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.
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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.
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Organizer: Election Assistance Commission
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission Commissioners will oversee a virtual hearing including testimony from state and local election officials. Panelists will discuss the challenges they faced during the 2020 primary elections, how they met those challenges, and how they plan to manage the general elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include poll worker recruitment and training; absentee and mail voting management; in-person voting location management; and result recording, accuracy, and setting expectations. The agenda includes remarks from panel participants and a question and answer portion from the Commissioners.
The partisan fight over how to maintain voter registration lists has delivered one victory for each side this week — both in Midwestern states central to the November election.
The top court in Wisconsin decided against fast-tracking a decision about removing from the rolls more than 100,000 people with potentially out of date registrations — a delay that benefits the cause of voting rights advocates. But in neighboring Michigan, a conservative group claimed victory and dropped its lawsuit against Detroit after the city took a group of dead people and duplicate names off the rolls.
The cases capture a debate that pitches those (mostly Democrats) who believe aggressive attempts to remove, or "purge," names from voter rolls are an attempt at voter suppression against those (mostly Republicans) who believe poorly maintained voter lists clogged with the names of the mortally or physically departed provide an opportunity for fraud.
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