Voter Suppression ((Supreme Court Just . . .))

thoughtone

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
source: The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott limits counties to one absentee ballot drop-off location, bolstering GOP efforts to restrict voting

The Republican governor's order Thursday was a rebuke to large, Democratic counties that have set up numerous locations where voters may drop off their completed absentee ballots in person. Civil rights groups say it will suppress voting.


Frannie Griffin submitted her ballot at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas for the state’s July 14 runoff elections. Credit: Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott threw the weight of his office Thursday behind Republican efforts to limit options for Texas voters who want to hand-deliver their completed absentee ballots for the November election — a rebuke to some large, Democratic counties that have set up multiple drop-off locations in what they call an effort to maximize voter convenience.

The Republican governor issued a proclamation directing counties to designate just one location for ballot drop-offs, and allowing political parties to install poll watchers to observe the process.

An unprecedented number of absentee ballots are expected to be cast this year as voters who qualify under Texas’ unusually strict vote-by-mail rules opt to avoid the health risks of voting in person. Republican officials have aggressively fought Democratic efforts to expand access to mail-in ballots during the pandemic.

President Donald Trump and many Republicans have sowed misinformation and confusion about the integrity of mail-in voting, which experts say is safe. With the U.S. Postal Service warning of potential delays, many Texans are eager to deliver their completed absentee ballots in person.

Harris County, the state’s most populous and a major Democratic stronghold, had designated a dozen locations where voters could deliver their own ballots — and already began collecting them this week. The locations are spread out across the county’s roughly 1,700 square miles, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

In Travis County, also a major Democratic stronghold, officials had designated four locations where voters could deliver their ballots.

“This is a deliberate attempt to manipulate the election,” Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said Thursday at a press conference outside one of the county’s drop-off locations. Travis County officials say they plan to fight the order

Lina Hidalgo, the Democratic Harris County judge, said “this isn’t security, it’s suppression.”



And Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins said “to force hundreds of thousands of seniors and voters with disabilities to use a single drop-off location in a county that stretches over nearly 2,000 square miles is prejudicial and dangerous.”

Democratic groups are weighing filing a lawsuit as soon as Friday challenging Abbott’s order, according to one party source who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The ballot drop-off locations are staffed, and voters must present an approved form of identification to deliver their ballots. They may not turn in ballots for other voters.

Voting rights advocates say Abbott’s move will make absentee balloting more difficult in a year when more Texans than ever are expected to vote by mail. Drop-off locations, advocates said, are particularly important given concerns about Postal Service delays, especially for disabled voters or those without access to reliable transportation.

“It raises a real concern that people are going to have just one more barrier to successfully submitting their ballot,” barriers that will disproportionately hurt voters of color and those with disabilities, said Mimi Marziani, president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which advocates for voting rights among other issues. “And it opens the door to voter intimidation.”

Texas has extended the early voting period by six days and is allowing voters to drop off absentee ballots before Election Day, but has done little else to give voters more options for safely casting ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. Other states have allowed for universal absentee voting or even set up drop-off boxes where voters can deliver their ballots.

Abbott described his proclamation as an effort to “strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state.” A spokesperson did not respond to questions about how allowing multiple drop-off locations might lead to fraud.

There is “not a shred of evidence,” Marziani said, that it would.

Abbott also announced that election clerks may collect absentee ballots only if they also permit poll watchers to observe the delivery of those ballots, “including the presentation of an acceptable form of identification.”

Nationally, the Republican Party is ramping up a multimillion-dollar effort to recruit poll watchers this year, the first presidential election in almost 40 years that the Republican National Committee has not been under a federal court order imposed to rein in the party’s “ballot security” efforts, which have a history of trying to intimidate voters of color.

In Texas, poll watchers are selected by candidates, political parties, or proponents or opponents of ballot measures — that is, people who have a stake in the outcome of the election. They must stand as silent sentinels and are not permitted to speak to voters or be inside voting booths.

But they, like voters themselves, are not required to wear masks to polling places this year, an exemption from the governor’s statewide mask order.

“These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting,” Abbott said.

While there are documented cases of voter fraud in Texas, they are rare, and experts say absentee ballots are a secure way to vote this year.

The Texas Democratic Party slammed Abbott’s move.

“Republicans are on the verge of losing, so Governor Abbott is trying to adjust the rules last minute,” Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. “We are creating a movement that will beat them at the ballot box on November 3, and there’s nothing these cheaters can do about it.”

Wesley Story, spokesperson for the liberal group Progress Texas, called the proclamation “a blatant attempt to suppress voters.”

Harris County has already begun collecting absentee ballots at a number of locations across the sprawling county. Abbott said that ballots collected before Oct. 2 remain valid, subject to earlier rules. In July, Abbott gave voters more time to deliver their absentee ballots in person, an option typically available only on Election Day.

Texas has maintained its unusually strict criteria for absentee ballots during the pandemic. Voters qualify only if they are 65 or older, are confined in jail but otherwise eligible, are outside of their county through the election period, or cite a disability or illness. The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that lack of immunity to the coronavirus does not itself constitute disability, but that voters must consider that alongside their own personal medical history to decide whether they are eligible. Election administrators do not have the power to vet a voter’s disability claims or demand documentation, but providing false information is a crime.


