State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Early Voting (page 1 of 3)

California Officials Clash With Republican Party Over Unauthorized Ballot Drop Boxes

By Sam Petto

In early October, a controversy was brewing in California as officials launched legal threats against the California Republican Party for its use of “unauthorized” ballot drop boxes. Finding the California Republican Party set up over 100 unauthorized, non-official drop boxes in the state, California officials sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that GOP officials hand over ballots, disclose the locations of its unauthorized boxes, and cease current ballot collection practices to prevent voter confusion.

In their letter, officials claimed only county officials had the authority to determine the number, location, and hours of availability for drop boxes, and that state law established rules requiring designated ballot retrievers to collect and return ballots. Additionally, the state claimed that the GOP’s boxes violated laws requiring a third-party ballot collector to have their name, signature, and relationship to the voter listed on the ballot pursuant to Elections Code Section 3011(a).Californians have to know who they are signing their ballot over to if they are not depositing it into an official drop box. Here, state officials argued they did not know.

Continue reading

In Maryland, Still Waters Run Deep

The year 2020, in its abundant mercy and generosity, will soon deliver to the American people a welcome respite of stability in this chaotic year of elections: Election Day. The “Time of chusing” remains “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November” (for Congress as well as for the Presidential electors), and so, as is tradition, Americans eagerly wait for an early November day and the first bite of election results.

But below the surface of the stillness that precedes Election Day, canvassing operations around the country are churning through mail-in ballots. With still two weeks to go, many states have already begun counting votes-by-mail. Maryland’s local canvassing operations got the green light on October 1st, the earliest of any state, in order to handle the mail-in ballots from the 48% of its electorate that planned on using them in light of the pandemic. As of October 20th, the deadline for ballot requests, Marylanders had asked for 1.63 million mail-in ballots and voters had “cast” roughly 696,000 of those, returning them to local boards of elections by hand, mail, or through one of the state’s 283 drop boxes.

Continue reading

Everything is Bigger: High Voter Turnout in Texas Leads to Long Lines and Concerns About COVID-19 Spread Without Mandatory Masks

By: Caitlin Turner-Lafving

Early voting in Texas began on Tuesday, October 13, and turnout rates have been “bonkers.” As of this writing, Texas leads the nation, where more than 7 million people have already voted. On the first day of early voting, Harris, El Paso, and Travis counties broke records for single-day early voting turnout. Unsurprisingly, long lines in the state’s major urban areas have accompanied the high turnout. More than an hour after the lines were cut off on October 13, seven polling locations in Travis County, which includes Austin, reported wait times of more than 51 minutes.

Back in September, I wrote about Texas’s polling place closures and the dismissal of Mi Familia Vota v. Abbott. The plaintiffs filed suit in July, alleging that the state’s proposed election policies during the pandemic violate voters’ rights under the First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Fifteenth Amendment, and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. 

Continue reading

Postmark on Validity: Nevada’s Mail-in Ballots and the Constitution

By: Liz DePatie

On Monday, August 3rd, the Nevada governor signed Assembly Bill No.4 (AB4) into law. On Tuesday, August 4th, President Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit claiming the law was unconstitutional. Thus, Donald J. Trump for President v. Cegavske was born.

AB4 was drafted and passed by the Nevada legislature in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the bill is to make mail-in and early voting easier and safer for Nevadans during times of crisis. Among other things, the bill validates and counts ballots with unclear postmark dates to be counted if received within three days of Election Day

Continue reading

Decades Long Tradition on the Chopping Block?

By: David Maley

For several decades, the first ballot in the presidential primaries has been cast in a small, quiet town in New Hampshire. Dixville Notch, not likely famous for anything other than being the site of the first ballot cast, has gained significant media attention due to its long-standing tradition of opening their polls at midnight. While this tradition may seem more like ceremony rather than anything that might have significant implications for the November presidential election, the most recent election cast a revealing light on a certain issue that has caused a great amount of concern in the small New Hampshire town. That issue? A significant number of people lining up to vote at midnight don’t actually live in Dixville Notch. The exact reason for each individual voting in the wrong location is unknown, but it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to assert it is likely due to the considerable amount of media attention the town has gotten because of the tradition.

Continue reading

How New York is Pioneering Campaign Finance Reform

By: David Lim

Last year, Democrats took the New York legislature for the first time in a decade. This is important given the state’s notorious reputation of having highly restrictive voting laws and corruption in public office. By flipping the state Senate, New York has a unique opportunity to implement meaningful election and campaign finance reform. Indeed, state Democrats have been taking advantage of the opportunity. In the past year, Albany has enacted several reforms, including, but not limited to, early voting, more paid time off to vote, and holding both state and federal primary elections on the same day. Most notably, these reforms did not touch on campaign finance reform. However, this is not to say that New York is not doing anything about it.

Continue reading

Early Voting in New York State

By: Christoper Hennessy

This most recent election cycle saw voters in New York State trying out early voting for the first time. The legislation passed in January, among other bills designed to expand and modernize New York’s election laws. This brings the state in line with the other thirty-eight states to already have early voting as part of their election laws. Governor Andrew Cuomo praised the effort to pass the legislation. As he signed the bill into law, he noted that “At a time when the federal government is doing everything it can to disenfranchise voters, we are taking action to make it easier for New Yorkers to participate in the democratic process . . . .”

Continue reading

Republicans Remain the Majority Party in Georgia; But all is Not Gloom and Doom for Georgia Democrats

After a highly touted 2018 campaign season which led to historic numbers of early votes in the State of Georgia, it appears that the Republicans will continue to control both the state legislature and executive branch. Additionally, a majority of the state’s Federal House seats went to Republican candidates. But all is not gloom and doom for Georgia Democrats, the Democratic Party did gain eight seats in the State House (six of which were from Republican incumbents), two seats in the State Senate, and one seat in the Federal House.

Continue reading

Off Trend and Out-Dated: Absentee Ballot Restrictions Effect Pennsylvania First Responders and Shift Workers

By Allie Amado

Absentee voting dates back to the Civil War, when soldiers mailed ballots to family members to cast by proxy in their name. These practices became official in the 1900s when states established processes to allow ballots to be mailed directly to election officials if they had a state-approved excuse for casting an absentee ballot. California was the first state to eliminate the excuse requirement for voting by mail in 1980, followed by other western states, some of which have implemented a permanent mail-in voting process. In 1996, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas opened their election process by permitting in-person early voting in satellite polling places across the state. In 2001, a challenge to Oregon’s no-excuse absentee ballots, in Voting Integrity Project, Inc., v. Keisling, resulted in the holding that early voting is legal, despite the federal law setting a uniform day of voting, as long as ballots are not counted until Election Day.

Continue reading

In North Carolina, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

By: Andrew Pardue

In June 2018, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 325, “The Uniform & Expanded Early Voting Act.” The bill mandated that all early voting locations in the state remain open from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M. on all weekdays during the early voting period (in 2018, this period begins on October 17). The bill also requires that if one early voting site in a particular county is open on a Saturday or Sunday, then all sites in that county must be open on that day. And then North Carolina’s Democratic Governor vetoed the bill, which had been passed by a Republican legislature with the ostensible aim of expanding early voting hours statewide.
For casual observers of American politics, this outcome probably seems like a suspension of the laws of partisan physics. Why did it happen this way? Because in North Carolina, no change to state election laws occurs without controversy, and even the most innocuous legislation has cascading second-order effects.

Continue reading

Older posts

© 2021 State of Elections

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