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Tag: Vote by mail (page 1 of 2)

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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Don’t Get Caught Naked: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules That Mail-In Ballots Without A Secrecy Envelope (“Naked Ballots”) Won’t Be Counted

By Jessica Washington

Ever heard of a naked ballot? It’s when a completed mail-in ballot is put into the paid postage envelope without first being put into a “secrecy envelope.” And the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently ruled that naked ballots are to be thrown out regardless of the validity of the ballot.

There is a provision in the Pennsylvania Election Code that requires mail-in ballots to first be put into a secrecy envelope and then that secrecy envelope containing the ballot will be put into a regular mailing envelope which has identifying information for the voter to fill out. It’s not uncommon for a voter—especially a voter voting by mail for the first time—to forget to put their ballot inside the secrecy envelope before putting it into the mailing envelope. But this common mistake could potentially disenfranchise 100,000 eligible voters whose ballot is correct save the secrecy envelope issue.

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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.

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The Drop Box Dilemma: A Push to Expand Access To Voting in Ohio

By Nicholas Matuszewski

As with most states, Ohio has seen a number of election law cases this year centered around the COVID-19 Pandemic. One of these cases is Ohio Democratic Party v. LaRose. In late August, the Ohio Democratic Party and Lewis Goldfarb submitted a formal complaint in the Ohio Court of Common Pleas, Franklin County, against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

The complaint alleged that LaRose erred when he decided that the state would use secure drop boxes to facilitate the return of marked absentee ballots but prohibited the placement of the drop boxes in any location other than the county board election offices. The plaintiffs argue that state law does not prohibit placing these drop boxes in locations other than the county board election offices. For that reason, and because many Ohio voters do not live near their county board election offices, the plaintiffs believe that LaRose should allow for more drop boxes in different locations.

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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

New Jersey is Ready to Vote by Mail, But the Trump Campaign is Trying to Stop Them

By: Brianna Mashel

On August 14th, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order mandating all approximately 6.3 million registered voters to automatically receive mail-in ballots. After he announced the order, the governor exclaimed, “Everybody gets a ballot!”

Four days after the executive order was signed, however, the Trump campaign, national GOP Committee, and state GOP Committee launched a suit accusing Governor Murphy of usurping the state legislature’s authority to regulate elections and creating “a recipe for disaster” with respect to invalid voting. Almost a month later, on September 16th, Governor Murphy and his administration found themselves in a New Jersey Federal Court arguing against a preliminary injunction that would block this proposed expansion of mail-in voting.

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Voting from the Mailbox

By: Matthew Catron

Voting can be cumbersome and inconvenient. Voters often experience long lines and crowded parking lots when they go to the polls to cast their ballots. Clearly, the inconveniences of voting can discourage voter turnout. Most people would consider this a small price to pay for democracy. However, Colorado is one of three states that has attempted to remedy this problem by conducting all-mail elections.

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Updating the Golden State: California Begins Implementing New Voting Model

 

 By: Joseph Montgomery 

In the wake of the most recent presidential election, many Americans have closely examined not only whom they vote for, but also how they cast their votes.  Part of this examination includes a look at the actual hardware that allows voters to exercise the fundamental right to vote, and also what methods and services are available to voters before, during, and after state and federal elections.  In California, lawmakers have begun implementing legislation that aims to streamline voting procedures for Californians and update voting hardware. 

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WA: No Home, No Voice?

By: Anna Ellermeier

Homeless Seattleites face barriers to voting while the City Council decides the fate of tent cities and encampments

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Homeless individuals, in Seattle and across the county, face unique barriers to registering to vote and exercising their right to vote once registered. While a residential address is not required by the Washington State Constitution or by state statute, homeless Seattleites still face significant  challenges in this area.

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Recent New Jersey State Election Law Limits Delivery of Mail-In Ballots by Authorized Individuals

By Briana Cornelius

On August 10, 2015, the New Jersey legislature passed a new state election law, Public Law 2015, Chapter 84, which limits the number of “Vote by Mail” ballots that a designated delivery person can pick up and deliver on behalf of other registered voters. Under the New Jersey “Vote by Mail Law,” an “authorized messenger” is an individual who is permitted to obtain mail-in ballots for other qualified voters. Previously, authorized messengers were allowed to obtain up to ten ballots for delivery to other voters, and “bearers” were permitted to return an unlimited number of completed ballots to county election boards on behalf of other voters.  The new law, which took effect immediately, reduces the number of ballots that both an authorized messenger and bearer can deliver to just three. This change in the law (you can see the previous version of the law here) represents the first time there has been any limit on the number of ballots that a bearer can deliver to county election officials.

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