Friday, August 7, 2020

Can Trump Give His Convention Speech from White House?

President Trump said he will "probably" Deliver his Republican National Convention Acceptance Speech "live from the White House," prompting Questions about the Legality of such a Decision. "I love the building. I'm there right now. I spend a lot of time here. A lot of people didn't spend as much time. I spend a lot of time here and I like it. And I think it's a great place and greatly representative of our nation," Trump said in support of the idea.

In response to Trump's comments, Senate Majority Whip, John Thune (R-SD) asked "Is that even legal? I assume that's not something that you could do. I assume there's some Hatch Act issues or something there." Later that day, Trump doubled-down on the Idea and told Reporters, "It is legal. There is no Hatch Act, because it doesn't pertain to the President."

Trump is Right, the President and Vice President are Exempt from Violations under the Hatch Act, but it Does Apply to the presumably dozens of other Executive Branch Staffers who would be involved in a Convention Event. The Hatch Act, which was passed in 1939, Limits the Political Activities of Federal Employees, while on duty or in the workplace. Essentially, it Prohibits Federal Employees from Engaging in Political Activities, like Campaigning, in a Government Building, like the White House.

When asked about the Legality of Trump's proposed Plan, Kathleen Clark, a Law Professor at Washington University in St. Louis who Covers Government Ethics said: "While the President giving his RNC acceptance speech from the White House wouldn't be a violation for the President as such, it could be a violation for federal employees who assist him in preparation for that event. The Hatch Act prohibits executive branch employees from using their government authority to influence an election and by definition if they're involved in helping the President with his RNC acceptance speech, that is influencing the election."

However, Clark said even then the Risk is Low because she believes this Administration has Turned a Blind Eye to Past Potential Violations of the Act.

Kellyanne Conway, for example, has remained an Adviser to the President despite the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) Recommending her Removal, many times, for Violating the Hatch Act by "disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media."

According to the Congressional Research Service, the Office of Personnel Management can Flag Potential Violations and the OSC can Investigate them but ultimately it's up to the Individual's Employing Agency to decide whether to Remove them based on the OSC Recommendation.

"This administration acts as though they don't care about the Hatch Act," Clark said. "The context of multiple violations and a refusal to hold violators accountable is relevant as we anticipate what Trump is going to do with regards to his RNC speech."

Legal Issues aside, Top Lawmakers on the Hill are concerned about the Optics of the President making an Overt Campaign Speech from the White House. "It's very wrong," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 12th District) said. "For the President of the United States to degrade, once again, the White House as he has done over and over again, by saying he's going to completely politicize it is something that should be rejected right out of hand."

Several Republicans have also Expressed Doubts about the Viability of the President's Suggestion. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told PBS NewsHour Correspondent, Lisa Desjardins, that Trump giving his Convention Speech on Government Property would be Problematic.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Using Secure Ballot Drop Boxes for Absentee Voters

I Support using Secure Ballot Drop-Boxes, Mobil Units with Voting Officials aboard, and Curbside Voting.

Elections Officials across the Country are Accelerating their efforts to Install Secure Ballot Drop Boxes, a move they hope will make Absentee Voting Simple and Safe for those wary of the Mail or Fear Exposure to the Coronavirus at Polling Places.

The efforts come as Voters voice Concerns about timely Delivery of Mail Ballots.

Already, Postal Workers are Reporting Days-Long Backlogs of Mail across the Country, calling into question whether Ballots will Arrive at Elections Offices in time to be Counted in November.

President Trump has also ramped up Attacks on the Integrity of Mail Voting, in a year when more Voters than ever are Expected to Choose that Method because of the Pandemic. But he and VP Pence have been using Absentee Mail Ballots to Vote while in D.C.

But the use of these Drop Boxes, which often look similar to a Mailbox and are Typically under Video Surveillance or Guarded, has come under Attack in States newly Adopting them this year.

Some Skeptics worry the Boxes may Not be Properly Monitored to prevent Tampering, or that Voters will Not know how to Use or Find them.

In the Battleground State of Pennsylvania, these Drop Boxes are now in the Center of a Trump Campaign Lawsuit raising similar Concerns.

