Thursday, March 11, 2021

Electionline Weekly March-11-2021

Alabama: The Senate has approved Senate Bill 45 that would authorize an audit of the election results in three Alabama counties immediately following the 2022 election. The purpose of the limited post-election audit is to determine the accuracy of Alabama elections. Beasley said that the secretary of state’s office received $800,000 to conduct the limited, post-election audit from the federal government prior to the 2020 election. “It is not going to take any money out of the state general fund, and I don’t think it is going to take any money out of the counties involved,” Beasley explained. “The audit will include a North Alabama county, a Central Alabama county and a South Alabama county. One county has to be of large population and one has to be rural.”

Arizona: The Senate has approved a bill that would scrap existing laws that determine the validity of early ballots based on county election workers matching voters’ signatures on the ballot envelopes with their signatures on file. Instead, early voters would need to provide an affidavit with their date of birth and number of a state driver’s license, identification card or tribal enrollment card. If they don’t have such identification, they would have to send a copy of any other federal, state or locally issued ID card. The proposal by Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), would first require someone to provide their voter registration number. Then they would have to enclose a physical copy of something showing their address, such as a utility bill, vehicle registration form, property tax statement or a bank statement dated within the past 90 days.

The House approved HB 2569 in a party-line vote. The legislation would ban election officials at all levels of government: city, county and state, from receiving private funds to help pay for any aspect of election operations, including voter registration. Republican Rep. Jake Hoffman, the bill’s sponsor, said it’s a matter of election integrity. That means keeping elections free of influence or interference, he said.

Arkansas: Republican legislators in Arkansas filed a bill that would move the end of early voting from the Monday before election day to the Saturday before. If passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson, the proposal would change the end of early voting from 5 p.m. on Monday to the Saturday at 4 p.m. before the election. This would effectively shorten the amount of days to early vote by one day. Currently, Arkansans can vote starting 15 before election day. The bill has been referred to the Senate committee on state agencies and governmental affairs.

Connecticut: Resolutions to let voters consider allowing early and no-excuse absentee voting cleared the Government Administration and Elections Committee, marking the first step in a long process to amend the state constitution. If approved by the legislature, the resolutions would send ballot questions to Connecticut voters asking for greater flexibility to change state election laws. One resolution applies to laws on no-excuse absentee voting. The other regards laws on early voting. The committee left its votes open until Friday evening, but members present voted largely along party lines for the resolution on absentee ballots. Some Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the resolution on early voting.

Delaware: Rep. Brian Shupe is planning to introduce legislation to remove dual registration requirements. Shupe explains that right now most Delaware residents have to register twice to gain access to all elections in the State. First they register with the State, for statewide elections. But then also with their local municipality to be eligible for local elections. The former Milford Mayor references his hometown saying they have about 10,000 people who live there but only about 1500 are eligible to vote locally. “A lot of people just don’t know and they will actually show up on election day and they’ll just assume that they registered through the State of Delaware, they’ve been registered for 20 years . . . and they show up and they say, ‘I’m sorry you had to register separately with they City of . . .,’ whatever it is,” says Shupe.

Florida: A bill that would put limitations on vote by mail and ballot drop boxes has cleared the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. The committee voted 4-2 along party lines to advance SB90. In addition to banning the use of drop boxes for voters to drop off ballots, the bill would only allow “immediate” family members to collect and deliver ballots for voters. That would seek to prevent “ballot harvesting,” which involves other people being able to collect and deliver ballots. Among other things, the bill would require voters to resubmit requests for vote-by-mail ballots for the 2022 elections, even if they have already submitted a request under current law. Also, the bill would prevent supervisors from providing vote-by-mail ballots unless requests are made and require voters’ signatures to match the most-recent signatures on file. The bill has the backing of the state’s Republican governor but many local elections officials have spoken out against the legislation. Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays, a former Republican senator, said many people don’t have immediate family members who could help with vote-by-mail ballots. He said current law allows voters to designate in writing other people who can pick up ballots. “Do you have any idea how many people, like my dear mother, don’t have immediate family members living nearby, thus they won’t be able to have their ballot picked up for them,” Hays said.

