Bernie Sanders ending his campaign, obviating the need for more Democratic presidential primaries, is the biggest news of the week about keeping democracy safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Vermont senator dropped out Wednesday, hours after the end of a chaotic day of primary voting in Wisconsin that went ahead on schedule even though a federal court is keeping the results sealed until next week.
Florida's local election officials and Democrats in Texas, meanwhile, launched efforts to prevent such a shambolic situation in their states during summertime primaries. New Jersey prepared to become the 16th state postponing partisan contests, while the inability to gather ballot petition signatures put a veteran senator in a bind.
These are the latest developments:
Utah is the latest state to end straight-ticket voting, which means providing a single spot on the ballot for supporting one political party's entire slate of candidates.
That form of voting was once a big feature of American elections but has steadily lost support in recent years. The argument mainly espoused by Republicans, that participatory democracy is improved by requiring separate choices in each contest, has triumphed over the argument mainly advanced by Democrats, that speed and convenience at the polls will assure strong turnout especially in urban precincts.
Utah is the seventh state to do away with the practice in the past decade. With its switch, signed into law by Republcian Gov. Gary Herbert this week, just five states are expected to have the single-vote option this fall: Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Michigan.
Three Texas judges have rejected the appeal of Crystal Mason, whose singular illegal ballot in 2016 has become a flashpoint in the debate between those worried about widespread vote fraud and those worried about widespread voter suppression.
Mason says she will ask the full appeals court to reconsider her conviction and five-year-sentence, assuring the argument will continue over what's trickery at the ballot box versus what's excessive enthusiasm about exercising the franchise — and what the punishment should be for either one.
At a time when confidence in elections is sagging, a particularly odd snafu in Texas this month won't help.
A virtually tied election for a spot on a regional appeals court will have to be conducted again — because officials in two counties under the court's jurisdiction did not put the contest on the ballot.
The election administrators in Cochran and Collingsworth counties, in the rural panhandle of north Texas, both filed papers this week admitting to a shared oversight and insisting they did not intentionally exclude the race from a long roster of federal and state contests March 3.