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GOP support for mail voting is growing, but hard to hear over Trump

News

GOP support for mail voting is growing, but hard to hear over Trump

President Trump's increasingly hyperbolic attacks on voting by mail, amplified by Attorney General William Barr and the Republican National Committee, have triggered alarms that the country is heading toward another contested election.

Trump appears to be gearing up to cast doubt on an outcome that doesn't go his way. Primaries marred by hours-long lines, voting machine malfunctions and controversies over absentee ballots have many bracing for a meltdown starting Election Day. A much bigger surge of mailed-in votes in November virtually guarantees the results won't be known for days, setting the stage for a crisis in voter confidence if the results are close enough to be challenged, as happened in 2000.

Yet for all that, voting rights advocates mobilizing to secure the election and neutralize Trump's divisive voting rhetoric have surprising and influential allies in their corner: many leading Republicans.

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Small but significant number of mail-in ballots uncounted in Florida

More than 18,000 ballots were mailed in but not tabulated in Florida's presidential primary, researchers have found. And the envelopes returned by young, first-time and Black voters were the most likely not to get counted.

The number of uncounted absentee ballots is one component of an analysis of the March 17 primary published last week by the Healthy Elections Project, created by experts at Stanford and MIT.

While the number of uncounted mail ballots is a tiny fraction — 1.3 percent — of the total number of mail-in ballots in the primary, it nonetheless represents a significant number of voters in a state renowned for its razor-thin election results.

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New felon rights win: Californians will decide on letting parolees vote

Another big moment for efforts to expand the voting rights of former prisoners will come in November, when Californians decide whether almost 50,000 parolees should be given access to the ballot box.

Sponsors of the referendum, which last week won final legislative approval for a spot on the ballot, say they're confident the vote will go their way. That would add the nation's most populous state to the roster of 16 that permit felons to vote as soon as they get out of prison.

Restoring the franchise to ex-convicts has become a top cause of civil rights groups, who say democracy is enhanced when political power is given back to people who have paid their debt to society. The campaign has gained additional momentum this summer from the nationwide protests against police violence and systemic racism.

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TRENDING: Trump campaign sues Pennsylvania over easier absentee voting

President Trump is taking his crusade against voting by mail to a new level: His campaign has gone to court for the first time to combat liberalized absentee ballot rules — in Pennsylvania, a state central to his prospects for re-election.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Pittsburgh, seeks to make the sixth most populous state abandon for November several of the ways it collected and counted mail-in ballots in the primary, alleging the procedures were both unconstitutional and against state law.

Although the Republican Party sued last month in an unsuccessful effort to limit the delivery of mail ballots to everyone in California, and is vowing to spend $20 million or more defending restrictive voting laws that Democrats are challenging in 18 states, Pennsylvania is the first place where the president's campaign has gone on litigious offense.

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Debate

Registration lists are under attack. We have a moral obligation to protect them.

"When voices are silenced, our democracy perishes," argues Pattie Arduini of the American Ethical Union.

Community

2020 Future Summit

Future Summit provides new and innovative perspectives, bridging the partisan divide, and adding to the ranks of audacious young leaders ready to chart a new path forward.

Newsletter

Tight voting curbs in Wisconsin upheld by federal appeals court

News

Tight voting curbs in bellwether Wisconsin upheld by federal appeals court

Many of the most severe restrictions on voting in Wisconsin may remain on the books, a federal appeals court has decided, concluding a nine-year partisan battle in time to shape the presidential election in one of the most hotly contested battleground states.

The unanimous decision Monday also likely reduces the chances of success for a wave of fresh lawsuits, filed surrounding the state's nationally notorious April primary. Plaintiffs hope to ease the path to the November polls in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The sweeping and multifaceted ruling from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds laws restricting early in-person voting, requiring Wisconsinites to live in their neighborhood for a month before voting, and prohibiting the use of email or faxes to deliver absentee ballots.

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Trump campaign sues Pennsylvania over easier absentee voting

President Trump is taking his crusade against voting by mail to a new level: His campaign has gone to court for the first time to combat liberalized absentee ballot rules — in Pennsylvania, a state central to his prospects for re-election.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Pittsburgh, seeks to make the sixth most populous state abandon for November several of the ways it collected and counted mail-in ballots in the primary, alleging the procedures were both unconstitutional and against state law.

Although the Republican Party sued last month in an unsuccessful effort to limit the delivery of mail ballots to everyone in California, and is vowing to spend $20 million or more defending restrictive voting laws that Democrats are challenging in 18 states, Pennsylvania is the first place where the president's campaign has gone on litigious offense.

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Young people's political activism on the rise, poll finds

Young voters are interested and engaged, and they may finally assert their power in the fall election, according to a new poll released Tuesday that finds youth activism at record highs.

And that looks like good news for Democrats, particularly former Vice President Joe Biden, who now holds a 34-point lead over President Trump among younger voters, according to researchers at Tufts University focused on politics and young adults. By comparison, Hillary Clinton held an 18-point margin over Trump when Tufts took a similar poll during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The results are significant because early expectations of a heavy turnout by young voters in prior elections haven't regularly materialized.

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Debate

Congress is losing ground on the budget; it's time it claws that power back

"As the president sidelines bedrock congressional authority, it falls on Congress to reassert its power to spend money. Otherwise, Congress' power and interbranch trust will continue to erode," argue Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette of Project On Government Oversight and Soren Dayton of Protect Democracy.

Community

Staying Nonpartisan as a 501(c)(3) Organization

Join Nonprofit VOTE for a one-hour free webinar to demystify what it means to be nonpartisan and stay on the right side of IRS rules.

Newsletter

The president who cried voter fraud

Voting by mail has historically increased turnout in the five states that conduct their elections almost exclusively via post. And increased turnout typically hurts Republicans. So President Trump's latest baseless rally against absentee voting could help his re-election chances (even if it is hypocritical).

And since there's always vote-by-mail news these days:

The inspectors general have had a rough go of it as of late. But Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who has been known for his love of government oversight, is hoping to help them out.

Wondering how patriotic your state is (or isn't)? WalletHub's new report can tell you.

Have a little fun this weekend and test your Electoral College smarts with our new quiz.

Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Stay safe.

— Tristiaña Hinton

Newsletter

Federal waste watchdogs, undermined by Trump, get some GOP backing

News

Federal waste watchdogs, undermined by Trump, get some GOP backing

In a matter of weeks, President Trump has thrown into question the future of a decades-old bedrock of open government: Independent watchdogs working inside federal agencies to find wrongdoers and root out waste.

But his recent spate of inspector general firings, combined with public threats and not-so-subtle efforts to undercut the authority of many others in those jobs, are only the most serious actions of a president who came to office as a skeptic but is now seeking re-election as a full-throated opponent of such independent oversight.

Trump's accelerating antagonism is more than another sign of how emphatically he's abandoned his "drain the swamp" 2016 campaign mantra. It's also drawn unusual campaign season antagonism from several influential Republicans in Congress, who last week launched legislation that would make it tougher for Trump to dismiss inspectors general and restrict who he could name as a government watchdog.

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Texas won’t see a revival of straight-ticket voting this year

Straight-ticket voting won't be returning to Texas now that a federal judge has rejected an effort by Democrats to maintain the practice.

Allowing Texans to cast one quick vote, in favor of one party's entire slate of candidates, has been allowed for a century and was the way two-thirds of 2018 ballots were cast in the second most populous state. But the Republican-majority Legislature eliminated that option starting this fall, joining a wave of other states in recent years.

The state Democratic Party sued in March to keep the system as is, but Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo dismissed the claim on Wednesday by rejecting its central argument: Switching will cause so much confusion and delay in November that throngs of would-be voters will give up and walk away, effectively being disenfranchised in violation of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

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Debate

Democracy would benefit if every college student learned how to lobby

James Liska, former senior coordinator for university and alumni relations at the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminar, offers some ideas on how to better civically educate young people.

Community

'Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy' - Book Launch with author Daniel Newman

Fix Democracy First and the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County co-host the virtual launch of "UNRIG: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy" with author Daniel Newman, and special guest Estevan Muñoz-Howard.

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