Thursday, August 13, 2020

Electionline Weekly August-13th-2020

Legislative Updates

California: Gov. Gavin Newsome (D) has Signed Legislation into Law that allows Counties offer Fewer In-Person Polling Places in Exchange for Opening the Sites Earlier. Senate Bill 423 allows Counties to Merge Precincts, as long as they keep the Ratio of One Precinct per 10,000 Registered Voters instead of the typical 1,000 Voters. These Consolidated Polling Places must be Open from Saturday, Oct. 31st, through Monday, Nov. 2nd, for at least Eight hours each Day and from 7a.m. to 8p.m. on Election Day. Counties will also be Required to Open One Ballot Drop-Off Location for every 15,000 Registered Voters for 28 Days before the Election.

Maryland: The Gaithersburg City Council Voted Unanimously to get Rid of Write-In Candidates in City Elections. The Council said the Threshold to get on the Ballot, 100 Signatures, isn’t that Difficult and the Write-In Process can be Confusing to Voters and Election Workers.

Michigan: The Ann Arbor City Council Voted 6-5 to Shoot Down a Proposal that would have put a Ballot Measure on the November Ballot asking Voters if they wanted City Elections to use Ranked-Choice Voting if it becomes Allowable under State Law. Some Council Members’ Reasons for Opposing it were that it’s Not currently allowed in Michigan, though there is Legislation Pending to Allow it, and some said they didn’t want to layer Ranked-Choice Voting on Top of the City’s Partisan Elections and instead want to Shift to Elections without Party Labels.

Voters in Grand Rapids will decide in November whether Local Elections, including Races for City Commission, will take place during Even years as Opposed to the Current Odd Year Cycle. City Voters will Additionally decide if they want the Two Candidates for a Single City Office that get the most Votes in an August Primary to Face-Off in the November General Election.

Mississippi: The Clay County Board of Supervisors Unanimously Approved providing an Extra $50 in Hazard Pay to each Poll Worker working the upcoming Special Election on Sept. 22nd for the Vacant Mississippi House of Representatives Seat in the 37th District. Poll Workers are already scheduled to Receive the $50 Hazard Pay for the November Election.

New Jersey: The Ocean County Board of Freeholders Passed a Resolution saying that Voters should Not have Limitations Placed on them when it comes to Voting in the November Election. The Resolution calls on the Governor to Allow for use of In-Person Voting in Conjunction with Voluntary Mail Voting. “Our citizens should not be told how to cast a ballot,” Ocean County Freeholder, Gary Quinn said. “When the state starts doing that we begin to chip away at the democratic process.”

Cape May County Freeholders also Passed a Resolution Opposing an Entirely-by-Mail November Election. In their Opposition Resolution, the Freeholders cited a Laundry List of Reasons why In-Person Voting should be Allowed in Addition to Mail Balloting. Some of the Reasons cited include: Concerns about Fraud and the Length of Time it takes to Count Mail Ballots. MD: The Solution is to Count Mail Ballots, each Day they Arrive, but Not Announce their Totals until after Election Day. This will also Allow Voters to Correct Problems with their Ballots, with a Ballot Tracking System.

North Dakota: Supporters of a Proposed Constitutional Initiative for Sweeping Election Changes have Gathered enough Petition Signatures to Qualify for the November Ballot. The Proposal lays out New Election Processes to be Inserted into North Dakota’s Constitution, including: Earlier Transmission of Ballots to Eligible Military and Overseas Voters; Paper Records of Each Vote Cast; Election Audits of One or More Random Precincts of each Legislative District; Open Primaries and Instant-Runoffs also Called Ranked-Choice Voting for Statewide, Legislative, and Congressional Offices; Drawing of Legislative Districts by North Dakota’s Ethics Commission rather than the Legislature; and Subdivision of House Districts.

