Showing posts with label mail-in voting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mail-in voting. Show all posts

Saturday, April 15, 2023

From FHQ Plus: The Blurred Lines Between State and Party on the Caucuses in Iowa

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's new subscription service. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to support our work. 


I dealt with part of the new bill to change the parameters of the caucus process in the Hawkeye state over at FHQ earlier today. But that bill — HSB 245 — moved past its first obstacle today and out of the Study Bill Subcommittee of the Iowa House Ways and Means Committee on a 3-2 vote, and it looks like it will face a full committee vote on Thursday. [NOTE: HSB 245 passed Ways and Means on a party line vote on Thursday, April 13.]

As some have noted the effort to require in-person participation at a caucus — to ban a proposed plan by Iowa Democrats to shift to a vote-by-mail process — is a move that would immediately be on shaky legal ground. Parties have wide latitude in setting the rules of their internal processes under Supreme Court precedent. And the caucuses are a party affair. The parties pay for them. The parties set the rules. The parties run them.

But the Iowa caucus operations have often blurred the line between state and party on the matter. The parties and the state government, regardless of partisan affiliation across either, have tended to work together to protect that first-in-the-nation status the caucuses have enjoyed over the last half century. There is a state law in Iowa, as in New Hampshire, but both 2008 and 2012 demonstrated that it is fairly toothless. The caucuses in neither case were eight days ahead of the next contest, as called for in state law, and neither party was hit with sanctions for the move.

Moreover, the state/party line has been blurred by the encroachment of same-day party registration at caucus sites in recent years. The state’s tentacles stretch into the caucuses, but that still does not change the fact that the precinct caucuses are a party affair, a party-funded and run operation. And that is kind of the ironic thing about the proposed 70 day buffer required between registration with a party and the caucuses in this bill moving through the Iowa legislature. It retracts those state tentacles to some degree, drawing a sharper line again between state and party domain.

In the end, the fate of this bill beyond the committee is uncertain. But one thing this episode demonstrates is the deterioration of the relationship between Iowa Democrats and Republicans on the one thing that has united them in the past: protecting the status of the caucuses. Republicans unilaterally introducing this measure without consulting the Democratic Party at all on the matter says a lot. And in the long run that will likely hurt Iowa’s efforts to retain its status in the future. 


Monday, April 6, 2020

UPDATED: US Supreme Court Decision Returns April 7 Absentee Deadline to Wisconsin Primary

Update (4/6/20 -- 7:30pm):
The US Supreme Court brought the Wisconsin presidential primary and spring election nearly back to square one on Monday evening, April 6. On the eve of the primary, the Court in a 5-4 decision reversed a US appeals court decision to uphold last week's district court ruling extending both the absentee request window and ballot deadline. The request window extension is now the only action taken not to be reversed. The deadline now, following the Supreme Court decision, will revert to tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7, the original primary day and deadline for absentee ballots to be due.

Update (4/6/20 -- 7pm):

Originally updated under the title: "UPDATED: Wisconsin Supreme Court Reverses Evers's Executive Order to Suspend In-Person Voting"

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday, April 6 reversed Governor Evers's executive order from earlier in the day. That order would have suspended in-person voting in the April 7 presidential primary and spring election and delayed it until June 9. But a challenge was nearly immediately brought by Republican leaders in the state legislature to the state Supreme Court. And the court in a vote along ideological lines decided 4-2 to reinstate in-person voting in an election that will affect membership on the court itself.

This reverts the process to one with in-person voting on April 7 in a limited number of locations with a limited number of poll workers (but with help from the national guard) and absentee voting that will end on Monday, April 13.

Originally written under the title: "Governor Evers Executive Order Suspends In-Person Voting in Wisconsin Until June 9"

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) on Monday, April 6, issued executive order 74, suspending in-person voting on the eve of the presidential primary and spring election in the Badger state.

This is another step in the back and forth among not only the executive and legislative branches in the state of Wisconsin but the federal judiciary as well. Just within the last few days, Evers called a special session of the state legislature to shift to an all-mail vote (in which ballots would be due on May 19), the Republican-controlled state legislature respond by gaveling the Saturday session in and almost immediately out (rejecting those changes), a federal district court judge extend the absentee request window and deadline and an appeals court rejected challenges to that.

The order from Evers also calls another special session of the legislature for primary day, April 7 to consider the shift to June 9. Not only is in-person voting moved to June 9, but absentee ballot requests are allowed to continue as they customarily do in Wisconsin until the Thursday before the election date; Thursday, June 4 in this case.

