Minnesotans will be able to provide, and receive, an unlimited amount of help in the casting and delivery of absentee ballots starting this fall, a state judge has decided.
The ruling was one of three moves across the country Tuesday toward easing the regulation of voting by mail, which is going to soar this fall because of the coronavirus. All were in states already looking solidly blue on the presidential election map, and so not in President Trump's sights as he makes unsubstantiated claims about mailed ballots rigging the election.
A judge in Rhode Island struck down the state's mandate that a witness or notary countersign every absentee ballot envelope, leaving only 10 states maintaining such a rule for November. And legislators in neighboring Connecticut voted overwhelmingly to drop excused requirements for voting absentee, if only this year.
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Proponents of expanded voting by mail during the pandemic won victories Monday in three states, two of them solid blue but one of them reliably red.
The top elections official in Alabama, a Republican, decreed that fear of the coronavirus would be reason enough to vote absentee for president this year. Vermont joined the handful of states that have decided to send return-by-mail ballots to all voters for the general election. And Connecticut's plans to open mail voting to everyone in next month's primary survived a GOP lawsuit.
The various decisions come as policymakers and courts across the country continue to deliberate proposals for separating Covid-19 from the voting booth — a problem that remains intense now that it's clear the nation's public health crisis will continue way beyond November.
Here are the details:
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Reliably blue Connecticut will allow everyone to vote remotely this summer. Its relaxation of the usual excuse requirements because of the coronavirus leaves only a quartet of red states holding fast to their strict limitations on using an absentee ballot.
Under an executive order Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed Wednesday, fear of exposure to the virus will be a valid reason for voting remotely.
Lawsuits are hoping to force the same result in Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Missouri, where Republicans run the state governments and are fighting calls to make remote voting universally available until the pandemic ends. Eleven states before Connecticut, five of them under GOP control, had come up with legislative or administrative workarounds to that effect.
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- Connecticut intensifies debate over easier voting - The Fulcrum ›
- Access to absentee voting expands Ala., Vt., Conn. - The Fulcrum ›