The fight over voting
Democrats and Republicans are engaged in a furious struggle over voting rights. In almost every instance, Democrats are trying to make it easier for Americans to cast ballots, and Republicans are trying to make it harder.
Much of the fight involves voting by mail, which many people would prefer to do this year, to minimize their risk of contracting the coronavirus at a polling place. Lawyers have already filed more than 300 lawsuits, across 44 states, over issues related to pandemic voting. The most important cases are in the battleground states on which the presidential election or Senate control could hinge.
Here are the latest developments:
Pennsylvania: The state’s highest court has ruled that election officials should count mailed ballots that arrive up to three days after Election Day. Pennsylvania Republicans are trying to get the Supreme Court to reverse the order, so that only ballots received by Election Day will count.
North Carolina: Republicans and the Trump campaign have asked the Supreme Court to block the state’s board of elections from extending the deadline to receive mail ballots. The board has said ballots can arrive until Nov. 12, as long as they were mailed by Election Day.
Wisconsin: The five Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court sided on Monday with Republican officials in Wisconsin, ruling that ballots must arrive by 8 p.m. on Election Day to count. (A lower-court ruling would have allowed state officials to count any mailed ballots postmarked by Election Day and received up to six days later.) In response, the state’s Democratic Party is urging voters to return mail ballots in person — to a drop box or clerk’s office — rather than mailing them.
Nevada: The Trump campaign has sued to stop the counting of absentee ballots in the Las Vegas area, evidently hoping to challenge the signatures on many ballots. Last night, the campaign and Nevada Republican Party filed a separate lawsuit, seeking detailed information on the vote-counting process.
Texas: The state’s top court yesterday upheld a policy announced by Greg Abbott, the Republican governor, which limits each county to a single drop-off box for mailed ballots. The state’s largest county — Harris, which includes Houston — is home to 4.7 million people.
Michigan: A conservative judge yesterday overturned an order by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, and ruled that people could carry unconcealed guns at polling places on Election Day.
In many of these cases, Republicans have argued that changing voting rules because of the pandemic could lead to fraud (a claim that’s largely baseless) and that allowing ballots to be counted after Election Day leads to confusion and chaos.
Democrats have argued that protecting people’s right to vote, during a national crisis, should be top priority. Democrats have also pointed out that some Republicans have changed their position on the counting of mailed ballots: When late-arriving ballots seemed likely to help George W. Bush in Florida in 2000, Republicans argued that the state should count them.
For more: Factcheck.org catalogs the false statements that President Trump made yesterday about voting. In Lawfare, Zahavah Levine explains the flurry of recent lawsuits. In The Washington Post, the election-law expert Richard Hasen analyzes the Supreme Court’s recent rulings. And The Times offers advice about making sure your mailed ballot counts. (Short answer: Use a drop box.)