Georgia: The Georgia Senate passed a bill to roll back no-excuse absentee voting and require more voter ID, which would create new obstacles for voters after Republicans lost elections for president and the U.S. Senate. The legislation would reduce the availability of absentee voting, restricting it to those who are at least 65 years old, have a physical disability or are out of town. In addition, Georgians would need to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number or other identification. The Senate approved the bill on a party-line 29-20 vote, a one-vote majority of the chamber’s 56 senators required by the Georgia Constitution for legislation to pass. Four Republican senators excused themselves, along with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the Senate’s presiding officer who opposed the bill but doesn’t get a vote. The bill now advances to the state House of Representatives. “America is at a turning point right now. Our democracy is in peril and our society divided along increasingly partisan lines,” said state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta. “It will not work. Voters see through transparent attempts to cling to power through suppressive and anti-democratic means.” Republicans said additional safeguards are needed to restore voter confidence and prevent the possibility of voter fraud, but state election officials have said there’s no evidence of widespread fraud.

Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) has filed a bill that would merge the Chatham County Board of Elections with the Board of Registrars. Merging the two boards has been something both Democrats and Republicans have considered for a few years, but this is the first concrete step taken toward actually getting it done. “Chatham County needs to look at not only streamlining these boards and the process but look to become more efficient,” Jackson said. “It works well in 99% of the counties in Georgia, so I think it’s something that has to come to pass.” The split board is a rarity in the state. Chatham is one of the only counties in Georgia that splits the responsibilities surrounding elections work between two offices. The other is Union. As the bill is currently written — which is subject to change before being voted on — the merged board would be called the Board of Elections and Registration of Chatham County. The new board would take the form of the current BOE’s elected members: five board members, two democrats, two republicans and one chairman.

Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed Senate File 413 into law. Under the new law, early voting will be cut to nine days, more mail-in ballots must be received by the time polls close on election day and poll will be close at 8pm instead of 9pm on Election Day. “It’s our duty and responsibility to protect the integrity of every election. This legislation strengthens uniformity by providing Iowa’s election officials with consistent parameters for Election Day, absentee voting, database maintenance, as well as a clear appeals process for local county auditors. All of these additional steps promote more transparency and accountability, giving Iowans even greater confidence to cast their ballot,” Reynolds said, in a statement.

Maryland: House Bill 1048, sponsored by Del. Jheanelle K. Wilkins (D-Montgomery), would allow registered voters to opt-in to an absentee ballot list so they wouldn’t have to reapply for a mail-in ballot before every statewide election. The bill also would set new requirements for upkeep of the absentee ballot list: Voters could be removed if they are removed from the state voter registration list, if any mail sent to them by election officials is returned as undeliverable, or if they don’t return an absentee ballot for two consecutive statewide general elections. House Republicans attempted, but failed to add five amendments to the bill, including requiring voters to apply in-person, with a government-issued ID, to be placed on the list to automatically receive an absentee ballot.

The Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act, sponsored by House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke, was passed by the House today with a bipartisan 104 – 23 vote. Under the legislation, universities must create a Student Voting Plan to ensure that students have information about voter registration and mail-in ballot request, deadlines, polling locations, and transportation options. It also allows military members to register to vote online using the Common Access Card, which is a Department of Defense-issued ID card. And it has local Boards of Elections reach out to military installations, university campuses, and nursing homes when deciding where to place precincts.

The Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill that would prevent people from carrying a gun in or near a polling place in Maryland. But lawmakers spent over half an hour debating whether certain exceptions should be made for law enforcement officers. Senate Bill 10, introduced by Sen. Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery), would ban people from carrying or displaying a firearm on the premises of a building being used as a polling site during an election, including in a parking lot, and would prevent someone from carrying or possessing a firearm within 100 feet of a polling place.

