Many conservative politicians are resisting best-practice reforms intended to protect voters from the Covid virus.
Across America, election officials responsible for the details of running elections have a clear idea of what is needed to shift to mostly mail-in voting in upcoming spring, summer and fall elections to protect voters from the coronavirus. But pockets of conservatives are resisting their advice.
In North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Florida, for example, county election managers or senior administrators at statewide election boards have detailed what should happen to have the smoothest vote-by-mail operations in coming weeks and months. Those steps include proactively helping voters to sign up, waiving rules that could disqualify those ballots and having more time to tally votes.
But the most partisan Republicans in these states, in leadership posts in state legislatures or statewide office, have rejected the advice, not acted, or have taken positions that have frustrated frontline officials, confused voters seeking advice and even sparked lawsuits.
“We as election staffers are pretty much in a difficult situation,” said Michael Winn, elections director for Harris County, Texas, which has 2.4 million voters around Houston. “We are not attorneys. We can’t answer questions with potential legal liabilities or speculate on legal outcomes, but voters want to know several things. First of all, they want to know: Can they vote by mail?”
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