Thursday, April 16, 2020

Electionline Weekly April-16-2020

Legislative Updates

Arkansas: The Joint Budget Committee Voted Down a Proposal offered by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-31st District) that would have Allowed for No-Excuse Absentee Voting in November. Rep. Jim Dotson (R-93rd) filed a Competing Amendment that would Allow No-Excuse Absentees Only if the Governor still had an Emergency Declaration in effect. His Amendment also said that those who Request an Absentee Ballot would give up a Right to Vote at the Poll. After Elliott’s Bill was Defeated Dotson Withdrew his.

California: Under AB860 every Registered Voter in California would Automatically receive a Mail Ballot, similar to the Systems in Oregon and Washington.

Indiana: Marion County will Spend up to about $1.1 Million Mailing Out Absentee Ballot Applications and Ballots for the June Primary and November General Election, a move the City-County Council Approved Monday Night on a nearly Partisan Line. The 18-4 Vote, with Four of the Council’s Five Republicans Voting against, came as Democrats stressed the Need to Protect the Health of Residents amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. The County has an Estimated 645,000 Registered Voters.

Kentucky: Gov. Andy Beshear (D) used a Line-Item to Veto a Provision of the Budget stating that the Secretary of State would have to Approve any Changes to an Election made by a Governor during a State of Emergency.

This week, Lawmakers in Both the Senate and House Voted to Override Beshear’s Veto of SB2 which Requires a Photo ID to Vote. The New Law will be in place by the November General Election but Not for the June Primary.

Louisiana: Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) had sought Permission from the State Legislature to Allow Absentee Ballots to be given to those who are: 60 years of Age, Older with Underlying Health Issues, for Anyone who has a Stay Home Order, or is Self-Quarantining to get a Ballot as well. Committees in the House and Senate both Denied the Proposal.

Pennsylvania: State Rep. Ed Gainey (D-24th District, Allegheny) introduced Legislation that would Automatically send Mail-In Ballots to the Homes of Registered Voters, allowing them to Avoid potentially Crowded Public Polling areas. Gainey’s proposed Legislation would: Remove the Requirement for Registered Voters to Apply for Mail-In Ballots. Provide for the Automatic Issuance of Mail-In Ballots to All Registered Voters 60 days before a Scheduled Election, providing Voters the Option of Voting-by-Mail or Voting In-Person.

Texas: The Austin City Council has Approved a Resolution asking Governor Greg Abbott (R) and Secretary of State Ruth Hughes (R) to allow All Texans to Vote-by-Mail during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Utah: The Legislature will Call itself into Special Session later this week to consider a number of items including: Expanding Vote-by-Mail; Removing the Requirement to Hold In-Person Elections; Allow Counties to Decide whether to Open Polling Places or Only utilize Vote-by-Mail. More than 90% of Voters already Vote-by-Mail, according to Utah’s Director of Elections, Justin Lee.

Virginia: Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has Signed Multiple Elections Bills into Law including: a Bill that will make Election Day a State Holiday; one that will Allow Early Voting 45 days Prior to an Election; Bill that Removes the Requirement that Voters show a Photo ID Prior to Casting a Ballot; New Law will implement Automatic Voter Registration for Individuals accessing Service at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Office or the DMV Website; a Bill that would Expand Absentee Voting Timelines; a Bill that would move Poll Closing to 8 p.m.

Northam has Signed a Bill into Law that will Implement a Pilot Program that gives Localities the Choice of using Ranked-Choice Voting. The Bill takes effect July 1st, 2021.

Legal Updates

Florida: Chief U.S. District Judge, Mark Walker, has Dismissed a Lawsuit over Early Voting Sites on College and University Campuses after Voting Rights Groups and the Governor’s Office reached an Agreement in the Case. Secretary of State, Laurel Lee (R), issued a New Directive to Supervisors of Elections this month that led to the Lawsuit’s Dismissal. In the April 2nd Directive, Lee wrote that the Law “should be understood to require that the early voting sites collectively within a county provide sufficient nonpermitted parking to accommodate the anticipated amount of voters who require parking in order to access those sites.” Lee added, “This does not mean that every early voting site must have a certain number of nonpermitted parking sites available.”