The question of absentee ballot delivery in Harris County is already being disputed in a legal challenge filed by Houston Republicans earlier this week. A group of candidates and officials including the Harris County GOP has asked the Texas Supreme Court to limit the locations where voters can drop off their ballots, as well as to shorten the early voting period Abbott has laid out. That case is pending before the court.

On Wednesday, the day before the governor’s proclamation, Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins weighed in at the request of the court and backed Harris County’s efforts as lawful under the governor’s earlier orders.

Nothing in the law says that multiple drop-off locations cannot be used, Hawkins argued, and “accordingly, the Secretary of State has advised local officials that the Legislature has permitted ballots to be returned to any early-voting clerk office.”

Early voting is set to begin Oct. 13.




Disclosure: Progress Texas and the Texas secretary of state have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
 

QueEx

Rising Star
Super Moderator
Gov. Greg Abbott limits counties to one absentee ballot drop-off location, bolstering GOP efforts to restrict voting

Hell, one gotdamn absentee ballot drop-off location in huge ass Harris County? So, I decided to check: how many gotdamn "County Jails" are in Harris County, Texas . . . :

The Harris County jail complex consists of three county jails and the Joe Kegans State Jail:
The 1200 Jail
The 1200 Jail, the headquarters of the Harris County Sheriff's Office
The 1200 Jail (located at 1200 Baker Street) opened on January 23, 2003.[4] The 1200 Jail has the administrative offices of the Sheriff's Department. The building has 603,000 square feet (56,000 m2) of space, and it has a 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) parking garage. The facility, which has 4,156 regular beds, 124 beds for the Medical Division, and 96 beds for MHMRA, is one American football field deep and two American football fields in length. 430 sheriff's deputies and detention officers work at the facility. The facility houses an inmate classification center. Each floor has counseling rooms, MHMRA examination/interview rooms, multi-purpose rooms, a recreation area, triage rooms. The fourth floor houses women. The sixth floor houses a law library and vocational rooms. The jail offers New Choices, a substance abuse program.[5] The 1200 Jail includes a large medical clinic, a dental facility, an infirmary, mental health facilities, a pharmacy, an x-ray facility.[4]
The 701 Jail
The 701 Jail (located at 701 North San Jacinto Street) is one of the largest detention facilities in the United States.[6] The seven floor 701 Jail has 4,144 inmate beds. The 701 Jail, originally a five-story building to be used as a cold storage warehouse,[7] opened in the late 1920s. The Houston Terminal Warehouse and Cold Storage Facility was constantly occupied throughout its history. In 1989 the county completed the planning and design stage of its new jail. The cold storage portion was allowed to thaw, and construction on the facility began in December of that year.[6] The facility was gutted and two floors were added.[7] The 701 Jail opened in August 1991.[6] Harris County stated that the re-use of the warehouse saved the county about $21,000,000. About 600 sheriff's deputies and detention officers work in the facility. The county designates the 701 Jail as a "Direct Observation" facility, where staff members monitor inmates continuously for 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.[7] In 2002 the 701 Jail was the second largest American jail, with the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department being the largest.[8]
The 1307 Jail
The 1307 Jail (located at 1307 Baker Street[8]), located east of the 701 Jail, was originally built as a state jail for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.[9] The building was at first occupied by the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. The building reopened under the Sheriff's office in 1998.[8] As of 2010 the Harris County Sheriff's Office is leasing the facility. The 1,070 inmate beds are located in two wings. The county designates this jail as a "Semi-Direct Observation," where staff members monitor inmates in the dormitory area continuously for twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. One lieutenant, nine sergeants, and 112 sheriff's deputies and detention officers staff the jail. The jail also has the Farm Shop, a place where stray livestock confiscated by the Sheriff are kept.[9]

I have one more gotdamn question:---> How soon will it be before the lawsuits seeking declaratory and injunctive relief be filed ? ? ?
 

thoughtone

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
source: Vox


The Supreme Court will hear a case that could destroy what remains of the Voting Rights Act

And Republicans are poised to gain a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court.



Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts walks out of the Senate Chamber following a vote to acquit President Trump on impeachment charges on February 5.




The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will hear two consolidated cases that could eviscerate the right to be free from racial discrimination in voting. And the Court agreed to hear these cases just weeks before the Senate is likely to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, giving a Republican Party that is often hostile to voting rights a 6-3 majority on the nation’s highest court.

It’s difficult to exaggerate the stakes in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee.

The cases involve two Arizona laws restricting the right to vote. One law requires ballots cast in the wrong location to be tossed out, while the other prevents individuals from delivering another person’s absentee ballot to the elections office. But as these cases arise under the Voting Rights Act — a seminal law preventing racist voting laws, that the Supreme Court has already weakened considerably — they provide a conservative-majority Supreme Court the opportunity to dismantle what’s left of the Voting Rights Act.

Early Friday morning, the White House revealed that President Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19. But that news will, at most, impact just one presidential election. The Court’s decision in the Democratic National Committee cases, by contrast, could fundamentally reshape all elections moving forward. It could allow racist voter discrimination to run rampant throughout American democracy. And it potentially endangers the ability of the Democratic Party, with its multiracial coalition, to compete in all future elections, at least at the national level.

We cannot know yet what the Supreme Court will do in this case. Perhaps two Republican justices will get cold feet and agree to save the Voting Rights Act. Or perhaps Democrats will win a landslide victory in the upcoming election and pack the Supreme Court with additional justices — stripping the GOP of its Supreme Court majority in the process.

