Vote at Home | Weekly Roundup May 4, 2020

Beth Hladick
Policy Manager
Unite America

Hey all you cool cats and kittens. Beth here with the Vote at Home weekly roundup.

  • California will Vote at Home in November (the first state(!!) to commit to do so besides the fab five with full VAH systems -- CO, HI, OR, UT, and WA). Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order today to allow all registered voters to receive a mail-in ballot this November. In-person polling will still be an option, with strict social distancing. 

  • Connecticut moves closer to VAH, but an excuse is still required. SOS Denise Merrill (D) said mail ballot applications will be mailed to every registered voter in Connecticut, but only those who have an excuse to vote absentee can complete them. Merrill has the power to declare COVID a valid excuse, but said she’d like Gov. Lamont (D) or the D-legislature to take the lead. CT is the only blue state amongst the six remaining (TX, MS, MO, SC, TN) that require an excuse to VAH for remaining primaries. 
  • New York’s presidential primary is back on, statewide. Last week, the NY Board of Elections cancelled the D presidential primary, which would have prevented 20 of 42 counties from voting in the June 23rd election (the other 22 counties had down-ballot contests to vote). This week, a federal judge ordered election officials to conduct the primary as originally planned. The NY Board of Elections hasn’t ruled out the possibility of an appeal, but the Bernie campaign, candidates for Congress/legislature, Andrew Yang, and the League of Women Voters are celebrating, hoping the switch will yield higher turnout. 
  • New research supports all mail-voting increases turnout: In a NYT article out this week, academics describe new research which shows all-mail voting in Colorado increases turnout (especially for groups who tend to vote less frequently) by about 9.4%. Consistent with the Stanford research, they find little evidence that all-mail voting disproportionately benefits Republicans or Democrats (both increase by 8%), while independent turnout increases by 12%. 
  • The Ohio primary last week faced some of the same problems as Wisconsin. Compared to the 2016 primary, the state processed four times as many absentee ballot requests. Yet turnout was a bit of a disappointment: about 20% of the voting eligible population participated (the lowest in recent history) compared to 38% in the 2016 primary. This could have been due to the lack of a competitive presidential election, though congressional and state Supreme Court races were also on the ballot. Regardless, if turnout surges to its normal 60%+  in November, Ohio will need to be prepared to VAH. 
  • Funding for the USPS remains uncertain. A group of bipartisan senators penned a letter to congressional leaders calling for emergency appropriations and disbursement of the $10 billion loan appropriated to the USPS in the CARES Act. Also this week, President Trump named Louis DeJoy postmaster general
  • Some good news: The recent Kansas Democratic primary is another example of a successful mail-only, RCV election. This year, the party switched from a caucus to a party-run primary in an effort to boost turnout. More than three times the amount of people voted this cycle compared to last, which set a new participation record. 
  • Upcoming primaries: NE (5/12, presidential & statewide), ID (5/19 statewide), OR (5/19 presidential & statewide) 

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