Trump Ramps Up His War On Vote By Mail

Voting rights primer
May 25, 2020 9:00 a.m.

President Trump took his war on vote-by-mail to the next level last week with a pair of tweets Wednesday morning threatening to hold federal funding for Michigan and Nevada hostage due to the states’ moves to expand absentee voting. Both states are mailing out absentee ballot applications to registered voters (Trump, in his initial tweet targeting Michigan, claimed falsely that the state was universally mailing out ballots). The White House refused to provide an explanation for the tweets, nonsensically claiming it was a question for the campaign. If Trump makes good on the threat, he will almost certainly face a legal challenge.

Speaking of legal challenges, here’s what’s new in the court battles over pandemic voting:

  • A federal court ordered Texas to expand absentee voting in a decision that was quickly appealed and put on hold by the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Texas Supreme Court is also weighing a lawsuit to open up absentee voting for the pandemic.
  • This coming Wednesday, a federal judge in Virginia will hear a challenge brought by a voter fraud alarmist group seeking to block the state from implementing no-excuse absentee voting for its June primary.
  • Louisiana’s League of Women Voters is challenging the limited pandemic voting plan the legislature passed, in a lawsuit alleging the plan doesn’t go far enough to protect voters from the outbreak.
  • Michigan’s League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s witness requirement for absentee voting.
  • California faces a lawsuit from conservatives for its plans to mail every voter a ballot.

MT’s Ballot Collection Restrictions Put On Hold: A 2018 Montana measure that imposed severe conditions on ballot collection practices was put on hold for the June primary, with a judge siding with tribal groups who alleged that the law disenfranchised them, given their limited access to mailing services. Their lawsuit predated the pandemic, but elsewhere lawsuits have popped up targeting state ballot harvesting given the expansion in absentee voting the outbreak is expected to prompt.

N.C. Unveils Bipartisan Proposal For Pandemic Absentee Voting: The latest election measure being considered in North Carolina’s statehouse has bipartisan support, a rarity in a state that has had some of the most contentious voting fights in the country. It would make some tweaks designed to ease the process for election officials to deal with the increase in absentee voting.

Census Case Wraps Up With A Judge Scolding The DOJ: The Justice Department got a scolding from a judge for a discovery flub that led to more than 10 percent of relevant Trump administration documents being withheld in the litigation over the census citizenship question. But U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said Thursday that he won’t probe any further other claims made by the challengers of misconduct in the litigation process, which included accusations that two administration-linked witnesses misled the court in their depositions in the case.

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