When lawmakers are sworn in after being elected by the people in their county, state, and federal elections, they take an oath to uphold the Constitution. As such, every lawmaker in the country should be actively ensuring that the 2020 election ballot is as easy and as accessible to the American public as possible.
🚨BREAKING: Louisiana Federal Court ORDERS ten days of early voting AND greater flexibility in who can cast an absentee ballot. pic.twitter.com/4QiMrzWIcd
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) September 16, 2020
Republicans, however, are not doing that. Instead, many of them have worked to appease a president who has ranted against mail-in voting during a global pandemic, needing an early excuse to contest the election in case he loses. In Louisiana, allowing voters to cast an absentee ballot due to fears of COVID-19, as they did during the primaries, was later restricted due to, as lawyers for the GOP argued, the possibility of voter fraud. But a new court ruled on Wednesday that, because of the pandemic, early voting should be extended by at least ten days and that some absentee ballots requested due to fears of a deadly virus would have to be allowed.
In the court ruling, the judge wrote:
‘Though the states retain considerable power to regulate elections, their power has limits: in the course of their regulation, they may not unduly burden the citizens’ right to vote – the “‘fundamental political right, because preservative of all rights.’”8 Indeed, “voting is of the most fundamental significance under our constitutional structure.”’
Trump is spewing massive amounts of misinformation about voting and elections at this press conference. We've fact-checked and debunked much of it already: 80 million unsolicited ballots, claims of massive fraud, foreign countries sending fake ballots, etc. IT'S MISINFORMATION.
— Marshall Cohen (@MarshallCohen) September 16, 2020
One of the reasons behind that decision, according to the judge, was that Defendants (GOP state officials arguing against expanding voting access) had not in any way proven that the threat of fraud exists. In fact, during the expanded absentee voting for the primaries, not a single case of voter fraud was reported in Louisiana.
‘Defendants’ evidence is woefully inadequate. First, they offer not a scintilla of evidence of fraud associated with voting by mail in Louisiana. Strikingly absent is even a hint of fraud in the July and August primaries, where expanded mail voting was available to voters with COVID-19 comorbidities, caretakers, and others. In fact, the Louisiana Commissioner of Elections, Sherri Wharton Hadskey (“Commissioner Hadskey” or “Hadskey”), testified that she was unaware of any incidents of voter fraud among mail voters in the July and August elections.’
VOTE IN PERSON AS EARLY AS YOU CAN. Voting by mail is Plan B.
Not because it’s a flawed system. That’s Trump’s lie.
But because ballots mailed in might not get counted soon enough to shape the all-important message the networks and the internet will rush to announce Nov. 3 https://t.co/Qogomsgvs5
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) September 16, 2020
Expanding the early voting period from just seven days to ten, Plaintiffs (individuals and voting rights groups in Louisiana, including the NAACP) argued that the risk of exposure would be lessened as crowds became more thin. In addition, the judge said, disallowing absentee voting for people at high risk of death from COVID-19 could not stand.
‘The Court GRANTS Plaintiffs’ alternative Motion for injunctive relief to make available the COVID-19 Ballot Application that was used during the July and August 2020 elections and to supply absentee by mail ballots to voters who validly request absentee ballots via COVID-19 Ballot Application in both the November 3, 2020 Presidential General and Open Congressional Primary Election.’
Important finding from our voting win today: the federal district court for the Middle District of Louisiana found that the state provided “not a scintilla of evidence of fraud associated with voting by mail in Louisiana.” https://t.co/dnyukYdtqY https://t.co/QodY1nPeQL
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) September 16, 2020