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Bogus fraud claims cloud real obstacles to expanded mail voting

On the surface, the idea of conducting elections mainly by mail appears deceptively simple. It evokes images of a serious-minded citizen at the kitchen table, poring over information about candidates before thoughtfully marking a ballot, slipping it in an envelope and dropping it in the corner mailbox.

But the history of recent elections show that, even though such absentee ballots have accounted for only a quarter or so of the total vote, the system has faced serious obstacles. Suddenly doubling or even tripling the mail-in volume, which looks very plausible this November because of the coronavirus, will only magnify those challenges.

Compounding the problems is how the issue has become yet another partisan fight — with Democrats all in favor and President Trump pushing Republicans to oppose efforts to make voting by mail more available and reliable. The president's vastly overblown claims about a looming explosion of voter fraud, in particular, are overshadowing genuine worries about the abilities of election officials and the Postal Service to handle the coming surge of ballot envelopes.

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking changes in Georgia's election systems, saying the courts have no role in deciding what is a political issue.

Changing election rules is none of a federal judge’s business, one says

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to delay Georgia's primary and make other changes to the election rules because of the coronavirus. But what's much more potentially significant is Judge Timothy Batten's reason: The issues raised in the case are political and there is no place for the judiciary to decide them.

Batten's ruling, issued earlier in the month but reaffirmed more forcefully on Tuesday, says the suit raises "nonjusticiable political questions." It is the same, unusual conclusion the Supreme Court reached a year ago in its landmark ruling that federal courts have no place refereeing the limits of partisanship in drawing legislative maps

But it is a wholly different approach than the one taken in a slew of lawsuits filed since the pandemic began, arguing that judges must relax voting regulations that unconstitutionally or illegally imperil the health of voters and poll workers.

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South Carolina voters who want to cast an absentee ballot will not be required to get a witness to sign their ballots, a judge has ruled.

Absentee voting rights push yields a partial win — and three new suits

Advocates for easing restrictions on absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic have won a split decision in federal court in South Carolina.

A judge on Monday barred the state from requiring a witness signature on mail-in ballots for the congressional and legislative primaries in two weeks, but she said the state could require those ballots to arrive by the time the polls close.

The ruling was the most important news over the holiday weekend for the cause of easier voting this year, which also brought fresh lawsuits challenging a diverse set of rules in North Carolina, Michigan and New York. These are the latest developments:

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