House Bill 1345 would create consistent design standards for mail-in ballots. It would also standardize what’s called ballot curing – or allowing voters to fill in missing information or fix incorrectly completed ballots.

HB1020 would allow for curbside voting across the state. Two election judges would be required to visit each curbside voter as they fill out their ballots.

Massachusetts: A fast-tracked push to extend mail-in voting and early in-person voting for springtime elections, and extend flexibility for cities and towns to re-schedule municipal elections, is taking a short breather so the public can weigh in. Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues said during Thursday’s Senate session that his committee would accept written testimony on the bill, H. 73, until 10 a.m. Monday, an hour before the Senate gavels into its next session. The bill would extend COVID-19 vote-by-mail provisions currently slated to expire at the end of March for three additional months, allowing voters to cast ballots early by mail for any municipal or state elections held through June 30. Municipal officials would also be able to authorize early in-person voting for annual or special municipal elections held on or by June 30.

Michigan: The House passed a series of election reform bills aimed at cleaning up Michigan’s voter files and changing the election process to accommodate voters’ shift toward absentee voting after a record number of Michiganders cast absentee ballots in the November presidential election. A pair of bills introduced by GOP lawmakers that passed the House would require voters with unknown birth dates and those who haven’t voted in a long time to take steps to ensure their registration isn’t cancelled. Democratic lawmakers accused their Republican colleagues of crafting legislation based on misinformation about the security of Michigan’s election. Other bills passed by the House would press clerks to stay current with their election training, consolidate precincts, require clerks to create a permanent absent voter list and expand the number of voting jurisdictions that establish designated counting boards to process and count absentee ballots. A bill introduced by Rep. Matt Hall (R-Emmett Township), that passed the House 61-48 largely along partisan lines would require the Secretary of State to send a postcard to voters assigned a placeholder birth date on their voter file. The House approved a bill that requires the Secretary of State to send a notice to registered voters who have not voted since the 2000 general election. A bill, introduced by Steve Marino (R-Harrison Township), would require a list of the names of county and local clerks who aren’t current with their continuing election education training to be published on the Secretary of State’s website. Once clerks can provide evidence that they’re current with their training, their name would be removed. It passed the House 87-22. The final two pieces of election reform the House lawmakers passed would allow clerks to consolidate precincts, require clerks to maintain an permanent list of absentee voters and change the rules for the counting boards charged with processing and counting absentee ballots.

Missouri: A House committee has approved a bill that would add at least one electronic voting machine per polling location for blind or visually impaired voters. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Yolanda Young (D-Kansas City), said the motivation behind her sponsorship of House Bill 324 involved consideration for visually impaired senior citizens, and as it relates to voting. “If you’re a senior, you typically deal with some of the problems of aging, which includes visual impairments,” Young said. “My community has a high degree of diabetes, high blood pressure and so forth, which affects their vision.” Chip Haley, a member of the Missouri Council of the Blind, said the bill includes an important factor in regard to elections. “It addresses that issue where it not only speaks to the issue of making accessible voting available during federal elections, but during all elections, whether it be state or local, it doesn’t matter, and that’s very important,” Haley said.

New Hampshire: Republicans in the Senate voted to advance a bill that would add new identification requirements to the state’s absentee balloting process, over the objections of disability rights advocates and others who warned it would create unnecessary burdens on voters who cannot easily obtain the necessary documentation. The original bill required voters to obtain a photocopy of their drivers’ license or other forms of identification when returning an absentee ballot. The latest version of the bill, passed along party lines Thursday, instead alters the ID requirements for requesting an absentee ballot. It also allows voters to provide the last four digits of their Social Security number or another form of identification deemed acceptable by their local clerk.

