Thursday, August 20, 2020

Electionline Weekly August-20th-2020

Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: U.S. House of Representatives Democrats, on Wednesday, Unveiled Legislation that would Require Same-Day Processing for Mail-in-Ballots and give the Cash-Strapped Postal Service a $25 Billion infusion as Recommended by the Postal Commission. The Democratic-led House is Scheduled to Vote on the Legislation Saturday, though there is little chance for Passage in the Republican-led Senate. The Bill would Prevent the Postal Service from Implementing Policies to alter Service Levels that were in effect at the beginning of this year.

Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH, 1st District) is the Lead Sponsor of the Protect the Youth Vote Act of 2020, a piece of Voting Rights Legislation meant to Prevent Age Discrimination in Voting. The Bill is Co-Sponsored by: Rep Ruben Gallego (D-AR, 7th District); Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO, 2nd District); Stephanie Murphy (D-FL, 7th District); and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY, 6th District). The Bill Addresses and Lays-Out Legal Violations to the 26th Amendment, which gave 18-year-olds the Right-to-Vote, in an attempt to Help Improve Transparency around Voter Suppression Tactics. Across the Country, Young Voters face a Number of Barriers at the State Level, including Strict Same-Day Voter Registration and Voter ID Laws. Additionally, Polling Sites have been Left-Off Certain College Campuses and Universities.

Louisiana: Louisiana Secretary of State, Kyle Ardoin, released his Emergency Plan for November this Week and it Rolls Mail Ballot Options that were Available during the Primary Season. Ardoin’s New Plan will Only allow a COVID-19 Exemption for Someone who Tests Positive for the Infection during and after Early Voting but before Election Day. That will fall under the Existing “Hospitalization” Excuse for an Absentee Ballot. On Wednesday, after Five hours of Debate, House and Governmental Affairs Voted to Approve the Plan in an 8-6 Vote. The Plan will now move to the Full House. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has Expressed Disapproval with the Plan.

Nevada: Nevada Secretary of State, Barbara Cegavske, submitted a Statement of Emergency and Request to Approve an Emergency Regulation to Governor Steve Sisolak today. According to Cegavske’s Office, under NRS 233B.0613, if a State Agency determines an Emergency Exists, the Agency may ask the Governor to Approve an Emergency Regulation. An Approved Emergency Regulation takes Effect Immediately and Remains in place for a Period of No Longer than 120 days. Cegavske’s State of Emergency reads, in part, the Proposed Emergency Regulation would Not Reinstate the Ban on Ballot Harvesting because it is Not the Secretary of State’s Role to Create New Laws. Instead, the Proposed Emergency Regulation would Require any Individual engaged in Ballot Harvesting, defined in the Regulation as a Person who Returns 10 or More Completed Ballots at the Direction of Any other Voters, to Report to the Secretary of State their Name, the Names of the Individuals they Returned Ballots on behalf of, and the Location(s) where the Ballots were Returned. The Regulation would Also require these Individuals, known as Ballot Harvesters, to List any Corporate, Political, or Advocacy Entity with which the Individual is associated. By having this Information, the Secretary of State, will be able to properly Investigate any Illegal Activity Associated with the Practice of Ballot Harvesting.

New Jersey: Two more Counties have supported Disapproval Resolutions against an entirely Vote-by-Mail General Election. Morris and Warren Counties join the Growing List. In Morris County, the Resolution specifically states that Predominate use of Mail-in-Ballots during the Recent Primaries “caused concerns for voter fraud, voter disenfranchisement, postal delivery delays, significant increase in election costs, and reliance on a flawed statewide voter/DMV computer registration database and resulted in significant delays in the counting of ballots.” While there were Delivery Delays, there were Absolutely No Reported instances of Voter Fraud using Mail Ballots during the Primaries. These was One Case in a Local Election and the Person is waiting a Court Decision. Warren County’s Resolution focused less on Fraud and More on Enfranchisement. “I realize people’s concern as we’ve been fighting coronavirus in the county,” Warren County Freeholder, Jason J. Sarnoski said, adding, “This does not mean that people will not have the option to vote by mail.” But the Resolution Unanimously adopted Opposes Running an Election with All Mail-in-Ballots.

