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Four ways to fix voting before the next election

With only five days remaining before Nov. 3, it's not too early to take stock of how things should have been different. Here are four things that need to happen before the next election. All four reforms derive from actual controversies over the past six months, things that never should have been the subject of extended legal or political battles.

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In Pennsylvania, Supreme Court punts on constitutional issues. For now.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on an important absentee voting case from Pennsylvania means that, for now, mail-in ballots will have more time to arrive and be counted in this key swing state. That could have a significant impact on the election, but this might not be the last word from the high court.

The justices were reviewing a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar. Many commentators had expected the Supreme Court to stay that decision, as requested by state Republicans, and in so doing possibly address difficult questions about the meaning of some key provisions in the U.S. Constitution. But with only a few weeks to go before the election, and on a 4-4 vote, the Supreme Court avoided reaching the underlying questions. The state ruling will stand for now.

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League of Women Voters of California

Not all ballot drop boxes in California are officially, even if labeled that way.

The ironic California drop box controversy

There's a double irony in California's ballot drop box controversy, where the state Republican Party has placed private ballot collection boxes in several counties. Though the boxes are intended to make voting more convenient, the California secretary of state has issued a cease-and-desist order prohibiting them.

First, it's ironic that in several other states Republicans are the ones asking courts to limit ballot collection boxes. When voting rights groups (for instance in Ohio and Texas) or state officials (for instance in Pennsylvania) have attempted to increase the number of official ballot collection boxes, Republicans have said this isn't explicitly authorized by state law. The boxes aren't sufficiently secure, or they would lead to voter confusion, Republicans said.

Alleged security issues with official drop boxes have little basis in reality, but there are real concerns about the unofficial drop boxes in California. No state or local election officials are responsible for these unauthorized boxes. A voter who entrusts a mail-in ballot to a private organization leaves the ballot at the mercy of that organization.

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