10/26 Daily Update: Bipartisan Coalition of AGs Issue Strong Statement on Voting

Key Dates & Deadlines

Voter Registration Deadlines

Early Voting Begins

VPP Press Briefing on Voter Intimidation

  • TOMORROW: On Tuesday, October 27th from 12:00-1:00pm EST, one week before election day, the VPP is co-hosting a press briefing with state officials, law enforcement leaders, and legal experts on preventing and responding to potential voter intimidation, including from unlawful armed militias, and concerns about possible violence around the 2020 general election.  RSVP here.

For detailed information on voting-related deadlines, visit vote.org.

National Updates

  • NAAG Statement on 2020 Election: Today, the National Association of Attorneys General issued a joint statement on behalf of a bipartisan coalition of 36 state attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox. The statement highlights the role of state AGs in protecting the right to vote and upholding the  rule of law, urges the public to make a plan to vote, and underscores prohibitions against voter intimidation and violence.

  • Texas National Guard: Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced he will deploy up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to five major cities as soon as this weekend, citing the purported threat of post-election civil unrest. According to a Texas Guard spokesperson, the governor intends to dispatch the troops to San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin. More from the San Antonio Express-News here.

State News

  • Florida: Over the weekend, hundreds of people gathered in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando to show support for restoring voting rights to returning citizens who have completed prison sentences. In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment restoring the voting rights of people with felony convictions. The amendment was subsequently gutted by the state legislature, with the result that many Floridians with felony convictions are still unable to vote this year.

  • Georgia: In interviews with Black voters in Georgia, POLITICO found that anger over a long and ongoing legacy of voter suppression has fueled eagerness to vote early. Since Oct. 12, the first day of early voting, a staggering 2.7 million Georgia voters have cast a ballot — a nearly 110 percent increase from the same point in the 2016 election. Read more from POLITICO here.

  • Michigan: In a weekend interview with ABC12, Attorney General Dana Nessel reiterated her message that the Michigan AG’s office will be “very aggressive when it comes to enforcing the law” in response to voter intimidation.
  • Texas: Over 7 million people have voted early in Texas, the majority in-person. In previous elections, the state of Texas has had chronically low voter turnout. This year, early voter turnout in Texas is among the highest in the country. Read more from the Guardian here.

Legal Corner

Today was another busy day in the courts, as voting rights cases moved urgently forward with only 8 days remaining until Election Day. As always, you can track these cases and other significant voting rights litigation on our website. New developments included:

  • Wisconsin: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected, by a 5-3 vote, a request by the Democratic National Committee to reinstate a district court order that extended Wisconsin’s absentee-ballot receipt deadline. The case is Democratic National Committee v. Wisconsin State Legislature, 20A66 (U.S.). A Wisconsin statute requires that absentee ballots be received — not just postmarked — by the close of polls on Election Day. But a federal district court judge issued an order extending the receipt deadline by six days in light of the COVID-19 crisis. The federal 7th Circuit then blocked (“stayed”) that order, and the plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to lift the stay and allow the order to take effect. The Supreme Court refused, over the dissents of Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer. As a result, absentee ballots in Wisconsin must be received by November 3. Wisconsin voters can learn more about returning their absentee ballots here. Since the USPS recommends allowing a week for ballot delivery, voters may wish to take advantage of Wisconsin’s opportunities for “voting absentee in person.”
  • Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Democratic Party and the Secretary of State filed their responses in Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar, 20-542 (U.S.), the latest iteration of long-running litigation over voting rights protections in Pennsylvania. On September 17, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution requires mailed ballots received up to three days after Election Day to be counted and presumed timely mailed. The state Republican Party asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block that order, and the Court declined on a 4-4 ruling. Now, with Judge Amy Coney Barrett set to be sworn in tonight, the Republican Party is back for another bite at the apple, once again asking the Supreme Court to intervene. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s opposition, filed today, asks the Court not to countenance  “eleventh-hour federal court meddling.”
  • Arkansas: Federal district court judge Paul K. Holmes denied the League of Women Voters’ request for a preliminary injunction in a case that challenges the absence of any notice and cure process for absentee ballots. Arkansas doesn’t require election officials to offer voters the opportunity to fix an absentee ballot that may be rejected because of signature match problems. The judge agreed that “[t]here appears to be much merit to Plaintiffs’ arguments that notice and an opportunity to cure signature deficiencies in absentee ballots ultimately will reduce voter confusion and disenfranchisement, encourage voter participation, and prove to be in the public interest as this litigations continues.” But ultimately he found that it was too close to the election to make an immediate change. His opinion is here.