State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Early Voting (page 1 of 3)

Did the Scope of the Texas Governor’s Authority to Suspend Election Law Under the Texas Disaster Act Expand to Include Policy Unrelated to Mitigating an Emergency?

By: Sarah Depew

On March 13, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation declaring a state of disaster due to the COVID-19 pandemic, triggering gubernatorial emergency powers authorized in the Texas Disaster Act of 1975. The Texas Disaster Act gives the Governor the authority to “suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute. . . . if strict compliance with the provisions, orders, or rules would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with a disaster.” Using this authority, Gov. Abbott issued a proclamation on July 27, 2020, to expand early voting and suspend portions of the Texas Election Code to allow voters to deliver a marked ballot in person to the early voting clerk’s office before or on Election Day. An “early voting clerk’s office” is understood in both the Texas Election Code and the July Proclamation to include more than the voting clerk’s main office, but also, any satellite offices or locations. For example, Harris County’s Election Administration has ten offices serving 4.7 million residents across 1,777 square miles.

The July Proclamation was not controversial. The order stated that strict compliance with statute governing the return of marked ballots would hinder the state’s coping with COVID—an objective that is indisputably permissible under the Texas Disaster Act.

Continue reading

New Jersey Voting Reform: Early Voting Expansion, Ballot Boxes, and the Future of Voting Legislation

By: Tim Intelisano

In the wake of the 2020 election, the American people watched as a plethora of states enacted restrictive voting laws, that would counter the reforms undertaken to make voting easier and safer during the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 was an unprecedented year for democracy. Election night (or perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, election week) featured drama counting mail-in-ballots across the Midwest and Sun Belt. The entire process exposed the weaknesses of the system. Instead of changing state laws that would allow counties to start counting mail-in ballots as they were received, some states forced officials to wait until Election Day, resulting in delayed results. These delays were cited by many as proof of fraud or vote tally manipulation.

Continue reading

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

Older posts

© 2021 State of Elections

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