Georgia's battle over paper at the polls has taken another turn, and much longer waiting times on Election Day look to be the result.
At issue is whether up-to-date printouts of voter registration and absentee voting information need to be on hand at every polling place in the state next week, to backstop a new generation of computerized tablets. A federal appeals court on Saturday ruled against the paper poll book requirement, which a trial court judge had set last month.
The issue sounds nerdy. But if the decision is not changed in the next week, which seems unlikely, it could prove crucial to depressing turnout in one of the nation's essential battlegrounds, with the winner of 16 electoral votes and two Senate seats too close to call.
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There won't be any more ballot drop boxes set up in Ohio, assuring more hassle for as many as 700,000 people who might still cast their votes remotely and early in one of the essential presidential battlegrounds.
Voting rights groups announced Thursday they were giving up the legal battle they've been waging since the summer to get many more bins dispatched. They said it has become pointless to ask the Supreme Court to reverse an earlier appeals court ruling restricting the boxes to just one place in each of Ohio's 88 counties.
Drop boxes for completed absentee ballots have sprouted in plenty of places across the country that have never seen them before, a response by election officials to anxieties about voting in person and relying on the mail during the coronavirus pandemic. But as with so much else about election rules this fall, many of those initial accommodations (including for Ohio's primary) have run into stiff opposition from Republicans claiming the potential for fraud.
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Disabled voters have suffered one of their biggest recent setbacks at the Supreme Court.
The court Wednesday night upheld Alabama's fresh prohibition on curbside voting, which the state's two biggest cities wanted to offer to accommodate people with disabilities or at high risk of serious problems if infected with Covid-19.
The 5-3 decision, with the three liberal justices dissenting, was not only a defeat for the cause of rules protecting the franchise for minority groups. It was also a sign that other election-smoothing moves in response to the pandemic will face rough going if they reach the Supreme Court, especially if ordered by federal judges.
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