Vote at Home | Weekly Roundup August 3, 2020

Beth Hladick
Director, Research & Outreach
Unite America

There are 89 days until the November election. Here’s the latest in VAH news: 

Week of August 3

Some notable VAH updates on states that all happen to begin with the letter “m”: In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) is giving county election officials permission to conduct the general election entirely by mail with postage-paid return envelopes (in-person polling will be maintained as well). Michigan’s Supreme Court decided 4-3 not reconsider a lower court decision upholding state law, which mandates that ballots arrive by the time polls close on Election Day in order to be counted. In Minnesota, the witness requirement was waived and envelopes postmarked by Election Day will be counted even if they are delayed in the mail as long as a week. Meanwhile, long USPS delays were recorded in Missouri, with mail taking up to 24 days to arrive back at the county election board (compared to 10 days in previous years). 

In a confusing reversal, Trump praises Florida’s vote-by-mail system, files a lawsuit against Nevada’s VAH expansion. On Monday, Gov. Sisolak (D-NV) signed legislation into law to automatically mail registered voters a ballot ahead of Election Day, joining California,Vermont, and the five full VAH states. On Tuesday, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit seeking to block the expansion, while also tweeting FL’s mail ballot system is “safe and secure.” 

On the Hill, VAH funding is still TBA. The White House and Congress are still “trillions” apart on a price tag for negotiations on the next round of coronavirus relief, and Senators will head home until there’s a deal. Meanwhile, several letters and statements from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress this week urged USPS Postmaster General DeJoy to reconsider operational changes that are causing delays in deliveries of mail ballots. 

A confusing flurry of error-ridden mailers were sent in Virginia by the Center for Voter Information, a Washington-based nonprofit geared toward increasing voter participation amongst underrepresented groups. 2.25 million applications to vote absentee were sent out, with a quarter of them containing a return envelope addressed to the wrong election office (a mix-up between Fairfax County and the city of Fairfax). 

New polling, tracking, and toolkits out this week: 

Citizen Data produced new absentee voting model projections for the November election in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Michigan (h/t to MS!). 

  • NVAHI launched a new website and communications toolkit for election officials. 
  • MIT/Charles Stewart III has a new mail ballot watch, following the fraction of ballots cast by mail in 2016 vs. 2020 primaries. 
  • A new 50-state report out from the COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public’s Policy Preferences Across States details the percentage of voters likely to vote by mail in 2020 compared to those that voted by mail in 2016. In some extreme cases, nearly 20-25 times as many voters are likely to vote by mail in 2020. 

Up Next: Hawaii’s primary is on tomorrow, August 8th. Tuesday, August 11th is Connecticut’s state primary and presidential primary (delayed from April 28th — also the last presidential primary this year). Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin also have state primaries. Georgia and South Dakota have state runoff elections.

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