State of Elections

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Tag: USPS

The Legal Necessity of Machines for Voting by Mail

By Anthony Scarpiniti

In the age of Covid-19, social distancing, and staying at home, the “norms” of society are no longer normal. Because of the recent November election, many states adjusted or expanded their absentee and mail-in voting procedures. According to a Pew Research Center survey, approximately two-thirds of Americans support the ability to vote absentee or early without a specific reason. Even President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump requested mail-in ballots for the Florida Republican primary election in August.

While many Americans support absentee and mail-in voting in theory, in order for them to work in practice, the United States Postal Service (USPS) had to be prepared for the large influx of ballots. During the 2019 holiday season, the USPS sorted and delivered approximately “2.5 billion pieces of First-Class Mail,” and this was just in one week. This breaks down to about 500 million letters per day. The Census Bureau estimated that the voting age population in the United States was about 245.5 million citizens in 2016, and only about 157.6 million of them were registered to vote. Between the holiday season and a hypothetical election held completely via the mail, it is a fair assumption that the USPS is much busier during the holiday season.

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The Cost of an Absentee Ballot

By Timmer McCroskey

Be honest, when was the last time you went to the post office? For me, it’s been at least six months since I physically went into any post office. With the ability to buy postage labels online and drop off packages in blue boxes located throughout my town, I rarely need to go into a physical location. Next question, do you have stamps on hand? I do, but only because I try to send my Grandma a card every month. For many people, especially in rural Wyoming, the post office isn’t a frequent stop on the errand list and not everybody has a reason (or funds) to purchase stamps. However, to mail in an absentee ballot in Wyoming, you are required to place the correct amount of postage on the envelope. Wyoming is one of 33 states that does not pay for the return postage of an absentee ballot.

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The Drop Box Dilemma Part II

By Nicholas Matuszewski

On October 8, U.S District Judge Aaron Polster overruled the one drop box per county limit imposed by Frank LaRose, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State.

Judge Polster focused his ruling on the fact that 15% of Cincinnati and Cleveland’s population would have to travel over 90 minutes to vote. Of those 15%, most are poor minorities; many of whom may not even have the means to travel that far and would potentially be forced to utilize crowded public transportation and risk endangering their health during the pandemic.

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Lawsuit Filed Over New York State Ballot Postmark Requirements

By: Blake Vaisey

New York is once again facing issues with its mail-in ballot system. A lawsuit filed on September 11 by, among others, Emily Gallagher, a candidate running for the New York State Assembly’s 50th District, claims that potentially thousands of ballots are going to be thrown out in future elections do to New York State’s postmark requirements, a problem that is compounded by the slowdown that the United States Postal Service has been facing in recent months. 

The lawsuit is related to NY Elec. L. §8-412, which requires absentee ballots to have a postmark from the postal service showing the date on which the ballot was sent, and rejects ballots postmarked any time after the day of the election. 

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Return to Sender: Colorado’s Response to Controversial Election Mailer

By: Anna Pesetski

COVID-19 has spurred a whole host of challenges in 2020 and the upcoming presidential election in November is no exception to these challenges. Given the concerns with voters travelling to the polls to cast their ballots in person, many states have opted for voting by mail. In response to the surge in mail-in voting, the United States Postal Service circulated a mailer to all fifty states and the District of Columbia containing information about the process of voting by mail. Top election officials in states across the nation have expressed concerns and frustrations with the mailer because its content conflicts with state election laws, likely causing voter confusion. The mailer has sparked controversy among Democrats, who have communicated growing fears that these mailers have been distributed out of political bias because of President Trump’s aversion to voting by mail. These fears have been exacerbated by the fact that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has made large donations to the president’s campaign. Continue reading

All Eyes on Absentee Voting: Wisconsin Races to Distribute Ballots After Green Light from Supreme Court

By: Mikaela Phillips  

The April 2020 presidential primary in Wisconsin drew national attention during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Even the United States Supreme Court weighed in, blocking the extension of absentee voting beyond the statutory deadline that requires ballots to be received by 8 p.m. on election day.

In April 2020, the state saw a surge in voting by mail. Absentee ballots accounted for roughly 6% of the votes tallied in the 2016 and 2018 general elections in Wisconsin. In stark contrast, over 60% of the total votes counted in the April primary were cast via absentee ballots. However, that figure does not paint the whole picture of rise in vote by-mail efforts. The state rejected over 23,000 mail-in ballots during the primary, most often due to witnesses’ failure to complete one line of the certification form.  Continue reading

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