A House bill would completely revamp current New Hampshire election laws, and place new limitations on who, how, and when people can vote in the state. New Hampshire House Bill 86 (HB86-FN) seeks to eliminate same-day voter registration and exact provisions of the National Voter Registration Act. Secondly, it would change New Hampshire’s primaries from semi-closed to closed, meaning voters must be registered with the party whose ballot they want to vote for prior to election day. The last measure is the one that will have the greatest impact on University of New Hampshire (UNH) students: in order to vote in the state of New Hampshire, students must prove they receive in-state tuition. This measure would effectively ban out-of-state students from choosing to vote in New Hampshire.

The House Election Law Committee heard testimony this week on several elections-related bills including House Bill 362 which would repeal the use of a student’s address at an educational institution as his or her place of domicile for voting purposes. Current law allows a student to claim domicile in the New Hampshire city or town in which he or she lives while attending the institution.

House Bill 429, would remove a voter’s ability to show a college identification card in order to receive a ballot. The bill would also allow students who are legal residents of the state to receive in-state tuition at state colleges and universities. The sponsor, Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said it was a mistake to have those IDs in the law as an allowable means of proving domicile and obtaining a ballot because many students who show those IDs are non-residents.

Under House Bill 531, a person registering to vote within 30 days of an election or on election day who does not provide documentation showing he or she is domiciled in the town or ward in which the person seeks to vote will be allowed to register on a provisional basis and then be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. The ballot would be set aside and not immediately counted, and the voter would have until five days after the election to provide the necessary documentation. If the documentation is provided, the vote would be counted; if the documentation is not provided, the vote would not be counted.

The committee took action on a number of other elections-related bills:

House Bill 61 and House Bill 516 would remove all current specific conditions under which a voter may obtain and use an absentee ballot — and in doing that, would legalize universal no-excuse absentee voting. Supporters said that as a practical matter, the state had universal absentee voting last year as people were simply able to cite health concerns about COVID-19 to vote absentee, but opponents said the 2020 process was specifically a response to the pandemic and should not be a permanent practice. House Bill 61 would also allow for partial processing of absentee ballots by city and town clerks prior to election day. The committee recommended the House kill House Bill 61 on a vote of 11-8 and voted 11-9 that the House kill House Bill 516.

— The committee recommended on an 11-9 party line vote that the full House kill House Bill 144, which would streamline the absentee voter request form.

— House Bill 285 was recommended for passage by the House on an 11-9 party line vote. The bill would tighten the process for the secretary of state to verify local voter checklists.

— The Republican majority recommended passage of House Bill 291, which would require the secretary of state to issue detailed public reports on absentee voting information following elections. The vote that the bill ought to pass was 11-9 in favor.

— House Bill 292, which would require a voter to verify his or her identity if he or she is requesting that an absentee ballot be sent to an address other than the address shown on the community’s voter checklist, was recommended for passage, 11-9.

— The committee voted 11-9 to recommend the full House kill House Bill 491, which would have allowed a voter to change his or her ballot after casting it if more than the allowable number of votes for an office were marked, either through an error by the voter or an extraneous mark on the ballot.

— The committee voted 20-0 that the House should kill House Bill 372, which would expand the enforcement of state election laws to include county and municipal attorneys, in addition to the authority currently held only by the attorney general’s office.

The committee also voted to retain until 2022 for more study and work:

— House Bill 406, which would allow the public to observe the processing and counting of absentee ballots without obstruction and from six feet away. The vote was 12-8.

— House Bill 537, which would move the state primary election from the second Tuesday in September to the first Tuesday in September in some years when necessary to comply with federal requirements to send ballots to uniformed and other overseas citizen voters 45 days before a general election. The vote was 20-0.

— House Bill 480, which would allow public access to ballots that have been cast following recounts. The vote was 11-9.

— House Bill 524, which would require the secretary of state to conduct recount the vote totals of five locations in the state that use electronic voting machines to verify the machine counts. The vote was 11-9.

