntz, the city’s elections director. Even the 43,000 people who dropped their mail ballots off at the polling places amounted to far fewer than in recent elections. “This is likely the last polling place election in San Francisco,” said Arntz, who is scheduled to submit a plan to the Board of Supervisors in February about what would be needed to move to an all-mail system.
Voter advocates say Hawaii should set up more voter service centers after a last-minute surge of interest led to hours-long lines for in-person voting on Election Day even as the state switched to a vote-by-mail system for casting ballots. Overall, the state’s vote-by-mail election appears to have been a big success, leading to record numbers of voters participating. More than 69% of registered voters cast ballots, the highest ratio for the state since 1994. The overwhelmingly majority voted by mail. Even so, there were hundreds of people in line at Oahu’s two voter services centers when polls were scheduled to close at 7 p.m. Tuesday. It took about four hours for the line at the Kapolei center to clear, delaying the release of election results until about 11:30 p.m. Honolulu’s election administrator and lawmakers expressed skepticism that more facilities would make the difference. Sen. Chris Lee, one of the authors Hawaii’s vote-by-mail law, said increasing the number of voter service centers is something that could be considered, but boosting education to get voters to act before Election Day would be effective to prevent a recurrence.
Massachusetts to Mull Permanent Mail-in Voting System, Galvin Says | oung-Jin Kim and Jim Haddadin/NBC Boston
Massachusetts will explore the possibility of making mail-in voting a permanent option, Secretary of State William Galvin said Wednesday, after what he called “successful” elections in the state this week. “We’ve now proven it works, and voters know how to use it well, so I certainly think we want that going forward,” Galvin told reporters Wednesday. Galvin said he would form a working group including local clerks to mull the possibility, including whether the option would be available for municipal elections as well. The working group will also consider various smaller changes based on this week’s elections including about how drop boxes are operated. “All in all, I think it was a very successful day,” Galvin said about the elections, adding the state was still counting some ballots, including overseas military ballots, before official results are made public.
New Jersey’s first primarily vote-by-mail general election went off without a hitch as counts continue, elections officials say | Katie Kausch and Rebecca Everett | NJ.com
New Jersey’s unprecedented vote-by-mail general election went smooth throughout the state, election officials said, as an army of workers counted millions of ballots before and on Election Day. Compared to some states that didn’t start counting ballots until Election Day, some parts of New Jersey got a head start. Pre-election measures, like allowing early counting of ballots and calling in assistance from the National Guard, alleviated most of the concern surrounding an election that saw mail-in ballots automatically sent to over 6 million registered New Jersey voters. Some of those ballots are still being counted, as many were delivered to polling places or drop boxes on Election Day, and provisional ballots cast at polls will not be counted until Nov. 10, the last day officials can accept ballots postmarked by Nov. 3. In Burlington County, things went so smoothly that the only significant issue was a traffic jam as election workers tried to drive to the county building to drop off bundles of ballots collected from polling locations and drop boxes at the close of polls.
Editorial: The 2020 election could permanently change how America votes | Patrick Howell O’Neill/MIT Technology Review
More than 29 million voters have already cast their ballots in the 2020 US elections, and we’re still more than two weeks from Election Day itself. At the same point in 2016, the number of early votes was about 6 million. But while a great deal of this is the result of the ongoing (and worsening) covid-19 crisis, America’s top election official says that the shift to early and mail-in voting could be permanent—even when the pandemic is over.“One of the things that we’ve consistently seen over time is that as more Americans get exposed to convenience voting options like early voting and vote by mail, the more they like it and the more they want to keep doing that,” says Benjamin Hovland, chairman of the Electoral Assistance Commission, which helps administer and advise on voting guidelines around the nation.Learning from the pastHistory has lots of lessons to tell us about this process. The first mail-in ballots were cast during the Civil War, and today five states hold their elections almost entirely that way.Oregon is the one that really blazed a trail for American mail-in voting. When the idea first popped up in 1981, there were skeptics and opponents everywhere. By the end of the decade, the state was moving at speed to embrace mail-in voting, first for local elections and then for state and national ballots. A partisan fight over the issue was resolved in 1998, when Oregonians themselves overwhelmingly backed a ballot measure to make the state vote entirely by mail.