Vermont: Burlington Mayor, Miro Weinberger, issued his First Veto on an Effort to Reinstate Ranked-Choice Voting in the City. In a One-Page Memo, Weinberger wrote that he Objects to “the timing, avoidable expense and substance” of the City Council’s July 13th Resolution to bring Back Ranked-Choice Voting. The Measure, Passed by a Slim 6-5 Majority, sought to Place the Question on the November Ballot. “I am returning the Resolution … to you unsigned,” the Mayor wrote in the August 6th Memo. “I do not take this action lightly.”

Legal Updates

Alabama: Montgomery County Civil Court Judge, J.R. Gaines, has Dismissed a Lawsuit, filed in May, by the League of Women Voters and Several Elderly or Sick Alabamians, that had contended that Provisions Requiring Absentee Voters to have Photo IDs before Getting their Ballots and another Requiring a Notary Public or Two Witnesses attest that the Voter Filled-Out the Ballot Violate Alabama’s Constitution amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. Gaines Dismissed the Lawsuit for Several Reasons. “For the reasons laid out in the defendants’ motions to dismiss, the court finds that it lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ complaint because Plaintiffs present a nonjusticiable political question, plaintiffs lack standing to sue defendants, and the claims against defendants are barred by sovereign immunity,” Gaines wrote in his Order. “Additionally, the court notes that even if it had found that jurisdiction exists, it would have found that plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, for the reasons laid out in the defendants’ motions to dismiss.”

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund have filed a Petition asking that All of the Judges on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Reconsider the July 21st Decision by a Panel of Three Judges that fell 2-1 In-Favor of the State’s Voter ID Law. The 2011 Law requires Voters to show a Valid, Government-Issued Photo ID to Vote. The NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries, and Several Minority Voters Sued, arguing that Lawmakers knowingly crafted the Law to Prevent Black People and Other Minorities, who are Less likely to have such Photo IDs, from Voting. The Three-Judge Panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Found that the Burden of Alabama’s Voter ID Law is Minimal, and does Not “violate the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution, nor does it violate the Voting Rights Act.”

California: Journalist Kim Zetter has filed Suit in LA County Superior Court to get Copies of an External After Action Report from the Los Angeles County March Primary. The LA County Board of Supervisors asked the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office to Investigate the Missteps and that 135-page Internal Report was Released to the Public, with Recommendations on how the Voting System could be Improved by November. A separate, External Audit Conducted by Slalom Consulting was Not Released in its Entirety, but Only in Summary Form. Zetter Twice requested the Report including a Formal Request under the California Public Records Act. The County said the Records were Exempt from Disclosure. Zetter Argues the County has Not been able to make a Proper “Determination” as to why it is Withholding Public Records as Required by California Law nor did it entertain the Prospect of Redacting Portions of the Document that could be Withheld before they are Released. Finally, Zetter says the Records “contain information that is already public or is not subject to any basis for withholding” under California Law.

Florida: U.S. District Judge, Mark Walker, Dismissed Florida Secretary of State, Laurel Lee, from a Long-Running Dispute about Providing Spanish-Language Ballots and Voting Materials in 32 Counties, but he Allowed the Case to Move Forward. Walker, last year, Issued a Preliminary Injunction Ordering Lee to Require 32 Counties to take a Series of Steps, including Providing Spanish-Language Ballots and Materials, in Time for the March 2020 Presidential Primary Elections. The Order Friday Allowed the Case to Move Forward with Alachua County Supervisor of Elections, Kim Barton, as a Defendant. She is a Representative of the other 31 Supervisors whose Counties are Involved.

Georgia: The Democratic Party and Three Voters have Sued the State asking the Courts to Step-In to Prevent Long Lines during the November Election. The Suit is Seeking to have a Judge Require more Polling Places, Better-Trained Poll Workers, and Emergency Paper Ballots. “The issues we saw in Georgia in the primary cannot be repeated in November,” said U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a Plaintiff in the Lawsuit. “This is a problem with a clear solution, and there is no reason elections officials should not take the reasonable steps to make sure Georgians don’t stand in line for hours to vote.” Joining the DSCC in Filing the Suit were the Democratic Party of Georgia, Two Fulton County Voters, and a Cobb County Voter.

