Early this month, a federal judge in Virginia ruled in that the witness requirement for absentee ballots was waived for the state’s June primary.
The League of Women Voters of Virginia brought legal action challenging the witness requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court's decision applies to the state’s primaries on June 23. Voters who cast absentee ballots in this election will be able to submit their signed ballots without a witness signature.
Because of this decision, Virginia voters will be able to cast their ballots in safety without risking their health to locate a witness.
Defending Voters Against Unjust Purges
LWV of Michigan has spent the last century promoting and protecting the right to register and vote by educating, assisting, and registering voters in Detroit and throughout Michigan. Now they are defending Michigan voters against unjust and flawed purge practices.
Just this past Friday, a federal judge in Michigan granted the League with a motion to intervene in a case seeking to force an aggressive purge of voter rolls in Detroit.
Voter rolls should undergo regular maintenance, but not at the expense of eligible voters—and Detroit already meets the requirements of federal law in its list maintenance. This purge is based on questionable and unsubstantiated data by an organization with a history of meddling in voting rights, and would likely result in eligible voters being thrown off the City’s voter registration rolls. As parties to the case, we can now fight to ensure that doesn’t happen.
COVID-19, the Census, and Redistricting
As we prepare for redistricting in 2021, our work to fight for and protect People Powered Fair Maps is more important than ever. We encourage everyone to find ways to support fair maps in their communities and one of the easiest first steps is by completing the 2020 Census. The census count has a direct impact on the redistricting process. Numbers from the count are used to determine how many individuals belong to each district and ultimately how district lines are drawn.
BUT it’s important to emphasize that none of the operating timeline shifts affect the way people are self-responding and getting their households counted! Answering the census is easy! Every household can respond to the census right now through one of three ways: via phone, internet, or paper form.
Understandably, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the way that the Census conducts operations. Originally, the Census Bureau planned to cease collecting data on August 31, 2020, but because of COVID-19, data collection will now extend until October 31, 2020.
But what does this mean for states and redistricting?
This extension to the census collection will result in delayed delivery of data to the states. That means many states will have to move the timeline of their map drawing. A shortened timeframe could shorten the window for public comments, hearings, and testimony during the map-drawing process which is especially detrimental to protecting communities of interest and maintaining transparency in the redistricting process.
It will be up to concerned citizens in every state to make sure that we are building People Powered Fair Maps for every congressional, state, and local district in the country.