The 2020 presidential election was historic for many reasons, among them, the special safety measures that state election administrators had to suddenly implement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its effort to ensure voter safety in the 2020 election process, the Nevada legislature passed a law that would require all counties to mail absentee ballots to registered voters during emergency situations. The law aimed to make it easier for Nevadans to vote without having to physically go to the polls. The law also provided some procedural flexibilities in that it permitted the collection of mail-in ballots by third party collectors.
By: Kayla Burris
The 2020 presidential election was a test of Wisconsin’s election system. Like other states, Wisconsin faced numerous legal challenges to the ways votes were cast and counted. However, as a battleground state in a tight race, calls of fraud were particularly loud. Wisconsin also conducted a recount in two of its counties and Republican groups continued calling for audits long after Biden was sworn into office.
The Republican-controlled legislature agreed that the fraud claims had merit and, voting along party lines, ordered an audit to “be conducted by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau.” Democrats were largely opposed to the audit, with Democratic Governor Tony Evers accusing Republican leaders of “drinking the Kool-Aid” and pushing baseless conspiracy theories about the election.
By: Kelsey Nickerson
Recently, a surge of vote restoration initiatives has gained ground throughout the United States. The primary right addressed—restoring voting rights to those who have completed an incarceration for a felony conviction—is now at least partially granted in every state but two, with the vast majority of states re-enfranchising these citizens thanks to community advocacy. However, in some states, re-enfranchisement has been hampered by a spate of litigation and counter-legislation attempting to stem the tide of reform, complicating the process of restoration in multiple states. As the administration of these rights churn through state legislatures, the constitutionality of these contestations to incarcerated people’s voting rights will inevitably need to be addressed.
By: Theo Weber
2021 has been a year of rapid, substantial change to state election laws throughout the country. Whether acting to restrict voting rights because of unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, or acting to expand said rights in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, states have been legislating at a feverish clip. The Brennan Center for Justice notes that between January 1, 2021, and July 14, 2021, 18 states have enacted 30 laws restricting voting access, while 25 states have enacted 54 laws that expand it.
However, one state has been notably absent from passing any legislation in 2021. That state is Mississippi.
The lack of change to voting requirements in Mississippi should not come as much of a surprise though; Mississippi already has some of the most restrictive voting requirements in the country. Mississippi was listed as one of the 6 most difficult states to vote early in by the Center for Election Innovation & Research, and a 2018 study published in the Election Law Journal listed Mississippi as the most difficult state to vote in.
By Anthony Scarpiniti
In the age of Covid-19, social distancing, and staying at home, the “norms” of society are no longer normal. Because of the recent November election, many states adjusted or expanded their absentee and mail-in voting procedures. According to a Pew Research Center survey, approximately two-thirds of Americans support the ability to vote absentee or early without a specific reason. Even President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump requested mail-in ballots for the Florida Republican primary election in August.
While many Americans support absentee and mail-in voting in theory, in order for them to work in practice, the United States Postal Service (USPS) had to be prepared for the large influx of ballots. During the 2019 holiday season, the USPS sorted and delivered approximately “2.5 billion pieces of First-Class Mail,” and this was just in one week. This breaks down to about 500 million letters per day. The Census Bureau estimated that the voting age population in the United States was about 245.5 million citizens in 2016, and only about 157.6 million of them were registered to vote. Between the holiday season and a hypothetical election held completely via the mail, it is a fair assumption that the USPS is much busier during the holiday season.