Some see Drop Boxes as a Safer and more Reliable way to Cast Ballots than the Mail. For instance, Michigan Elections Officials urged Absentee Voters to use Drop Boxes rather than the Postal Service after Mail Delivery Backlogs led some to Receive their Ballot as late as One Day before State's Primary Elections.

“Once it leaves the voter’s hand, the elections official has no control over it until it’s back in their hand. I think that’s why these drop boxes give them a little bit more of a sense of … ‘If you put this in the drop box by the appropriate time on Election Day, it’s going to count,’” said Matthew Weil, Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Elections Project. “That’s a good feeling for an elections official, and I think voters should feel confident in that option, too.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Trump's Phantom Orders

Florida’s Coastal Waters are Safe from any Future Offshore Oil and Gas Development, President Trump Boasted in an Interview. “We’re not gonna be drilling, and I’ve already put out that order ― actually quite a while ago,” he said when asked if he could Commit to Not Drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. “We can’t do that. And the people of Florida just don’t want it. You know, there are some states that don’t mind it, but Florida does. And I live here too, and I vote here. And I will tell you, that’s not going to be happening.”

Aside from the Hypocrisy of Proposing to Open nearly All U.S. Waters to Fossil Fuel Development while Declaring “not in my backyard” for Florida, the “Order” Trump Claims to have put out appears to be a Figment of his Imagination.

Trump has issued No Such Order, but it’s Not the First Time he’s touted a seemingly Nonexistent Decree.

Trump appears to be taking Credit for Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Announcement in January 2018 that, on the Recommendation of then, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), whom he called a “straightforward leader that can be trusted”, he was taking Florida “off the table for offshore oil and gas.” Many saw the Decision as a Political Favor for Scott, a Vocal Trump Ally, ahead of his Run for Senate. The Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management later told Congress that “the secretary’s statement stands on its own” and was “not a formal action,” and Zinke himself acknowledged “no one was exempted.” The Administration’s Plan to Expand Offshore Drilling remains On Hold.

Diane Hoskins, a Campaign Director at Ocean Advocacy Group Oceana, said that Trump’s Remarks are Encouraging but “a far cry from any official protections” for the Area. “Will President Trump give other states that oppose offshore drilling the same assurances?” she asked. “And will he immediately and formally withdraw his radical plan to expand drilling to nearly all waters?”

Trump’s Public Proclamation on Offshore Drilling is reminiscent of his Response to the Devastating 2018 Wildfires in California, the Deadliest and most Destructive Wildfire Season in the State’s History. In a January 2019 Post to Twitter, Trump Declared that he had “Ordered” the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Cut-Off Wildfire Relief Aid for Fire-Scorched California until State Officials “get their act together” and do a Better Job of Managing Forests, despite the fact that many of the Infernos primarily Burned on Federally Managed Lands. That came after the Administration used the Disasters to Push Partisan Policy, connecting the Infernos to a Years-Long Fight between Farmers and Environmentalists over Water Resources. The following Month, a FEMA Official said that the Agency “never got any such directive” from Trump.

When Tornadoes ravaged the State of Alabama in March 2019, Trump took a much Different Tone. “FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes,” he wrote. Much like the other Cases, there is No Record of a Directive beyond Trump’s Twitter Post.

More recently, the President has made Sweeping, and False, Statements about his Power to Order States to Reopen amid One of the Worst Pandemics in a Century. “When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total. And that is the way it’s gonna be,” Trump told Reporters in April when Pressed about his Plans to Force Governors to Restart their Economies. “It’s total.”

He made a similar Declaration the following month about his Authority to Force States to deem Churches as Essential Services during the Pandemic.
“Allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now for this weekend,” he said. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”

Rachel Laser, a Lawyer at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was among many who Challenged Trump’s Rhetoric. “The president doesn’t have that power,” she said. “The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution forbids the federal government from strong-arming the states.”

Asked what Provision of Federal Law allows the President to Override a Governor’s Order, White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, dodged, instead Accusing Reporters of “desperately” wanting to see Places of Worship remain Shuttered.

