Axios starts the morning email thingie off with a state-of-play for voting by mail, which is suddenly an idea that the states are taking seriously:
With in-person elections on Nov. 3 looking iffier, states are racing to chip away age-old barriers to alternatives in time for the general election, Axios’ Stef Kight and Alexi McCammond write.
- Why it matters: State laws and political calculations remain formidable obstacles to expanding voting options.
- And the price tag for changes could top $2 billion.
The state of play: 12 states still don’t let all voters cast ballots by mail.
- Massachusetts may not have time to change its state constitution to allow for more people to vote from home, the Massachusetts State Department told Axios’ Dan Primack. The spokesperson said they hoped the state legislature could figure out a fix.
And the brainiacs over at Electoral Vote see the politics of voting by mail is, um, real:
According to a new survey, two-thirds of voters have said they would be uncomfortable going to crowded polling places during a pandemic. It was previously expected that the 2020 turnout would break all records. It still might, not for the highest ever, but for the lowest ever. States are already struggling to deal with both the remaining primary elections (more below) and the November general election, but it is a huge problem since the voting system is so decentralized, with 50 states + D.C., over 3,100 counties, and a vast number of cities and towns involved, each one with its own laws, traditions, procurement procedures, attitudes, and history.
Voting-rights advocates are pleading for nationwide no-excuse absentee voting. Three states (Washington, Oregon, and Colorado) have gone even further and made all elections mail-in, but in the other 47 states, a patchwork of laws prevails. In theory, the other 47 states could quickly change their laws to match those of one of these states, but don’t count on it. The problem is that high turnout generally favors the Democrats and Republican state legislators know this very well…
Mailing 150 million or more ballots to registered voters and getting them back and counting (and maybe double counting) them is going to cost money. A lot of it. The COVID-19 law Donald Trump signed last week contains $400 million for election security, but experts say that is nowhere near enough to cover the costs of ballots, envelopes, postage, personnel, training, and voter education, not to mention safeguards against fraud. Wendy Weiser, vice president for democracy at the Brennan Center, said: “Everybody needs to contribute, but Congress really needs to pony up. My view is that they’re shortchanging our democracy right now and the American people.”
This is one to keep an eye on. There are currently 26 Republican governors and 24 Democrats, and I suspect this is going to break pretty much along those red-blue lines.