- Amid President Donald Trump’s opposition to mail-in voting, his campaign for re-election has so far filed lawsuits in several states, including Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, and Montana.
- The president’s campaign also filed a motion against members of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, who are suing the state in an attempt to extend the state’s deadline for counting their mailed-in ballots, although a federal judge later denied the campaign’s request to join the lawsuit.
- Trump has for months opposed state efforts to make it easier for residents to cast their ballot by mail, arguing without evidence that such plans would lead to widespread voter fraud.
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As the November election nears closer, President Donald Trump has for months railed against states’ attempts to expand mail-in-voting to alleviate fears associated with in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump and his allies have for months claimed without evidence that an expansion of mail-in voting via the postal service will lead to widespread voter fraud.
Beginning in June, the Trump campaign has taken legal action against several states, including New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Montana, over their plans to more easily allow voters to cast their ballot by mail. The president’s campaign similarly attempted to take aim against a group of six members of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, who are suing the state to extend the deadline to receive and count mail-in ballots.
The fight over mail-in voting is poised to continue until and likely past Election Day, Politico reported Sunday, as the Trump campaign has hired a “massive legal network” consisting of dozens of attorneys to help support current and potential legal challenges in key battleground states.
The president’s campaign filed three lawsuits in the state of Iowa over local officials’ plans to send absentee ballots to registered voters with pre-filled information, like a voter’s voter identification number. The Trump campaign argued that the local elections administrators had violated state law by pre-filling portions of the absentee ballots.
Two Iowa judges sides with the Trump campaign in the cases in Linn and Woodbury counties, according to The Hill. About 50,000 people in Linn County will need to request another absentee ballot and at least 14,000 in Woodbury will due to the rulings, according to the report. As The Hill noted, the litigation in Johnson County is ongoing.
The Iowa secretary of state on Friday announced all registered voters would receive an absentee ballot request form sent to their home via USPS, and encouraged any resident who had previously used a pre-filled request form in Linn or Woodbury counties to resubmit using the new forms that were being distributed statewide, according to The Hill.
“Unfortunately, we had a few county auditors who made reckless decisions that have confused voters and possibly disenfranchised them,” said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, in a statement. “This mailing from my office will help ensure those Iowans receive ballots and are able to vote.”
On August 4, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Nevada over its plan to send ballots to every “active registered voter” in the state, CNN reported.
At the beginning of August, the Nevada state legislature passed a bill to reform the state’s election process amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed along party lines and was signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, according to CNN.
According to the report, in addition to automatically sending ballots to voters, the legislation also extends the deadline for when mail-in ballots can be counted. Ballots in Nevada will still be counted so long as they arrive within a week of November 3, according to the report.
The bill — AB 4 — also relaxed previous restrictions for who can is permitted handle ballots on behalf of another person. Republicans have claimed this change could lead to voter fraud, CNN reported.
A federal judge in Nevada dismissed the campaign’s lawsuit on September 18, The Nevada Independent reported.
The Trump campaign on August 18 filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, over his executive order to administer the upcoming election mostly by mail.
Earlier in August, Murphy signed an executive order directing active registered voters in the state be sent mail-in ballots, which they had the options of returning via the postal service, placing in secure drop boxes, or delivering to poll workers on Election Day, according to Politico. New Jersey residents who want to cast their vote in-person can cast a provisional ballot at polling places, according to the report.
Lawyers for the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming the governor’s order violated both the US Constitution’s Electors and Elections Clauses and 14th Amendment. While the campaign lawyers argued only the state legislature had the power to make broad changes to elections and that they could not be made by the governor in an executive order, the New Jersey state legislature last week voted to codify Murphy’s order, according to the report.
As Politico noted, the Trump campaign later changed strategy its New Jersey lawsuit, arguing on September 11 that the New Jersey election directly violates both the US Constitution and federal statutes relating to Election Day.
Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee on September 26 sued to stop North Carolina election officials from enforcing rule changes that could increase the number of ballots counted, The Associated Press reported. Last week, the state elections board issued new guidance to allow mail-in absentee ballots with deficient information to be fixed without forcing the voter to fill out a new blank ballot.
Under the change, voters who neglect to provide complete information on their envelope about a witness will only have to turn in an affidavit confirming they filled out the original ballot. Previously, voters would need to fill out an entirely new ballot in order to replace their incomplete ballot.
“While touted as allowing greater access to voters during the current pandemic — an objective already addressed in recent months by the General Assembly — the actual effect is to undermine protections that help ensure the upcoming election will be not only safe and accessible but secure, fair, and credible,” the suit says, according to the report.
The president’s campaign and other GOP groups sued the state of Montana on September 2 over Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock’s plan to grant counties the decision to run their elections entirely by mail, according to The Associated Press.
The lawsuit targets both Bullock and Corey Stapleton, the state’s Republican secretary of state, according to the report.
“This template lawsuit appears to be part of a pattern of lawsuits across the country by Republican Party operatives to limit access to voting during the pandemic,” Bullock said in a statement, the AP reported. “Voting by mail in Montana is safe, secure, and was requested by a bipartisan coalition of Montana election officials seeking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and keep Montanans safe and healthy.”
In June, the Trump campaign sued Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar in an effort to ban the use drop boxes for mail-in ballots, to disqualify ballots sent in without the proper envelope, and to allow poll watchers to volunteer in counties that they do not live in, as Politico reported.
In August, a federal judge in the state had asked the campaign to provide evidence of vote-by-mail fraud in the state, which it failed to do, according to court documents first obtained by The Guardian. According to Politico, the president’s reelection campaign will on Tuesday present findings before the court, just days after the Department of Justice released a “bizarre” statement saying it was investigating “potential issues with mail-in ballots” in the state.
On September 3, the Trump campaign filed a motion against a group of six Navajo Nation residents who are suing the state of Arizona, arguing against a state policy requiring mail-in ballots to be received before 7 p.m. on Election Day, NBC News reported. The plaintiffs argued the policy could lead to disenfranchisement among Native American voters, citing USPS delays to the reservation.
But in filing a motion against the lawsuit on Thursday, lawyers for the president’s campaign argued their “unwarranted delay in bringing their claims on the eve of a General Election threatens the orderly administration of that election.”
On August 26, the six plaintiffs filed their lawsuit Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, requesting the state of Arizona count ballots sent by members of the Navajo Nation postmarked on or before Election Day and received within 10 days, according to the report.
“Plaintiffs seek to create a race and geography-based exception to a long-standing, generally applicable state law that would give certain citizens more time to return their requested early ballots than every other Arizona voter in the upcoming General Election,” Brett Johnson, an attorney for the Trump campaign, wrote in the filing, according to NBC News.
A federal judge later denied the Trump administration’s request to join the lawsuit, The Hill reported.
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