New York: Rep. Sean Ryan (D-149th District) is introducing Legislation that would Authorize County Boards of Elections to Establish One or More Secure Ballot Drop Boxes in every County.

South Carolina: The South Carolina Senate is being called back into Session to deal with Possible Changes for the Elections that will be happening in November in light of the ongoing Pandemic. Senate President, Harvey Peeler Jr. (R-14th District), announced Monday, that the Session will convene on September 2nd at 12 p.m. Peeler wrote that the Senate will consider Updates to State Election Laws that will Protect the Voter and the Vote this November. “We addressed these issues for the primary elections by working together in a bipartisan manner. My hope is that we can do this again September 2nd.” As for the South Carolina House of Representatives, House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-65th District) says the House will Return on September 15th, when Lawmakers Return for the COVID-19 Funding Session. “I anticipate the House will be able to quickly address the issue in our chamber,” says Speaker Lucas. “I understand if the Senate feels it needs additional time to debate this matter. I’m confident that, working together, both chambers will make changes that will protect voters throughout the state.”

Utah: House Bill 6009, Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Handy (R-16th District, Layton), and Sen. Wayne Harper (R-6th District, Taylorsville), would Expand Voter Access during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Bill keeps Existing Voter Options in place, including In-Person Balloting and Same-Day Voter Registration. But it has a Provision that Allows for the Lt. Governor’s Office to Suspend In-Person-Voting in an Area if there’s a State-of- Emergency. In that case, there must still be Other Options including “drive-thru” Voting or an “outdoor voting” Location. The Bill also Expands the Ability for County Clerks to Add “drive-thru” Voting in Addition to Vote-by-Mail and In-Person Voting. It also Allows for Additional Drop Boxes across the State for People to Deposit their Ballot. The Bill also Increased the Penalty for “ballot harvesting” from an Infraction to a Class A Misdemeanor. Ballot Harvesting, which is the Practice of Collecting someone else’s Ballot, is Largely Illegal in Utah, with some Exceptions for same Households or those with Disabilities. While Not Opposed to the Legislation, County Elections Officials said they would rather have it focus on their Ability to Accept Mail Ballots that may be Delayed by the Postal Service. “In several parts of the state, including Salt Lake County, there are some sections of the county and of the state where it takes one week for the mail to get to or from the voters,” Weber County Clerk, Ricky Hatch, told Lawmakers during a Briefing on the Bill at Tuesday’s Government Operations Interim Committee Meeting. Hatch said the State’s County clerks would like this year to Mail-Out Ballots 28 days before an Election rather than 21, which is the Standard Time Frame. An extra week would help Clerks get Ballots to those who have Moved or haven’t Updated their Voter Registration, he said. The Weber County Clerk said his Fellow Election Officials also want the State to Add an Additional Seven days to the Two week Canvassing period.

Legal Updates

Alabama: U.S. District Judge, Abdul Kallon, of the Northern District of Alabama, ruled this week that a Lawsuit intended to allow Alabama Counties to offer Curbside Voting can Proceed. Kallon Dismissed Claims against some of the Defendants. In June, Kallon ruled the State could Not Enforce the Ban on Curbside Voting for the July 14 Runoff. Kallon’s ruling also Blocked Enforcement of the Witness and Photo ID Requirements for Absentee Voters, although that only Applied to Jefferson, Lee, and Mobile Counties. On July 2nd, the U.S. Supreme Court Granted the State’s Request for a Stay on Kallon’s Ruling, so the Ruling was Not in effect for the Runoff. But the Issues remain Pending for the Nov. 3rd General Election. A Trial in the Case is Scheduled for September.

California: Caesar Peter Abutin, 55, of Norwalk, is facing Voter Fraud Charges after Prosecutors say he Cast Ballots in Several Elections using the Name of his Mother, who had Died years earlier. Abutin pretended to be his Mother in Three Elections between October 2012 and November 2014. In each of the Elections, Abutin Claimed to be his 67-year-old Mother, who had Died in July 2006 and also Cast Votes using his own Identity. The Deceptive Practice was Discovered after an Investigation by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and the District Attorney’s Office.

