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At Unrig online, talk of voting at home to save lives

Griffiths is a contributor to Independent Voter News.

The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on American life and the democratic process. Voters want a meaningful say in the 2020 elections, but they don't want to risk their health to exercise their constitutionally protected right to vote.

In response, the vote-at-home movement has gained significant traction as reformers and election officials consider the best methods and practices to keep voters safe while protecting their civil rights.

What vote-at-home brings to the broad conversation on improving the democratic process was the topic of the first of a six-part, virtual Unrig Summit series, hosted this week by RepresentUs, to keep voters connected to the movements to transform the American political process.

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Don't expect lines at Tuesday's polling places in Wisconsin like this one in Milwaukee during the 2018 midterm. The coronavirus pandemic has prompted more than a million requests for absentee ballots.

Adding to chaos, Wisconsin primary may be delayed after all

UPDATE: Democratic Gov. Tony Evers reversed his longstanding position on Friday afternoon and said Wisconsin's primary set for Tuesday should be delayed. He called a Saturday special session of the Legislature, run by Republicans, to debate a bill creating an all-mail election with a May 26 deadline. The headline above is new, the story below is not.

Wisconsin's primary is on course for Tuesday after a federal judge ripped the state's leaders for not postponing the election in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic but said he did not have the authority to delay it.

Every other state that scheduled an April contest has postponed or transformed it to almost all vote-by-mail. But Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the Republican-led Legislature agreed on no delay and only relatively minor changes — leaving voting rights groups and campaigns predicting confusion, anger and maybe a wave of illness next week.

U.S. District Judge William Conley on Thursday did extend until Friday evening the deadline for applying for absentee ballots, which more than 1.1 million Wisconsinites have already done. He also ordered ballots received as long as six days after election day to get counted and waived a requirement that a witness sign every absentee ballot, which would mean hundreds of thousands of social distancing violations.

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The repeal was one of the last measures cleared before Tennessee legislators cleared out of the statehouse because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tennessee abandons its crackdown on voter registration

Tennessee has repealed regulations on voter registration drives enacted less than a year ago, and under challenge in court ever since.

The rules, enacted and now abandoned by the overwhelmingly Republican General Assembly, appeared to be the strictest in the country governing efforts to sign up new voters.

Proponents said the aim of the law, which included criminal penalties for overzealous canvassers, was to prevent fraudulent sign-ups and intimidation. Opponents sued, saying the restrictions set unconstitutional limits on political behavior and were illegally designed to suppress the vote of minority groups and college students.

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The office of Attorney General Dave Yost defended the latest plan for Ohio's primary voting, saying it "ends the chaos and offers Ohio voters and boards a certain path forward for completing Ohio's 2020 primary."

Voting during coronavirus eased in three more states. Ohio's still a fight.

The fast-spreading national overhaul of this year's electoral process has started to slow down — because most places that could delay their primaries or ease remote voting at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak have done so.

West Virginia has become the 15th state to postpone its Democratic presidential primary and Idaho joined more than a dozen other states in deciding almost all primary voting will be done with absentee ballots. Maryland decided to allow some in-person voting in what was to have been a totally vote-at-home primary, while the pitched battle over Ohio's primary accelerated.

These are the latest developments:

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