Election Law

Judges remain skeptical of GOP ballot fraud arguments; litigation keeps rules in flux

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Judges have been “broadly skeptical” of GOP arguments of voter fraud, according to a Washington Post review of nearly 90 state and federal voting lawsuits.

Judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats have questioned GOP arguments that making mail-in voting easier could lead to widespread fraud, according to the Washington Post.

In several cases, lawyers for Republicans pointed to minor instances of alleged fraud that happened in other states in other years, leading to rebukes from judges, according to the article. The Washington Post counted 14 federal and state rulings in which judges rejected GOP ballot fraud arguments.

“When actual judges are reviewing cases, they demand—whether you’re progressive or conservative—actual facts,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, in an interview with the Washington Post. “And the courts have not been kind to the unsupported claims of, ‘There’s going to be fraud,’ all-caps, exclamation points everywhere.”

The Washington Post’s review of 89 suits in 35 states and Puerto Rico found that Democrats and voting rights proponents “won pivotal early victories when it comes to the technical details of which ballots count.”

“Now, with just weeks to go before the Nov. 3 election,” the Washington Post reports, “voting rights advocates and Democrats have advanced on key fronts in the legal war, scoring victories that make mail voting easier, ensure votes cast by mail are counted and protect the wide distribution of mail ballots in some states.”

Republicans are appealing many decisions, however.

There were also wins for Republicans and those opposing broader access to voting and mail-in ballots. In Florida, felons will have to pay fees and fines before they can vote. In Texas, mail-in ballots are not available to those who cite a fear of contracting COVID-19.

Republicans have also succeeded in keeping in place a North Carolina requirement for witnesses to sign ballot envelopes, as well as some state bans on third parties collecting ballots, dubbed ballot harvesting.

Ballot rulings in many states remain in flux as litigation continues.

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