With court battles playing out over voting, Biden assembles a legal crisis-response team. It’s Monday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.
Boaters flew flags on Saturday during a Trump boat parade on Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nev.
As court cases play out across the country, many voters’ access to the ballot hangs in the balance.
Political observers in Wisconsin are waiting with bated breath for a ruling from the state’s Supreme Court that could force officials to reprint thousands of ballots, potentially sending a fresh jolt of confusion into an election process already reeling from partisan hostilities and the challenges of voting amid a pandemic.
The ruling, which is expected as early as today, will be only the latest in a string of state-level court decisions that could have a profound impact on voters’ access to mail-in ballots, and on the way votes are counted in November.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court halted the printing of mail-in ballots last week, saying that it needed more time to reach a decision on various legal challenges brought by third-party candidates who were not included on the ballots.
In April, the state court, which has a 4-3 conservative majority, barred the Democratic governor from postponing in-person voting in Wisconsin’s primary elections, as some other states had done. Many observers expect the court to again rule in favor of Republican litigants, who are pushing to have the already-sent ballots thrown out.
The third-party candidates seeking ballot access — Howie Hawkins of the Green Party and the rapper Kanye West — are widely seen as having a greater potential to siphon votes away from Biden than from Trump.
In Florida, proponents of expanded voting access suffered a defeat last week when a federal appeals court overturned a recent decision that would have allowed former felons to vote without paying court fines and fees. In that decision, a lower court had ruled that such penalties amounted to a poll tax and were therefore unconstitutional.
But the appeals court ruled in favor of a law passed last year by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature after voters had approved a referendum in 2018 granting voting rights to roughly 774,000 people in Florida who have completed felony sentences. Those voters may now have to pay fees in order to have their voting rights reinstated.
Opponents of the bill could appeal the case to the Supreme Court, but the conservative-led high court has already ruled once in favor of the Florida government on this matter, when it rejected a stay on the 2019 law.
In Texas, two court rulings came down last week with implications for November. A federal appeals court panel sided with the state’s Republican leadership on Thursday, allowing the state to restrict voting by mail to those 65 and older.
The next day, a state judge handed Democrats a victory, ruling that the Harris County clerk could send absentee ballot applications to all 2.4 million registered voters in Houston and the surrounding county, the state’s most populous.
You can expect these kinds of rulings to keep coming in the weeks ahead. We’ll keep you updated as things progress.