The vast majority of states allow those serving misdemeanor sentences in jails to vote. And the Supreme Court ruled back in 1974 that eligible voters being held in jails — those who have been arrested but not yet convicted — could not be denied their right to vote because they were incarcerated.
On any given day, the number of eligible voters locked up by cities and counties ranges from half a million to 700,000, numbers big enough to tip the outcome of close legislative or congressional contests — or even a presidential battleground state.
But in a year in which the coronavirus pandemic has made everything about elections more difficult, this particularly hard-to-reach segment of the electorate is even tougher to reach.
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While most voters believe their health will not be at risk while casting ballots in November, attitudes about the election depend greatly on political affiliation and demographic factors, a recent report found.
The study, released Thursday by the Rand Corp., details expectations among voters about public safety, election integrity and the preparedness of local officials to run the 2020 presidential election amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Most voters — 55 percent — trust that their vote will be properly counted after months of President Trump and other administration officials casting doubts on voting by mail. F
Political affiliation significantly influenced responses. Among Republicans, 86 percent feel voting will be safe from health risks, while only 54 percent of Democrats agree. Republicans were also more concerned than Democrats that their votes won't be properly counted.
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RepresentUs, a leading good-governance advocacy group, will host a star-studded virtual event on Sunday, hoping to raise $2 million for increased access to secure mail-in ballots and safe in-person voting.
Dubbed United to Save the Vote, the event will be emceed by actor Ed Helms with performances from Jennifer Lawrence, Zooey Deschanel, Sia, Dave Matthews, Sarah Silverman and other A-listers. It will support VoteSafe, a cross-partisan coalition chaired by Republican Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania and first secretary of Homeland Security, and Democrat Jennifer Granholm, a former governor of Michigan.
"American voters face unprecedented threats to casting their ballots safely and securely during November's critical elections — from the ongoing pandemic to a dramatic shortage of poll workers to interference with the United States postal service, which undermines the security and validity of mail-in voting," the group said in announcing the event.
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