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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

Between early voting and expanded mail-in voting, the 2020 election is well underway. In fact, new research projects a significant increase in the number of Americans who plan to vote before election day. As of Thursday, more than 17 million Americans have already voted. That’s more than 12 percent of the total votes cast in the 2016 election. 

A significant portion of early votes are being cast by mail. And, contrary to President Donald Trump’s false claims of a rigged election, there is a robust system in place to ensure the validity of those ballots. 

The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to roll back the service changes it made this summer. The changes resulted in significant mail delays across the country. The agreement comes as a settlement to a lawsuit filed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. 

Alaska

On Monday, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that no witness signature will be required for absentee ballots.

Arizona

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set Arizona’s voter registration deadline for Thursday (Oct. 15). The deadline had previously been extended to Oct. 23. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is spreading the word that we likely won’t know the winner of the election on election night

Indiana

Reversing an earlier decision, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that absentee ballots must be received by noon on Nov. 3. A previous decision had extended the deadline to Nov. 13. 

Minnesota

Mail-in ballots received up to seven days after the election must be counted, according to a federal judge ruling. Like many other states, Minnesota has seen an unprecedented number of absentee ballot requests

North Carolina

A federal judge ruled that while elections officials can allow voters to correct some errors with their ballots, they cannot accept any ballots without a witness signature. This means that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, voters will need to get another person to sign their ballot.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will decide whether or not county elections officials in the state can reject a ballot solely because the signature doesn’t exactly match the signature on the voter file. Signature verification is a complicated process and one that, if not properly managed, can unnecessarily disenfranchise voters.

Virginia

Tuesday was Virginia’s voter registration deadline, but an accidentally cut cable caused the state’s online voter registration system to crash that day. In response, voter advocacy groups filed a lawsuit asking for the deadline to be extended. On Wednesday, a federal judge extended the deadline through Thursday night

Wisconsin

The ongoing litigation around extending the deadline for elections officials to receive mail-in ballots continues. The case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Current law states that ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day. 

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