Vote at Home | Weekly Roundup May 22, 2020

Beth Hladick
Director, Research & Outreach
Unite America

Here’s a nice long VAH round-up for your long weekend. 

  • Connecticut can VAH: Governor Lamont signed an executive order this week allowing all voters to vote absentee for the upcoming primary elections. This compliments SOS Denise Merrill’s recent decision to mail every registered voter in CT a postage-paid application to vote at home. 
  • VAH legal fight in Texas continues. U.S. District Judge Fred Biery ordered fear of contracting coronavirus a “disability” under Texas’s mail-in ballot law. “Voters should have the option to choose voting by letter carrier versus voting with disease carriers.” He also said AG Paxton probably engaged in illegal voter intimidation with his recent threats to local election officials, and that not expanding VAH unconstitutionally discriminated against young people. “Americans now seek Life without fear of pandemic, Liberty to choose their leaders in an environment free of disease, and the pursuit of Happiness without undue restrictions.” 
  • Michigan scales vote at home. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) announced all registered voters in the August primary and November general election will receive mail-in ballot applications automatically (MI already allows no-excuse absentee voting). David Hawkings called it “one of the most aggressive moves yet to promote voting by mail in a major battleground state this year.” The decision is likely to be challenged in court. POTUS was upset, but several Republican secretaries of state have done the same thing (Georgia and Iowa, to name two). 
  • Missouri may loosen excuse-required absentee rules. Pending Gov. Mike Parson’s approval, a new bill would allow people at “high risk” of Covid-19 infection to vote absentee, though “high risk” is defined narrowly. Others could vote absentee without an excuse as long as their ballots are notarized (which can be done electronically). It’s unclear if the Governor will sign the bill -- SOS Jay Ashcroft (R) is urging him to veto the legislation. The MO Supreme Court is reviewing the limitations in case the Gov rejects the legislation. 
  • Reports and studies out of Wisconsin. A report out this week from the Wisconsin Election Commission demonstrates the significant logistical and technical challenges local and state election officials faced in fulfilling the surge of absentee ballot requests. Also this week, a new study made the news: academics from the University of Wisconsin and Ball State University found a statistically significant association between in-person voting and the spread of COVID-19 in the weeks following the election. Following the April 7 election, the WI Dept. of Health identified 52(!) cases linked to in-person voting. 
  • Launch of Vote Safe: RepresentUs launched “VoteSafe” yesterday, a national, cross-partisan coalition of election officials and organizations committed to safe and secure elections amidst the pandemic. VoteSafe endorses accessible, secure mail-in ballots and safe, in-person voting sites and believes Congress should ensure states have the resources necessary to protect their vote and elections. Several Democratic and Republican secretaries of state have signed on in support. 

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