Now, there are a couple of different avenues that this winding tale can take from here in the Badger state. The most immediate option is the one already signaled by Republican leaders in the legislature: challenge the executive order in state court. This brings in the state-level judiciary. If that challenge ultimately reverses the April 6 executive order, then the election will proceed as planned tomorrow with in-person voting under the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, if that challenge is rejected by the state supreme court, then the next twist will likely be either in the federal courts or with the state legislature in an April 7 special session. While Evers's order pushes the primary back to June 9, the state legislature still retains the ability to alter that. But at that point, Republicans in control -- when the special session commences at 2pm on Tuesday -- would no longer have April 7 as an option. And they would additionally have to consider an Evers veto of any date that does not provide Wisconsin voters and poll workers enough cover from the coronavirus threat.

For Democrats in the Badger state, this move does potentially introduce a time crunch into the delegate selection process. April county conventions and subsequent April and May district conventions (at which district delegates to the national convention were to have been chosen) have already been cancelled. The state convention on June 12-13 is still in the works, but that comes just a few days after a hypothetical June 9 primary conclusion. District delegates, as a back up, could be chosen at a state convention divided into district caucuses. Fortunately for Wisconsin Democrats, their delegate selection plan called for the Party Administrative Committee to select at-large and PLEO delegates on June 12, rather than the state convention itself. That can still occur, but would, again, fall just a few days after a June 9 primary. Of course, Wisconsin Democrats could shift that committee meeting to a slightly later date if necessary and that would likely be easier than moving an entire state convention -- either to a different date or to a remote format -- would be.

But the bottom line is that as long as the primary date remains uncertain, so too, does the path by which the delegate selection process will be completed.

Governor Evers's executive order suspending April 7 in-person voting is archived here.

Related Posts:
4/3/20: Federal Judge Pushes Absentee Deadline Back to April 13 for Wisconsin Primary

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Maryland Board of Elections Lands on Predominantly Vote-By-Mail Plan for June 2 Primary

With a Friday, April 3 deadline to report back to Governor Hogan's executive order request to plan for a June 2 presidential primary, the Maryland Board of Elections arrived at a series of conclusions after a week of back and forth.

After first signaling that it would recommend an all-mail ballot primary, the Board walked that back after it was pressured by voting rights and disabilities advocates. Voting access for those who need assistance casting a ballot or who do not receive ballots in the mail became the main hang up for those lobbying the Board and ultimately the Board itself.

Maryland will now follow the rough model outlined by the secretary of state in Rhode Island: providing for a "predominantly" vote-by-mail plan for the June 2 primary. The plan in the Old Line state now has a bit more meat on the bones. While the recommendation continues to call for all Maryland voters to receive a primary ballot, the state will now open at least one voting location (and no more than four) in each county. Those sites will only be opened for voting on primary day itself. Voters will additionally have the option of mailing their ballots back to the county or dropping them off in drop boxes at each of the county voting locations set up for in-person voting on June 2.

The recommendation now heads to Governor Hogan for his consideration under the guidelines in the executive order. He will have to sign off on the changes before they take effect.

Related Posts:
Maryland Joins States Pushing Back Presidential Primaries on the Calendar

Maryland Board of Elections Will Recommend an All Vote-By-Mail Presidential Primary for June 2

Friday, April 3, 2020

Federal Judge Pushes Absentee Deadline Back to April 13 for Wisconsin Primary

In all the flurry of activity during the last three weeks shaking up the primary calendar, most of the decisions to move delegate selection events have either come from the executive and/or legislative branches. But in Wisconsin the judicial branch has gotten involved in the decision making as well.

Given the lack of action on that front from either the executive or legislative branches in the Badger state, a federal judge first ordered on Thursday, April 2 that the deadline to request absentee ballots be extended a day to Friday, April 3 and the deadline to submit those ballots pushed back to Monday, April 13. Then, in the face of some backlash from elections administrators in Wisconsin, the same judge -- US District Court Judge William Conley -- ordered that no results from in-person voting in the April 7 primary election be released until after the absentee ballots are due at 4pm on April 13.

This effectively moves the Wisconsin primary back six days on the 2020 presidential primary calendar. The contest there becomes like the former April 4 party-run primary states -- Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming -- by shifting more toward vote-by-mail-focused elections with later deadlines.

