Republicans sue to disqualify thousands of mail ballots in swing states

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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Republican officials and candidates in at least three battleground states are pushing to disqualify thousands of mail ballots after urging their own supporters to vote on Election Day, in what critics are calling a concerted attempt at partisan voter suppression.

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In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court has agreed with the Republican National Committee that election officials should not count ballots on which the voter neglected to put a date on the outer envelope — even in cases when the ballots arrive before Election Day. Thousands of ballots have been set aside as a result, enough to swing a close race.

In Michigan, Kristina Karamo, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, sued the top election official in Detroit last month, seeking to toss absentee ballots not cast in person with an ID, even though that runs contrary to state requirements. When asked in a recent court hearing, Karamo’s lawyer declined to say why the suit targets Detroit, a heavily Democratic, majority-Black city, and not the entire state.






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And in Wisconsin, Republicans won a court ruling that will prevent some mail ballots from being counted when the required witness address is not complete.
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Over the past two years, Republicans have waged a sustained campaign against alleged voter fraud. Experts say the litigation — which could significantly affect Tuesday’s vote — represents a parallel strategy of suing to disqualify mail ballots based on technicalities. While the rejections may have some basis in state law, experts say they appear to go against a principle, enshrined in federal law, of not disenfranchising voters for minor errors.
The suits coincide with a systematic attempt by Republicans — led by former president Donald Trump — to persuade GOP voters to cast their ballots only on Election Day. Critics argue that the overall purpose is to separate Republicans and Democrats by method of voting and then to use lawsuits to void mail ballots that are disproportionately Democratic.

How states are countering the assault on elections
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Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, most Americans say democracy is under threat. These are the efforts underway to preserve it. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)
“They’re looking for every advantage they can get, and they’ve calculated that this is a way that they can win more seats,” said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for Common Cause, a nonpartisan democracy advocacy organization. “Research has shown that absentee ballots are more likely to be discarded if they are voted by young people and people of color, which are not generally seen as the Republican base.”



Albert said legal battles over mail ballot eligibility have the potential to delay results and even change outcomes. In some cases, the disputes could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The potential for chaos is especially high in Pennsylvania, where the legal fight is ongoing and could influence or postpone the outcome in some of the state’s tightest races, including a contest that could determine control of the U.S. Senate.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Emma Vaughn said in a statement that the committee sued in Pennsylvania “because we are simply asking for counties to follow the state law, which by the way, dozens of Democrats supported.”

“We look forward to continuing our legal actions to ensure that elections are administered in accordance with this bipartisan rule of law,” Vaughn added.


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) issued a statement Sunday night in which he asserted that “no voter should be disenfranchised simply because they made a minor error in filling out their ballot.”
“This was not a controversial concept in our country or our commonwealth until recently, with the rise of the Big Lie and the efforts to spread mis- and disinformation in the days leading up to the general election,” Wolf continued. “I urge counties to continue to ensure that every vote counts.”
Election officials are braced for a repeat of a protracted standoff following Pennsylvania’s May primary between state officials and three counties — Berks, Fayette and Lancaster — that refused to include undated ballots in their certified results.

Wolf’s administration sued those counties in July to force them to include the ballots, the majority of which were cast by Democrats, court records show. In August, a state judge ordered the counties to include “all lawfully cast ballots,” including those with missing dates, in their certified results.

 

Aardvark86

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Jan 23, 2018
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Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, most Americans say democracy is under threat

This quote from the above article reminds me a heck of a lot of the old days when I had to learn how to read Pravda.
 

artradley

HR Legend
Apr 26, 2013
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So what the democrats were doing was illegal…?

No. However the counties who refuse to count votes in which the date is missing are interpreting PA law in a way that violates the Civil Rights Act, as follows:

. (2) No person acting under color of law shall-- . . . . (B) deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election[.]
 

artradley

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Apr 26, 2013
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Truly suppressing the vote is outrageous. That said, if people want their vote to count, they need to follow the law. How hard is it to write a date on the envelope?

