Vote at Home | Weekly Roundup April 13, 2020

Beth Hladick
Policy Manager
Unite America

With coronavirus wreaking havoc across the US, Unite America is working to ensure that our elections are safe and secure. Here's a rundown of the top headlines this week in the world of vote at home: 

  • Texas district judge rules fear of COVID is a valid absentee excuse. The recent decision will likely be appealed -- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is not happy. DE, IN, WV, NY, and NH are other states that have moved from from excuse-required to no-excuse absentee voting for their upcoming primaries. 
  • Other obstacles to VAH: Millions of voters may find it difficult to register to vote if their state does not permit online registration or requires voters to register one month before an election. Nine states allow for paper registration only: TX, ME, NH, AR, MS, MT, SD, WY, OK. Voter ID is also under fire again in states (like Kentucky, which is also excuse-required) that have strict voter ID requirements (tough to get an ID if the DMV is closed). 
  • States continue to move to all-mail elections but not without controversy: Nevada Democrats went to court this week, arguing for more in-person polling locations to avoid a “Wisconsin.” Eliminating in-person polling tends to disenfranchise people with disabilities, people without a permanent physical address, etc. A best practice is for states to maintain in-person voting (with social distancing), allow for early-voting, and scale up absentee systems for an inevitable surge in requests. 
  • Republican support for VAH in the news: An op-ed in The Hill urging Congress to support additional funding for safe/secure elections. Oregon Republican SOS Bev Clarno says their state’s 20 year history proves VAH is safe and secure. 
  • Election delays continue: 16 states + Puerto Rico have delayed their presidential primary, 9 other states have delayed their statewide primary, and 5 additional states have delayed their local/municipal elections. Some states, like Louisiana, continue to delay their already delayed elections. Check out the list of states and other VAH talking points here.
  • ICYMI, two new studies agree VAH has a neutral impact and doesn’t increase the likelihood of fraud: A helpful study out this week debunks the myth of voter fraud in mail ballots. Another timely study from Stanford University’s Democracy and Polarization Lab demonstrates vote-by-mail has a neutral partisan impact when it comes to turnout and vote share. 
  • Shoutout to Alaska: AK used ranked choice voting combined with vote by mail (with extended absentee deadlines) for their presidential primary and it was very successful.

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