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Efforts to expand mailed-in voting has spread through courtrooms and state legislatures. Advocates for expanding voting suffered three defeats recently.

Voting rights advocates suffer three losses

After a string of recent successes, advocates for improving the fairness of elections and expanding access to voting amid the coronavirus pandemic have suffered three defeats in recent days.

The setbacks came in Texas, Arizona and Iowa — all states where the Democrats believe they can score big upsets, at the presidential and congressional levels, if the voting rules are easeds enough to allow significant turnout this fall — no matter the state of the coronavirus pandemic.

The way elections are conducted has been the subject of several dozen lawsuits in state and federal courts as well as battles in numerous state legislatures. Who wins the bulk of them could shape not only President Trump's chances of reelection but also whether the Senate stays in Republican hands or turns Democratic.

The recent decisions are:

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Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has been pushing to expand voting rights for convicted felons but the GOP-controlled state Senate adjourned Sunday without approving a constitutional amendment along those lines.

Iowa provides double dose of defeat for voter advocates

The weekend brought two setbacks for the expansion of voting rights in Iowa.

The Republicans who control the General Assembly cleared legislation requiring voters to provide identification in order to obtain absentee ballots. But the legislators went home for the year Sunday without taking an expected vote on restoring the franchise to convicted felons.

The debates over mail-in voting and ex-convicts' political rights have been intensifying nationwide, spurred by the coronavirus and nationwide protests over racial injustice. Iowa has taken some steps this year to make remote voting easier because of the pandemic, but it's the only state where felons are forever barred from the voting booth.

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Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds favors a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to felons.

Iowa Legislature advances felon voting rights, but with expensive caveat

The long-running effort to end Iowa's status as the only state permanently stripping voting rights from convicted felons has taken some crucial turns in recent days.

A proposal to ask voters to restore the franchise to convicts who have completed their sentences has been embraced by the same state Senate committee that killed the idea a year ago.

But that endorsement got delivered Friday at what advocates for restoring voting rights view as an improperly high price: Gov. Kim Reynolds signing legislation, produced by her fellow Republicans in charge of the General Assembly, that would require felons to pay fines and restitution if they are ever permitted to register and vote again.

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Poll workers in Bloomington, Ind., wear face shields and hand gloves as precautions against Covid-19 during Tuesday's primary votting.

Tuesday’s voting delivers big warnings about readiness for fall

Major worries expressed by election officials and good-government groups all came true on the biggest day of voting since the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country: absentee ballots that were never delivered, long lines for those who voted in person and results that have not been fully tabulated a day later.

At the same time, records were broken Tuesday in several states for turnout in a primary, with citizens seemingly determined to cast their ballots despite the extraordinary circumstance of holding elections during both a deadly pandemic and a time of violent civil unrest.

The principal takeaway is that plenty of work needs to be completed and improvements made in just five months, or else the country may not be able to conduct a safe and reliable presidential election — and potentially one with record turnout.

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