State of Elections

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Tag: long lines at polling places

Are long lines to vote in Georgia unconstitutional? We may soon find out

By Alex Lipow

In recent years, Georgia has become a posterchild for election controversies and administrative snafus. Election disputes have ranged from claims of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering to allegations of a conflict of interest in administering the 2018 gubernatorial election. With these issues in the background, a federal court is wrestling with a more fundamental question: do long voting lines in Georgia—which were the longest in the country in 2018 and 29 percent longer in black neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods—violate the U.S. Constitution? 

On August 6, 2020, three Georgia voters, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Party of Georgia (the “Plaintiffs”) filed suit against Georgia’s secretary of state, members of nine county boards of election from counties with some of the longest lines in the most recent election, and members of Georgia’s State Election Board (the “Defendants”). In their complaint, the Plaintiffs contend that the long voting lines, which have become longer and longer in each of the most recent elections, stem from the Defendants’ “persistent closure and consolidation of polling locations and failure to provide adequate election equipment, elections officials and volunteers with sufficient training, available technicians to address technical problems that arise, sufficient time to set up polling locations, and emergency paper ballots for backup when equipment breaks down or malfunctions.” 

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The Night the Votes Went Out in Georgia

By: Fiona Carroll

Legal action is pending following Georgia’s problematic June 9 primary that was characterized by long lines at polls, broken voting machines, failure to process mail-in ballots, and fears over possible voter suppression. With November’s general election rapidly approaching, several state entities and voters’ rights groups are scrambling to ensure a fairer process this time around.

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Opinion: Virginia’s (Almost) No-Excuse Absentee Voter Law: A Baby Step in the Right Direction

By: Tyler Wolf

Election season may not be upon us quite yet, but that doesn’t stop some from prematurely speculating that Virginians may find shorter lines at the polling precincts in November of 2020. This prediction seems counter intuitive given the political turmoil and controversy that has galvanized voters in recent years, but it can be explained by the passage of SB-1026 in February of 2019. This bill, now set to take effect in November of 2020, creates an exception to Virginia’s excuse requirements for absentee ballot voting. Democratic State Senator Lionel Spruill, the sponsor of SB-1026, postulates that shorter lines and increased voter access are possible results when the law takes effect. Despite these predictions, the actual impact of this law is questionable, as it does little to curb the effects of excuse-required absentee voting laws in Virginia. As enacted, the law simply carves out a narrow exception to an arbitrary practice that violates ideals of personal privacy and widespread access to voting.

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Can State Laws Fill the Gap Left by Shelby County v. Holder?

By: Trevor Bernardo

Following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to invalidate the coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, many wondered what impact the decision would have on minority voting access. The Brennan Center has found that formerly covered jurisdictions, like Texas and North Carolina, have passed restrictive voting laws (think voter ID) and purged voters from voter rolls at higher rates than non-covered jurisdictions. Continue reading

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