Delaware: The Delaware Republican Party filed a Lawsuit Wednesday Claiming that a New Law allowing Universal Voting-by-Mail in this year’s General Election is unconstitutional. The Complaint filed in Chancery Court seeks a Permanent Injunction barring the State Department of Elections from Distributing Vote-by-Mail Ballots or otherwise Informing Voters that they can Cast absentee Ballots in the November Election except for Specific Reasons outlined in Delaware’s Constitution. The Complaint also asks the Court to Declare that State Lawmakers Exceeded their Constitutional Authority in Passing a Universal Vote-by-Mail Bill in June. The Bill cleared the Democrat-led Senate on an 18-to-3 Vote after Passing the Democrat-Controlled House on a Strict Party Line Vote. It was Signed into Law by Democratic Gov. John Carney on July 1st.

Indiana: Indiana Voting Rights Advocates are asking a Federal Judge to issue an Injunction Ordering State Election Officials to accept Absentee Ballots that are Postmarked by Election Day and Received up to 10 days later. The Motion came this week in the July 30th Lawsuit filed by Common Cause Indiana and the State Chapter of the NAACP in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana over Election Rules that Require Absentee Ballots to be Received by Noon on Election Day to be Counted. The Lawsuit argues the Requirement will Disenfranchise Voters in the November General Election and that the Noon Deadline serves No purpose other than Enabling County Clerks to Reject Late Ballots. In asking for a Preliminary Injunction, the Civil Rights Firms representing the Parties to the Lawsuit are seeking a Quick Ruling because the Issue is Urgent and they have an Expectation of Prevailing in the Long Run. “This early receipt deadline is unjustified in any election, but it is particularly burdensome and unjustified in this election year, when mail delivery is unreliable and the risk of infection from COVID-19 makes voting by mail the only safe option for many voters,” the Motion for the Injunction says.

Iowa: Add Woodbury County Auditor, Pat Gill, to the List of “rogue” Auditors that are being Sued by the President’s Re-Election Campaign and the Republican Party. Gill, along with Auditors in Lin and Johnson Counties are being Sued because they are Sending Out Absentee Ballot Request Forms that have been Pre-Populated with Information such as Names, Dates of Birth, and Voting Pin. Voters just have to Review, Sign, and Return the Forms to get Ballots Mailed to them beginning Oct. 5th. More than 70,000 People have Requested Ballots in the Three Counties.

Maine: Secretary of State, Matthew Dunlap has Reaffirmed his Decision that a Petition Drive backed by the Maine Republican Party to put a Void Ranked-Choice Voting Referendum Question on the Nov. 3rd Ballot Failed to gain enough Valid Voter Signatures. Dunlap Issued an “amended determination” that Summarized his Review of a Ruling he made in July that the Petition came up short of the 63,067 Valid Signatures needed to gain a Spot on the Statewide Ballot. The Affirmation will now be considered by a Cumberland County Superior Court Judge, who Ordered Dunlap to Review his Earlier Decision in response to a Lawsuit filed by the State GOP. During the Review, Dunlap considered Sworn Affidavits and other Documents Submitted as Part of the Lawsuit. He accepted some Voter Signatures that had previously been Rejected, but he also Invalidated some that had previously been Accepted.

U.S. District Court Judge, Lance E. Walker, Denied a Request by Opponents of Maine’s Ranked-Choice Voting Law for an Order to Prohibit the System from being used in the U.S. Senate Race in November. “My limited charge is to determine only whether the RCV (ranked-choice voting) Act is contrary to the text of the United States Constitution. It is not,” Walker wrote in his Decision. “As I stated following my first encounter with RCV litigation: The remedy in a democracy, when no constitutional infirmity appears likely, is to exercise the protected rights of speech and association granted by the First Amendment to persuade one’s fellow citizens of the correctness of one’s position and to petition the political branch to change the law.”

Massachusetts: Becky Grossman, a Candidate for Congress, is Suing the State to Extend the Window for Counting Mail-in-Ballots in the Sept. 1st State Primary amid Fears of U.S. Postal Service Delays. Under current State Law, Voters have until Aug. 26th to Submit Requests for Mail-in-Ballots. But in order to be Counted, Voters have to Return their Ballots to Local Election Offices by Sept. 1st, just Six days later. The Lawsuit Grossman’s Campaign filed Wednesday with the State Supreme Judicial Court calls for Counting Ballots for up to 10 days after Sept. 1st, as long as they’re Postmarked by Primary Day.

