Democrats challenge early voting limits in two ’20 battlegrounds
Democratic groups are challenging the constitutionality of new state laws written by Republicans to curb early voting in two of the biggest battleground states of 2020.
The Texas Democratic Party and the national Democratic campaign committees filed a federal lawsuit this week alleging a law curbing the use of temporary or mobile early voting sites is unconstitutional. Also this week, those same national committees joined the North Carolina Democratic Party in suing to restore early voting in the state on the Saturday before Election Day.
Turnout will be crucial to the Democrats' attempts to win North Carolina's 15 electoral votes for the first time since 2008 and especially to carry Texas, now the second biggest prize with 38 electoral votes, for the first time since 1976. The party is also expected to make an intense run at GOP Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina and a longer-shot quest to unseat GOP Sen. John Cornyn in Texas.
Both laws at issue were enacted last year and appear to have their strongest potential impact on younger voters.
The Texas statute is an attempt to limit youth voting in particular by reducing polling places on college campuses, one suit maintains. "In direct contravention of the 26th Amendment," the complaint alleges, the state enacted the law "with the intent and effect of preventing newly-enfranchised young Texans from effectively exercising their right to vote."
The groups are asking a judge to block the law, which has already led to the closure of temporary voting sites on campuses ahead of next week's statewide balloting on 10 potential amendments to the Texas constitution.
The North Carolina measure eliminated the option to vote on the Saturday before the November election, which was the most popular day for early voting in the 2018 midterm, according to the complaint. The assembly later overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to keep the new restriction in place.
Saturday early voting is popular among African-Americans and young voters, the complaint alleges, which is why Republican legislators sought to end the practice ahead of the coming presidential election.
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More voters see "corruption in our political system" as the country's most pressing problem than any of the other issues getting greater attention in the 2020 campaign, new polling shows.
The online survey conducted in September asked voters whether seven different issues were an "extremely serious problem" for the country, and the only one where a majority said yes was political corruption; rising health care costs came in second at 49 percent.
The poll is only the latest to declare the electorate's dire concern about the broken political system. In just the last month, two-thirds of voters told one poll they believe the country is on the "edge of a civil war" and a plurality in another poll identified the government itself as the country's biggest problem.
But the topic of democracy reform is getting hardly any mention in the presidential race. Though most of the Democratic candidates have plans for limiting money in politics, making voting easier, securing elections and restoring the balance of powers, few have emphasized these ideas on the trail. And President Trump, who four years ago ran as the candidate most interested in "draining the swamp," rarely mentions this aspiration anymore.
A Democratic advocacy group has filed a third lawsuit in less than a month challenging Michigan laws and policies it says restrict voting rights.
The focus on Michigan voting laws by the super PAC Priorities USA reflects the importance of the state's 16 electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election. President Trump won Michigan, a swing state, by less than half a percentage point in 2016.
The latest lawsuit, filed Friday in state court, challenges actions taken after a successful 2018 ballot initiative expanded voting options, such as allowing people to register to vote at any time (including on Election Day). It also automatically registered people to vote when they obtained or renewed their driver's licenses.