New Mexico: Senate Bill 412 would let 17 year-olds vote in any state elections, which include school board elections, mayoral elections, county and city elections, just to name a few. However, they would not be able to vote in federal elections, which are presidential and congressional elections. The sponsor said this is a way for younger people to have a say in their communities. Teenagers who spoke out in favor of this bill said they’re impacted by decisions legislators make and want to be better represented. The bill cleared its first committee and it now heads to the Senate Judiciary. If passed, this would go into effect for the 2022 elections.

A proposal that could have opened the door to ranked-choice voting in New Mexico election was derailed Monday in a Senate committee. But backers of the measure vowed to bring back the idea, which allows voters to rank candidates by preference in what’s also described as an “instant run-off.” “We look forward to a further discussion about this next year,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, after a tie 5-5 vote in the Senate Rules Committee left the measure effectively stalled. In its revised form, Senate Joint Resolution 22, would have authorized — but not mandated — the Legislature to permit the use of alternate voting methods like ranked-choice voting. It would have also required approval from state voters, likely in November 2022, in order to take effect.

New York: Queens Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal is set to introduce legislation that would require the New York City Board of Elections to report full candidate rankings in municipal elections, even if someone wins an outright majority under the new ranked-choice format. Rosenthal said his measure would foster “trust and transparency” in ranked-choice voting, which took effect this year after voters approved its introduction via a 2018 ballot measure. “When the ranked choice system was overwhelmingly approved, there was an expectation that the process would become more open and a plurality of voices would be heard,” Rosenthal said. “This legislation would help to achieve that goal as well as foster greater voter engagement and participation by giving New Yorkers the full scope of the electorate.”

North Dakota: A bill to stop private money from funding elections operations narrowly passed in the Senate on Monday, and is on its way to the governor’s desk. Bill supporters, like Sen. Shawn Vedaa, say outside money could influence elections, and counties already have enough funds. Those opposed to the bill expressed concern the law could go too far, by preventing a group from donating lunches to poll workers, for instance. Vedaa says the bill became necessary after Facebook offered millions in election administration grants to states ahead of the 2020 election. The Secretary of State’s office weighed in on the bill in committee, saying it generally opposes private money in elections, but not always. In 2020, Anheuser-Busch offered sanitizer to each state for elections, which the Secretary of State’s office said it did not accept for logistical reasons.

A bill that would’ve required a polling place in any city with a population of 1,000 people or more quickly failed in the Senate. “Due to redistricting coming up in the next couple years or shortly I should say, we won’t need this bill,” said Sen. Scott Meyer, R-Grand Forks. Meyer also said members of the Government and Veterans Affairs Committee spoke with the Secretary of State’s office and various county auditors and determined the bill was unnecessary because they’ll be allocating polling places.

Oklahoma: The Senate has approved two bills created to improve the accuracy and efficiency of state elections. SB 710 authorizes the Secretary of the State Election Board to join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which a State Senate news release describes as “a multi-state partnership that uses data-matching tools to enhance the accuracy of voter registration lists.” SB 710 also allows the State Election Board to share data with ERIC, send Oklahoma’s voter registration notifications to eligible citizens not yet registered and notify voters who need to update their address for voter registration purposes.

Oregon: Oregon state lawmakers are considering a bill that would give residents the option of providing their racial identity, ethnicity and language preference when registering to vote. Those backing the measure say the publicly available data would allow for stronger engagement with voters of color and would make it easier for state and local elections officials to address racial inequity in voting access. Similar data is already collected in fields including education and health care to improve outcomes in different demographic groups, and the same should be done for the state’s elections. Providing demographic information would be voluntary. Oregonians currently have four ways to register to vote, and the bill would require that the option of providing race, ethnicity, and preferred language information be available in each manner. During a committee hearing, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, questioned the need for the information to be public, if the intent is to simply study participation. No one spoke in opposition to the bill during testimony or public comment.

