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This week in COVID-19 voting news

What it means for access to the ballot box during the pandemic
For Immediate Release

National

This Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day. Groups from businesses and nonprofits to sports teams engaged with their respective audiences to encourage people to register to vote. While national results aren’t available, our partners at the Student PIRGs New Voters Project reached out to 1.6 million people.

National Voter Registration Day couldn’t have come at a more critical time. A new report shows that the coronavirus pandemic has caused voter registration rates to plummet in many states.

To increase security and counteract concerns of lost, delayed or misplaced ballots, a majority of states now allow voters to track their ballots. This is also a timely development as a new poll shows that between early in-person voting and mail-in voting, a majority of Americans plan to cast their ballots before Election Day

Massachusetts

Bay Staters will now be able to apply for a mail-in ballot online. Online request forms make it easier for voters to get their ballots while maintaining social distancing. 

MIchigan

The Michigan Court of Claims ruled that ballots postmarked as late as Nov. 2 must be counted as long as they arrive before the deadline for certifying the results of the election. The deadline for certification is 14 days after the election. The ruling would only apply to this upcoming election and is likely to be appealed by state Republicans. 

A bill that would allow county clerks to start preprocessing ballots one day before Election Day passed through a state house panel. Both Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson have called on the legislature to pass such a bill to ease the Election Day ballot count burden.

Nevada

A Nevada judge rejected a lawsuit from the Trump campaign. The legal claim sought to roll back changes made by the state legislature that makes it easier for people to return their mail-in ballots and for elections officials to count the ballots. 

Texas

Post offices in the Houston area will have voter registration materials available to the public. There had been an ongoing dispute about whether it was permissible to set out the materials for anyone to take.

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U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

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U.S. PIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.