Vermont has gone farther than almost any other state this year in making sure that residents can vote safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, temporarily switching to a universal vote-by-mail system in which every registered voter is sent a ballot. And there are few other barriers to voting in the state. For example, Vermont is joined only by Maine and Washington, D.C., in placing zero restrictions on voting by people who have been convicted of a crime, including while they’re in prison. Still, advocates are pushing for the state to be more proactive and transparent about voting by prisoners, and for the mail voting expansion to become permanent.
Officials in Montana’s second-most populated county support holding an all-mail ballot general election in November. Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman says voting by mail is the logical choice amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic. “We’ve worked closely with the Board of County Commissioners and think having an all-mail election would be a beneficial way to help ensure great voter turnout, help provide the best services we can while keeping everybody safe,” Seaman said. Clerks and recorders recently requested Gov. Steve Bullock allow counties the option of conducting an all-mail ballot general election. Wednesday, Bullock said he’d make a decision by the counties’ recommended Aug. 10 deadline. County elections officials made a similar request to conduct the June 2 primary by mail to avoid crowding and increased exposure to the coronavirus. Bullock agreed and every county opted for all-mail ballot elections.
Washington: Mail-In Voting Is ‘Not Rampant Voter Fraud,’ Says Washington’s Top Election Official | Emma Bowman/NPR
This past week, President Trump renewed his unsubstantiated claim that mail-in voting begets inaccurate or fraudulent results when he raised the prospect of delaying November’s election. “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted Thursday. Trump’s rhetoric alarms Kim Wyman, the secretary of state of Washington, one of a handful of states that vote almost entirely by mail. A growing number of states are embracing mail-in voting — which is essentially the same as absentee voting — over fears that going to polling stations could increase exposure to the coronavirus. “I think it really shatters peoples’ confidence in the process,” Wyman, a Republican, said in an interview with All Things Considered on Saturday. “We need to make sure we’re inspiring confidence in the public that this is a fair election. And the way you do that is balancing access and security.” Contrary to the president’s claims, fraudulent mail-in voting is very rare, according to election security experts. And as for Washington, Wyman said, “We’ve seen a very low incidence of any kind of voter fraud.”
With fewer than 100 days until Montanans cast ballots, the clerks who run the state’s elections are asking the governor to allow counties the option to conduct the vote by mail. In a letter to Gov. Steve Bullock dated July 24, the Montana Association of Clerk & Recorders/Election Administrators and the Montana Association of Counties (MACo) said that given the novel coronavirus’ spread in Montana and the rapidly approaching Nov. 3 general election, they want to make a decision by Aug. 10. Their letter included a formal request for the mail-ballot option, with an allowance for in-person voting and other adaptions. “Given we are unsure of how long the pandemic will last, Montana’s Clerk & Recorders/Election Administrators want to (and absolutely should be) prepared for the worst, especially given that elections require numerous election judges and enormous groups of people,” reads the letter. Under a directive from Bullock, all 56 counties chose to hold the June 2 primary by mail. Generally Montanans can request an absentee ballot to vote by mail, which has become increasingly popular in recent years, with absentee turnout about 73% in the last election. In June, everyone registered and active as a voter received a ballot by mail with a pre-stamped envelope to return it.
Four Republicans running for Congress chose the wrong venue to challenge Connecticut’s mailing of absentee ballots to all eligible voters, the chief of the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. While the candidates styled their complaint as an original jurisdiction proceeding in the state Supreme Court, counsel for the state emphasized in a motion to dismiss that the law permitting such challenges “applies only to elections, not primaries.” Chief Justice Richard Robinson tossed the case Monday afternoon shortly after holding remote arguments on the motion. With the Connecticut primary scheduled for Aug. 11, Secretary of State Denise Merrill is set to mail the absentee ballots on Tuesday, having already mailed applications to all 1.25 million of Connecticut’s registered voters. In a 1-page order, the chief wrote that an original proceeding under state law 9-323 “is not a proper vehicle to challenge a ruling of an election official with respect to a primary.”
The state of Vermont is going to send ballots to all active registered voters as a way to encourage voting in the November election while keeping people safe from the coronavirus pandemic, Vermont’s top election official said Monday. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos on Monday issued the formal rules the state will follow when voting in the 2020 General Election. Condos said voting by mail is simple, safe, and secure. “When it comes to something as important as our elections, we must always plan for the worst,” Condos said. “Our state and national health experts have been very clear: There is no way to predict the status of the virus in November or in the weeks and months between now and election day.” The 2020 Statewide Elections Directive is a result of laws passed by the Legislature this year that allows mail-in voting during the November election as a way to encourage voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the directive, mail-in ballots will be sent to every active registered voter ahead of the election. Active registered voters are those who have not been issued a challenge by their local election board. Voters can return the ballot by mail, bring it to their town or city clerks, or cast that ballot at the polls on Election Day.