While Trump fancies himself an All-Powerful Ruler and has a History of Referencing Nonexistent Orders, he has Issued a Slew of Real Ones with Great Fanfare, on everything from Advancing Construction of Fossil Fuel Pipelines to Targeting Social Media Companies that have Fact-Checked his Misleading Claims. In fact, he Signed More Executive Orders in his First 100 Days than any other President in History, although many Resulted in little Concrete Change or were Blocked by the Courts.

His use of them is Not without Irony. “I don’t like them,” Trump said of Executive Orders while on the Campaign Trail in January 2016. “And our country wasn’t based on executive orders.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Thursday, August 6, 2020

DNC Convention Update

On Wednesday August 5th, the Biden Campaign made Official what had been apparent for a while, the Candidate’s Milwaukee Convention was Dead.

Joe Biden will accept the Democratic Presidential Nomination in a Speech Broadcast from Delaware.

Credentialed Reporters were told to Stay Home. Convention Delegates already had No Plans to Attend and are Voting on Party Business via an Electronic Form.

Since some think Biden’s Entire Campaign is coming down to the Question of how President Trump has handled the Pandemic, it was Surprising that he waited this long to pull the plug on the Gathering, Scheduled to start on Aug. 17th.

Democrats have been rigorous in their Commitment to Safe Practices. For example, Reporters, who were to be Tested for the Virus Daily, were told that unlike Previous years they would Not have been Allowed to Share Credentials with Colleagues because Swapping Neck Lanyards could cause Contagion.

“I’ve wanted to set an example as to how we should respond individually to this crisis,” Biden said at a Fundraiser after the Announcement.

Conventions long ago stopped being Deliberative Bodies that chose the Presidential and Vice Presidential Nominees. Howard Dean, the Former Head of the DNC said that a New Rule Change this year even gives Biden the Sole Authority to Nominate his Running Mate. Previously Delegates would still have a Vote, but that’s been Pro-Forma for a long time, and now it has been Dispensed with Entirely.

Policy Conflicts over Platform Language were once Serious Business, but they No Longer Matter as much. As far back as 1996 Bob Dole, the Republican Presidential Nominee, Dismissed the Relevance of the Platform when he shrugged, “I haven’t read it.” This year, Republicans simply Adopted the Entire 2016 Platform Verbatim.

The Democrats have had a more Robust Debate but they already worked out their Platform before the Convention Starts.

The Conventions are still Justified as Vehicles for raising Money, for Highlighting the Next Generation of Talent, and, most Importantly, for Speaking unmediated to the Electorate over Four Nights of Prime-Time Speeches.

The Virtual Conventions, this year, will Dispense with Everything except the Primetime Programming, which is really the Main Event anyway, and can be done without Putting Thousands of People in a Tightly Packed Convention Center.

They will provide the Parties with an Experiment about what Really Matters. And as with a lot of our Adjustments during the Pandemic, Child Care Routines, Work Habits, Vacation Plans, Social Life, the Two Parties and the Media may find that many Features of these Antiquated Gatherings are No Longer Necessary.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

CPD Rejects Trump's Request for 4th Debate

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) denied the Trump Campaign's Request for a Fourth Debate in Early September, Dismissing concerns that Early Voting could mean many Voters will have Cast Ballots before the First Scheduled Debate.

The First Presidential Debate: Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland will Co-Host, which is Scheduled for September 29th, 35 Days before Election.

The Second Presidential Debate: Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. That Debate will take place on October 15th, 19 Days before Election.

The Third Presidential Debate: October 22th at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, 12 Days before Election.

The only Vice Presidential Debate will still take place on October 7th, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, 27 Days before the Election.

The Earliest you can Vote in the 2020 Election is: South Dakota, on Sept. 26th, 2020, Three Days before the First Debate.

On Sept 27th, you can Vote in: Michigan; New Jersey; Vermont; Virginia; and Wyoming, Two Days before the First Debate.

Campaign Representative, Rudy Giuliani, sent a Letter to the Commission on, Wednesday August 5th, Requesting an Additional Debate to Accommodate Voters casting their Ballots Early.