South Carolina: The House voted 84-36, mostly along party lines, to pass House Speaker Jay Lucas’ proposal giving the state’s elections director broader power and supervision to ensure that county boards are complying with federal and state election laws, Lucas and other Republicans said. The original legislation included measures to also expand the State Election Commission board, giving House and Senate leaders the authority to appoint members — an authority only allowed right now by the governor. But the House stripped those provisions out of the proposal entirely, avoiding a longer fight on the chamber floor that would have delayed its passage. H.3444, would empower the State Elections Commission to “supervise and standardize the performance, conduct, and practices” of county election commissions and “ensure those boards’ compliance with applicable state or federal law or State Election Commission policies, procedures, and regulations.” Local elections officials are speaking out against the legislation. In a letter to lawmakers, Charleston County’s elections board chairwoman, Christie Companion Varnado, wrote that they were “deeply concerned about the implications” the proposal would have on them. “While uniformity in the election process is desirable in many respects, due to differences among the counties, one size does not always fit all,” Varnado wrote. Varndado said that the legislation would let the state agency “implement policies and procedures with absolute authority without having a full understanding of the distinctive nature and needs of each locality.”

Tennessee: The state legislature will no longer consider removing a Nashville judge from her position. The resolution to remove Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle from the bench failed Tuesday after more than an hour of debate in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. Tennessee Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, who chairs the House subcommittee on elections and campaign finance, said he filed the bill in response to Lyle’s 2020 ruling to expand absentee voting during the pandemic — an action he deemed judicial overreach. The resolution drew staunch opposition from Democratic lawmakers, who were joined in part by Republican colleagues on Tuesday to speak against the resolution in subcommittee debate.

Texas: Republican lawmakers have filed seven bills that would change voting access in Texas:

SB 1115, would require all counties to observe the same early voting hours and days, prohibiting counties from expanding their hours as Harris County did last fall with the state’s first-ever 24-hour voting sites.

SB 1111, would requires the voter to provide documentation that the voter lives at the address where they are registered when they receive a confirmation request from the registrar. Bettencourt said this is specifically aimed at barring people from registering using a private P.O. box.

SB 1113 provides the Secretary of State the authority to withhold Chapter 19 funds if the voter registrar or elections administrator fails to remove in a timely manner voters who should be canceled from the voter roll.

SB 1114 boosts Secretary of State efforts by requiring registrars to cross-reference voter rolls and motor vehicle records where a person indicated that he or she is not a U.S. citizen, and remove ineligible voters.

SB 1110, which requires each Administrative Judge of each of the 11 districts in Texas to appoint judges who can hear issues raised by either a candidate or a political party within three hours of the request prior to Election Day and within one hour on Election Day.

SB 1112, which prohibits local election officials from suspending the requirement of the Early Voting Ballot Board to verify that the signature on the mail ballot application and the signature on the mail ballot are from the voter.

SB 1116, which requires transparency for cities, counties, and ISDs, who maintain a website, to place on their respective websites, no more than two clicks away from their homepage, any results of their elections.

Utah: The Legislature has approved a bill that would set a deadline for party switching ahead of a primary election. HB 197 passed the House in February on a 41-30 vote and has now passed the state Senate on Monday with a 22-3 vote. The bill now awaits a signature from Gov. Spencer Cox. If signed, individuals wishing to change their party affiliation would need to do so before March 31.

The Utah Legislature has given final approval to a bill that would allow more cities to try ranked choice voting in their local elections, beginning this year. HB75, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Stenquist (R-Draper), would broaden an existing ranked choice voting pilot project that the Legislature passed in 2018. The program allows municipalities to give the alternative kind of election a try before ranked choice voting is adopted more widely, if at all. Two Utah cities already adopted ranked choice voting for city council races: Payson and Vineyard. In 2019, Payson elected three city council members using ranked choice voting. Another bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Winder (R-West Valley City), would have adopted ranked choice voting for all state or county primary elections with more than two candidates. However, HB127 died without a public hearing. The first version of HB75 would have required county clerks to administer this type of election if a city chose to try it, raising the hackles of county clerks who felt it would bring too many complications. An amendment that finally broke the logjam that had stalled the bill allows cities the option of contracting with a county clerk in a different jurisdiction to administer a ranked choice vote election.