However, as the first judge indicated, a d half the state Supreme Court justices agreed, that aspect of PA law violates the Civil Rights Act. Supposedly “common sense” questions such as yours have been used to enforce all kinds of Jim Crow laws designed to suppress the vote. There is no need for a voter to write the date on the envelope. So it cannot be justified to disenfranchise those who fail to do so.
 
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Finance85

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Oct 22, 2003
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However, as the judge indicated, that aspect of PA law violates the Civil Rights Act. Supposedly “common sense” questions such as yours have been used to enforce all kinds of Jim Crow laws designed to suppress the vote. There is no need for a voter to write the date on the envelope. So it cannot be justified to disenfranchise those who fail to do so.

Even PA law does not indicate those ballots must be left uncounted. Some counties simply read the law as allowing them to do so.
Give a a F**king break. Writing a date on a envelope has nothing to do with suppressing votes based on skin color. Are you really going to go down that road? Do you really want to say that people of color somehow can't figure out how to write a date on an envelope? Liberals manage to insult minorities every way possible by trying to say they are inferior and can't do simple things that white people can do.
 

artradley

HR Legend
Apr 26, 2013
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Give a a F**king break. Writing a date on a envelope has nothing to do with suppressing votes based on skin color. Are you really going to go down that road? Do you really want to say that people of color somehow can't figure out how to write a date on an envelope? Liberals manage to insult minorities every way possible by trying to say they are inferior and can't do simple things that white people can do.

Yes, I am going down that road because the GOP built the road. The date is not necessary, and thus rejecting a ballot solely because the date is missing is a violation of the Civil Rights Act. This has nothing to do with skin color. The GOP had identified that Democrats are far more likely to mail in their ballots, and so they are trying to reject as many mail in ballots as possible, even if it means violating the Civil Rights Act and needlessly disenfranchising voters.

Because the GOP is sick of democracy. They want to disenfranchise as many Democratic voters as possible. They want to convince as many people as possible that our elections are rigged, and so they aggressively lie and spread false information.

And the ONLY reason you want to excuse their shameful behavior is because it helps your team. Shame on you.
 

Aardvark86

HR All-American
Jan 23, 2018
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Yeah, it's truly shameful and disappointing that the majority of Americans do not seem to realize that it is true.
Obviously, as we both know, there's loads of rhetoric in that general proposition. That's all fine.

With that said though, I'm not sure what the data say about voter perceptions of its truthfulness is consistent with what you suggest. On the one hand, the CNN survey suggested that something like 85% of voters actually believe 'voting rights and election integrity' to be at least 'very important' to their vote. On the other, when ranking it among other issues, less than 10% (including only about 28% of D's) viewed it as the most important issue motivating their vote. So, what I would infer from those two data points is that voters are not, in fact, ignorant of the issue at all, but that perhaps they are sophisticated enough to recognize hyperbole when they see it.

More broadly, to my original point: whenever you read an article and it says something like "the majority agree," or "global consensus dictates," you are probably about to be told something that is not a majoritarian consensus.
 
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seminole97

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Roughly a week and a half into the Florida recount, the issue of counting overseas absentee ballots came front and center, and ended up giving Team Bush a major victory in the court of public opinion.

On Wednesday, November 15, 2000, Al Gore lawyer Mark Herron sent a memo to Democratic recount observers telling them how to challenge late-arriving overseas absentee ballots that did not have a valid postmark on them.

This would have potentially thrown out the votes of hundreds of military members stationed overseas. In a race separated by about 300 votes at the time, these votes could have been decisive in choosing the next president.
 
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artradley

HR Legend
Apr 26, 2013
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So, what I would infer from those two data points is that voters are not, in fact, ignorant of the issue at all, but that perhaps they are sophisticated enough to recognize hyperbole when they see it.

I think it is far, far more likely that the average American a)doesn’t pay strict attention to these matters, b)takes for granted democracy and the acceptance of the results of free and fair elections, so that c)they do not grasp the seriousness of our current situation.

