A federal judge in Wisconsin is hearing arguments Wednesday afternoon that next week's primary must be either postponed altogether or made much more permissive for voters since it would happen near the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The battle is by far the most prominent story this week at the intersection of public health and electoral democracy. While Wisconsin remains in conflicted limbo, however, Republican officials are taking modest steps to make it easier to vote in Iowa and North Carolina until the Covid-19 outbreak has subsided, while prominent Republicans in Georgia asked the state to delay its primary a second time. At the same time, the GOP went to court as soon as most of New Mexico announced plans to conduct the June 2 primary by mail.
These are the latest developments:
High voter turnout was both a blessing and a curse on Super Tuesday. While more participation in elections gave civic advocates something to cheer about, long lines in two of the biggest states plus a wave of online disinformation left voting rights groups with a to-do list before the next primaries.
During the biggest day of voting in the Democratic presidential contest, hotlines operated in 11 languages by a coalition of progressive groups fielded more than 2,000 calls from voters expressing concern and confusion.
But as the polls started to close Tuesday evening, representatives of the so-called Election Protection coalition, led by the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told reporters they believe the primaries in all 14 states generally went off with few if any hitches.
Deadly storms in at least two Super Tuesday states and coronavirus anxieties nationwide are complicating efforts to boost turnout and ease confidence in the results from the nation's most important day of voting ahead of November.
Efforts to get democracy working more smoothly are almost always focused on human behavior, from making it easier for people to vote to rewarding collaboration among partisan politicians. This time, unpredictably treacherous weather and the unpredictable spread of disease are conspiring to make things much more difficult for Democrats casting ballots to award a third of their presidential delegates.
The debate over gerrymandering often focuses on what partisan mapmaking means for election outcomes. But that's just the means to a policy-making end. A liberal think tank has just released its second report demonstrating how gerrymandering impacts legislative decisions, this time focusing on Medicaid.
A study released Monday by the Center for American Progress details the impacts gerrymandering has had on how states determine Medicaid eligibility. CAP found that despite significant bipartisan support for Medicaid nationwide, states with Republican-controlled legislatures were more likely to limit access to the government-subsidized health insurance.
CAP is part of a growing movement advocating for a change in the way congressional and state legislative district maps have traditionally been drawn. Rather than have state lawmakers decide, redistricting reform groups say, independent commissions should have the mapmaking authority.
"A fair process for drawing districts is fundamental to democracy, helping to ensure that voters' voices are heard on critical issues such as access to health care," the report states.