Vote at Home | Weekly Roundup June 1, 2020

Beth Hladick
Director, Research & Outreach
Unite America

Lessons for November, reinforced by eight states and DC on Super Junesday: Voters are confused about changes, absentee ballots need to be sent to voters earlier, in-person polling needs to be maintained, poll workers are in short supply, and it’s going to take a long time to tabulate the record number of absentee ballots that are returned. Some notable stories:

  • Montana: Record turnout (63%!!!) in the state’s first all-mail primary election.
  • Maryland: The Board of Elections removed results from their website after a ballot design flaw called the results of a City Council district into question. Ballots are being re-tabulated by copying results from the old ballots onto new ballots (which can then be scanned). The Lt. Gov. called for the resignation of the State Administrator of Elections and the Governor and legislature want an oversight hearing.
  • Pennsylvania: State officials made a last-minute decision to extend mail-in deadlines by a week given demonstrations against police brutality. In Philadelphia, 70 percent of polling places were closed due to the unrest. More than 18 times as many people requested absentee ballots. In one county, 2,000 incorrect ballots were sent to voters of the opposite party.

In Tennessee (an excuse-required state), a state court ruled any registered voter can qualify for mail-in voting. State litigators argued moving forward with no-excuse voting would overwhelm the state’s absentee voting system, but the court order said the evidence does not support the state’s claim that it’s “impossible” to scale expanded access to vote at home. The TN state election coordinator instructed local election officials to not immediately comply with the judge’s order until uniform standards are in place.

Republican strategists warn the party could be at a disadvantage this November if the president continues to caution against mail voting. Also this week, R Street penned a letter to the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections this week, calling for Congress to support states with resources to hold safe and secure elections and scale absentee voting in the states.

California Gov. Newsom continues to expand voting options, despite a lawsuit over a previous order to mail ballots to all registered voters in November. The Governor wants more in-person polling locations, drop boxes, and a longer early voting period. He’s hoping the legislature turns his order into law, which may survive additional lawsuits.
ICYMI, Real Clear Politics published NT’s op-ed on how coronavirus could help heal our democracy. “First, we must protect the integrity of our elections by allowing any voter to securely cast a ballot from the safety of their own home by voting absentee, by mail. Postponing the November presidential election -- as over 20 states have done with their primaries -- is not an option. Congress must act in the next stimulus to provide states with additional funding to ensure preparations are made to expand access to mail ballots for all voters.”

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