Donald Trump’s toady Postmaster General is now warning states that their absentee/early mail-in voting deadlines do not comport with his deliberate slow-down of the U.S. Postal Service.
In Michigan, a state in which voters enacted by initiative a constitutional provision in 2018 guaranteeing the right to vote early by mail, the Detroit News reports:
The U.S. Postal Service has warned Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that mail delivery timelines pose “significant risk” to ballots sent too close to Election Day and that could lead to their disqualification.
USPS General Counsel Thomas J. Marshall wrote to Benson that Michigan election laws and certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are “incongruous” and “incompatible” with the Postal Service’s delivery standards.
“This mismatch creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them,” Marshall wrote in a letter a week before a primary election that saw record absentee participation in Michigan.
In Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:
The U.S. Postal Service has warned Pennsylvania that some mail ballots might not be delivered on time because the state’s deadlines are too tight for its “delivery standards,” prompting election officials to ask the state Supreme Court to extend the deadlines to avoid disenfranchising voters.
The warning came in a July 29 letter from Thomas J. Marshall, general counsel and executive vice president of the Postal Service, to Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, whose department oversees elections. That letter was made public late Thursday in a filing her Department of State submitted to the Supreme Court, asking it to order that mail ballots be counted as long as they are received up to three days after the Nov. 3 election date.
If the court agrees, that could increase the likelihood that the results of the presidential race between President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden won’t be known for days after the election.
The Postal Service’s letter came amid false attacks on mail voting by Trump, and as concerns mount nationally about how the coronavirus pandemic could disrupt the 2020 election. For Pennsylvania, a battleground state that was decided by less than 1% of the vote in 2016, the letter warned that “certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards.”
CNN reports that a federal judge in Pennsylvania told the Trump campaign and the RNC that they must produce evidence they have of vote-by-mail fraud in the state by Friday. Judge orders Trump campaign to produce evidence of voter fraud in Pennsylvania:
The judge’s order (.pdf), in a high-profile case about vote-by-mail in the battleground state, essentially forces the Trump campaign to try to back up President Donald Trump’s false claims about massive voter fraud in postal voting.
“The Court finds that instances of voter fraud are relevant to the claims and defenses in this case,” District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan wrote on Thursday, telling Republicans that they need to provide evidence of fraud to the Democratic Party and the Sierra Club, which are part of the lawsuit.
The Democrats had asked for information and documents that would show steps the Republicans took to study the possibility of fraud, especially related to the use of dropboxes, ballot collection and mailed-in ballots in the primary elections.
The Trump campaign and Republicans had refused to do so. But with Thursday’s court order, they must answer questions from the Democratic groups and turn over records of communications — or say they have none. The Trump campaign has until Friday to respond, the judge said.
The Trump campaign “should not be permitted to raise such spectacular fraud related claims, particular in this national climate,” lawyers representing the Democrats wrote.
The Democrats have called the Trump lawsuit an attempt to stoke fears about unproven fraud related to mail-in voting in the battleground state. Trump has repeatedly claimed there is massive voter fraud — something that CNN’s fact-checking team has repeatedly debunked. Legal scholars from both parties, and nonpartisan experts, acknowledge that there is no widespread fraud in US elections.
The case is one of the boldest attempts by the Trump campaign in court to curtail mail-in voting in the 2020 election. The Trump campaign had claimed mail-in voting could prompt questions about the accuracy of election results “and ultimately chaos,” according to the court record.
Ranjan, the judge overseeing the suit, was appointed by Trump.
A hearing about the evidence is set for late September.
Ballot drop boxes are one of the ballot choke points that the RNC and Trump campaign are attacking. Ballot Drop Boxes Become Latest Front In Voting Legal Fights (excerpt):
It’s a growing concern as the nation prepares for an unprecedented flood of absentee and mail-in voting in November amid funding cuts at the U.S. Postal Service and election offices struggling to meet demands.
“There’s a lot of confusion just at the moment about when the ballots got mailed, to whom, when they’re going to arrive,” Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill said. “It’s going to be very tight, and ballot boxes play an increasingly important role in all this because, you know, you shave off two, three, four, maybe five days from when you mail a ballot.”
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The Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign have even gone to court to try to block Pennsylvania from using such boxes in November, arguing they could increase the chances for fraud.
Drop box supporters dismiss such concerns as completely unfounded. They note that drop boxes have been used in some states — such as Washington and Oregon — for years without problems.
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told the Senate committee that drop boxes are an important and convenient option for voters — especially this year.
“They complement the limited postal [services] that are available in communities and are just critical to providing access this season,” she said.
Access for whom is not clear. Researchers have found that drop boxes can boost overall turnout, but there’s no evidence — at least so far — that one party benefits over the other.
In the last presidential election, about 16% of voters nationwide used drop boxes, but they were concentrated in states such as Washington, Oregon and Colorado, where almost all voters cast absentee ballots. With so many states expanding vote by mail this year, election experts expect the overall share of people using drop boxes to be much larger.
In Ohio, there is a Republican Secretary of State, where they have a long sordid history of voter suppression. Cleveland.com reports:
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Wednesday he is banning county boards of elections from offering more than one drop box for completed absentee ballots this November, saying it’s grown too late to make changes to how Ohio will administer this year’s presidential election.
LaRose, a Republican, more than three weeks ago formally asked Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, also a Republican, for a legal opinion on whether the extra drop boxes were allowed under state law.
But LaRose said Wednesday Yost had not yet responded, and that it’s now too late make such an election change. Early voting in Ohio begins on Oct. 6, while the election is on Nov. 3. He said offering extra drop boxes, which Democrats and voting-rights activists say is legal, would invite lawsuits that could upend the process of preparing for the election.
The move led to a swift reaction from Democrats, who accused LaRose of voter suppression, saying the request of Yost was just a charade that would allow LaRose to eventually run out the clock.
Here in Arizona, early ballots will be mailed beginning October 7. Typically the ballots are received within a week, but with Trump’s toady Postmaster General deliberately slowing down the mail, it may take longer. You should return your ballot immediately. The USPS has previously issued a statement that voters should mail their ballot at least 14 days before election day (October 20). So this leaves a narrow window of time between receipt and return.
The County recorder offices will have drop boxes set up at early voting locations. If you do not trust the mail at this point, you can drop off your early ballot at these locations to ensure that it is received.
In person early voting is October 7 to October 30, and there will be emergency voting on Saturday, October 31 and Monday, November 2.
If you are dropping off your ballot or voting in person at early voting locations, be sure to wear your mask and use the hand sanitizer that will be available, not just for your protection, but out of concern and respect for the front-line workers in the county recorder and county elections division workers who are ensuring that your ballot is received, processed and counted.