California: Smooth Vote-by-Mail Elections in Colorado, Utah Provide Model for California | Guy Marzorati/KQED
The primaries conducted in Colorado and Utah this week played out like a California election official’s dream: Record turnout. Voting centers without lines. And a robust election workforce with ample protective gear. “We were able to set a record turnout for a state primary, even during the pandemic,” said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. The smooth administration of two largely vote-by-mail elections this week provides a model for California, where officials are preparing to send every voter a mail ballot in the fall. The smooth administration of two largely vote-by-mail elections this week provides a model for California, where officials are preparing to send every voter a mail ballot in the fall. Roughly three-quarters of California voters already receive a ballot in the mail. But with the spread of COVID-19 threatening the safety of in-person voting in November, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislators from both parties have moved to expand options for voters to cast their ballot at home.
Colorado: Voters set state primary record for turnout, with more than 99% using mail ballot | Blair Miller/The Denver Channel
Colorado voters produced the largest turnout in a state primary in history during Tuesday’s 2020 primary election, with more than 99% of votes cast on mail-in ballots, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said Wednesday. As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, 1,577,347 ballots had been returned – meaning that turnout was about 45% of current active voters – the highest ever in a non-presidential primary in Colorado and easily topping the 2018 state primary turnout of 37.6%, in which 1,171,088 ballots were cast. That year was the first in which unaffiliated voters could participate in primary elections in the state. While ballots are still being processed and military and overseas ballots are still coming in, Griswold said that 99.3% of ballots so far were either mailed back or returned via drop boxes. She again lauded Colorado’s system. “In midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado just set a record turnout for a state primary. A total of 99.3% of voters cast a mail ballot, and there were not lengthy lines or wait times reported at in-person voting centers,” Griswold said in a statement. “Despite misleading attacks, disinformation, and attempts to make vote-by-mail a partisan issue, Colorado’s election proves that mail ballots are the key to accessible voting during this health crisis.”
Pennsylvania: Bill to provide mail-in ballots to all Pennsylvania voters introduced to House committee | Mike Pesarchick/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A bill introduced in the state House would provide a mail-in ballot to all registered Pennsylvania voters, offering a possible alternative to long lines at the polls like those seen during the primary election earlier this month. The bill would direct county boards of elections to provide an official mail-in ballot to each qualified voter before any primary or general election. The bill would also repeal an earlier law that requires voters to submit an application for a mail-in ballot to their county’s board of elections. Mail-in ballots were introduced to the state election code last October. Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Lincoln-Lemington, the bill’s primary sponsor, said the bill would soothe concerns about voting in case of a second coronavirus pandemic. “It would reduce the number of people at the polls,” he said. Voters in Mr. Gainey’s district reported waiting for nearly an hour to vote in the June 2 primary, and lines at a Penn Hills polling place grew so long that a judge ordered the polls to remain open an extra hour.
New Mexico: Bill could allow for all-mail election in certain areas | Michael Gerstein/Santa Fe New Mexican
Emergency powers included in legislation Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to sign into law could allow for an all-mail general election in certain areas of the state with public health concerns from the pandemic, according to lawmakers and the Governor’s Office. Senate Bill 4, which the Legislature sent to Lujan Grisham’s desk Saturday night, was not intended to create a statewide, all-mail election. And a provision that would have allowed county clerks to send absentee ballots to all registered voters — not just those who made a formal request for one — was stripped from the bill in a Senate committee. But broad emergency powers in the bill provide a path for a range of measures, on a county-by-county basis, to protect public health. That could include shutting down polling locations in November, allowing drive-thru voting or requiring all-mail voting without an absentee ballot, according to the bill’s sponsors. “There is no plan [to do that] because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, one of the sponsors. “Nothing is off the table,” Ivey-Soto added.
California: Legislature enacts November mail-ballot law — with surprising GOP support | Jeremy B. White /Politico
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday bolstered his plan to mail every voter a ballot for the November election by signing legislation that passed earlier the same day with support from several Republicans, belying monthslong criticism of absentee voting from President Donald Trump and other GOP leaders. Newsom had already ordered county elections officials to send all eligible Californians ballots in an effort to prevent the general election from becoming a coronavirus health hazard. But that directive has drawn multiple legal challenges — including from the California Republican Party — so enshrining the all-mail mandate in statute puts it on stronger legal footing. By signing Assembly Bill 860 into law, Newsom defused the principal legal argument against the universal vote-by-mail argument. Plaintiffs argued he had exceeded his authority by implementing a sweeping change to election management without consulting the Legislature. California elected officials wanted to avoid a situation like Wisconsin’s April primary, which saw long lines potentially expose voters to other people for long periods. Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) said AB 860 would prevent Californians from being effectively disenfranchised. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla also supports the measure.
North Dakota: After high turnout in pandemic primary, should mail-only voting be North Dakota’s new normal? | Adam Willis/The Dickinson Press
Roughly 158,000 North Dakotans voted in the recent June election, a strong turnout in a historic primary that relied solely on mail-in ballots. Vote-by-mail surged to the fore of national politics this primary season as the coronavirus pandemic had state governments scrambling to restructure their election systems. The outcomes were disastrous in several states, but North Dakota’s move to a completely vote-by-mail election stands out as a relative success. Not only did vote-by-mail reduce the risks for COVID-19 transmission in North Dakota, it also drew some of the highest voter turnout in state history. Among North Dakota primary elections, only 2012 saw higher numbers, with over 175,000 ballots cast. This month’s turnout prompts the question: Should North Dakota join a small group of states that vote exclusively by mail? Nationally, there are several kinds of vote-by-mail systems. Five states, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Hawaii and Colorado, have switched to universal vote-by-mail elections in which the government mails ballots to every registered voter. California recently passed its Voter Choice Act, which gives counties the option to mail ballots to voters while maintaining in-person polls. North Dakota’s mail-in system requires a few more steps. Here, voters must fill out a ballot application to receive their mail-in ballot, and the decision to automatically mail applications to voters is made on a county-by-county level.
Fearing a surge of coronavirus cases that could force a second statewide shutdown in the fall, the California Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would guarantee all registered voters get a ballot in the mail before the November election. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has already ordered ballots to be mailed. But Republican congressional candidate Darrell Issa and the Republican National Committee have sued, arguing his order is illegal. The bill is an attempt by lawmakers to make sure it happens anyway. Election officials nationwide have explored vote-by-mail options this year because of the pandemic, prompting condemnation from President Donald Trump, who has claimed that “mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”
Mississippi: Secretary of state: Mississippi not yet ready for vote by mail system | Theo DeRosa/The Dispatch
Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson said Tuesday his opposition to a statewide mail-based voting system is because he’s not sure it’s the safest option for Mississippi — or if it’s even a legitimate possibility anytime soon. Speaking with the Rotary Club of Columbus via Zoom, the first-term Republican recounted a recent conversation he had with Kim Wyman, secretary of state for Washington, one of five states where elections are conducted entirely by mail. Wyman, a fellow member of the GOP, has long been a proponent of the system, which is significantly more popular nationwide with Democrats than Republicans. On the call, Watson had one major question for Wyman regarding Mississippi’s voting future: “Could we even get there if we wanted to?” “Michael, it’s impossible,” Wyman told him. “It took us five years to implement a vote by mail system. If you try to do it now by November, it’s going to be a catastrophic failure. Don’t even try it.”
Vermont: House gives Secretary of State Condos full authority to expand mail-in voting | Kit Norton/VTDigger
The Vermont House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to give Secretary of State Jim Condos the unilateral authority to expand mail-in voting for the November general election because of the coronavirus epidemic. The move came after Condos and Gov. Phil Scott struggled to reach agreement. The lower chamber voted 106-31 by virtual voice vote in favor of S.348, which removes the need for the secretary of state and the governor to concur on emergency election protocol in 2020. “We are in the middle of a public health pandemic, and we should be doing everything in our power to keep people safe and that their vote be counted,” said House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington. “It’s critical we move this bill forward again so we can ensure that we have safe and secure elections in Vermont,” Krowinski added.
Colorado’s 64 county clerks this week will mail out ballots to 3.5 million Coloradans. Having served four years as Colorado’s 38th secretary of state, I want to highlight some of Colorado’s election protections and why Colorado’s voters can be assured that the mail ballot they cast will be counted accurately. Accurate voter lists: Mail balloting starts with having an accurate voter database, and Colorado updates ours daily based on changes voters make at govotecolorado.gov and a host of other sources. Voters’ addresses are updated from address changes with the U.S. Postal Service and from driver’s licenses. Voters who are deceased are removed based on data from Colorado death certificates and from the Social Security Death Index. We check to ensure that non-citizens had not registered, a process that will continue over the coming months. We cross-reference our database with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) — a voluntary organization of 30 states — to ensure voters are registered in only one state, and we refer for prosecution individuals who vote in more than one jurisdiction.
National: Minuscule number of potentially fraudulent ballots in states with universal mail voting undercuts Trump claims about election risks | Elise Viebeck/The Washington Post
As nearly every state expands its capacity for absentee voting this year, President Trump and his GOP allies have attacked the process as prone to rampant fraud. But a Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) found that officials identified just 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent. The figure reflects cases referred to law enforcement agencies in five elections held in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where all voters proactively receive ballots in the mail for every election. The minuscule rate of potentially fraudulent ballots in those states adds support to assertions by election officials nationwide that with the right safeguards, mail voting is a secure method for conducting elections this year amid the threat of the novel coronavirus — undercutting the president’s claims. Until now, the polarized debate about ballot fraud has largely featured individual anecdotes from around the country of attempts to vote illegally. The voting figures from the three states examined by The Post provide a robust data set to measure the prevalence of possible fraud.
Nevada: Officials see better-than-expected turnout ahead of Nevada’s first mail-in primary election | James DeHaven/Reno Gazette Journal
After months of partisan mudslinging, and no shortage of lawsuits, Nevada’s first vote-by-mail primary will go ahead as planned on Tuesday — the last day voters can send in or drop off ballots with county elections officials. Almost 343,000 Silver State residents, around 21 percent of the state’s active voters, have already mailed in their picks for dozens of federal, state and local offices. Early turnout has been slightly higher in Washoe County, where more than 64,000 residents either mailed in a ballot or turned up at one of the “extremely limited” in-person polling places state officials have kept open during the coronavirus outbreak. County Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula doesn’t expect those numbers to change much after polls close on Tuesday, but said she was pleasantly surprised to see interest in the election exceed the 20 percent turnout normally seen in primaries.
North Dakota: Voter participation could hit all-time high among statewide June elections | David Olson/Grand Forks Herald
The Tuesday, June 9 election in North Dakota could historically rank among the top June elections when it comes to voter participation, county and state election officials said Monday. Tuesday’s vote — which is being conducted solely with mail-in ballots — is a primary election for state races and a general election when it comes to things like city and school board races. As of Monday afternoon, about 37,000 ballots had been mailed to Cass County voters and, of those, about 23,000 had been completed and returned to Cass County election officials. That put the voting on pace to surpass the 23,950 ballots cast during a June election in 2006, which stands as a high-water mark for June elections, according to DeAnn Buckhouse, election coordinator for Cass County. It is the first time Cass County has used mail-only voting. To be eligible for counting, Buckhouse said completed ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than June 8.
Minnesota: ACLU, NAACP lawsuit: Amid pandemic, mail absentee ballots to all voters | Kirsti Marohn/MPR
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Minnesota secretary of state, asking that absentee ballots be mailed to every registered voter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the NAACP and two elderly Minnesota voters who live alone and have health conditions. It contends that voting in person would put the women at risk for exposure to the coronavirus. So would voting by absentee ballot, because Minnesota law requires a witness. “They recognize the threat, and so for them having to go to the polls or even having to get a witness to sign the absentee voting ballot envelope puts their health at an undue risk,” said David McKinney, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Minnesota. The lawsuit asks the court to suspend the witness requirement and mail absentee ballots to every registered voter in Minnesota for the August primary and November general election.
Montana: Mail ballot election goes well, but a general election by mail isn’t certain in Montana | Larry Mayer/Billings Gazette
Montana’s first mail-ballot primary election set records for participation and the went fairly well, but it would take a fall emergency to set up a mail ballot general election. That’s because there’s no language in Montana law supporting a mail ballot general election. The exception would be another order by Gov. Steve Bullock giving counties the option of a mail ballot election to protect public health. “It is too early to tell what, if any, steps will need to be taken in the general election to protect the public’s health, while protecting the right to vote,” said Marissa Perry, Bullock’s communications director. “As he did in issuing the primary directive, Gov. Bullock will consult with county election administrators, public health experts, emergency management professionals, the Secretary of State, and political leaders from both parties to determine the safest way to proceed once more is known about how the virus could impact communities in the fall.” More to the point, said state Sen. Doug Cary, R-Billings, the governor’s executive order that triggered the mail ballot primary has a July expiration date. Bullock would need a new, 120-day order to raise the option of a mail ballot general election. The Bullock administration said Thursday that the governor’s current emergency order will last as long as the president’s. The normal, 120-day expiration rule doesn’t apply.
It’s been roughly two-and-a-half months since Governor Steve Sisolak issued stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, and if you’re anything like me, small daily chores have recently become a lifeline—a helpful way to keep the days straight and kill a little time. One of those chores is checking the mail. Mostly, it’s the same old’ stuff, bills and junk. An occasional package gets delivered from time to time, but recently something new appeared—a ballot. This month, election officials in Nevada sent out ballots to the more than 1.4 million active registered voters in the state as part of the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But that comes with a price. First, the fiscal impact. Elections are expensive. Typically, Nevada’s 17 counties spend roughly $2-3 million combined on an election. This primary? About $4.5 million according to Wayne Thorley, the deputy secretary for elections. He’s essentially the guy who oversees Nevada’s whole electoral process. Thorley says a lot of that money will come from federal grants; most of it going to pay for printing and postage.
Nevada: Cutting through the hysteria: The facts about Nevada’s mostly mail election | Daniel H. Stewart/Nevada Independent
The continuing arguments against Nevada’s pandemic-forced, vote-by-mail system lack merit. There are enough bad things in the world to worry about right now without manufactured terror. With plague and economic catastrophe pressing down on us all, it is hard to see a political challenge to our democratic foundations as the calming balm the doctor would order. We have real things to panic about, and our collective ticker is handling too much stress already; theoretical panic can wait. Unfortunately, I have little to offer on the issues of jobs or health. But I would like to try to cool unnecessary electoral fears. I am, among other things, an election-law attorney who has mostly represented Republicans. And I understand the instinct behind the initial response. Pictures of unused ballots piling up in trash cans trigger kneejerk nausea. Voting is sacred; ballots are too. But there is more to the story, and even a superficial dive into relevant law and actual practice should comfort, not concern. Our elections are in good hands, run by good people, who know what they are doing.
Editorials: Republicans would rather undermine California’s elections than honorably take their lumps | Los Angeles Times
Making it safe to vote during a pandemic shouldn’t be a partisan issue. But Republicans, including and especially the president, are turning it into one. This week, the state and national Republican Party organizations filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order mandating that every registered voter receive a vote-by-mail ballot as a hedge against the likelihood that the coronavirus will still be circulating in November (though in-person vote centers will still be available). No one should have to risk the fate of the many Wisconsin residents who had to cast ballots in the April primary in person. Fifty-two people who participated were later found to have contracted COVID-19. The lawsuit claims that the governor’s emergency authority doesn’t extend to setting rules about voting and that only the Legislature has the power to do so. Maybe, maybe not. The governor’s emergency authority is so broad and vague that it’s possible a federal judge may agree. But it’s largely irrelevant because the Legislature is moving a bill (Assembly Bill 860 by Palo Alto Democratic Assemblyman Marc Berman) to codify the governor’s order. And even if it didn’t, the vast majority of Californians already choose to vote via mail ballots. But halting mail ballots is probably not the intent of the lawsuit. What seems more likely is that Republicans are seeding doubts in the legitimacy of California’s election returns in expectation of a drubbing in November. That’s a game that President Trump has been playing for months, as he continues to falsely claim that mail ballots lead to fraud (drawing his first Twitter fact-check disclaimer on Tuesday).
A federal judge has again rejected a conservative voting rights group’s bid to block the mail-in primary election now under way in Nevada as part of an effort to guard against spread of the coronavirus at traditional polling places. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said in a strongly worded opinion late Wednesday the Voters’ Rights Initiative’s “second proverbial bite at the apple is no more fruitful than the first.” The judge in Reno said she didn’t understand why the group essentially requested reconsideration of her earlier denial of a preliminary injunction to halt the June 9 election instead of appealing it to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, especially given that early voting began May 23. Ballots already have been mailed to voters statewide. Tens of thousands of voters have filled out their ballots and returned them through the mail to county election offices where many are being processed.