The Three Co-Chairs of the Commission responded in a Letter of their own on, Thursday August 6th, writing that although some States will have begun Mailing Absentee Ballots to Voters by the End of September, most Voters are Unlikely to Immediately Submit them.

"There is a difference between ballots having been issued by a state and those ballots having been cast by voters, who are under no compulsion to return their ballots before the debates," the Letter said. "In 2016, when the debate schedule was similar, only .0069% of the electorate had voted at the time of the first debate. While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized. Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity."

The Co-Chairs said the Commission would consider adding a Fourth Debate if Joe Biden, the Presumptive Democratic Nominee, joined Trump in Requesting one. But, Former Vice President Joe Biden's Campaign confirmed the Presumptive Democratic Nominee will take Part in the Three Scheduled Presidential Debates.

In his Letter, Giuliani Slammed the Commission's Process as "an outdated dinosaur and not reflective of voting realities in 2020." "For a nation already deprived of a traditional campaign schedule because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it makes no sense to also deprive so many Americans of the opportunity to see and hear the two competing visions for our country's future before millions of votes have been cast," Giuliani said.

Giuliani's push for an Earlier Debate comes as the Trump Campaign has begun pouring Money into Advertising in the Battleground States of: Arizona; Florida; Georgia; and North Carolina, which are the Four States that Cast the Majority of Early or Absentee Ballots in 2016. In Arizona alone, Three-Quarters of the Electorate Voted before Election Day in 2016, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

A greater influx of Early and Absentee Votes are anticipated this year amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Commission said it had Retained the Cleveland Clinic to Advise it on Conducting the Debates Safely. "[W]e are working closely with the Clinic on all aspects of debate planning potentially affected by the pandemic," the Co-Chairs wrote. "The Commission will be ready for any contingency that is necessary as a result of the pandemic."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Electionline Weekly August-6th-2020

Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: A group of House Republicans on Monday introduced legislation that would appropriate $400 million to states to address election challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Assistance for Safe Elections (EASE) Act would designate $200 million to assist with sanitizing in-person polling stations and purchasing personal protective equipment, while a further $100 million would go towards recruiting and training new poll workers, following a nationwide shortage of workers due to the pandemic. The final $100 million would be appropriated for states to maintain the accuracy of their voter registration lists. Other provisions in the bill include measures to increase the cybersecurity of the elections process, including establishing an election cyber assistance unit at the Election Assistance Commission, and updating voluntary voting system guidelines established by the Help America Vote Act to cover next-generation voting technology, such as e-pollbooks.

Idaho: The Legislature’s State Affairs Working Group has voted in favor of recommending a special session on the second draft proposal submitted to it by county clerks, to make a one-time change for the November election to allow consolidated voting centers, in counties where running the usual in-person voting precincts proves problematic. Senate members of the committee voted 8-0 in favor; House members split 10-4.

Minnesota: After several virtual meetings, the Minnetonka Charter Commission passed a resolution, July 28th, rejecting the ranked-choice voting charter amendment proposed by the city council, asking it to rescind the ordinance. At its first June meeting, the Minnetonka City Council adopted an ordinance to amend the city charter requiring the use of ranked-choice voting for municipal elections and remove all references to primaries from the charter. This accelerated the process for the Charter Commission to further study the impacts of the amendment and whether it would be in the best interest of residents. The commission had up to 60 days, or until Aug. 7th, to review the proposed amendment, though it could potentially take up to 150 days, or until Nov. 5th, if more information was requested.

Mississippi: The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved a request from the Election Commission for additional funding for Election Day. The Board approved the spending of around $11,360 in additional workers and hazard pay due to COVID-19. The ruling includes the addition of four more poll workers as well as 34 “COVID-19” workers who will be in charge of cleaning the voting precinct and making sure that voters are standing six feet away from each other.

Ohio: State Representatives, Jeffrey A. Crossman (D-Parma), and Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), introduced legislation on July 31st, the day civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis was laid to rest, to designate Feb. 21st as “John Lewis Voter Registration Day.” Feb. 21st. was chosen as the day because it was Lewis’ birthday. The day would promote voter registration throughout Ohio and remind residents of all the work Lewis did to expand voting rights for all Americans.