U.S. District Judge, Amy Totenberg, Denied an Effort to Convert Georgia Elections to Paper Ballots Filled-Out-by-Hand, Declining to Throw-Out the State’s New Voting System after its First Statewide Test in this Spring’s Primaries. Totenberg had Allowed the Suit to move Forward based on Problems with the State’s June Primary however she Ultimately Ruled against the Switch. The Lawsuit argued that the State’s Dependence on Electronic Voting made Elections Susceptible to Manipulation or Hacking. The Plaintiffs said Voters couldn’t truly Confirm the Accuracy of their Printed Ballots, which Encode Votes in Bar Codes, that are Read for Tabulation. “The court appreciates the plaintiffs’ central claim addresses the problem posed by tabulating votes based on a bar code that cannot be verified by voters in conjunction with the lack of meaningful, rigorous auditing,” Totenberg wrote. “However … the court finds that plaintiffs’ showing has been insufficient” because it was Based on Information Presented before this year’s Elections.

In another Ruling, Totenberg Rejected an Argument that Requiring Voters to Provide their Own Stamps for Mail-in-Ballots and Ballot Applications Amounts to an Unconstitutional Poll Tax. A Lawsuit filed in April by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its Georgia Chapter Alleged that the Postage Requirement Effectively Imposes a Poll Tax and is an Unjustifiable Burden on the Right-to-Vote. Totenberg Acknowledged the Potential Difficulties of In-Person Voting, particularly during a Pandemic, but said that its Availability means that the Postage Requirement is Not tantamount to an Unconstitutional Poll Tax. “The fact that any registered voter may vote in Georgia on election day without purchasing a stamp, and without undertaking any ‘extra steps’ besides showing up at the voting precinct and complying with generally applicable election regulations, necessitates a conclusion that stamps are not poll taxes,” Totenberg wrote in her Order.

Illinois: The Cook County Republican Party has Sued Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), Members of the Illinois State Board of Elections, and Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, as well as Cook County Clerk, Karen Yarbrough, over SB1863 which Allows County Clerks to Send All Voters a Mail Ballot Application and make Election Day a State Holiday. The 20-page Complaint says Pritzker Violated Illinoisans’ Voting Rights “by signing into law a partisan voting scheme that is designed to harvest Democratic ballots, dilute Republican ballots, and, if the election still doesn’t turn out the way he wants it, to generate enough Democratic ballots after election day to sway the result.”

Iowa: The President’s Re-Election Campaign and the Republican Party are Suing Linn County Auditor, Joel Miller, and Johnson County Auditor, Travis Weipert. While State is Sending-Out Blank Absentee Ballot Request Forms, Linn County and Johnson County will be Sending Out the Absentee Ballot Request Forms with the Necessary Information already Populated leaving the Voter to Simply Sign and Return. “The responsibility of filling out personal information on absentee ballot applications is a key safeguard to confirm the applicant’s identity and should rest squarely with the voter. The rogue County Auditors must immediately stop their harmful actions that threaten the validity of and confidence in the upcoming election,” RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel said in a Statement.

Mississippi: The Mississippi Center for Justice and the ACLU have filed Suit in Hinds County Chancery Court on behalf of Seven Voters in Hinds and Rankin Counties against Secretary of State, Michael Watson, who Oversees Elections, and Circuit Clerks in Hinds and Rankin Counties who Distribute Absentee Ballots. The Suit is seeking to Expand the State’s Absentee Voting Laws. “In deciding whether to attend any public gathering, particularly a polling place on election day, voters are required to consider, and are permitted to follow, public health guidance,” the Lawsuit says. The Lawsuits asks a Judge to Clarify that All Voters following Public Health Guidance to Avoid Contracting COVID-19 can use the “temporary physical disability” Excuse to Cast Absentee Ballots.

