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Texas is among the very few states not making absentee voting easier during the pandemic. Turnout in places like San Antonio, above on primary day in March, is key to Democrats' hopes.

Unfettered voting by mail in Texas stopped by federal appeals court

A federal appeals court has joined the Texas Supreme Court in deciding that fear of exposure to the coronavirus is not an acceptable reason to vote by mail in the second most-populous state.

The back-to-back decisions, by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday and the state's highest court a week ago, end the possibility for Texans to legally cite a lack of immunity to the virus as a "disability" excuse in requesting an absentee ballot — at least for the July primary runoffs.

There is still a chance the U.S. Supreme Court will step in before the presidential election, when recent polling suggests the state could be genuinely competitive for the first time in four decades. It's also the case that vote-by-mail applications are on an honor system and people should be trusted to assess their own health, the state's top court has made clear.

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Another expansion of voting options ordered by California's governor

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California wants more changes to make voting easier this fall in the nation's most populous state. And he's pushing his Democratic colleagues in the Legislature to turn his moves into law, expecting that would brush back Republican lawsuits seeking to keep the status quo in place.

The governor's latest executive order, announced Wednesday, tells all 58 counties to create at least one venue for in-person voting on Election Day and also permit voting on the three days before.

Last month he told those local election officials to send all 20.6 million registered voters a general election ballot as a way to make mail-in voting the dominant system and minimize the public's exposure to the coronavirus.

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The voter registrations under dispute are concentrated in the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee (above) and Madison.

Wisconsin's top court will decide bellwether purge vs. clean voter roll case

This year's most prominent and consequential fight over voter registration — whether Wisconsin's rolls need to be "maintained" better or are at risk of being "purged" unfairly — is approaching a climactic moment.

The state Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide the dispute, setting up a final resolution to a legal donnybrook that has transfixed good-government groups and political strategists since the fall.

The court's timetable leaves unclear whether its decision will come before November, however, when Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes will be central to the presidential outcome. The dispute is over the fate of 129,000 people whose whereabouts are in doubt. And President Trump carried the state last time by just 23,000 votes, breaking a seven-election Democratic run.

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