Oregon: State Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend) announced Aug. 3rd that he is crafting legislation that would extend the time voters have to mail their ballots. Currently, Oregon elections law requires that ballots arrive at county elections offices by 8 pm on Election Day. That typically means they must be mailed by the Thursday prior to Election Day or be dropped off in person. Knopp is proposing instead that ballots must be postmarked no later than the Saturday before Election Day, effectively giving voters an extra two days and protecting them from unforeseen delays in mail delivery.

Nevada: In a special weekend session, the Nevada General Assembly has approved Assembly Bill 4 that aims to shorten lines by guaranteeing every active registered voter receives a mail-in ballot in November’s general election and any future political contest carried out under a statewide disaster or emergency declaration. The measure also mandates a minimum number of in-person polling places. Voters will still be allowed to drop off mail-in ballots at many of those same locations. Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed the bill into law.

President Trump has filed a lawsuit to stop mailing ballots.

MHD: I agree, the state should mail ballot request and use the undeliverable form to clean their voter rolls before send ballots.

New Hampshire: Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a bill that would have allowed voters to register when they apply for a driver’s license or an identification card at the Division of Motor Vehicles. He argued there were already plenty of ways for someone to register to vote, including by absentee ballot during the 2020 cycle due to the coronavirus. “New Hampshire has a very accessible voter registration process. Voters have the option of in-person registration with town clerks, same-day registration on Election Day and the ability to register by absentee for those with disabilities or who will be temporarily absent on election day,” he said in his veto statement. “This ease of registering to vote in New Hampshire is reflected in the high percentage of eligible voting age individuals who are able to register and vote every year.”

New Jersey: Assembly Majority Conference Leader, Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth), and Assemblywoman, Nancy Pinkin (D-East Brunswick), have introduced a bill that would require voting machine vendors that work with New Jersey to disclose their ownership structure. The proposal would mandate that any owners or shareholders with at least 5% stake in the company be disclosed before the contract is approved. Changes in ownership would also need to be reported.

North Dakota: An executive order issued by North Dakota, Gov. Doug Burgum, on March 26th strongly recommended, but did not order, that counties conduct vote by mail and the order suspended the requirement that counties have at least one physical polling location. This order authorized state election officials to make their own determinations at the local level. On Tuesday, Stark County commissioners were asked to affirm and uphold their oaths by voting on a resolution affirming that they will maintain polling places in order to secure the rights of county citizen to vote in-person this November. Commissioners thought so and passed the resolution unanimously certifying that the county will have in-person voting come November.

Legal Updates

Florida: Nineteen states and Washington D.C., led by attorneys general in Illinois and Washington, filed a legal brief asking the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to uphold a May ruling that struck down provisions of a Florida law that restricted the voting rights of former felons. That law required people who have served time for a felony to pay off any court debts before they can register to vote. “Voting is a right. It is not a privilege only for those who can afford to pay a poll tax,” Illinois AG Kwame Raoul said in a written statement. “Pay-to-vote laws are discriminatory and serve mainly to suppress Black and other minority voters. Individuals who have completed their sentences deserve a second chance, which includes having the right to participate in our nation’s democracy.” In addition to the attorney generals, three dozen former Department of Justice attorneys are also asking a federal appeals court to side with plaintiffs. The 37-page brief filed this week includes a history of the litigation surrounding discriminatory voting laws that led to the passage of the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and seminal U.S. Supreme Court decisions thwarting states from skirting the constitutional amendment’s prohibition against poll taxes.

MD: A major problem with the law, is the state of Florida is unable to calculate the fees and fines for each former felon.

Pinellas County Circuit Judge, George M. Jirotka, denied Democrats motion for partial summary judgement that the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections violated state law when they refused to initially provide them with the names and contact information for 68 voters who had to cast a provisional ballot in the March 17th presidential primary election. “What’s very important is that I recognize that there’s a constitutional right to public records and we respect that,” Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus told Spectrum Bay News 9 after she learned of the judge’s ruling. “But there is also an unfettered constitutional right to a secret ballot. That was the issue at hand. And I will go to whatever extent I have to go to the highest court possible to ensure that our voters right to a secret ballot is not violated.”