Nevada: Attorney General, Aaron Ford, on behalf of Secretary of State, Barbara Cegavske, has filed a 24-page Motion to Dismiss a Lawsuit brought by the President’s Re-Election Campaign against Assembly Bill 4 that will Send Every Registered Voter a Ballot for the General Election. The Motion asserts the Campaign has Singled-Out the State for Litigation rather than letting the Policy Debate occur Outside the Courthouse. The Motion notes that: Colorado; Hawaii; Oregon; Utah; and Washington, have also Adopted Mail-in-Voting Systems for the Upcoming Election. “Given the fears surrounding the pandemic, these vote-by-mail systems have great potential to prompt widespread voting by mail in the 2020 general election,” the Motion states. “Yet President Donald J. Trump has not sued the elected officials in these other states, opting instead to let the debate about vote-by-mail election processes play out in non-judicial forums within these states.”

North Dakota: The Brighter Future Alliance is asking the state’s Supreme Court to keep an election reform ballot measure off the November ballot. The group argues that the sponsors of the measure failed to provide a full text of the measure while they were gathering signatures, a requirement it says was established by a Supreme Court ruling in in 1924. Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Tuesday approved the initiative for the November election. “There is no question of fact here at all,” Lacee Anderson, spokesman for the Brighter Future Alliance told The Associated Press. “Not one signature gatherer provided a copy of the statute referenced in the measure.” Carol Sawicki, chairwoman of North Dakota Voters First, which gathered the signatures, said the lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer dollars. “Drop the suit. Let the people vote,” Sawicki told the AP. “North Dakotans deserve more choices at the ballot box, not fewer.”

Pennsylvania: The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, and Two Individual Voters filed a Federal Lawsuit late last week seeking to Force Election Officials to Change the Way that Voters’ Signatures on Mail-in-Ballots are Verified, asserting that Tens of Thousands of Voters are at Risk of being Disenfranchised in the Fall Presidential Election. County Election Officials rely on Signature Matching to Verify Mail-In Ballots, but do Not give Voters adequate Notice if their Ballot was Rejected because of a Problem with the Signature, or a Chance to Fix it, the Lawsuit Alleged. The Suit seeks to Require Election Officials to give Voters the Chance to Fix Ballots that are either Missing Signatures, or where there’s a Perceived Signature Mismatch.

South Carolina: Leaders of the S.C. House and Senate want the State Supreme Court to Dismiss a Voter Petition that seeks to Expand the Tight to Vote Absentee in the upcoming November Election. In Papers filed, Tuesday August 11th, with the S.C. Supreme Court, House Speaker, Jay Lucas and Senate President, Harvey Peeler, both Republicans, urge the Supreme Court to Dismiss the Petition and say the Right to Seek Changes in State Election Laws resides in the Legislature and not in the Courts. “While the coronavirus certainly presents challenges to previously-routine parts of American life, it does not and cannot wipe out the separation-of-powers doctrine, nor can it render the entirety of the state’s Election Code unconstitutional, as urged by the Petitioners,” Peeler, of Cherokee County, said in his Legal Filing. “The case should be dismissed accordingly.” In his Legal filing, Lucas, of Darlington, urged the Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on the Matter, but only for the Purposes of Dismissing the Petition.

Tennessee: Attorneys for the State are asking U.S. District Judge, Eli Richardson, to Dismiss a Federal Lawsuit seeking to Allow Voting-by-Mail because of the COVID-19 Pandemic because Plaintiffs in the Case ended up Voting-in-Person in the August Primary. Kendra Lee, Voter Protection Director for the Tennessee Democratic Party was Listed as a Plaintiff in the Suit. “Because Ms. Lee has asthma and bronchitis,” the Federal Complaint read, “she cannot safely vote in person because in so doing, she would potentially expose herself to the risk of serious complications from COVID-19. If forced to choose between voting-in-Person or not at all this fall, Ms. Lee will likely choose not voting, despite her desire to do so, in order to protect her health and safety.” But Lee Voted in Person during the Early Voting Period.