Republicans are likely to do well tomorrow, so we will hopefully just see some skirmishes. But we are setup for a constitutional crisis in 2024. After 2024 I suspect the number of naive Americans will be much lower.
 

Finance85

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Oct 22, 2003
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Yes, I am going down that road because the GOP built the road. The date is not necessary, and thus rejecting a ballot solely because the date is missing is a violation of the Civil Rights Act. This has nothing to do with skin color. The GOP had identified that Democrats are far more likely to mail in their ballots, and so they are trying to reject as many mail in ballots as possible, even if it means violating the Civil Rights Act and needlessly disenfranchising voters.

Because the GOP is sick of democracy. They want to disenfranchise as many Democratic voters as possible. They want to convince as many people as possible that our elections are rigged, and so they aggressively lie and spread false information.

And the ONLY reason you want to excuse their shameful behavior is because it helps your team. Shame on you.
Did you ever stop to think why the date is required?

You want to know the biggest threat to democracy? It's politicians acting outside the democratic process.

It's executive orders that have no basis in law, like letting Dreamers be exempt from immigration enforcement. It's not enforcing immigration policy. It's mandating vaccines that don't prevent spread to health workers. It's shutting down private businesses, or issuing stupid orders like not being able to drive to a lakehouse or run a boat with an outboard motor, or get your hair cut. It's forgiving student loan debt based on a law not intended for that purpose. It's shutting down energy production using regulatory power not intended for that.

Shame on you for assigning me to a team. I call out stupid wherever I see it. Right now the Dems get way more calling out than the R's because Dems are in power. Shame on you for playing the race card when it doesn't apply. Shame on you for saying I'm excusing shameful behavior when I condemned the actual shameful behavior.
 

Aardvark86

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Jan 23, 2018
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I think it is far, far more likely that the average American a)doesn’t pay strict attention to these matters, b)takes for granted democracy and the acceptance of the results of free and fair elections, so that c)they do not grasp the seriousness of our current situation.

Republicans are likely to do well tomorrow, so we will hopefully just see some skirmishes. But we are setup for a constitutional crisis in 2024. After 2024 I suspect the number of naive Americans will be much lower.
Oh come on Art, it is well nigh impossible for even the most average American not to be aware of, and at least consider, these issues these days, because they are shouted from the virtual hilltops. Sure, they may take democracy for granted a bit, but for good cause, given that we've managed to peacefully transfer power for the last 230 years or so.

Ah, but January 6th, you say! No one in their right mind would suggest that ragtag bunch of assclowns represented a real threat to the continuity of the USG. Mind you, I don't care how long those guys rot in jail, for even providing a fantasyland version of that 'revolution,' but I and most Americans slept pretty soundly knowing who our 46th president would be on January 7th.

Beyond that, I am absolutely not one to jump into games of whataboutism. But let's be really clear -- the person who crossed this particular Rubicon first was one Albert Gore Jr. (Indeed, I remember thinking to myself, "you bastard" when he started.) Not even Tricky Dick did before that, though he probably had cause to. And so here we are - since 2000, both sides have been playing the illegitimacy game pretty consistently... Not that I like it or have a brilliant exit strategy from it, other than perhaps to aggressively NOT throw fuel on the hyperbole fire
 
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artradley

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Apr 26, 2013
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Did you ever stop to think why the date is required?

I can’t think of a good reason. My guess is it was lazy design and that almost no thought was given to it. It’s only possible use would be to save a ballot that is received after election day and whose postmark is not legible.
 
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Aardvark86

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Having actually read the opinion (which I know so many of you do):
1. Not a frivolous claim given the state statute;
2. A perfectly sound and reasonable opinion, both as to the merits and as to the denial of injunctive relief given that election day is tomorrow.
3. It will be sort of interesting how many of the estimated 150-175 voters show up to make corrections between now and tomorrow, given that the whole point of a mail ballot was not to show up tomorrow. I suspect we'll never know.
 