Illinois: The Illinois Municipal League has filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Court about Election Day being declared a state holiday. The lawsuit questions if a bill passed by the General Assembly in May that made various changes to elections this year due to COVID-19 effects local units of government. The lawsuit contends that the bill only amended the School Code and the State Universities Civil Service Act. It did not specifically mention the Municipal Code which governs Illinois cities. The lawsuit court documents say that the Illinois Municipal League asked the Illinois State Board of Elections and lawmakers who sponsored the bill for clarification, but didn’t receive an answer. The lawsuit says that requiring all municipalities to close on Election Day would be an “unfunded mandate with unintended implications on municipal operations, personnel and collective bargaining agreements.”

Indiana: Common Cause Indiana and the state conference of the NAACP have filed a lawsuit to force Secretary of State Connie Lawson and members of the Election Commission to count absentee votes past the current noon deadline on Election Day. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, comes as state officials are facing increasing pressure to allow no-excuse absentee voting for the Nov. 3rd general election because of the health threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has already claimed 150,000 American lives. The lawsuit says “even in the best of times the Noon Election Day Receipt Deadline disenfranchises voters, this is not the best of times. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of new and significant challenges for voters and election officials, including serious health risks to in-person voting and significant delays in mail-in ballot delivery.”

Louisiana: Voting rights advocates have filed a federal lawsuit against Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. The organizations say Louisiana is doing too little to protect ballot access in its November and December elections and should widen mail-in voting options amid the coronavirus outbreak. The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and voters from Baton Rouge and Hammond. Ardoin crafted an emergency plan for the state’s July and August elections that increased early voting and expanded mail-in balloting. But no such plan has been offered so far for the fall elections.

Minnesota: The Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA), the Republican Party of Minnesota, State Representative Duane Quam, and several election judges, filed a petition for the Olmsted County District Court to order the County of Olmsted to change how it appoints members to the absentee ballot review board for the upcoming November elections. The MVA believes the county is violating State statute 203B.121. In particular, the party balance requirement: “No more than half of the election judges in a precinct may be members of the same major political party unless the election board consists of an odd number of election judges, in which case the number of election judges who are members of the same major political party may be one more than half the number of election judges in that precinct.” The MVA says the county is using its employees to serve in these positions, and it’s a conflict of interests when election judges are rejecting ballots.

The MVA also sued Gov. Tim Walz and other officials in an attempt to block a requirement that voters wear face masks at polling places to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The suit argues that Walz’s mask mandate conflicts with a 1963 state law making it a misdemeanor for someone to conceal their identity with a mask. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement standing behind “the legality and constitutionality” of Walz’s executive order.

Ramsey County Assistant Chief Judge Sara Grewing has extended a court order allowing registered Minnesota voters to skip getting a witness signature on their mail-in ballot for the Aug. 11 to the November general election. The decision by Grewing also ordered that with an increased volume in mail-in balloting and U.S. Postal Service delays, election officials must count Minnesotans’ ballots if they are postmarked by Election Day, as long as they are received by official county canvassing dates. The ruling follows an hours-long court hearing Friday involving two lawsuits from groups concerned about preserving voting rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, including for populations most vulnerable to the effects of infection, like people of color, seniors and those with preexisting health conditions.

Nevada: The ink was not even dry on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s signature when the president’s re-election campaign filed suit against the state’s new mail voting law. The lawsuit claims “electoral process cannot function properly if it lacks integrity and results in chaos. Put simply, the American people must be able to trust that the result is the product of a free and fair election. “Nevada’s recently enacted election laws — collectively, AB4 — fall far short of this standard,” the lawsuit states. In addition to mailing registered voters a ballot, the bill signed on Sunday requires at least 140 polling places throughout the state.