Barring such events, however, American democracy is in terrible danger. The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the Democratic National Committee cases could threaten the fairness of American elections for years to come.

The two cases concern Arizona laws that make it harder to vote

The specific issue in the Democratic National Committee cases concerns two Arizona laws that require certain ballots to be discarded. One law requires voting officials to discard in their entirety ballots cast by voters who vote in the wrong precinct (rather than simply not counting votes for local candidates who the voter should not have been able to vote for).

The other law prohibits “ballot collection” (or “ballot harvesting”) where a voter gives their absentee ballot to a third party, who delivers that ballot to the election office. (Arizona is one of many states that impose at least some restrictions on ballot collection.)

Both of these laws disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color. As a federal appeals court explained in an opinion striking down the two laws, “uncontested evidence in the district court established that minority voters in Arizona cast [out of precinct] ballots at twice the rate of white voters.” And Hispanic and Native American voters are especially likely to rely on a third party to ensure that their ballot is cast.

One reason for this disparity is that some parts of the state require voters to cast their ballot in counterintuitive locations. Some Maricopa County voters, for example, were required to “travel 15 minutes by car (according to [G]oogle maps) to vote” in their assigned polling location, “passing four other polling places along the way,” according to an expert witness.

In addition, according to the appeals court, many Arizona voters of color lack easy access to the mail and are unable to easily travel on their own to cast a ballot. As the appeals court explained, “in urban areas of heavily Hispanic counties, many apartment buildings lack outgoing mail services,” and only 18 percent of Native American registered voters have home mail service.

Meanwhile, Black, Native, and Hispanic voters are “significantly less likely than non-minorities to own a vehicle” and more likely to have “inflexible work schedules.” Thus, their ability to vote might depend on their ability to give their ballot to a friend or an activist who will take that ballot to the polls for them.

The legal rules implementing the Voting Rights Act are complicated. And the specific legal rules governing these cases are impossible to summarize in a concise way. Courts have to consider myriad factors, including “the extent of any history of official discrimination” in a state accused of violating the Voting Rights Act, and “the extent to which voting in the elections of the state or political subdivision is racially polarized.”

In any event, a majority of the appeals court judges who considered Arizona’s two laws determined that they violate the Voting Rights Act.

The Court could deal a fatal blow to an already ailing Voting Rights Act

Much of the Voting Rights Act no longer functions due to conservative decisions weakening that law. But at least one important prong of the law remains intact and continues to provide a meaningful shield against racist voting laws. The Democratic National Committee cases endanger this remaining shield.

Less than a decade ago, the Voting Rights Act provided three protections against racist voter discrimination. Section 5 of the law required states with a history of racist voting practices to “preclear” new election rules with officials in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act provides two separate protections against voter discrimination. It prohibits election laws enacted with racially discriminatory intent, and it also prohibits any state law that “results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”

But the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) effectively deactivated Section 5’s preclearance regime. And the Court’s decision in Abbott v. Perez (2018) held that lawmakers enjoy such a strong presumption of racial innocence that it is now extremely difficult to prove that those lawmakers acted with racist intent — so difficult that it may be impossible except in the most egregious cases.

The two Democratic National Committee cases involve the third prong of the Voting Rights Act: the so-called “results test” that prohibits many election laws that disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color.

As a young lawyer working in the Reagan administration, Chief Justice John Roberts unsuccessfully fought to convince President Reagan to veto the law establishing this results test; some of his memos from that era even suggest that the results test is unconstitutional. And Roberts is, if anything, the most moderate member of the Supreme Court’s Republican majority.

Now that these cases are before the Supreme Court, in other words, the Court’s Republican-appointed majority could potentially dismantle the results test. At the very least, it could water down that test to such a degree that it no longer provides a meaningful check on racism in elections.

Simply put, the right of voters of color to cast a ballot is now in greater peril than at almost any point since the Jim Crow era. Cases like Shelby County and Perez already stripped the Voting Rights Act of much of its force; the Democratic National Committee cases could finish that job.

These cases, moreover, are not just a historic threat to the right to vote. They are potentially a historic threat to the Democratic Party’s ability to compete in US elections.

Because voters of color in general, and Black voters in particular, are especially likely to vote for Democrats, Republican lawmakers can use race as a proxy to identify communities with large numbers of Democratic voters. They can then enact election laws targeting those communities, confident that the law will mainly disenfranchise Democrats.

The Court’s decision to take these cases, in other words, puts the debate over whether Democrats should add additional seats to the Supreme Court in order to dilute its Republican majority into stark relief. If the Democratic National Committee cases end badly for the Voting Rights Act — and if Democrats control Congress and the White House when these cases are handed down — Democrats may have to choose between radical steps like packing the Court or being permanently exiled to the political wilderness.
 

QueEx

Rising Star
Super Moderator
The Court’s decision to take these cases, in other words, puts the debate over whether Democrats should add additional seats to the Supreme Court in order to dilute its Republican majority into stark relief.