U.S. District Judge, Eli Richardson, ruled Wednesday that he Won’t Block Tennessee’s Criminal Restriction on some Distribution of Absentee Voting, and Related Forms for the November Election, saying the Groups that Challenged the Law were Confused over which Forms are which and likely cited the Wrong Law. Richardson wrote that the Plaintiffs cited Examples related to a Law that makes it a Class E Felony for Everyone Outside of Election Officials to give an Application for an Absentee Ballot to Anyone who doesn’t First ask for One. “Plaintiffs plainly are confused to an extent about the difference between an application and a request for an application,” Richardson wrote.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Supreme Court Rejects RNC Attempt to Block RI’s Mail-In Voting Accommodations

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), on Thursday August 12th, Declined to issue a Stay sought by the Republican National Committee (RNC) against Rhode Island’s Mail-in-voting plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After a Consent Decree relaxed the two-Witness Requirement for Absentee Voting ahead of the Sept. 8th Primary Elections, the RNC applied to SCOTUS for a Stay, citing a recent Alabama Case. In July, a 5-4 Supreme Court Blocked a Lower Court Order that had eased Witness Requirements in Alabama.

The RNC, in its application, asserted that “Rhode Island’s witness requirement mirrors Alabama’s.” But the Supreme Court Denied the RNC Application for a Stay in the Rhode Island Case:

The application for stay presented to Justice Breyer and by him referred to the Court is denied. Unlike Merrill v. People First of Alabama, 591 U. S. ___ (2020), and other similar cases where a State defends its own law, here the state election officials support the challenged decree, and no state official has expressed opposition. Under these circumstances, the applicants lack a cognizable interest in the State’s ability to “enforce its duly enacted” laws. Abbott v. Perez, 585 U. S. ___, ___ n. 17 (2018). The status quo is one in which the challenged requirement has not been in effect, given the rules used in Rhode Island’s last election, and many Rhode Island voters may well hold that belief.

The Order noted that Conservative Justices: Clarence Thomas; Samuel Alito; and Neil Gorsuch, would have Granted that Stay.

Election Law Expert and University of California, Irvine School of Law in Irvine, Law Professor Rick Hasen, Previously said that he didn’t think SCOTUS would Grant a Stay in this Case. “This one is a bit different because it is coming off a consent decree and it is very close to the deadline,” Hasen said. “Less likely that Supreme Court will act even though it has as to other voting cases.”

The ACLU responded to the News by calling the Republican Party’s Tactics “unconscionable.” “The Supreme Court rejected the Republican Party’s unconscionable attempt to undermine vote by mail and put thousands of Rhode Islanders at risk in the middle of a deadly pandemic,” Dale Ho, the Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a Statement.

Steven Brown, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Rhode Island, said that Voting in America should Not look like an Episode of Survivor. “We are very pleased that the Republican Party’s efforts to turn the fundamental right to vote into an episode of ‘Survivor’ has failed,” Brown said. “We are grateful that our vulnerable plaintiffs and others like them will be able to vote securely from the safety and privacy of their homes as they did in June, without needing to risk their health or lives. Today’s action is a victory for basic principles of democracy.”

Rhode Island’s State Primary Election is September 8th.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Trump Says Mail Voting is Bad but Absentee Voting is Good

President Trump tried to Draw a Distinction between "Mail-in-Voting" and "Absentee Voting," but his own Lawyers acknowledged in Court Documents the Two are the Same Thing.

"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history," Trump claimed without Evidence.

Some States have used All-Mail Elections for a Long time. There have been more than 250 Million Ballots Cast by Mail in the last 20 years, and only 143 Prosecutions Related to Mail Ballot Fraud from: Voters; Candidates; their Campaigns; and Election Officials, or a Rate of about 0.00006%.

Trump said he Opposed "mail-in-voting" but "totally" supports "absentee voting," even though they are the same thing. Trump and many of his Aides have Repeatedly Voted by Mail themselves.

