Vote at Home | Weekly Roundup April 20, 2020

Beth Hladick
Policy Manager
Unite America

Lawsuits, letters, and lists, oh my. Here’s the latest in the world of vote at home: 

Week of April 20, 2020

  • KY moves to No-Excuse vote at home: In a bipartisan move, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and SOS Michael Adams (R) signaled Friday that COVID is a valid excuse for voting absentee in the state’s June 23 primary. KY will also allow for early voting and will keep limited in-person polling locations open. They won’t mail absentee requests or ballots to all voters (info postcard only), but the new change creates an online system to request an absentee ballot. 

  • Biden supports VAH during a virtual fundraiser Thursday and said Trump/Russians are likely to cause problems or interfere in the 2020 General Election. 

  • Today is the day to scale VAH: Best-case scenario timelines suggest states should decide by today (April 24) to start scaling VAH for November. Here’s a list of tasks and a sample timeline leading up to November, as well as new estimated costs. As we know, the time to act was last month, but acting now is better than waiting until August. See the 50-state picture of the work that remains from the Brennan Center.    

  • In court this week: Democrats filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. The PA case argues for postage paid absentee mail (they are already no-excuse required) and the SC argues to move from excuse-required to no-excuse absentee voting. 

  • Federal update: There is bipartisan support (see letter here from Sen. Bennet & Sen. Collins) to eliminate the 20 percent state match requirement for states to receive grant funding from the Election Assistance Commission. The match was not in the initial legislation granting $400 million to states through the EAC. 

  • Looking ahead: In a letter to the OH Congressional delegation, SOS Frank LaRose says slower-than-normal mail delivery is hurting Ohio’s upcoming primary, which was delayed until April 28th. More than 1.6 million Ohioans requested absentee ballots and close to a million ballots have been cast. Ballots must be postmarked by April 27th or hand delivered on election day (there will be no in-person voting). Results won’t be certified until three weeks after the election.  

  • Swamp Stories latest episode: The Show Must Go On features Michael Steele (R) and CT SOS Denise Merrill (D). Calls for additional funding from Congress to secure our elections and calls out “smart policies” from other Republican leaders for adapting. SOS Merrill wants a vote-by-mail option (CT is currently excuse-required) and intends to mail absentee ballot applications to all voters (though not official). This week, CT delayed their presidential primary (again) to August 11, the same day as the statewide primary. For a full list of states and their delays to presidential/statewide primaries and other administrative changes, check out the updated VAH talking points

  • Some Good News: Wyoming joins Alaska in successfully holding a safe vote at home and ranked choice voting primary: turnout more-than-doubled from the 2016 election cycle. Stay tuned for results in Kansas (May 2) and Hawaii (May 22) who also plan to use vote at home and ranked choice voting for their upcoming presidential primary contests. 

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