“If the Democratic National Committee cases end badly for the Voting Rights Act — and if Democrats control Congress and the White House when these cases are handed down — Democrats may have to choose between radical steps like packing the Court or being permanently exiled to the political wilderness.”
The political stakes are awfully HIGH while our political awareness of where we are in space and time, seems to be terribly LOW.
 

thoughtone

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
“If the Democratic National Committee cases end badly for the Voting Rights Act — and if Democrats control Congress and the White House when these cases are handed down — Democrats may have to choose between radical steps like packing the Court or being permanently exiled to the political wilderness.”
The political stakes are awfully HIGH while our political awareness of where we are in space and time, seems to be terribly LOW.


PACK THE COURT!!!
 

QueEx

Rising Star
Super Moderator
At least equal to the stolen seats. And then we will see if any semblance of politlity comity returns. If not, then accept that system was broken.
Agreed! The system is broken and there needs to be a fix especially with respect to the filing of vacancies occurring in election years. The shit that Moscow Mitch pulled against Obama and Moscow Donald is pulling now needs a fix, yesteryear.
 

QueEx

Rising Star
Super Moderator
JURISPRUDENCE

Texas Republicans Ask Federal Judge to Throw Out 117,000 Legally Cast Ballots


By MARK JOSEPH STERN
OCT 31, 20205:23 PM


Texas Republicans have asked a federal judge to throw out at least 117,000 ballots cast in Harris County, a heavily Democratic area that has experienced an unprecedented surge in early voting this month. The brazen effort to undo legally cast ballots in a diverse, populous county is an eleventh-hour attempt to diminish Joe Biden’s chances of carrying the swing state on Nov. 3. Republicans claim that Harris County’s use of drive-thru voting violates the U.S. Constitution, requiring the judge to throw out every ballot cast this way—more than 117,000 as of Friday. This argument is outrageous and absurd. But the case landed in front of U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, one of the most notoriously partisan conservatives in the federal judiciary. Democrats have good reason to fear that Hanen will order the mass nullification of ballots as early as Nov. 2, when he has scheduled a hearing.


 

QueEx

Rising Star
Super Moderator
Texas Republicans Ask Federal Judge to Throw Out 117,000 Legally Cast Ballots

TEXAS 2020 ELECTIONS

Texas Supreme Court rejects Republican-led effort to throw out nearly 127,000 Harris County votes

A handful of GOP activists and candidates had asked the state's highest civil court to rule Harris County's drive-thru voting locations illegal, and invalidate votes that have already been cast. The challenge has also been filed in federal court.

A legal cloud hanging over nearly 127,000 votes already cast in Harris County was at least temporarily lifted Sunday when the Texas Supreme Court rejected a request by several conservative Republican activists and candidates to preemptively throw out early balloting from drive-thru polling sites in the state's most populous, and largely Democratic, county.

The all-Republican court denied the request without an order or opinion, as justices did last month in a similar lawsuit brought by some of the same plaintiffs.

[However] The Republican plaintiffs are pursuing a similar lawsuit in federal court, hoping to get the votes thrown out by arguing that drive-thru voting violates the U.S. constitution. A hearing in that case is set for Monday morning in a Houston-based federal district court, one day before Election Day. A rejection of the votes would constitute a monumental disenfranchisement of voters — drive-thru ballots account for about 10% of all in-person ballots cast during early voting in Harris County.


 

QueEx

Rising Star
Super Moderator
There are many ways to suppress the vote, here's another one . . .


Trump Bashed For Falsely Claiming Biden Called Black Kids ‘Super Predators’
Hayley Miller 11 hrs ago



Twitter users mercilessly mocked President Donald Trump on Sunday after he falsely claimed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden referred to Black adolescents as “superpredators.”

“Joe Biden called Black Youth SUPER PREDATORS,” Trump tweeted. “They will NEVER like him, or vote for him. They are voting for ‘TRUMP’.”

But there’s no evidence Biden ever used the term “superpredators.” It’s likely Trump confused Biden with Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, who used the term to refer to young people in gangs while discussing a controversial 1994 crime bill.


Though Clinton did not directly refer to race when she described “superpredators,” her use of the term was widely scrutinized, and many anti-racism activists and Democrats accused her of referring to young Black people.

Biden referred to “predators” while discussing at-risk youth in the 1990s but did not directly refer to Black people at the time, and he has not publicly used the term “superpredators.”

“That was Hillary, dum-dum, not Joe,” tweeted attorney George Conway, who is married to former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway. “On the other hand, it was you who said two Black members of Congress should ‘go back’ to the ‘crime infested places from which they came,’ said that ‘laziness is a trait in Blacks,’ and said you ‘hate’ having ‘Black guys counting my money.’”

Following a wave of fact-checking on Twitter, Trump tweeted ― without evidence ― that Biden “constantly used the term ‘Super Predator’ when referring to young Black Men, according to my sources.”

Trump, who has repeatedly railed against journalists who cite anonymous sources, did not reveal his supposed sources. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This is simply not true,” journalist Eric Michael Garcia tweeted. “Biden DID write the crime bill but Hillary Clinton said superpredators. Trump REALLY wishes he were running against Clinton.”

CNN reported that Trump supported “tough on crime” bills of the 1990s and wrote in his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve,” that “wolf packs” of children roamed the streets and “terrorized urban America.”

“The problem isn’t that we have too many people locked up,” Trump wrote. “It’s that we don’t have enough criminals locked up.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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MCP

International
International Member
Whether the GOP Can Stop Voters From Legally Fixing Rejected Mail-In Ballots Could Decide the Election


Many states allow voters to fix and resubmit ballots rejected for technical reasons. It’s called “curing” votes, and the GOP is trying to prevent them from being counted because they could help Biden win


Victoria Benedict, a stationery store owner in Atlanta who has been voting by mail for years, was surprised last month when she went to the Georgia secretary of state’s website and found her ballot had been rejected. A problem with her signature — the state said the one on her ballot did not match what it had on file — set her on a dayslong quest to make sure her vote would be counted.

County staff told her that she would either have to show up at the local election office to sign her ballot or vote in person on Election Day. Either option would risk her health during a pandemic. Instead, on the advice of a friend who volunteers with the state’s Democratic Party, she filled out a form known as a ballot cure affidavit. This time, her vote was accepted.

“I knew to press,” Benedict said. “It just worries me that other voters who didn’t may fall through the cracks.”

The blue wave widely predicted by pollsters never came Tuesday. Now, the unexpectedly thin margins in key states, combined with the vast increase in voting by mail, are highlighting the esoteric process of “curing” ballots, in which people whose mailed ballots are rejected because of signature or other problems are given a second chance. Since mailed ballots in most states tilt Democratic, curing them so that they can be counted is believed to help former Vice President Joe Biden.

“The cure process is going to be really important for a lot of close states,” said Amber McReynolds, CEO of the voting advocacy group Vote At Home, which tracks rejection rates and suggests best practices for states to cure rejected ballots.

Even a few thousand cured ballots could potentially affect the outcome in states still in play in the presidential race as well. As with other aspects of the mail voting process, curing is now the focus of attacks by the GOP. Republicans have already sued in Pennsylvania to block the counting of cured ballots. In many states, voters don’t have to submit their cured ballots until a week or more after Election Day, potentially delaying a final count. In the meantime, Biden campaign workers are engaged in a post-election get-out-the-vote effort, calling and texting these voters and encouraging them to cure their rejected ballots.

While the term may be new to many voters, the curing of rejected ballots has been part of the American electoral process for decades. “We need to let election administrators finish their work,” said Ben Hovland, the chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Hovland is a Democrat who was appointed by President Donald Trump. “The cure process is simply part of counting, as it always has been, and we need to allow the professionals to finalize the count and certify the results.”

Curing rules vary from one state to the next. In Wisconsin and Michigan, cured ballots must be returned on or before Election Day. In North Carolina and Nevada, ballots can be cured until a week or more after the election. In Michigan and Georgia, election officials must tell voters that their ballots have been rejected, providing an opportunity for curing; Michigan’s legislature added this requirement in fall, after hundreds of curable ballots were rejected in its August primary. In Wisconsin, notification is only encouraged, as was the case in North Carolina until August, when a federal judge ruled that the board of elections must provide a cure process.

In Nevada, 3,536 mail ballots have been rejected for signature problems as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Nevada secretary of state. Those voters have until Nov. 12 to fix their ballots so they can count.

The number of rejected ballots in Nevada could grow because officials are still collecting mail ballots from drop boxes and the U.S. Postal Service. And whether they’re cured could matter because Biden’s current lead in the state is less than 8,000 votes. Officials said they’ll release more results on Wednesday night.

Counties make lists of voters whose ballots were rejected available to the parties. Democrats in Nevada are organizing hundreds of staff and volunteers to remind voters to cure their ballots before the deadline, according to state party spokeswoman Molly Forgey. Democrats have already successfully fixed 2,340 ballots, compared with 825 Republicans and 1,354 independents, according to data from the secretary of state.

The Nevada Republican Party didn’t respond to a request for comment. In a statement, the party complained it wasn’t being allowed to observe or challenge signature matches. The GOP has sued to stop counting mail ballots in Clark County, the state’s largest and most Democratic, but a judge rejected the Republicans’ motion for a temporary restraining order.



Republicans in Pennsylvania have challenged ballot curing in lawsuits in state and federal court.

In Pennsylvania, a voter whose ballot was rejected can’t mail in a new one. Instead, curing takes a different form. The secretary of state released guidance Oct. 21 that voters whose absentee or mail-in ballots were rejected by county boards of elections could be issued a provisional ballot on Election Day. The county board of elections would then determine later whether the ballot should be counted, according to the guidance.

On Tuesday night, Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican who represents the northwestern corner of the state, and others sued the secretary of state over the policy in Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The suit seeks to block rejected ballots from being cured by casting a provisional ballot.

It’s not clear how many such ballots there are, and a spokesperson for the secretary of state declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

In a separate federal suit challenging 98 cured ballots in Montgomery County, a judge seemed unmoved by Republican lawyers’ arguments at a Wednesday morning hearing in Philadelphia. The case is still pending.

“Taken together, these lawsuits amount to an argument that boils down to: ‘Voters get one chance, and if they make a mistake, too bad,’” said Michelle Kanter Cohen, senior counsel at the nonpartisan Fair Elections Center. “This isn’t the way to approach our fundamental rights in a democracy.”

In Georgia, any voter whose ballot is rejected is notified by the county and then will have until Friday to submit a cure form that will allow their signature to be validated. The law requires count officials to reach out to voters by phone or by email, and they must send a letter with instructions if a voter’s contact information is unavailable. Gabriel Sterling, a state official who manages Georgia’s voting equipment, projected on Monday afternoon that the state would reject about 3,000 total ballots.