Trump and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, for example, have Claimed that they voted "Absentee" in Florida. But there is No "Absentee" Voting in Florida. Instead, the State has a "No Excuse" Vote-by-Mail System that Allows anyone to Cast a Ballot-by-Mail for any Reason.

Then there is the Problem that Trump Illegibly Voted in Florida. When Trump made Mar-a-Lago a Membership Club, he Signed an Agreement it would Never be his Residence. So when he Registered to Vote he used an Address that could Not be his Residence and in Florida that could result in a $5,000 Fine.

Attorneys for the Trump Campaign noted that while some States have Different Wording regarding the Terminology, "the terms 'mail-in' and 'absentee' are used interchangeably to discuss the use of the United States Postal Service to deliver ballots to and from electors".

Marc Elias, a Lawyer for the Democratic Party who frequently argues Election Cases in Court, said "there is no distinction" between the two terms. They are synonyms," "Some states tend to use the term 'mail-in.' Some states tend to use the term 'absentee.' Sometimes, within a state, the statutes will refer to both. But they are both the same. They are both processes by which people who don't want to show up to the polls in person can receive in the mail a ballot . . . that they either mail back or deliver through some other mechanism to election officials. There is no difference." he said.

Trump's Complaints appear to be based on the Premise that Mail Voters typically have to Request and Fill-Out a Form in order to obtain a Mail-in-Ballot, but some States are Sending every Eligible Voter an Application in Anticipation of a Surge in Mail Voting due to the Pandemic.

For those States that Vote-by-Mail is their Standard way to Vote, I agree with Mailing All Register Voters their Ballot. But I agree with Trump that Other States should First Mail Ballot Request. Then use the Undeliverable Requests to Clean their Voter Rolls before Mailing the Ballots.

Beverly Clarno, Oregon's Republican Secretary of State, said that "the state's system uses unique barcodes for each ballot it sends out."

Kim Wyman, Washington's Republican Secretary of State, said that "vote-by-mail has a lot of security measures. At the end of the day, all voting systems are like banks, You build a lot of things in to protect from fraud. You build in a lot of measures to detect it. But ultimately, if somebody wants to commit fraud, or if someone wants to rob a bank, they can. And then we have measures on the back end to prosecute that criminal activity. So you hope to deter it, and you hope it doesn't happen. But if it does, you have ways to deal with it."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Facebook Launches New Election Efforts to Expand Labels for Posts on Voting

Facebook, on Thursday August13th, introduced a Slate of New Tools and Policies surrounding the upcoming 2020 Election, including an Election Center that the Company is describing as a "one-stop-shop" for Information about Voting.

The New Policies include an Expansion of One, rolled out last month, that Attached Labels to Posts from Politicians about Voting. For example, a Post from President Trump in late July, about Mail-In Voting, featured a Label directing People to, which contained Basic Information about Elections.

The Label will be featured more broadly starting Thursday, with an Addendum expected to appear on U.S. Instagram and Facebook Users' Posts about Voting, the Company said in a Blog Post. The stated Goal is Helping Users Register to Vote. Facebook earlier this year Announced an Initiative to help at least 4 Million Voters Register this year. The Voting Information Center will Assist this Effort by Directing Users to State Websites offering Registration..

The Information Center will also include Information from State Election Officials and other Nonpartisan Civic Organizations about Developments on matter such as State's Mail-in-Voting Procedures. The Efforts come as Facebook and other Social Media Platforms come under increasing Scrutiny about how they're handling Misinformation surrounding this year's Elections.

Facebook has faced Significant Criticism from Democratic Lawmakers and Civil Rights Groups over its Policies, which are generally more Lenient than others when it comes to the Promotion of Unsubstantiated Posts from Politicians.

Some, including Joe Biden's Democratic Presidential Campaign, have Demanded the Company Reverse its Policy Exempting Political Ads from Fact-Checking.

