Because the nation prepares for one more pandemic election, the principles for voting by mail remain a flash point in lots of states, a conflict that’s being waged in courtrooms and state houses over Republican-backed restrictions.
Here’s what happened this week:
In North Carolina, the State Board of Elections rejected a signature-matching requirement for absentee ballots that was proposed by the state Republican Party. The measure, denied by a party-line vote on Thursday, would have let counties compare signatures on applications and return envelopes for absentee ballots with those on voter registration cards.
The board’s three Democrats said that the verification method would conflict with state law and would contribute to voters being treated in another way, which they cautioned could be unconstitutional. The panel’s two G.O.P. members contended that checking signatures “simply builds trust within the system.”
North Carolina just isn’t the one battleground state where Republicans and Democrats are clashing over mail-in ballots.
Pennsylvania’s top election official, Leigh M. Chapman, a Democrat who’s the acting secretary of the commonwealth, sued three counties on Tuesday over their refusal to incorporate undated mail-in ballots of their official tallies from the May 7 primaries.
A state court had directed counties in June to report two sets of tallies to Ms. Chapman’s office, one which included ballots without dates handwritten on their return envelopes as required by law and one which didn’t.
The three counties — Berks, Fayette and Lancaster, that are controlled by Republicans — have prevented the state from completing its final certification of the first results, state elections officials said.
The dearth of dates on ballot envelopes was a degree of contention within the Republican Senate primary that was narrowly won by Dr. Mehmet Oz over David McCormick. Disputes over such ballots have resulted in legal motion in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
The conflict over mail-in voting just isn’t limited to purple or red states.
The court’s order in Massachusetts was not the one setback this week for Republicans.