McReynolds said Vote At Home believes the Georgia outcome will come down to as few as 1,000 votes, making even a small number of rejected ballots crucial to the final result. Neither the Trump nor Biden campaigns have requested the names of voters whose ballots were rejected, but the state would do so if asked, said Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state.

North Carolina will be counting cured ballots as well as absentee ballots that were postmarked by Election Day until Nov. 12, an extended deadline that was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in late October despite two separate attempts by Republicans to block the extension.

Data from the State Board of Elections on Tuesday indicated that 6,148 voters have cured their ballots so far, with an additional 6,947 voters whose ballots are “pending cure.” Barack Obama won the state in 2008 by 14,177 votes. The board has reported Trump leading by 76,701 votes, with 117,000 absentee ballots that were requested and have yet to be returned.

The Biden campaign has organized post-Election Day door knocking and phone-banking through Fight for NC to encourage voters to cure rejected ballots. Laurel Birch Kilgore, executive director of the Democratic Party chapter in Wake County, which is the most-populous county in the state, said she had planned to take the day after the election off but has instead been working to recruit volunteers for canvassing. Attempts to reach the North Carolina Republican Party for comment were unsuccessful.

Voters whose ballots need curing tend to be relatively young. Those voters are disproportionately more likely to have their signatures rejected because they have fewer examples on file with the state — either at the department of motor vehicles or the elections office — to check against. “On average, Coloradans have about eight signatures on file, but younger people might have zero or one or two,” said Jenna Griswold, secretary of state for Colorado. “So their rate of rejection is going to be higher — it can be as much as triple that of older voters, but as you get older the rate decreases.”

Izzy Bronstein, a national grassroots organizer for Common Cause, said curing is most prevalent where it’s easy, as in Florida, where it can mostly be done online. She added that curing can be especially impactful in state and local races: “In a presidential election, a single ballot sometimes isn’t going to change anything, but in a city council election it might.”
 

QueEx

Rising Star
Super Moderator
Republicans advance more than 100 bills that would restrict voting in wake of Trump's defeat

State lawmakers have zeroed in on mail-in voting for new restrictions and rollbacks.



NBC News
Feb. 5, 2021
By Jane C. Timm


State Republicans have in recent weeks advanced a spate of proposals that would restrict access to the ballot box, a move voting rights experts warned was coming after President Joe Biden's win.

State lawmakers are considering more than 100 laws that would make it harder to vote, according to an analysis conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. This number represents almost triple the number of similarly restrictive bills under consideration this time last year, according to the analysis.


These bills, in the works in 28 states, primarily seek to limit mail-in voting access, add voter ID requirements and make it harder to get on or stay on the voter rolls, according to the Brennan Center. There are nearly 2,000 bills moving through state legislatures aimed at addressing election-related issues overall, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Mail-in voting proved key to Biden's victory, as more Democrats than Republicans embraced the method rather than congregating at the polls as an uncontrolled pandemic raged. Experts have attributed this split to then-President Donald Trump's unrelenting effort to sow doubt in the integrity of the 2020 race with false claims that vote-by-mail is inherently fraudulent, and appeals to his supporters to vote in person.

Now, Republicans have zeroed in on mail-in voting for new restrictions and rollbacks, in some cases targeting laws the GOP had championed years before the pandemic.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News recently that rolling back pandemic election changes like expanded mail-in voting was “absolutely an important effort” for the party. She added that the RNC would be “taking a very heavy role in” efforts to clean up voter rolls. Trump falsely claimed there were thousands of dead people who voted in Georgia and while roll maintenance is a normal part of elections, experts warn that the voter roll purges that some Republicans have advocated for in the past are too aggressive, removing eligible voters from the books.

Conservative advocates of these laws say they’ll make elections more secure. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in American elections, while there is a large body of evidence that American elections are secure from both hacking and fraud. Still, Republicans have for years warned of voter fraud, despite the lack of evidence for it, something voting rights experts say primed a significant number of Republican voters in 2020 to believe Trump's lie about a stolen election.

“People are planting the seeds, laying the groundwork, and then saying, ‘Look, people are fearing exactly what I told them to fear’ even though there’s no evidence or basis for that,” said Eliza Sweren-Becker, an attorney at the Brennan Center who worked on the analysis of the state legislative proposals.


There’s an even more prolific effort to expand voting access, with more than 400 bills in 35 states proposing the expansion of access to the vote.

But with Republicans controlling the majority of state legislatures in the U.S., voting rights advocates say they are on high alert for new laws that will make it harder for voters to cast their ballots in future elections.


Sweren-Becker said she’s particularly concerned about Georgia, Arizona and Texas, states that have been trending blue in part due to a quickly diversifying electorate. Georgia and Arizona flipped blue this past presidential election, backing Biden over Trump; those wins were fueled in part by major demographic shifts over the last few years, paired with significant organizing and voter education efforts by Democrats and grassroots groups.

Suppressive laws “always have a greater burden on voters of color,” she said. “It’s impossible to disentangle these efforts to restrict voting access with efforts to keep Black and brown voters from the ballot box.”


At least a half-dozen states want to limit or modify mail-in voting systems.​
In Pennsylvania, there are three different proposals that would eliminate no-excuse voting, Brennan notes, less than two years after state lawmakers in both parties voted to approve the law.