Facebook said in a Blog Post that it is "actively speaking with election officials about the potential of misinformation around election results as an emerging threat."

"A prolonged ballot process has the potential to be exploited in order to sow distrust in the election outcome," the Company said, referring to the Expansion of Mail-in-Voting and the likelihood that Results may Not come on Election Night. "One way we plan to fight this is by using the Voting Information Center and the U.S. Elections Digest in Facebook News to make sure people have easy access to the latest, authoritative information and news on and after Election Night."

The Initiatives were rolled out just a day after Several Tech Companies, including: Google; Microsoft; Reddit; and Twitter, issued a Statement on their "ongoing election security collaboration." Company Representatives met with U.S. Government Agencies this week to Provide Updates about Trends on their Platform surrounding the Election, the Joint statement said.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

OH SoS Bans Extra Ballot Drop Boxes for November Election

Ohio Secretary of State, Frank LaRose (R) said, Wednesday August 12th, he is Banning County Boards of Elections from offering more than One Drop Box for Completed Absentee Ballots this November, saying it’s grown too late to make Changes to how Election Administer this year’s Presidential Election.

LaRose more than Three Weeks ago formally asked Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost (R), for a Legal Opinion on whether the Extra Drop Boxes were allowed under State Law.

But LaRose said Yost had Not yet Responded, and that it’s now Too Late to make such an Election Change.

Ohio - Early Voting begins 28 days before the Election, and Ends 2pm on the Day before the Election. So Early Voting, in Ohio begins on Oct. 6th, while the Election is on Nov. 3rd

LaRose said Offering Extra Drop Boxes, which Democrats and Voting-Rights Activists say is Legal, would invite Lawsuits that could Upend the Process of Preparing for the Election.

The move led to a Swift Reaction from Democrats, who Accused LaRose of Voter Suppression, saying the Request of Yost was just a Charade that would allow LaRose to eventually Run Out the Clock.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Kamala Harris is a Natural-Born U.S. Citizen and Eligible to Serve as President

Harris is a Citizen of the U.S. and has been since Birth. She was Born in Oakland, CA, on Oct. 20th, 1964. Her Parents were Both Immigrants, her Father from Jamaica and her Mother from India. By Virtue of her Birth in California, Harris is a Natural-Born U.S. Citizen.

The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment provides that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

And that's Not Dependent on their Parents' Citizenship. "Anyone born on U.S. soil and subject to its jurisdiction is a natural born citizen, regardless of parental citizenship," according to the Cornell Legal Information Institute.

Parental Citizenship is Relevant to an Individual's Citizenship Status only if the Individual is Born Outside of the United States. If Born on Soil, anywhere in the World, that is considered U.S. Soil, and a Parent or Adoptive Parent, is a Citizen, you are considered an U.S. Citizen. It could be a Military Base, or Embassy, etc.

The only Requirements for Presidential Candidates in the Constitution are that the candidate "must be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years, and 35 years of age or older," according to the Library of Congress.

“I can’t believe people are making this idiotic comment,” Tribe told the Associated Press in 2019. “She is a natural born citizen and there is no question about her eligibility to run."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

OR Remapping Bid Dies at Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has Extended its Unbroken String of Rulings against making it Easier to be part of the Democratic Process during the Pandemic.

The Justices, on Tuesday August 11th, Blocked a Lower Court's Ruling that it should be Easier for Oregon's Redistricting Reform Advocates to Collect Signatures during the National Health Crisis. The Decision means there Won't be a Referendum on the November Ballot that would take the Power to Draw Congressional and Legislative Maps away from the Democratic Powers in Salem and turn it over to a New Citizens' Redistricting Commission, the Top Goal of Crusaders against Partisan Gerrymandering.

It's the Latest of Seven Cases since this Spring where the Conservative-Majority High Court has ruled Against Groups seeking Relaxed Ballot Rules because of the Coronavirus. It has Not Ruled once in Favor of such an Effort.

