Advocates for making the coronavirus pandemic the time for changing American voting habits are taking heart there won't be any polling places for three of the next four Democratic presidential contests.
Voting in Alaska and Hawaii will now join Wyoming's caucuses in being conducted entirely remotely, among the latest wave of changes in the world of elections during a historic public health emergency.
While several states moved to make voting easier, Wisconsin pressed ahead with plans for a traditional primary April 7 and has now been confronted by four federal lawsuits hoping to force changes. And Florida reported the first known cases of poll workers subsequently testing positive for coronavirus.
Here are the latest developments:
The two politicians who want to be candidates for the next opening on Georgia's highest court are appealing a judge's ruling that there doesn't have to be an election.
Their trips to the courthouse Wednesday and Thursday are the latest moves in what has rapidly become a flashpoint in the world of good governance: Republican Gov. Brian Kemp's declaration that he, not the voters, will decide how to fill a not-yet-empty seat on the state Supreme Court.
The law seems to have provisions supporting him as well as those desiring the special election the governor has called off. But the reality is that Kemp's motives are under heightened suspicion since he narrowly won the governorship in 2018 amid evidence that, as secretary of state, he was complicit in an array of voter suppression efforts.
Update: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio went to court Monday afternoon hoping to delay until June 2 the in-person Democratic presidential primary vote set for Tuesday, saying that proceeding would not comply with new federal coronavirus guidelines against gatherings of more than 50 people. He filed the suit because elections in the state are run by counties, so DeWine does not have the authority over polling places as he does over the restaurants, movie theaters and other places he ordered shut on Sunday. Ohio has 50 known cases of the virus as of Monday.
The four presidential primaries scheduled for Tuesday are going ahead on schedule, albeit with last-minute modifications and serious wariness about turnout in light of the intensifying national coronavirus shutdown.
Officials in Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Arizona have all said they are taking extra health precautions so voting in person remains safe. Besides, they say, so much early balloting has already happened that closing the polls on the final scheduled day of voting would severely muddy the integrity of the results.
After Tuesday, however, the national political calendar is increasingly in flux — making some voting rights advocates wary about the potential for suppression, while other arguing the Covid-19 pandemic presents a silver lining for democracy reform if it prompts more widespread adoption of voting from home and by mail.
It's a startlingly bold move, the legality of which is now being challenged in court: Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, already an enemy of voting rights groups nationwide, has canceled an election and says he'll fill a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court all by himself.
After he won an extremely narrow election in 2018, Kemp's critics said it was entirely because, as secretary of state at the time, he used his power to suppress the vote for Democrat Stacey Abrams by aggressively purging the registration rolls, closing or moving polling stations, rebuffing voters with missing middle initials on their ID cards, and tossing absentee ballots for similarly small bureaucratic mistakes.
Now, the governor has opened himself up to intense criticism that he'd rather stack the state's highest court with another fellow conservative than abide by the spirit (if not the letter) of the law.