Legal Updates

Florida: Circuit Judge Laurie Buchanan has dismissed a lawsuit by two losing St. Lucie County candidates for county commission. In their lawsuit, Ryan Collins and Christopher Thompson contested, without evidence, they “lost the election due to the large influx of mail-in ballots,” according to the court records. They presented no evidence to support the claim in their lawsuit complaint. Buchanan’s one-sentence decision to dismiss the case against Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker comes against the backdrop of calls from the state Republican Party for sweeping election reform. Some of the concerns raised in Tallahassee, led by Gov. Ron DeSantis, mirror those at the heart of the local Republican lawsuit. An appeal has been filed.

Idaho: Idaho Attorney General Robert Berry says a northern Idaho school district was within its rights to remove an electioneering demonstrator from elementary school property on Election Day. In a legal analyses, Berry wrote that schools may control their property even when it is being used as a polling place. “Idaho law requires schools to provide their premises as polling locations,” Berry wrote. “However, public schools are not traditional public forums. Schools may control their property while it is being used as a polling place, and may exclude individuals from school property not involved in the voting process.” Schools can also prohibit people from engaging in electioneering or similar activities within 100 feet of school property when the school is acting as a polling place, he wrote.

Indiana: Hoosiers who unsuccessfully pushed for no-excuse absentee voting in Indiana during the 2020 election are turning to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming the constitutional arguments they raised will become even more pertinent as some state legislatures are already trying to restrict mail-in balloting. The plaintiffs in Tully et al. v. Okeson et al., 20-2605, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. They argue Indiana is violating the 14th Amendment and 26th Amendment by allowing voters age 65 and older to cast their ballots by mail but requiring voters age 64 and younger to vote in person. Pointing to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ conclusion in Tully that the “‘privilege’ of mail-in voting is not part of the constitutional ‘right to vote,’” the plaintiffs stressed the need for the Supreme Court to review. They assert the 7th Circuit decision deepens the existing splits among the state and federal courts over the application of the Supreme Court’s voting rights precedents. Indiana has yet to reply to the petition. “Particularly as dozens of states consider revisions to their voting laws in advance of the 2022 election cycle, the decision threatens to create significant uncertainty and disruption for voters, legislators, and election officials,” the plaintiffs’ petition states. “This Court should review, and set aside, the Seventh Circuit’s decision.”

Iowa: The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC) filed a complaint against Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and Attorney General Thomas Miller in Polk County District Court against the state’s new voting law. LULAC seeks an order prohibiting them from enforcing the law, claiming it infringes on the right to vote, especially for those in minority communities. “It creates an undue burden on our constitutional right to vote,” LULAC Political Director Joe Henry said in an interview. “It reduces the amount of time that that our community members can vote early. It reduces the amount of hours that people can vote on the day of the election. And it removes our community members who miss one general election, so they are invisible to us, and also places restrictions on county auditors on what they’re able to do to promote the right to vote.” The lawsuit alleges violations of the Iowa Constitution’s right to vote, free speech, free assembly and equal protection. “None of the bill’s challenged provisions will actually serve to make elections more secure or increase the public’s confidence in the electoral process,” the complaint states. “Instead, they will impose undue and unjustified burdens on a wide range of lawful voters, including some of the state’s most vulnerable and underrepresented citizens: minority voters, elderly voters, disabled voters, voters with chronic health conditions, voters who work multiple jobs, and voters who lack access to reliable transportation or consistent mail service.”

Mississippi: Voters in Canton are still awaiting their absentee ballots for upcoming municipal elections because incumbent Mayor William Truly is in court after the Democratic executive committee determined that he does not live in Canton. Ballots cannot be mailed until the court issues a ruling.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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