Thursday, April 2, 2020

Electionline Weekly April-2-2020

Legislative Updates

Alabama: Three Bills filed before the Coronavirus Pandemic that would Allow for No-Excuse Voting in the State are getting some New Attention. “No excuse absentee balloting should be front and center,” Rep. Thomas Jackson (D-68th District, Thomasville), One of the Sponsors of the Bills”.

Delaware: House Bill 175 that was introduced last spring is getting new attention in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Bill would Allow Delawareans to Vote by Mailing their Ballots or Dropping them off at a Polling Place or County Election Drop Box on Election Day. Ballots would be Processed and Scanned Ahead of the Election Date, but would Not be Tabulated before then.

Illinois: The Tazewell County Board Approved a $35 Pay Increase for Election Judges who Worked the March 17th Primary. The Pay Increase came after the County Lost about 20% of its Poll Workers.

Kentucky: The Legislature has Approved a Bill that would Grant the Governor, Secretary of State, and State Board of Elections, Additional Flexibility to Conduct the State’s June 23rd Primary. The Measure would Free the State Board of Elections to Develop a Primary Election Procedure more Open to Absentee Voting, which may be necessary if the Current Pandemic continues into the Spring.

New York: A Bill Sponsored by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-34th District, Bronx) would Expand the Reasons to Vote-by-Mail to include Concern over Fearing the Spread of an Illness during a State of Emergency.

North Carolina: State Elections Director, Karen Brinson Bell, sent a Six-page Letter to the Legislature Requesting more than a Dozen Changes to State Election Laws in response to the Global Pandemic. Among the Requests the NCSBOE wants to make Election Day a Holiday, Boost Pay for Precinct Officials, Create a Fund to Pay for Absentee Ballot Postage, give Local Elections Officials more time to Count Absentee Ballots, Reduce or Eliminate the need for a Notary or Public Witness on an Absentee Ballot and Allow Staff at Nursing Homes to Assist Residents with Ballots. “We’ll take a serious look at proposals to adjust our elections procedures in response to the crisis,” Sen. Ralph Hise (R-47th District, Mitchell), Co-Chair of the Senate Elections Committee. “But what we we’re not going to do is pass a Democratic Party wishlist that includes rolling back the protections we put in place after fraud occurred during the last election cycle.”

South Dakota: The Legislature has Approved, and the Governor has Signed into Law, a Measure that Postpones any Election in the State Scheduled from April 14th to May 26th to any Tuesday in June.

Vermont: Secretary of State, Jim Condos (D), recently Announced a Series of Temporary Changes to the State’s Election Laws Approved by the Legislature and Signed by the Governor. The Changes include: How Candidates can Access the Ballot; Empowers Municipal Legislative Bodies to Change Upcoming Local Elections during the 2020 COVID-19 Crisis from Floor Meetings to Australian Ballot, Without Requiring a Full Vote of the Town; Creates Emergency Powers to Allow the Secretary of State’s Office, with the Agreement of the Governor, to enact the Necessary Measures to enable Vermonters to Vote Safely during the 2020 COVID-19 Health Crisis. Such Measures could Include: the Mailing of Ballots to Every Registered Voter; an Extended Cutoff for Clerks to receive Voted Ballots; an Expanded Window for Clerks to Process Voted Ballots; the Creation of Secure Ballot Return Stations; or the Moving of Polling Locations.

Legal Updates

Florida: U.S. District Judge, Robert Hinkle, Warned the State’s Attorneys to come up with a Process to determine whether Felons have Paid “legal financial obligations” as Required by the Law and whether those Felons have the Ability to Pay the Court-Ordered Fees and Fines. He said that work needs to be done before an April 27th Trial in the Case. “If the state is not going to fix it, I will,” Hinkle snapped during a Telephone Hearing Thursday afternoon.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has turned Down a Request by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for an En Banc Review of a Decision by Three-Judge Panel regarding the Restoration of Voting Rights to Former Felons in the State. The Decision intensifies Pressure for DeSantis’ Administration to come up with a System to Determine whether Floridians who Register to Vote are Felons who have Outstanding Financial Obligations, and Provide the Information to Local Supervisors of Elections, who have the Authority to Remove People from the Voting Rolls.