Georgia: On behalf of Five Gwinnett County Organizations, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has filed Suit demanding that Absentee Ballot Materials be Provided in Spanish. The Suit claims that the Decision not to send Absentee Ballot Applications in Spanish requires them to Divert Time and Resources that would go to other Priorities to Educating Spanish-Speaking Voters about how to Complete Applications and how to Navigate Voting-by-mail.

New Hampshire: Hillsborough Superior Court Judge, David Anderson, has Struck Down SB3, saying that it’s Unconstitutional and Unreasonably Burdens the Right-to-Vote. SB3 requires those Registering to Vote within 30 days of an Election to provide Documents to Prove they Live where they are Casting Ballots. The Law describes one’s “domicile” as Fact and Intention, “coupled with a verifiable act or acts of carrying out that intent.” In a Ruling issued this week following a lengthy Hearing process in 2018 and 2019, Anderson said the State Failed to prove that the Law was necessary to Protect the Integrity of New Hampshire’s Elections or Prevent Voter Fraud. The Judge said, there is No Proof such Fraud is a Serious Problem in New Hampshire, and instead, the Law added Complexity and Confusion that could Dissuade People from Voting.

New Mexico: Following a Hearing that was Live-Streamed, the New Mexico Supreme Court has Rejected an Emergency Petition that would have Allowed the State to Move to an All Vote-by-Mail Election for the June 2nd Primary. In the Petition, 27 of the State’s 33 County Clerks requested Permission to Close Polling Places and Conduct the Election by Mail. The New Mexico Constitution places the Time, Place, and Manner of Voting in the hands of the State Legislature which Cannot Meet due to the Pandemic. Chief Justice, Judith K. Nakamura, made clear that the Court had come to a Unanimous Decision on the matter, and pointed out that, “obviously this is a very difficult case, which is evidenced by the fact that the other branches of government have chosen not to act, and have come to the court for relief. The relief that is requested is specifically prohibited by New Mexico Statute Section 1-6-5F, which says that a mailed ballot shall not be delivered by the county clerk to any person other than the applicant for the ballot,” Nakamura said. Instead, the Court Directed the County Clerks to Mail Absentee Ballot Applications to Voters to Encourage People to Vote that way, rather than In-Person.

North Carolina: Judicial Watch has filed Suit in Federal Court in Charlotte against the Boards of Elections in Guilford and Mecklenburg Counties arguing that County Officials aren’t Complying with Laws Demanding they Carry Out a Program that reasonably Attempts to Cancel Registrations of People deemed Ineligible to Vote. The Suit also Argues the Defendants also have Failed to Hand Over Records showing how the Program is being Implemented.

The North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP filed a Lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court against the North Carolina State Board of Elections and the Elections Boards of more than 20 Individual Counties over New Voting Machines that they claim Lack Security and pose a Public Health Risk amid the Covid-19 Pandemic. “The ExpressVote’s defects and security flaws create the risk that Plaintiffs, together with other North Carolina voters, will have their votes rendered meaningless or, worse yet, deemed cast for the wrong candidate,” wrote Attorneys with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, who are representing the Cases’ Plaintiffs.

Ohio: In a 6-1 Ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court has ordered State Officials to Certify a Voting-Access Measure as a Single-Ballot Issue over turning the Decision of the State’s Ballot Board to Split the Measure into Four Separate Measures. In a Written Opinion, Justices said the Campaign behind the Measure, Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections, “has a clear legal right to certification of the proposed amendment” as a Single Issue, and that the Ohio Ballot Board “has a clear legal duty to make that certification.” They Ordered the Ballot Board to Meet within Seven days to do so.

Texas: State District Judge, Tim Sulak, told the Attorneys he will Issue a Temporary Injunction allowing All Voters who Risk Exposure to the Coronavirus if they Vote In-Person to ask for a Mail-In Ballot under a Portion of the Texas Election Code allowing Absentee Ballots for Voters who cite a Disability. His Ruling could greatly Expand the Number of Voters casting Ballots by Mail in the upcoming July Primary Runoff Elections. An Appeal is expected.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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