This year’s election is taking place during a year of historic events in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic continues to infect tens of thousands of Americans every day; unemployment remains at record-shattering highs; the largest racial justice protests since the 1960s continue in the wake of police killings of unarmed Black Americans; and climate change has unleashed scores of hurricanes, storms, floods, and historic wildfires from coast to coast.
And now, the country votes.
Early turnout numbers suggest that Americans are more eager to vote than ever. However, Republican politicians across the country have set up roadblocks to voting—demanding witnesses as voters sign absentee ballots; scaling down ballot dropoff locations in heavily populated districts; setting up illegal ballot collection points; devising naked ballot restrictions; and illegally threatening to send uncertified groups of poll watchers to election sites across the country.
COURIER Newsroom and its sister sites across the United States are monitoring active court cases that could expand or restrict voter access. We are also bringing you up-to-date information on where problems are arising as early voting gets underway and when Election Day starts. Bookmark this page and check back often—your vote this year matters more than it has ever before.
OCTOBER 22, 2020 // UPDATED 6:10 PM EDT
Chief Justice John Roberts and the conservative wing of the Supreme Court ruled to stop counties in Alabama from offering curbside voting. The suit was brought by the NAACP and others who sought curbside voting options to help elderly and disabled voters. Voting indoors for them during the coronavirus pandemic could present higher risks than for others.
Deuel Ross, senior counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which brought the lawsuit, said he was disappointed, noting that there is nothing in state or federal law that prohibits this “very common means of people being able to vote.”
“Over a third of Alabama voters are high-risk individuals who are more susceptible to death or serious illness from COVID-19, and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has recommended curbside voting as a means for people not to interact with other individuals,” Ross said in a telephone interview.
In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted: “This remedy respects both the right of voters with disabilities to vote safely and the State’s interest in orderly elections.” The Court’s majority did not offer a written opinion.
Curbside voting has also been an issue in Texas. However, the Texas 14th Court of Appeals threw out a lawsuit brought by Republicans seeking to restrict curbside, or drive-through, voting. State GOP officials appealed the case to the Texas Supreme Court, but the court rejected their appeal.
Curbside, or drive-through, voting are legal in Texas. However, according to the Texas Tribune, Republicans do not believe that the risk of contracting the coronavirus qualifies under that law. That assertion comes despite COVID-19 cases in Texas increasing by 16% over the last two-week period, according to the New York Times. —Kyle Valenta with additional reporting by the Associated Press
OCTOBER 20, 2020 // 11:30 AM EDT
SCOTUS Denies PA GOP’s Request to Stop Extended Mail-In Ballot Deadline. But It’s Not All Good News.
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court allowed Pennsylvania to accept mail-in ballots for three days after Election Day, Nov. 3. In a split 4-4 decision, the Court’s lack of a majority opinion means that a ruling by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court stands. The state Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania—a key state in the 2020 election—could be accepted until three days after Election Day. Republicans in Pennsylvania opposed the extended deadline. While on the surface the ruling expands enfranchisement in the state, there are fears that Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court could ultimately see the extension—and other efforts to expand the vote—curtailed if it’s brought before the Court again. READ MORE HERE.
OCTOBER 15, 2020 // 11:30 AM EDT
The Pennsylvania Elections Officials Making Sure Every Vote Counts
Keystone Newsroom’s Patrick Abdalla explains how election officials throughout Pennsylvania are working to make sure they don’t become the Florida of the 2020 election. It includes details on how officials in Bucks County, Allegheny County and Philadelphia are coordinating poll workers, educating voters on the state’s “naked ballots,” setting up secure drop boxes, and, in one office, wrangling a massive ballot sorting machine known as “The Dragon.” READ MORE HERE
OCTOBER 9, 2020 // 2:37 PM EDT
Texas Governor Sued for Closing Ballot Drop-Off Boxes
The Americano’s Araceli Cruz reports on a lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is limiting Texas counties to having only one ballot drop off location per county, meaning some voters will have to travel long distances to reach them. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is bringing the suit, but the biggest problem is that early voting has already started in Texas. READ MORE HERE
SEPTEMBER 23, 2020 // 12:26 AM EDT
Virginia Election Officials Say Intimidation Will Be Punished
After a group supporting President Donald Trump held a raucous rally at a Fairfax, Virginia early voting location, elections officials told Dogwood, COURIER’s sister site in Virginia, that no voter should ever be afraid to cast a ballot. Several state and local officials went beyond that, Brian Carlton writes, saying that anyone who intimidates or harasses voters would be punished. READ MORE HERE
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020 // 10:12 AM EDT
Democratic Nominee Joe Biden and His Campaign Aren’t Leaving Anything to Chance
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has built a legal dream team designed to ensure every legally cast vote is counted during the 2020 presidential election. Court cases over voting access and rights have cropped up all over the country, and dozens more are expected through (and possibly after) Election Day. The legal team Biden has assembled includes two former solicitors general, a former attorney general, and an Obama-era White House general counsel. READ MORE HERE