Ohio: Two new lawsuits were filed against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Friday: One by the Ohio Democratic Party to allow online requests for absentee ballots and another by the League of Women Voters of Ohio over the practice of signature-matching when absentee ballots are requested. Filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, the Democrats’ suit argues that current law already allows Ohioans to send in requests for absentee ballots either by email or fax. It wants a judge to agree that electronic forms of transmission are acceptable for ballot requests so that the electronic methods can begin to be accepted. The league’s suit, which also includes the A. Philip Randolph Institute of Ohio and others as co-plaintiffs, all represented by the ACLU of Ohio, also touches on the anticipated high numbers of absentee ballots that would be requested due to the pandemic. It’s filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus. The lawsuit challenges the practice of election officials matching voter signatures on the ballots and the ballot applications.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said that he has asked the state’s attorney general for clarity “on whether or not it is allowable to install more than one ballot drop box per county. If it’s legal to add extra drop boxes, then I’m certainly open to that idea,” LaRose said. “It’s a question that I’ve asked the attorney general to clarify, because the Ohio revised code is definitely not clear as to the question of whether counties can add additional drop boxes.”

Rhode Island: The Republican National Committee and the Rhode Island Republican Party has filed a notice of appeal of a federal judge’s decision to suspend witness and notary requirements for Rhode Island mail ballots in the upcoming elections. The appeal was filed with the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday, the same day U.S. District Court Judge Mary McElroy entered her formal order waiving the mail ballot requirements.

South Carolina: Two South Carolina “high-risk” voters have asked the S.C. Supreme Court for an emergency hearing to declare the state’s election law unconstitutional and widen voting ahead of November, arguing the state has failed to guarantee access to the ballot for all people during the pandemic. More specifically, the petition asks the court, for example, to implement early voting, drop-box absentee returns, curbside voting polling locations and online absentee applications in addition to allowing more time for officials to count absentee ballots.

Another group of South Carolina voters has asked U.S. District Judge Michelle Childes for an injunction that would require the South Carolina Election Commission to allow all voters, not just a limited few, the right to vote absentee in the upcoming November election. This week’s injunction request seeks a far broader ruling than the pre-primary ruling and would open up absentee voting to virtually anyone who wanted to do so. Currently, only a minority of South Carolinians in narrowly defined categories, such as being in jail, or being disabled, or being away on vacation, are granted permission to vote absentee. The injunction seeks: To allow all S.C. voters the right to cast an absentee ballot in the upcoming November election; To extend the time by which mailed-in ballots must reach elections officials in order to be counted; and to eliminate the requirement that an absentee voter must have another person witness their signature. Childs already agreed to this for the June primary.

Tennessee: Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle said a decision on whether to allow people to participate in the state’s primary election if they’ve had their voting rights restored after being convicted of a felony out of state won’t come until after the primary. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs have been barred from voting in the primary election because Tennessee has improperly imposed additional barriers that would clear them to submit a ballot. During last week’s hearing, attorneys argued for an injunction that would force the state to people who have had their voting rights restored to vote in the Aug. 6 primary and any future election.

Janet Kleinfelter, deputy attorney general, argued before the state Supreme Court, that a Davidson County Chancery Court essentially rewrote vote-by-mail laws when she issued an injunction allowing all Tennesseans to send in their ballots during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Courts don’t construe statutes based upon what the current circumstances are,” Kleinfelter told the justices. “Courts construe statutes based upon the plain language and the legislative intent.” On Wednesday, the Supreme Court overturned the option for all eligible voters to vote by mail in November due to COVID-19. It restores Tennessee’s excuse-based system for November, with COVID-19 related additions that include underlying health conditions for voters and those in their care. The justices wrote the decision doesn’t impact ballots for Thursday’s primary.