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Finance85

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Oct 22, 2003
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They should, but if you turn in your ballot before election day, disqualifying it for not having a date is pure bullshit.
I understand that, but that's not the law. What if we have a situation like they did in Georgia where a large bag of ballots was found in the trunk of a poll worker's car after election day? The law requires the date. It's not that hard. It's not a way to discriminate based on race or party. Saying it's a way to discriminate by race is racist at its core.
 
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Finance85

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I can’t think of a good reason. My guess is it was lazy design and that almost no thought was given to it. It’s only possible use would be to save a ballot that is received after election day and whose postmark is not legible.
Think again.
 

Joes Place

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Aug 28, 2003
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Truly suppressing the vote is outrageous. That said, if people want their vote to count, they need to follow the law. How hard is it to write a date on the envelope?

That date is a safety-check in the case the USPS delays/mis-delivers the envelope.
That's all.

Has nothing to do with whether a voter is eligible, or if a ballot is valid or not.
 

Joes Place

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I can’t think of a good reason. My guess is it was lazy design and that almost no thought was given to it. It’s only possible use would be to save a ballot that is received after election day and whose postmark is not legible.
That's exactly why.

And it is IRRELEVANT for ballots received on-time.
 
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Aardvark86

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Doesn’t the post office stamp it with a date on it?
I would think they do, and that that would be a presumptively valid date. Then again, occasionally, the USPS does not operate like a well oiled machine, "miracle on 34th street" notwithstanding. I have no problem with a voter trying to be able to make their case notwithstanding the post date.

Funny story - many years ago, I got a letter from my law school advising me that my spot in the class of 1989 had been rescinded since I had not sent in my deposit, even though I had, some months before. So my mom and I schlepped down to DC to plead with the admissions director about how we had sent it in, could write them a deposit check that day, etc. I almost put some calls into a buddy who recruited for CIA re: alternatives (as my undergrad major was Russian/Soviet Studies). Anyway, we walked into the dean's office, and before I could deliver my well rehearsed plea, he handed us a dog-eared and mangled envelope that he told us had arrived in that morning's post -- it was our acceptance and deposit check.
 
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artradley

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I understand that, but that's not the law. What if we have a situation like they did in Georgia where a large bag of ballots was found in the trunk of a poll worker's car after election day? The law requires the date. It's not that hard. It's not a way to discriminate based on race or party. Saying it's a way to discriminate by race is racist at its core.

But the law does NOT say the ballot must be rejected if it is not signed. Interpreting the law that way violates the Civil Rights Act. Why do you keep ignoring g this?
 

Joes Place

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Anyway, we walked into the dean's office, and before I could deliver my well rehearsed plea, he handed us a dog-eared and mangled envelope that he told us had arrived in that morning's post -- it was our acceptance and deposit check.

If that was a ballot, it would have been rejected by the GOP overseers....
 
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globalhawk

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Dec 16, 2003
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I would think they do, and that that would be a presumptively valid date. Then again, occasionally, the USPS does not operate like a well oiled machine, "miracle on 34th street" notwithstanding. I have no problem with a voter trying to be able to make their case notwithstanding the post date.

Funny story - many years ago, I got a letter from my law school advising me that my spot in the class of 1989 had been rescinded since I had not sent in my deposit, even though I had, some months before. So my mom and I schlepped down to DC to plead with the admissions director about how we had sent it in, could write them a deposit check that day, etc. I almost put some calls into a buddy who recruited for CIA re: alternatives (as my undergrad major was Russian/Soviet Studies). Anyway, we walked into the dean's office, and before I could deliver my well rehearsed plea, he handed us a dog-eared and mangled envelope that he told us had arrived in that morning's post -- it was our acceptance and deposit check.
Definitely an experience I'm glad I never went through :) I guess I don't see the difference between a postmark and writing the date on the envelope. Aren't they the same thing? This isn't a big concern of mine but I just don't quite understand this restriction.
 

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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Definitely an experience I'm glad I never went through :) I guess I don't see the difference between a postmark and writing the date on the envelope. Aren't they the same thing? This isn't a big concern of mine but I just don't quite understand this restriction.
It's clearly just an excuse for more voter suppression by Republicans.