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Judge says Tennessee must ease strict absentee limits on new voters

Tennessee's unique restrictions on first-time voters wanting to cast an absentee ballot have been blocked by a federal judge.

State law requires new voters to show up at their local boards of elections and present a photo identification in order to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot — a cumbersome process even without the discouraging of travel during the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 has made the system unconstitutional, at least temporarily, Judge Eli Richardson of Nashville ruled Wednesday.

The law made exercising the franchise more difficult for the 128,000 Tennesseans who first signed up to vote in the two years before the 2018 midterm, about 3 percent of the state's electorate.

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Connecticut is among the states significantly increasing the number of ballot drop boxes available to voters this election cycle.

The drop box rises as a compromise between the mail and the voting booth

There is no silver bullet that will save this pandemic-plagued election. When the president calls on his supporters to commit a felony by voting twice, and on the same day his attorney general fabricates a fake election fraud indictment, it's clear the climax of 2020 will be like no presidential race before.

But there's one solution that is so affordable, practical and achievable that it deserves special notice: ballot drop boxes.

For voters too afraid of the coronavirus to turn up at the polls, and worried the Postal Service will be too overwhelmed to deliver ballots on time, drop boxes — secure, locked structures that can be temporary or permanent — offer a relatively simple and confidence-boosting fix. Drop boxes are increasingly popular, may be installed at the discretion of local election officials, and will be used more widely than ever this year.

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