In Georgia, GOP lawmakers have promised to repeal no-excuse mail voting more than 15 years after the party put the system in place. The proposed law would limit the practice to those who are 75 or older, disabled or absent from the precinct on Election Day.​
In Arizona, a Republican lawmaker wants to stop infrequent voters from receiving their ballots in the mail automatically.​
In Pennsylvania, a Republican state senator announced he’d seek to eliminate the permanent early mail voting list, a system that allows voters who opt in for regular mail voting.​
Lawmakers in Virginia and Georgia have also proposed eliminating drop boxes, a popular way of returning mail-in ballots. There’s no evidence that using these mailbox-like receptacles invites voter fraud, but it was a key complaint from Trump and his campaign during the race.​


Lawmakers in 10 states including Pennsylvania, Virginia and Minnesota have introduced 18 bills to add voter ID requirements or make them stricter, the Brennan Center said.​
In New Hampshire, lawmakers want to require mail-in voters to send photocopies of their photo ID, while Georgia Republicans want driver’s license numbers and date of birth to be submitted alongside such ballots.​
In Missouri, Republicans are hoping to reinstate components of a voter ID law the state’s Supreme Court declared unconstitutional last year.​


Legislators in Connecticut, Montana, New Hampshire and Virginia have proposed ending same-day voter registration, while lawmakers in Alaska and Georgia have proposed ending automatic voter registration.
At least six states are considering more aggressive purge practices, too. Voter roll maintenance is an ordinary part of elections, but too-aggressive purges can disenfranchise eligible voters.​

Some states are also attempting to rethink how Electoral College votes are allocated in the presidential contest.​
In Wisconsin and Mississippi, Republicans have proposed distributing electors proportionately, based on the results of individual congressional districts instead of a winner-takes-all statewide allocation. It’s a system only Maine and Nebraska use, but that too could change: Republicans in the Nebraska Legislature have proposed giving all their electors to the statewide winner, after Biden won one of the state’s electoral votes.​
Lawmakers in Oklahoma and Arizona have proposed cutting voters out of the process, giving themselves power to allocate the state electors to a candidate. Arizona would give legislators the power to override the secretary of state's certification of the vote, appointing electors to a candidate of their own choosing. Oklahoma would give legislators the power to appoint electors unless there is a federal law requiring voter ID and auditable paper ballots, in which case the power would be returned to voters. That bill was sent to committee this week.​
Meanwhile, 11 states have introduced proposals to join an interstate compact that would undermine the traditional Electoral College structure. If enough states join, participating states agree to allocate electors to whoever wins the popular vote nationwide.​




Republicans advance more than 100 bills that would restrict voting in wake of Trump's defeat (nbcnews.com)
 

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Trump's false fraud claims are laying groundwork for new voting restrictions, experts warn
While the courts aren’t buying Trump's attempts to overturn the election he lost, experts say they are already seeing a push for new laws to make it harder to vote.



Even before the final votes in the 2020 election were tallied, President Donald Trump sent his attorneys to court alleging voter fraud.

When it became clear that he had lost to President-elect Joe Biden, his claims — and his campaign’s court filings — accelerated. Trump attacked cities with large shares of Black voters, who had come out in force for Biden, while his lawyers baselessly alleged a global conspiracy and filed dozens of suits in six states.


The legal strategy failed in court after court — not a single incident of voter fraud has been proven in the lawsuits — but experts warn the narrative is laying the groundwork for disenfranchisement of voters across the country.

“I don’t actually think that all of this leads to a different result in January, but I am really afraid about what Donald Trump is currently doing to the country for February and beyond,” said Justin Levitt, an election law expert and professor at Loyola Law School who worked at the Department of Justice during the Obama administration.

Despite the large body of evidence that American elections are secure from both hacking and widespread voter fraud, federal and state politicians are already proposing new laws that will make it harder to vote.

“We’re already seeing trial balloons of new measures to restrict access to voting, and I expect that this false narrative of voter fraud is going to be used as an excuse in many other places to try and drive an anti-voter agenda going forward,” said Wendy Weiser, vice president of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law.

In Georgia, a traditionally red state that Biden flipped blue this year by more than 12,000 votes, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has proposed several major election changes, including adding a voter ID requirement to mail-in voting and making it easier to challenge a voter’s stated residency.

"Close elections sow distrust," Raffensperger said on Nov. 20, announcing that a hand recount had shifted Biden’s margin of victory in the state but had not changed the outcome. "People feel like their side was cheated."

A second recount followed in the state, affirming the same result.

Another Republican official in his office, Gabriel Sterling, later forcefully condemned the president and other Republicans’ rhetoric around a “stolen” or “rigged” election, which he said has incited harassment of election officials and death threats.


Mail-in voting, voter purges and more
Much like the onslaught of litigation aimed at restricting or expanding mail-in voting ahead of Nov. 3, expect lawmakers to propose a slew of new laws affecting such balloting.

“There will be legislation both increasing the barriers to mail voting and trying to make it easier to vote by mail — we’ll see legislation on both sides of that,” Weiser said.

She said she’ll be watching for the kind of legislative proposals the Trump campaign fought for in court: restricting who can use mail-in voting, voter ID, limiting drop boxes, and the ability for voters to “cure,” or fix, ballots containing small errors, such as a missing signature, so they can still be counted.

Levitt said he expects some jurisdictions will do voter purges — removing some people from their registration lists. It’s a normal part of election administration but can disenfranchise eligible voters when it is done too aggressively.

