A record number of lawsuits have been filed this year regarding the elections, and many are expected to be filed as Election Day approaches next week. Since the beginning of this year, more than 200 lawsuits have been filed, and this is more than any of the previous three election years.
Election-related Lawsuits Could Decide The Future For Trump And Biden
The outcomes in most of these cases have been mixed as voting rights activists have won several cases related to Covid 19 like absentee ballots, allowing blind and disabled voters to cast votes electronically or through phone and extending deadlines to count ballots. On the other hand, supporters of Trump have also won several lawsuits that allowed locking in election day deadlines for absentee voting and having a limit on the number of ballot drop boxes.
The coronavirus pandemic has created panic among several voters, and many of them are likely to opt for ballot voting this year to avoid coming out during elections. However, the government does not want universal mail-in voting as this can lead to voter fraud as per their analysis. On the other hand, Biden does not seem to have any problem with mail-in votes, and he is promoting the active participation of voters in any form.
Many voters in Alabama heaved a sigh of relief when a court issued an order to make it easier for votes to be mailed so that people need not worry about getting exposed to the virus. Some senior citizens had argued that they had not left home since the pandemic and coming out to vote will not be a safe option for them. Apart from that, they did not want to vote absentee as it required a witness signature, and this would expose them during the process.
In Alaska, a tribe sued the state over the rule that required witness signature on all absentee ballots. The native people argued that they were vulnerable to the pandemic and did not want to go outside to vote during elections. The state election officials argued that it was too late to make changes to absentee ballot rules, but the court asked the officials to issue a public notice and make suitable provisions for such people.
In Arizona, the voter registration deadline was extended by nearly three weeks due to the pandemic. In yet another surprising ruling that was in favor of voting rights advocates, vulnerable voters would be able to make a video call to a county election official who would fill the ballot on behalf of the voter. The court ruled that this was necessary for disabled people and those who were getting treated in hospitals.
In California, the lawsuit was regarding the drop boxes placed by the Republican Party. Elsewhere in the country, drop boxes are placed by the county election officials, and they are also monitored and collected by the election officials. The lawsuit argued that the boxes in California that are managed by GOP officials were not authorized and this intimidated the voters.
In Connecticut, the state had decided to mail absentee ballot applications to all registered voters which were challenged by the Republican candidates as this allowed people to use absentee voting without any valid reason. This was struck down by the court and it upheld the decision of the Governor to mail ballot applications to all registered voters as it will offer them the opportunity to safeguard their health during elections.
Trump and his party have had the last laugh in Georgia as many lawsuits regarding expanding voting opportunities have been struck down by the courts. The absentee ballot deadline that was initially extended for three days after Election Day was later struck down by the judges. In another case, a request was made to send absentee ballot applications in Spanish to some voters. Even though some judges were in favor of providing such applications, the final decision to not distribute ballots in the Spanish language was made as the court felt that there was no need for such efforts.
Even in Indiana, several lawsuits were filed to support absentee voting, but they were denied by the courts. According to state laws, people over the age of 65 and those who are disabled can request for absentee ballots. Even though the Indiana Election Commission had allowed voters to request absentee ballots in June as the state was under a stay at home order, it decided that they must return to in-person voting for the November elections.
A former Republican senator in Iowa had asked the court to expand the polling locations, and it was granted by the court. Similar requests were made in Kentucky regarding the limited number of polling stations, and the Republican voters felt that asking so many people to turn up at one location can increase the risk of spreading Covid-19. However, the court did not support such requests as they said that absentee voting provisions were made in advance, and there was no need to vote in person.
Several groups in Louisiana requested to add more early voting days as this would reduce congestion at the polls on election day. The court considered the appeal and agreed to increase the early voting from seven days to ten days in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections during elections.
In Minnesota, several lawsuits were filed to extend the election day deadline to receive absentee ballots. Along with this, requests were also made to eliminate the witness signature requirement for absentee ballots. Things are not easy for absentee ballots in Mississippi as the voters need a valid reason for using absentee ballots.
In this way, several lawsuits have been filed with regards to the elections across the country. The general trend that can be seen from all these lawsuits is that more people want to use mail-in ballots as this will not expose them to coronavirus risk during the elections. Apart from that, it is clearly evident that the Republicans are not in favor of extending mail-in ballots to every voter for their own reasons while the Democrats are not having any issues with increased voter participation in the elections.