voting in 2020
October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court on Wednesday night let stand a lower court ruling allowing North Carolina to extend its deadline for accepting mail-in ballots.

With the extension, ballots that are postmarked by Election Day can arrive up to nine days later and still be counted. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the Supreme Court on Tuesday, did not participate in the 5-3 decision. A spokesperson said she sat this one out "because of the need for a prompt resolution and because she has not had time to fully review the parties' filings."

In June, North Carolina's state legislature moved the mail ballot deadline from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6, but the North Carolina Board of Elections extended it even further, to Nov. 12, saying this protected "lawful North Carolina voters from having their votes thrown out because of mail delays that the Postal Service had explicitly warned the state about." Under state law, the board has the authority to make temporary changes to election rules during an emergency, like the coronavirus pandemic, NBC News reports.

North Carolina's Republican Party and President Trump's campaign challenged the extension, saying it posed "an immediate threat to the integrity of the federal elections process," but a federal district court judge and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals both refused to block the change.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) said it was "a disgrace that Republicans are trying to block eligible voters from having their votes counted. If voters comply with the statute and mail in their ballots on or before Election Day, they should not be penalized by slow mail delivery in a pandemic." Catherine Garcia

October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to expedite a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to stop the state from counting mail-in ballots received in the three days after Election Day.

This means the case won't be heard before Nov. 3, but in a statement, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch said it could be reviewed by the court after the election.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue, leaving in place the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling that ballots postmarked by Election Day can be counted if they arrive up to three days later. Wednesday's brief order did not say why the Supreme Court declined to expedite consideration of this similar case, The New York Times reports.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose first day on the job was Tuesday, did not cast a vote on Wednesday, with a spokesperson for the court saying she "did not participate in the consideration of this motion because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties' filings." Catherine Garcia

October 9, 2020

A federal judge on Thursday evening blocked an order from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) that would limit the number of mail-in ballot drop boxes to just one in each county.

LaRose said that he interpreted Ohio law to mean that county election officials could only set up one drop box at their office, and nowhere else, but U.S. District Judge Dan Polster ruled that this unfairly burdens larger counties. "While it may be said that the 7,903 registered voters in Noble County may find a single drop box location sufficient, the record demonstrates that the 858,041 registered voters in Cuyahoga County will likely not," Polster stated. Cuyahoga County had planned to have ballot drop off boxes set up at six different libraries.

Several organizations filed lawsuits to stop LaRose's order, saying that it was unfair to people with disabilities, senior citizens, people without transportation options, and those who live far away from county election offices. LaRose has filed an appeal, and his spokeswoman said that "the place to make changes in how we run our elections is in the statehouse, not the courthouse." Catherine Garcia

October 1, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation on Thursday limiting how many ballot drop-off locations there can be in each county.

Starting Friday, each county in the state can only have one drop-off location for voters to deposit their mail-in ballots. Harris County, a Democratic stronghold, is the largest county in Texas by population, and currently has 11 drop-off locations, while Travis County, home to Austin, has four. Tarrant, Dallas, and El Paso counties already only have one drop-off location, CNN reports.

Abbott said in a statement he decided to cut the number of drop-off locations "to maintain the integrity of our elections. ... These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting."

Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a statement Abbott's move is a "blatant voter suppression tactic," while former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro tweeted that Abbott is "making it harder for fellow Texans to vote because he knows how angry Texans are with [President] Trump's failure, [Republican Sen. John] Cornyn's failure, and his own to keep Texans safe and our people working." Catherine Garcia

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