“We’ve seen in the current lawsuits, allegations that the voter rolls are full of fraudulent voters. I think you will see symbiotically, post-election efforts to purge the voter rolls that talk about ‘all of the fraud that happened in 2020’ — heavy air quotes,” he told NBC News.

Weiser said ballot restrictions won’t happen in a vacuum — the 2020 election cycle educated a lot of voters about the voting process.

“Americans have become much more aware of their voting systems and the mechanics of the voting process and the way in which it works and the options available to them, and therefore have become bigger stakeholders in that process,” she said. “That’s a positive impact that we’ll see.”


Targeting mail-in voting
Prominent Republicans — many who have still refused to acknowledge Biden as the president-elect — have joined Trump in sowing mistrust in the election system. Some have called for a nationwide crackdown on mail-in voting, a regularly used form of civic participation that more Americans than usual took advantage of in 2020 due to the health risks of congregating at the polls amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a recent Twitter thread, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, called for limiting mail-in voting nationwide and adding voter ID requirements and a national voter database. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tweeted a link to a misleading blog post about “anomalies in vote counts.”
“Fraud? Look at the evidence and decide for yourself,” he tweeted.


The president and his allies like Paul have repeatedly ignored the facts with claims about improper “vote dumps,” NBC News has reported. In the lead-up to Election Day, Trump repeatedly railed against mail-in ballots, issuing still-unsubstantiated warnings of mass fraud.

Conversely, Democrats have vowed to restore the part of the Voting Rights Act that was gutted by a Supreme Court ruling in 2013 in Shelby County v. Holder, with an updated version named for Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the civil rights icon and voting rights advocate. The law would update the outdated formula determining which areas have a history of discrimination and thus should be required to prove that changes to voting are not discriminatory. Biden has vowed to sign it as president, something the Democrats could do only if they retake the Senate after January’s runoff races in Georgia.

Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election were unsurprising. When he won in 2016, he insisted he’d lost the popular vote only because of voter fraud that no one, including his own presidential task force, could find. But experts fear he’s rallying a generation of supporters to fight against a threat that doesn’t exist.

And coming from a president whose political career kicked off with the racist birther claims about President Barack Obama, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that restrictive voter laws often disproportionately disenfranchise the Black voters who came out in force for Biden.

“Often, efforts to root out voter fraud are thinly-veiled dog whistles to try to undermine Black and brown voters,” Weiser said. “President Trump’s efforts … make it less thinly veiled.”

Trump and his attorneys have particularly blamed fraud on cities with large shares of Black voters, such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta, alleging a national conspiracy.

“The only surprise I would have found in this is if Philadelphia hadn't cheated in this election because for the last 60 years they've cheated in just about every single election,” Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani baselessly claimed Nov. 19 during a freewheeling press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. “You could say the same thing about Detroit.”


Restrictive laws historically follow periods of advancement
For more than 100 years, voter fraud claims have cued up tighter rules.

“Voter suppression efforts are almost always accompanied or preceded by claims of voter fraud,” said Alex Keyssar, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of “The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States.”

Trump’s claims “could easily lead to significant voter suppression,” he said.

Keyssar said there have been two major periods of voter suppression in American history, and both followed periods of empowerment of Black Americans and large-scale immigration. After the 15th Amendment and Reconstruction began to empower Black voters and politicians, Jim Crow laws systematically disenfranchised Black voters with poll taxes and literacy taxes.

The Voting Rights Act — passed in 1965, in the wake of the civil rights march known as “Bloody Sunday” and reauthorized four times by presidents in both parties— ensured Black Americans’ voting rights over several decades.

But it also led to more modern forms of voter suppression, voting rights experts say. The last two decades have seen aggressive purging of voters from the rolls, restrictive registration rules, voter ID laws, aggressive gerrymandering and more. The mostly Republican proponents of these measures say they are necessary to secure the vote and prevent fraud, with critics, including Democratic lawmakers and civil rights groups, arguing these measures successfully have kept eligible voters from the polls for a problem that doesn’t exist.


Race and immigration were central issues in the 2020 election, which took place amid a national racial reckoning as Americans stood up in protest against mistreatment of Black Americans at the hands of police. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is the first Black American, the first woman and the first South Asian American to be elected vice president, too, facing racist attacks during the campaign.

In October, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., mockingly mispronounced Harris’ first name repeatedly before adding “whatever!” while speaking at a Trump rally. (A representative for Perdue claimed the Republican senator simply mispronounced her name and "didn't mean anything by it.")

Both Perdue and his Republican colleague, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, were forced into runoffs, facing Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively, Jan. 5.

“The attacks on Kamala Harris, the attacks on her name, reflect that — she’s an ‘other,’ she has an unpronounceable name,” Keyssar said.

Keyssar said 2020 fits the mold, the kind of ongoing societal clashes that have fueled voter suppression in the past. And while experts agree the modern period of voter suppression hasn’t yet ended, it’s clear that Trump’s claims of a “stolen” election will intensify its battles anew.

“He amplified the public conversation around voter fraud, he made that more of a household conversation, and he has increased the salience of voting restrictions for his supporters,” Weiser said. “In that way, he made it a lot worse.”


Trump's false fraud claims are laying groundwork for new voting restrictions, experts warn (nbcnews.com)


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