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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Montana's disclosure requirements for campaign donors will remain among the gold standards for statewide campaign finance regulation now that the Supreme Court has decided to leave the law alone.
A federal appeals court last August upheld state requirements that groups paying for political advertising reveal their funders and spending. Without comment Monday, the Supreme Court said it would not reconsider that ruling.
The decision amounts to a symbolic but not insignificant win for advocates of more openness about political spending. Campaign finance reform groups hope Montana will provide a template for other states to adopt similarly tight disclosure requirements. And they assume the high court's ruling will form a precedent protecting future state laws against similar challenges.
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Originally from San Diego, Kiersten Iwai moved to Montana soon after graduating from college and in 2013 started organizing Sierra Club volunteers promoting green stewardship around Yellowstone National Park. While earning a master's in public policy and volunteering on a domestic abuse hotline, she then spent three years strategizing and social media messaging for the environmental advocacy group Stand.earth. (She also helped create Earthtone Outside MT, an association of non-white outdoor enthusiasts.) In October she started running the progressive advocacy group Forward Montana. Her answers have been edited for clarity and length.
What's the tweet-length description of your organization?
We build the political power of young people by making civic engagement fun and accessible to all Montanans. We are led by young people for young people, and we #giveashit.
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Bipartisan majorities want more options for voting this year, and will be angry at members of Congress who oppose expanded absentee and early balloting in all six states where Republican senators are struggling hardest for re-election.
That was the top take-away of a survey released Thursday, the latest piece of an expanding campaign by good-government groups to pressure Congress to finance preparations for a vote-by-mail surge this fall because of the coronavirus.
House Democrats next week are expected to pass another pandemic response package, focused on aid to cities and states, with $4 billion in grants for making the election smoother and safer: more ballots, postage, counting equipment and even sanitizing supplies for polling places. The fate of the aid rests with the Senate, where resistance from majority Republicans has hardened in part because of President Trump's opposition.
- Public solidly supports voting by mail in November - The Fulcrum ›
- The 6 toughest states for voting during the pandemic - The Fulcrum ›