The Group, People Not Politicians, had gone to Federal Court to Seek Permission to use the Internet and Mail to gather the necessary 150,000 Signatures on its Ballot Measure Petitions, arguing the Social Distancing norms of Covid-19 made it Impossible to Comply with State's In-Person Requirements. It did Not get Exactly what it wanted, but instead a Federal Judge told Oregon to either Accept as Sufficient the 59,000 Valid Signatures the Coalition had Gathered by the July Deadline or else Extend the Deadline until the Middle of this Month.

The Supreme Court did Not give Any Reasons for Granting the State's Request and Blocking that Decision, which is typical when the Justices Act on such Emergency Appeals. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, however, that they would have Upheld the Lower Court's Relaxation of the Rules.

Democratic Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, argued in her Appeal that the Lower Court Ruling "effectively rewrites the provisions governing how the Oregon Constitution can be amended through an initiative" and "threatens to enshrine permanently in the state constitution an amendment that does not meet state requirements."

Federal Judge, Michael McShane of Eugene, had described things very Differently in his Opinion Five weeks ago. "Because the right to petition the government is at the core of First Amendment protections, which includes the right of initiative," he wrote, "the current signature requirements in Oregon law are unconstitutional as applied to these specific plaintiffs seeking to engage in direct democracy under these most unusual of times."

The Supreme Court has issued Six other Orders in Voting Disputes since the Covid-19 Outbreak began, in general relying on the Court's own Precedent that the Judiciary should wade into Fights over Election Procedures sparingly, especially when Election Day is near.

The Court Decisions:

- The most Prominent Decision was the First, on the Eve of a Wisconsin Primary, when the Court Ruled 5-4 along Ideological Lines to Reverse a Federal Judge's Order Expanding the Window for Receiving Absentee Ballots. The Result was that Thousands of Mailed-In Votes arrived Too Late to be Counted and were Discarded.

- Rejected a Bid by the Texas Democratic Party to Force the State to Allow No-Excuse Absentee Voting for Everyone because of Covid-19, on the Grounds that Opening the Process Only to Voters Older than 65 Amounts to Age Discriminations.

- Refused to make Absentee Balloting easier in Alabama until the End of the Pandemic, keeping in Place the Requirement that Mailed Ballots include an Affidavit Signed by a Notary or Two Witnesses.

- Sided with State Officials in Utah by Blocking a Lower Court Ruling that would have Eased the Requirements for getting an Education-related Referendum on the Ballot during the Health Emergency.

- Rejected an Appeal to make Ohio accept Electronic Signatures from Residents seeking to place Voter Initiatives, including One to Raise the State's Minimum Wage and another making an Array of Election Process Changes, on the Ballot this year.

- Preserved an Appeals Court Ruling preventing Hundreds of Thousands of Convicted Felons from Voting in Florida, at least in their Primary and possibly in November as well.

Redistricting occurs Once every 10 years, right after the Census Details, down to the Neighborhood, where the Population has Shifted, Soared or Shrunk. So the Advocacy Group in Oregon argued that its Effort would be Meaningless for an Entire Decade unless they got on the Ballot in November 2020.

With the Oregon effort now Dead, Virginia and North Dakota, are for now the Only Two States, that will decide in November, whether the Next Collection of Maps will be crafted by Independent Panels. An Effort to get a Commission Measure on the Ballot is still Alive in Arkansas. On the other hand, Missouri Voters will decide whether to Undo a Redistricting Initiative enacted Two years ago.

For now, 14 States are sure to use Independent Commissions to Draw the Next Legislative Districts Lines, and Eight will do so for Congressional Districts.

The Effort to Limit Partisanship in Oregon's Political Mapmaking got started after the Supreme Court Ruled 5-4 a year ago that Federal Courts are Powerless to hear Challenges to the Practice, but said Ballot Measures would be a Totally Permissible way to Curb such Gerrymandering.

So the State Highest Court should Now be the Final Decider on Gerrymandering Cases.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker