Facts: Cross-party clashes in electoral litigation ahead of US midterm elections

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the months leading up to the US midterm elections, Democratic and Republican lawyers are already beginning to face a wave of lawsuits challenging state rules on how to vote and count votes.

Below is a summary of the important issues brought before the November 8 elections and their venue.

Poll hours

In November, the Republican National Committee reached a settlement in a lawsuit against Clark County, Nevada officials, requiring election officials to release the party affiliations of poll workers. The party filed a similar lawsuit this month for information on poll workers in Maricopa County, Arizona.

The FNC also successfully sued authorities in North Carolina and Michigan to roll back new restrictions on partisan poll monitors.

Meanwhile in Arizona, voting rights groups have sued Maricopa County “drop box monitors”, alleging that their actions, including allegations of carrying weapons and tactical equipment, intimidate voters who visit the boxes to deposit ballots. This case is pending.

Vote counting and voter questioning

The ACLU sued to challenge manual vote counting in rural Nye County, Nevada, arguing that the process violated federal and state law. The case is now before the Nevada Supreme Court, which earlier this month banned officials from broadcasting live counts before Election Day.

Also this month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to file a lawsuit by the Republican National Committee seeking to get rid of undated mail-in ballots on a fast-tracked schedule.

A Phoenix judge in August blocked an attempt by Republican candidate for Arizona Governor Carrie Lake to stop the use of electronic voting tables. Lake claimed that the machines created “new, unjustified risks” of fraud. The decision is under appeal.

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In Colorado, the state branch of the NAACP and other voting rights groups lost an attempt in April to prevent a conservative group called the US Election Integrity Plan from questioning individuals about their electoral activism in the 2020 election. The group claims the effort is an attempt to root out voter fraud, and the case is ongoing.

Postcard battles

The rules relating to voting by mail have been a particularly bright spot this year. After many states expanded voting by mail in the 2020 elections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Republicans and conservative groups have sought to undo it, arguing that it leads to fraud.

They have had success in some states, including Delaware, where this month the state Supreme Court overturned a law allowing people to vote by mail for any reason.

In July, the conservative Wisconsin Law and Liberty Institute won a challenge to ban suspended funds in the state.

Other Republican efforts have faltered. Earlier this month, a judge rejected an attempt by America First Legal, a group founded by former Trump aides, to demand that drop boxes in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, be monitored to ensure that voters submit only their ballots. The group has resumed.

In Arizona, where mail-in ballots have been in widespread use for decades, a state court in June dismissed a lawsuit brought by the state’s Republican Party seeking to ban the practice. The party has resumed.

And in North Carolina, Republicans lost an attempt to shorten the deadline for election officials to receive mail-in ballots from November 14 to November 11, and another lawsuit in Illinois, to challenge the mail-in vote count until two weeks after Election Day, is pending.

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Communicate with voters

Civil rights groups and, in some cases, the Biden administration are challenging new Republican-backed state laws that seek to limit voter registration and contact.

Florida civil rights groups won a ruling that repealed most of a new law restricting voter registration activity and limiting the use of drop boxes, but the rulings remain in effect while the state appeals.

In Arizona, a judge in September temporarily blocked a 2022 law allowing voter registration to be revoked for people suspected of not being US citizens, after an appeal by a civil rights group.

The US Department of Justice and several Hispanic groups have separately challenged state proof of citizenship requirements.

In Texas, the Department of Justice and civil rights groups are challenging a broad 2021 state law that criminalizes many voter education efforts. This litigation is ongoing.

The Justice Department and civil rights groups also sued Georgia to strike down a state law criminalizing efforts to help people waiting in line to vote, among other restrictions.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Jacqueline Thompson) Editing by David Barrio, Nolin Walder and Daniel Wallis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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