Vote at Home | Weekly Roundup July 13, 2020

Beth Hladick
Director, Research & Outreach
Unite America

Attention shifts to hundreds of thousands of ballots that were uncounted in primaries due to late arrival or signature issues. A NPR table suggests mail-in ballot rejection was particularly high in Virginia, where 67,565 ballots (5.63 percent) were rejected. Relatedly, a Michigan appeals court ruled this week it’s up to the Legislature to extend receiving deadlines for mail ballots.

Brookings released a 50-state scorecard on voting by mail in the pandemic. States are graded based on absentee status, request method, witness requirement, and return method/deadline. Full VAH states receive an A, while AL, CT, IN, KY, LA, MO, MS, MT, NH, SC, and WI scored a D or worse.

Speaking of New Hampshire, Gov. Sununu (R) previously said fear of catching COVID was a valid excuse to VAH in the state’s Sept. primary and general election. Yet this week, he vetoed a measure from the D-controlled legislature that would have eliminated the excuse requirement (and extended return deadlines for ballots). He called the package a “partisan wish list of unreasonable and unnecessary provisions.”

Republicans urge Trump to embrace mail-in voting, warning the party could face difficulties in November. GOP leaders in the House and Senate have publicly and privately called for more resources for mail-in voting — and hope the President changes his tune. "A lot of people are going to vote by mail, and we need to do what we can to both see that it is done safely and encourage people to believe and ensure people that it is going to be done safely," Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said Thursday.

From our partners: Millennial Action Project released a “P.E.E.R (partnering to ensure election resiliency) to Peer Playbook: Proven bipartisan solutions for safe voting,” which includes five VAH recommendations, state-specific legislation, and helpful tips for election administrators. Also this week, Voting Rights Lab released a report on Polling Place Consolidation: Negative Impacts on Turnout and Equity.

Next up: On Wednesday, the Senate Rules Committee will host a hearing on 2020 Election Preparedness featuring testimony from election administrators and secretaries of state. On August 4th, AZ, KS, MI, MO, and WA have state primaries, followed closely by TN (August 6) and Hawaii (August 8).

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