If you thought the period leading up to the general election on November 3 could not get more confusing, then you probably aren’t paying enough attention. Currently, more than 200 voting lawsuits are awaiting resolution in state and federal courts.
Election year legal appeals to voting procedures are nothing new, but there has been nothing like this year. Even before the Corona virus appeared, Experts predicted a record number of lawsuits in an election year Targeted at government voting restrictions. With the arrival of the pandemic, the voting lawsuit has skyrocketed.
According to Rick Hessin, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who is tracking this kind of thing in Code of Elections LawThere were 248 of them as of September 15th.
Most of these cases have been brought by Democrats and progressive organizations seeking to expand the availability of mail-order voting.
But as CNN reportedDemocrats and progressive organizations aren’t the only ones taking the case. So is the Republicans and conservative organizations.
When conservatives appear in court it’s often in the form of a file Republican National Committee, Which launched the Protect Voting campaign. On September 16, RNC listed 19 states in which they filed, or interfered in, voting lawsuits to counter efforts to expand voting that, in RNC’s view, threaten the “integrity of our elections.”
In addition, the Trump campaign itself has filed three federal lawsuits – in Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – because of those states’ efforts to expand voting by mail.
Feeling all this
The sheer volume of all these lawsuits is enormous, but many legal experts and organizations monitor the activity. The Code of Good Election Law (mentioned above) is one. Another is the University of Michigan Law School’s Civil Rights Information Sharing Center, which has launched a tracking project COVID-19 litigationMany of them are related to elections. On the contrary, the Brennan Center for Justice tracks Voting rights lawsuit, Much of it has been linked to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the SCOTUS Blog and Ohio Election Law recently launched the 2020 Program.Litigation election trackerWhich identifies the most important current cases making their way through the court systems.
Finally, another good resource for understanding all of this litigation is the September 3, 2009 Q&A article Politico Digital Magazine With law professor Justin Levitt who specializes in election law at Loyola Marymount.
Courts started ruling
With less than two months since Election Day, the courts have begun issuing decisions. During the week of September 7, four important rulings in three states made national newspaper headlines:
- In Florida, a federal appeals court ruled that Florida residents who have completed criminal penalties must pay all fines and fees before they can vote. Judgment, Affecting more than 700,000 ex-criminals in that combat state, overturned a ruling by a judge in a lower federal court.
- The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in its ruling on the Green Party candidate’s appeal, ruled four goals to three to stop printing absentee ballots. Three days later, however, the court The same The previous ruling was reversed. Had the previous decision been in place, this would have meant that county clerks could not meet the September 16 deadline for vote distribution to municipalities
- Two court rulings in Texas affected mail voting during the pandemic. In one, A federal appeals court sided with the state’s Republican leadership to maintain the state’s minimum age of 65 to vote in absentia – Democrats sought to repeal the minimum age. In the second decision, on September 11, a state judge sided with the Democrats in ruling that Harris County can send absentee ballot requests to all of the 2.4 million registered voters. Attorney General Ken Paxton then announced that he had filed an emergency appeal of that decision to the state Supreme Court – and on September 15, The court ruled Ballot requests cannot be sent until the appeal is completed.
Small decisions can have big impacts
Summarizing all of this litigation, the point is this: Court decisions can have an impact on voter turnout. Preventing hundreds of thousands of people previously imprisoned in Florida from voting could be an important factor in determining the outcome in that state, which President Trump won in 2016 with a majority of 112,911 votes.
Recent court decisions in Texas, where polls reveal A surprisingly tight race Between Trump and Democratic candidate Joseph R Biden Jr., it could be of crucial importance. The same is true in Wisconsin.
As Election Day approaches, there will be more news about court decisions that can determine election results. It might look small in the big election scheme of things. But they are not.