A Three-Judge Panel of the Fifth District Court of Appeal today Unanimously Upheld the Guilty Conviction of Kimberle Weeks, the Former Flagler County Supervisor of Elections, on Four Counts, Throwing Out Four others on Double-Jeopardy grounds. The Appeal Court Ordered the Circuit Court to Re-Sentence Weeks on the Four Counts. The Excision of the Four other Counts doesn’t Materially Change Three Essential Aspects of the Case: the Appeal Court Affirmed that Weeks is a Felon Four Times over. Weeks will have to serve a Month in Jail and up to 18 Months’ Probation. And she will Lose the State Pension she Accrued while Supervisor.

Kentucky: The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office released an Opinion on Monday Upholding Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) Power to Delay an Election during a Declared State of Emergency. The Opinion came at the Request of the Honest Elections Project. It says the Executive Order complied with the Statutory “Safeguards” imposed by the General Assembly in the Specific Grant of Authority in the Statute: the Order was issued during a Declared State of Emergency, it followed the Recommendation of the Secretary of State as Required, and it moved the Primary Election to a Date “within thirty-five days” from the Original Date.

New Mexico: More than Two Dozen of New Mexico’s County Clerks asked the State Supreme Court on Monday for an Emergency Order that would allow them to Conduct the June 2nd Primary by Mail. The Clerks said they otherwise face an Impossible Choice: Putting Voters’ and Election Workers’ Lives at Risk or Violating their Oath of Office, amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. New Mexico, Secretary of State, Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) said she Supports the Move. However the State GOP has filed a Lawsuit to Block the Move.

North Carolina: A Ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Allows House Speaker, Tim Moore (R-111th District), and Senate Leader, Phil Berger (R-26th District), to participate in Oral Arguments to Overturn U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs’ Halt of the Voter ID Law.

Ohio: The ACLU of Ohio, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, Demos, and the League of Women Voters of Ohio, filed a Federal Lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State, Frank LaRose (R). Their Complaint argues the State’s Vote-by-Mail System is too Cumbersome and Slow for the April 28th Deadline chosen by State Lawmakers. It also contends that by Refusing to Reopen Voter Registration, the Procedures Violate Federal Law that sets the Deadline for Registration as No earlier than 30 days Before an Election.

Texas: Judge Stacey Trotter of the 358th District Court has Ordered a New Election for the Republican Nomination of the Office of Justice, Seventh District Court of Appeals, Place 4. Trotter’s Ruling says Election Officials in Two Counties Failed to Recognize Mistakes in Ballots, an action they say Prevented “1,214 eligible voters from Cochran and Collingsworth counties from participating in this election and voting for and selecting the candidate of their choice.”

Wisconsin: A Third Lawsuit over the State’s April 7th Primary was filed late last week. In this Suit, Advocates are Requesting that Absentee Ballots Returned without the Required Witness Signature be Accepted. “This requirement poses a significant barrier to absentee, mail-in voting for any self-quarantining eligible voter who lives alone or who does not have an adult U.S. citizen in their household,” the Complaint states. “Indeed, for these voters, it will be simply impossible to satisfy the witness signature requirement to cast an absentee, mail-in ballot, and that voter will be denied their right to vote — caught in an unconstitutionally burdensome and unnecessary choice between their life and their liberty.”

The State’s Supreme Court has Ruled in favor of the State GOP which had brought a Suit against Dane County Clerk, Scott McDonnell, who had said People could Mark Themselves “indefinitely confined” due to the Current Pandemic and thus Bypass the State’s Voter ID Law. “McDonell’s March 25, 2020, advice was legally incorrect,” the Court Wrote in its Decision. “Voters may be misled to exercise their right to vote in ways that are inconsistent with (state law).” The Court Ordered McDonell to Stop Issuing Guidance that’s Different from Official Language Approved by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The Commission Guidance indicates that “indefinitely confined status is for each individual voter to make based upon their current circumstances,” but the Status is Not to be used simply as a Means of Avoiding the Voter ID Requirement.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

No comments: