This month's flurry of courthouse wins is continuing for advocates of a comprehensive and safe election. The most important decision out of six since Friday could prevent the presidential election winner from being declared until the middle of November.
Michigan absentee ballots must be counted so long as they arrive within two weeks of the election, a judge ruled Friday. If not reversed on appeal, the ruling means the tallying of potentially hundreds of thousands of votes won't be done until Nov. 17 in a state Donald Trump carried by a scant 11,000 votes last time — and with 16 electoral votes that remain a tossup again this time.
Judges also allowed easier absentee voting in the biggest county in Texas, relaxed a vote-by-mail restriction in South Carolina and tossed a lawsuit seeking to limit mail voting in Illinois. And the Postal Service agreed to destroy millions of its misleading voter mailings. The only bad news for voting rights groups came from the Supreme Court of Mississippi, which ruled people at high risk of severe Covid-19 complications don't have an automatic right to vote absentee.
These are the latest developments:
- Anyone can vote by mail in New York this fall - The Fulcrum ›
- Trump team sues to stop New Jersey's vote-by-mail plan - The Fulcrum ›
- Poll: Young people want to vote by mail, but don't know how - The ... ›
- Lessons from Oregon, the top-ranked vote-by-mail state - The Fulcrum ›
- Montana will move toward a vote-by-mail November election - The ... ›
The vast majority of states allow those serving misdemeanor sentences in jails to vote. And the Supreme Court ruled back in 1974 that eligible voters being held in jails — those who have been arrested but not yet convicted — could not be denied their right to vote because they were incarcerated.
On any given day, the number of eligible voters locked up by cities and counties ranges from half a million to 700,000, numbers big enough to tip the outcome of close legislative or congressional contests — or even a presidential battleground state.
But in a year in which the coronavirus pandemic has made everything about elections more difficult, this particularly hard-to-reach segment of the electorate is even tougher to reach.
- Survey shows inmates aren't all Democratic voters in waiting ›
- Sanders says felons should be able to vote from behind bars - The ... ›
- Oops — Illinois canceled voter registrations of ex-inmates - The ... ›
- First Step Act beneficiaries left wondering: Can I vote? - The Fulcrum ›
Republicans in Illinois are accusing the state's Democratic governor of seeking to promote election fraud in November.
The allegation is the centerpiece of a lawsuit the Cook County GOP filed in federal court Monday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The Chicago Republicans contend the governor, by promoting the use of mail-in voting, is attempting to put as many ballots into play as possible in order to sway the election.
The litigation is a reversal of the normal narrative about courthouse battles over voting this year: Democrats suing GOP state governments for not doing enough to make voting easier during the coronavirus pandemic. It also amplifies President Trump's unfounded allegation that mail voting guarantees widespread election theft.
- Chaos marks election say in Florida, Illinois and Arizona - The Fulcrum ›
- The 24 states that have already made voting in November easier ... ›
- Voting by mail gets boost in Illinois and Minnesota ›
Think you can recognize what congressional districts look like? Take this quiz to see if you can pick out which pieces were drawn on maps by legislatures and which ones are abstract doodles created by our staff.
- Expressing your anger at gerrymandering? There's a font for that ... ›
- Experts identify the worst examples of gerrymandering - The Fulcrum ›