Is there a ‘specific and concerted effort’ to suppress vote-by-mail?

"On Demand" absentee or mail-in ballots are time stamped after being filled out in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, U.S. October 31, 2022. Photo by REUTERS/Hannah Beier/File Photo.

In Georgia’s Cobb County, more than 1000 mail-in ballots were never mailed to voters who properly requested them. Several voters there are suing, arguing the error could disenfranchise hundreds of Americans who can’t make it to the polls by Tuesday.

“Apparently there was a staff error, the ballots weren't created, they weren't sent. And these voters are saying, ‘You need to overnight these ballots to us. And you need to give us more time because for some of us, we can't get to a polling place on Election Day. That's why we asked for early ballots,’” says Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola Law School.

She says she’s concerned that voters will face difficulties in trying to vote in person on time. “My fear … is that a judge will say, ‘Look, you have an alternative. We have polling places that are open. And we're not going to take extraordinary steps that could lead to election security issues.’”

Meanwhile, in the swing state of Pennsylvania, voters could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate during the midterm elections. The state’s supreme court has sided with Republicans who want to toss absentee ballots if the voters don’t put a date on the outer envelope. The NAACP is challenging the ruling.

“It highlights the importance of many of the state judicial elections that are happening. … You and I are talking about a number of really important election law cases that could sway the balance of power in the Senate or maybe even the House. And a lot of them will be decided by state court judges, and so it really does matter who's on the federal bench of course, but also who's making these decisions when it comes to state law,” Levinson says.

She adds, “What we're seeing here is a really specific and concerted effort … to try and make it more difficult to vote by mail, to suppress voting in any way, shape, or form that's not actually going into a polling place on Election Day. … The idea is ‘let's make sure Republicans vote in person, let's make sure Democrats vote by mail, and then we're going to challenge those votes by mail before and after the election.’”