State-by-state Fights to Secure our Elections
COVID-19 remains a threat as we head toward the general election, and it is critical that our fall elections are carried out in a way that assures voters and election workers can participate safely. Here are a few of the cases we’ve filed on behalf of voters:
LWV Connecticut, with partners, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to make mail-in voting available to every eligible Connecticut voter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though 45,000 Connecticut residents have contracted COVID-19—including over 4,300 deaths so far—the state has retained one of the most restrictive mail voting systems in the nation for the November general election.
LWV New York State joined an individual plaintiff in a federal lawsuit to ensure absentee voters have the opportunity to cure their ballots if they are rejected for a signature-related issue for the remaining 2020 election cycle. For the past two election cycles, New York’s ballot rejection rate has been among the highest in the country. Voters need the opportunity to ensure their vote is counted and their voice is heard—when a ballot is challenged, the voter should be notified and have sufficient time to correct the error.
LWV Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP, Common Cause Pennsylvania, and three individual applicants, filed a motion to intervene in a case brought by the president’s re-election campaign seeking to prevent voters from using ballot drop-off locations other than county election board offices, severely limiting their options for casting mail-in ballots. The League and partners are asking to join this case to preserve voter access by ensuring that adequate drop-box locations are maintained in Pennsylvania.
After LWV Rhode Island and partners filed a lawsuit this month, the state of Rhode Island agreed to eliminate witness/notary requirements for vote-by-mail throughout the 2020 elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This agreement is especially important for Black, Latinx, elderly, and disabled voters, who will rely on mail-in ballots to vote safely this year. Now Rhode Island voters can be assured that their safely-cast ballots will count.
And, just today, LWV Ohio filed a lawsuit challenging Ohio’s flawed system of matching voter signatures on absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications. Election officials—who have no handwriting-analysis expertise—are currently allowed to reject an absentee ballot or ballot application, sometimes without notifying the voter, if they think there is a signature mismatch on the voter’s paperwork. Especially during a global pandemic, Ohio voters must be able to efficiently secure absentee ballots and have assurance that their votes will count.
Whenever voters are forced to choose between their health and their right to vote, our democracy is weakened, so we’ll continue on fighting to make upcoming elections as safe and secure as possible.