Wisconsin: Federal judge William Conley heard arguments this week in a suit brought by the state and federal Democratic party as well as several nonprofit groups over temporary changes to state election law. The legal challenge combines four unique lawsuits that contend several Wisconsin voting laws shouldn’t be allowed to stand during the COVID-19 pandemic because they make it too difficult for people to vote as the virus spreads. Two of the lawsuits were filed before the April 7th presidential primary and have been extended to apply to November’s election. Two others were filed after April’s election. The challenge is asking the federal court to extend the state’s online voter registration deadline, as well as the deadline for mail-in ballots to be received by election officials. The court did both of those things for April’s election. During arguments, Conley said he believes current deadlines for mail-in ballots make it very possible some ballots may arrive too late to be counted. “Absentee ballots requested five days before the election are simply not going to get turned around,” Conley said. “There’s compelling evidence that’s not going to happen.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Trump Administration is Expelling Migrant Kids Without a Trace

The Trump Administration has been Unlawfully Expelling Unaccompanied Minors, or Children who come to the U.S. by Themselves, under a Stephen Miller-led COVID-19 Health Order, including Detaining some Kids, as Young as 1, at Hotels in Arizona and Texas, until they can be quickly Kicked Out.

Lomi Kriel Reports that this Criminal Administration has been Expelling these Young Asylum-Seekers in far more Terrifying Secrecy, and Outright Cruelty, than previously known. “Under this new policy, the administration is not deporting children—a proceeding based on years of established law that requires a formal hearing in immigration court,” she writes. “It is instead expelling them—without a judge’s ruling and after only a cursory government screening and no access to social workers or lawyers, sometimes not even their family, while in U.S. custody.”

Because these Kids aren’t even Assigned Identifying Information after they’re taken into Custody, Advocates say they’re now “virtually impossible” to Locate after being Expelled.

“Between April and June, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials encountered 3,379 unaccompanied minors at or between ports of entry,” Kriel reports. “Of those, just 162 were sent to federal shelters for immigrant children run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Health and Human Services (HHS) agency tasked with their care. CBP would not say whether the remaining minors had been expelled or explain what had happened to them. The precise number of children who are detained or to what situations they are returned is difficult to ascertain.”

Advocates told Kriel that they liken this Process to when U.S. Officials Failed to Properly Track Families they were Tearing apart under the inhumane “zero tolerance” Policy back in 2018. “What’s different now is that children are not entering the U.S. system for migrant children at all,” the Report said. Of these Expelled Kids, only a few Dozen have since been Located by Advocacy Groups. “’Nobody can find them,’ said Jennifer Podkul, vice president for policy at KIND, the advocacy group,” Kriel’s Report said.

The Administration was Slapped with a Lawsuit after an Explosive Associated Press Report last month revealed that a Group of Adults and Children were being Held by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Contractor at a Hampton Inn & Suites located in McAllen, Texas. They in fact Represented just a Portion of the at least 240 Kids who have been Detained at Hotels from April to June, Kriel’s Report said.

But while the Administration eventually Backed Down from Deporting the Group that was being held at the Hampton Inn & Suites Location following a Lawsuit, that Decision pertained only to that Specific Group, meaning other Children who are Fleeing from Violence and other Dangers to the U.S. will continue to be Inhumanely, and Illegally, Blocked at the Border.

”This appalling violation of basic child welfare standards runs counter to values that we hold dear in this nation and is a shameful use of taxpayer dollars that could otherwise be invested in programs that protect children on the move who are in danger of trafficking and other threats posed by criminal entities,” Advocacy Group, Kids in Need of Defense, President Wendy Young said.

“The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act established a comprehensive system to care for unaccompanied children that this practice flagrantly violates. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency charged with the care and custody of these children under this law, is at only 7 percent capacity.”

Yet their still being Placed in Hotels under the Watch of wholly Unqualified Strangers. The Report on the Children Detained at the Hotels said that ICE wouldn’t comment on whether the Staffers with Contractor MVM Inc. are “licensed child care professionals or have received FBI background checks,” which would Only require a Simple “yes” if they were. “This is child abuse,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) rightly tweeted following the Report.

A Report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General last year Found that it was Unable to Confirm the Exact Number of Children and Parents that have been Separated under the Family Separation Policy because Officials Failed to Properly Track Families being Ripped Apart.

In some Cases, Investigators said, Officials became Aware of a Separation Only because a Different Agency tasked with Overseeing Separated Kids Notified them about it. The Administration already has this Devastating Crime against Humanity on its hands and Miller’s Policy is Creating the next One.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker