Mass. among first states extending vote-by-mail expansion to November
Massachusetts has dropped its excuse requirements for voting by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic — not only in this summer's primary but also in the general election.
Legislation signed on Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker is significant because it makes Massachusetts among the first states to lock in the ability of all registered voters to cast ballots by mail for November.
While a majority of states have made it easier in at least some ways to vote remotely during the primaries, deliberations across the country about the rules for mail voting in the general election are only beginning to ramp up.
Bids to get a revamp of redistricting in Arkansas and expanded election reforms in North Dakota on statewide ballots have concluded after a difficult but apparently successful season of signature gathering.
The Covid-19 pandemic's stay-at-home orders and social distancing have made collecting signatures for ballot petitions especially challenging this year. Many groups have sued to relax petitioning rules, but the campaigns in both states were rebuffed in their efforts to get permission to use electronic signatures.
Organizers of both nonetheless got several thousand more handwritten signatures than required. They turned in their piles of paperwork to state officials Monday — confident they had beaten the odds to join other prominent democracy reform initiatives where voters will have the final say in November.
Another Republican attempt to block Michigan's independent redistricting commission was dismissed Monday by a federal judge.
The state Republican Party's lawsuit argued that restrictions on who may serve on the new panel violated the free speech and free association rights of potential GOP commissioners — the same argument a federal appeals court rebuffed just three months ago.
Battleground Michigan has been at the heart of the gerrymandering debate since the start of the decade, when Republicans took control of Lansing and drew some of the most assertively partisan legislative and congressional maps in the country. In response, 61 percent in a grassroots-driven 2018 referendum decided to turn the next decade's line-setting over to a panel outside the control of politicians.
The deaths at the hands of the police of so many Black Americans in recent weeks have propelled systemic racism and inequality to the forefront of our national conversation. How those deep-rooted problems are further hurting democracy — and how the brokenness of democratic institutions endangers so many in our society — are central aspects of that discussion.
And so they are at the heart of our first podcast playlist — part of The Fulcrum's new partnership with The Democracy Group, a podcast network at Penn State University. All of its shows are committed to engaging in civil discourse, inspiring civic engagement and exploring the future of our democracy.
Featured episodes are from 70 Million, Democracy Works, Democracy Matters, Future Hindsight, How Do We Fix It? and Politics In Question.
"Some of us have spent 30 years asking for redress of an unfair redistricting process and an increasingly intransigent legislature," writes Fair Districts PA's Carol Kuniholm.
How will the misinformation pandemic inflamed by the coronavirus crisis reshape the political landscape? And how might domestic and foreign actors weaponize rumors, conspiracy theories, and disinformation about Covid-19 against American voters in the lead-up to the November election? The Brennan Center for Justice is convening a panel that will discuss measures that can address these challenges in the upcoming months and help ensure the 2020 election is free, fair, and safe.