Michigan: The League of Women Voters asked the Michigan Supreme Court, on Monday, to Reconsider an Appeal to Allow Local Clerks more time to Count Ballots Postmarked by or on Election Day. The League, which initially filed a Lawsuit over Absentee Ballot Counting Rules in May, points in its Aug. 17th filing to August Primary Election Data released by the Secretary of State, which says 6,400 Absentee Ballots were Rejected because they were Delivered after Election Day.

Minnesota: The Minnesota Supreme Court has Agreed to Speed-Up Consideration of a Legal Challenge around Absentee Ballot Rules for the November General Election. In an Order issued Wednesday, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, Informed the Parties that the Case will go before the Supreme Court. On Thursday, Gildea moved the Arguments to Sept. 4th. Written Arguments are Due beginning Next Week. The President’s Re-Election Campaign and the Republican Party are Appealing an Agreement between the Secretary of State and Litigants that Waived the Witness Requirement for Absentee Ballots. A Ramsey County Judge Signed-Off on the Agreement as well as one making Ballots Postmarked by Election Day Eligible for Counting in the days after. The Republican Lawyers urged a Ruling by Sept. 9th because Absentee Ballots will start going out Nine days later.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge, Ernest Caposela, ordered a New Election for Paterson’s Third Ward for Tuesday, November 3rd, said Scott Salmon, an Elections Attorney representing Third Ward Councilman, William McKoy. The Election will have Voters once again decide which of Five Candidates will fill the Single Post for the City’s Third Ward. In June, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, announced Voting Fraud Charges against 1st Ward Councilman Michael Jackson, 3rd Ward Council-Elect Alex Mendez, and Two other Men. On behalf of McKoy, Salmon filed a Successful Injunction to Stop Mendez from being Sworn into Office late June. The Judge’s Decision comes after a May Election beset by Allegations of Voter Fraud almost Immediately. Hundreds of City Ballots were found Scattered across Different Municipalities in New Jersey. Ultimately, the Passaic County Board of Elections decided Not to Count 800 City Ballots.

North Carolina appeals court has dismissed New Hanover County Board of Elections former director Marvin McFadyen’s appeal of his termination. McFadyen sued the county, the county Board of Elections, the North Carolina State Board of Elections, and its members after he was fired in 2015. A state appeals court vacated and dismissed his appeal of that decision this week. The court ruled that since McFadyen was terminated by the State Board of Elections, the lawsuit needed to be filed in Wake County. By filing the lawsuit in New Hanover County, which had no jurisdiction, it rendered his appeal moot. The appeals court dismissed without prejudice his ability to refile in Wake County so McFadyen can refile his case there.

Ohio: The Ohio Supreme Court, on Wednesday, Threw Out a Lawsuit Questioning the Decision of Four of its Justices that Upheld a State Health Order shutting down All Polling Places just before the March 17th Primary Election was to begin. State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-27th District, Cincinnati) had Sued the Four Justices for Not issuing an Opinion that spelled out their Reasoning for Rejecting an effort in the Early hours of Election Day to put In-Person Voting back on track. He argued that the Justices had Shirked their Responsibility by Failing to do so. The High Court on Wednesday, as with its Original Decision Early in the Morning of March 17th, did Not spell out its Reasons for Approving the Motion to Dismiss.

Texas: Panola County Elections Administrator, Cheyenne Lampley, has been Charged of Theft of a Property between $2,500 and $30,000. She is accused of Writing Checks from a 4-H Account for Personal use. Lampley has Resigned from her Position.

Bexar County District Attorney, Joe Gonzales, on Wednesday, requested a Legal Opinion from Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, on whether he can Prosecute Federal Officials who Intentionally deprive Residents the Right-to-Vote. The Request from the Democrat specifically asks Paxton, a Republican, to Clarify the Scope of the Authority of a Criminal District Attorney to Prosecute a Federal Official who knowingly Violates the Texas Election Code by Preventing Texas Voters, especially those age 65 or Older, from Voting-by-Mail.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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