None of this fundamentally affects the delegate selection process Democrats in the Badger state has laid out for the 2020 cycle. The coronavirus had already disrupted those plans. Both April 26 county conventions and the late April and early May district conventions have already been cancelled. Alternative plans for those events have not been made public, but would be necessary to building toward the state convention that is still scheduled at this time for June 12-13. In other words, while this court decision has no impact on the delegate selection process for Wisconsin Democrats, the coronavirus has.

The Wisconsin primary change has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Related Posts:
4/6/20: Governor Evers Executive Order Suspends In-Person Voting Until June 9

DC Board of Elections Urging All District Voters to Request Absentee Ballots for June 2 Primary

As the calendar flipped from March to April, marking two months until the last major multi-state wave of primaries and caucuses, the Washington, DC Board of Elections began encouraging voters in the district to request absentee ballots ahead of the June 2 primary there.

This is a less proactive approach to alternative methods of voting in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Some states like Maryland have tentatively opted to mail all voters an absentee ballot, while other states like Nebraska and West Virginia have decided to mail application for absentee ballots to active voters. The DC encouragement is much less far-reaching at this point. That could change over time as June 2 approaches and the coronavirus situation evolves.

DC Board of Elections vote-by-mail encouragement archived here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Kansas Democrats Eliminate In-Person Voting in May 2 Party-Run Presidential Primary

The Kansas Democratic Party on Monday, March 30 made the decision to end in-person voting in its upcoming May 2 party-run primary.

That move comes less than two weeks after the party opted to push forward with their plans to carry out the election with both vote-by-mail and in-person voting. But Kansas Democrats arrived at the same conclusion other states with party-run contests recently have. Democrats in Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming all chose to end their in-person voting on April 4 and completely lean on the mail-in option each had layered into their delegate selection plans from the start. That insurance policy -- the presence of and planning for a vote-by-mail system -- gave each state party something to fall back on given the threat the coronavirus now poses to in-person voting this spring.

Typically, state parties are at a disadvantage in implementing these types of party-run elections. Those parties just do not have the (funding) resources that state governments do. But in this case, careful planning ahead of time -- and in response to new DNC encouragements in Rule 2 to increase participation -- laid the groundwork for this unique alternative option. Now, states with primaries but no vote-by-mail infrastructure -- states like Delaware -- have had to change the dates of their primaries to hopefully shift out of the window of time in which the coronavirus may reach its peak.

But Kansas Democrats have not. They will press forward with plans to have an all-mail May 2 party-run primary. Voters will need to register as Democrats by April 7 in order to automatically be mailed a ballot for the race.

Voters already registered as Democrats were mailed a ballot on March 30, more newly registered voters have until April 7, and those who have not received a ballot by April 10 can still request a ballot until April 24.

Kansas Democratic Party press release on ending in-person voting archived here.

Related Posts:
Kansas Democrats Forge Ahead with May 2 Party-Run Presidential Primary, but...

Monday, March 30, 2020

DeWine Signs Legislation Scheduling Ohio Vote-By-Mail Presidential Primary for April 28

Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) on Friday, March 27 signed into law HB 197, an omnibus bill with myriad responses to the coronavirus threat. Among the changes in the new law are alterations to the presidential primary in the Buckeye state: a predominantly vote-by-mail system in which voting will conclude on April 28.

For more details on those changes see this earlier post on the Ohio legislation.

While the vote-by-mail transition is noteworthy, this change has an influence on more than the primary itself. Secondary effects will potentially be felt in the delegate selection process.

However, Ohio Democrats are in something of an advantageous position on that front, at least compared to some other states. District delegate slates for each active candidate were selected in pre-primary caucuses back in January (the first selection event on the calendar). Which district delegate candidates on those slates fill slots allocated to candidates depends on the results of the primary. Democrats in Ohio already had a fairly mobile selection process for the selection of district delegates.

And even statewide delegate selection is somewhat insulated from the shift to April 28. The Ohio Democratic Party state executive committee -- not a broader state convention -- is set in the party's delegate selection plan to choose at-large and PLEO delegates in a meeting on May 9, after the new primary date. That likely will not have to change other than perhaps how the executive committee meets. That will more than likely be done remotely rather than in person now.

The only real hang up in the delegate selection plan that Ohio Democrats have laid out is the contingency for filling any district delegate slots allocated to candidates who failed to file a full slate of delegate candidates back in January. Those post-primary caucuses to fill those spots were originally set for April 16. That could still occur at that time -- operating much like the pre-primary caucuses in January did, but the insurance slating would occur before the primary results are in under that scenario. The intention was to allow candidates allocated delegates in the primary to fill those slots if they failed to do so during the January caucuses.

That may necessitate a move in those caucuses.

Then again, with the field narrowed to just two candidates (as of late March), there may now be less need for either Biden or Sanders to slate any additional district delegate candidates.

Governor DeWine's new release on the bill signing is archived here.

Related Posts:
Ohio Presidential Primary Postponed Until June 2

Ohio Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill to Transition to Absentee Vote-By-Mail in Presidential Primary

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Montana Governor Allows Counties the Discretion to Opt into Vote-By-Mail for June 2 Primary

Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) on Wednesday, March 25 issued a directive aimed at the June 2 primary in the Treasure state as part of his evolving emergency declaration response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Unlike other states that have opted to go full vote-by-mail for upcoming presidential primaries, Bullock instead deferred to Montana county election officials to make the call on whether to do the same in their primary. Counties can opt in, but that comes with some strings attached.
  • County elections offices have to make (early in-person voting) ballots available to voters from May 4 through the end of the election on June 2. 
  • Counties that opt into the vote-by-mail system must also have mailed ballots to voters 25 days before the June 2 primary (on or before May 8). This is consistent with the regulations regarding absentee voting in the state. Montana voters retain the ability to request absentee ballots, but counties that have opted into the vote-by-mail system will send ballots to all register county voters. [If a voter in such a county votes both (early) in-person and via the mail ballot, then the mailed-in ballot will be void and the early in-person ballot will be counted.]
  • Those counties that opt in have to submit a written plan for how they will implement the changes to the Montana secretary of state.
Importantly, voters and the counties that opt in will also get financial relief on postage. Counties choosing to go the vote-by-mail route have to notify voters that no postage is required to submit a ballot. Additionally, counties may also seek reimbursement for postage costs from the state government.

Predominantly vote-by-mail systems have taken over in states with May contests (see Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia, for example) and that is gradually expanding into the June primary states as well (see Maryland). But all states that have moved in that direction have also approached the process in different ways with some promoting vote-by-mail to others mailing out ballots directly to voters. But Montana has put a different spin on the process. Voters in counties that adopt the vote-by-mail option will be mailed ballots. So while there have been differences across states in this transition, now, in Montana, there will potentially be differences across counties within the state.

Governor Bullock's executive order on the vote-by-mail deference to Montana counties is archived here.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Maryland Board of Elections Will Recommend an All Vote-By-Mail Presidential Primary for June 2

As part of Governor Larry Hogan's (R-MD) order to shift the Maryland presidential primary back five weeks to June 2, the state Board of Elections was to meet and confer on how best to implement that change given the fallout from the coronavirus threat.

In a remote meeting on Wednesday, March 25, the Maryland state Board of Elections decided in principle to have the now June 2 primary be conducted completely by mail based on the public health concerns around the virus. The board could not guarantee that it could protect poll workers who are increasingly less inclined to work the polls for early and election day in-person voting in even a delayed election.

Some members of the Board wanted to retain the in-person voting options just in case they could be carried out, but reserve the right to cancel those options later if the threat window remained open in the lead up to June 2.
“We could sit here and say the June 2 election will be vote by mail, it will have early voting options, it will have voting centers on Election Day — and the governor, the chief executive, could close everything down on May 30,” said Patrick Hogan, vice chairman of the board. 
“We could always drop the plan to have voting centers if the situation was getting worse," said board member Kelley Howells. "That would at least give us the option.” 
State elections staff members urged the board to make a final decision. If ballots are to be mailed to all voters, they should go out by the last week of April, said Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator for the Board of Elections. Instructions would have to be included with those ballots on how to return them, she said, and those should be in their final form when the ballots go out. 
“I appreciate that things are changing, but at some point we have to make a decision,” Charlson said.
It was Board staff that won out. Said staff will draft the proposal on a vote-by-mail election for the Board before April 2. The Board will then make a final decision charting out the course ahead -- likely adopting the plan -- and send it to the governor for his consideration by the April 3, the deadline laid out in his original executive order calling for the primary date change.

Maryland would join Rhode Island on June 2 as a state with an all-mail presidential primary. Ballots will be mailed to voters rather than applications for absentee ballots as in May states like Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia. Those efforts can be contrasted with those in Indiana (June 2 primary), where no mailings are going out, but the excuse requirement in requesting absentee ballots has been waived.

Hat tip to Steve Kamp for passing news of this along to FHQ.

Related Posts:
Maryland Joins States Pushing Back Presidential Primaries on the Calendar

Hawaii Democrats Push End of Vote-By-Mail in Party-Run Primary to May 22

A week after it had eliminated in-person voting at its party-run primary, the Hawaii Democratic Party announced changes to its delegate selection process in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, March 27, Hawaii Democrats laid out a revamped schedule for mailing out ballots to voters and for those voters to return the ballots. As the party revealed a week ago, the deadline to register to vote and enroll as a Democrat in the Aloha state was moved to the original date of in-person voting, April 4. Not included in that release was a plan for when and if the deadline to submit ballots would be extended as has been the case in former April 4 party-run primary states, Alaska and Wyoming. But by moving the deadline to enroll to April 4, Hawaii Democrats intimated as much.

And indeed that is the case. Hawaii Democrats will process the new enrollments and mail out ballots with the anticipated arrival in voters' hands on or around May 2. Those and other previously mailed-out ballots will now be due to the party by Friday, May 22. [This is the return deadline not the postmark deadline.] Results will then be tabulated and released by May 23.

The extension of Hawaii Democrats' deadline to submit their vote-by-mail ballots now shifts out of April another state and adds to what has become a predominantly all-mail May slate of contests in the Democratic nomination process.

The Hawaii Democratic Party extension of the vote-by-mail deadline has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Related Posts:
Hawaii Democrats Nix In-Person Voting in April Primary

Friday, March 27, 2020

Nebraska Will Now Mail Absentee Ballot Applications to Every Voter Ahead of May 12 Primary

Nebraska joined the ranks of states turning toward absentee vote-by-mail as a response to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the electoral process.

On Thursday, March 26, Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen (R) announced that the state, through the secretary of state's office, or county elections officials would mail out to every voter in the Cornhusker state an application for an absentee ballot for the May 12 primary. This process is akin to those adopted in states like Georgia and West Virginia thus far. In-person early voting (April 13-May 11) and in-person election day voting remain in place, but all Nebraska voters will have the capacity to vote-by-mail if they so choose in order to avoid the further spread of the coronavirus.

Once applications are distributed, voters will then have until May 1 to request an absentee ballot. Although the application will be a hard copy that requires a physical signature, voters have the option of signing them and then either taking a picture of the form or scanning it, before returning it via email or fax. Mail and physical drop offs at the county offices are other options available to voters to submit their applications.

Requested ballots will begin being mailed out to voters on April 6. Voters will then have until election day -- May 12 at 8pm when polls close -- to have mail-in ballots returned to county elections administrators. The postmark of any mail-in ballot is immaterial. The ballot has to physically be into the county offices by the close of the polls on election day.

Nebraska Secretary of State Evnen (R) statement archived here.

West Virginia Secretary of State Lays the Groundwork for a Predominantly Vote-By-Mail Primary on May 12

A week after he made the coronavirus threat a valid excuse for requesting an absentee ballot, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner has announced that the state will help county elections officials with funding the mailing of absentee ballot applications to all Mountain state voters.

No, the date has not changed, but the way in which the May 12 primary (for presidential and other offices) is conducted will be. In-person early and in-person election day voting are still available options at this time, but all West Virginia voters will now have an alternative that will allow them to stay at home and still participate in the primary election.

There are now 46 days until the May 12 primary. In that window of time, the West Virginia secretary of state's office or local county elections officials will have to mail out absentee applications to all of the active voters in the state. One complicating factor on that front is that West Virginians still have until April 21 to register to vote in the upcoming primary. That may entail more than just one mass mailing of absentee applications.

After that voters have to fill out the application, return it via voter-paid postage to the county board and await the ballot's arrival. It is unclear whether voters can continue to use the online application that can be returned to the county board via email or fax and avoid paying postage with the mailed form. Regardless of the method, voters have until May 6 to submit their applications for an absentee ballot.

Once received, the ballot may be filled out and must be returned, postmarked by May 12 (primary election day) to be counted. That means that results will likely be slower in coming in and potentially undetermined until after election day.

West Virginia now joins a raft of other later-voting primary states in shifting in the direction of more widespread vote-by-mail systems in response to the coronavirus threat. The new West Virginia systems mimics the new protocols adopted in states like Georgia, where absentee applications are being mailed to all active voters. Ohio, on the other hand, is sending an informational mailing describing how voters can request an absentee ballot. That contrasts with a state like Alaska where the Democratic Party is allowing its party-run primary voters to download a ballot directly in order to participate.

This is an important point: States and state parties are dealing with the electoral impact the coronavirus presents, but are doing so in a wide range of ways. That will create uneven results for voters across states; more obstacles in some than in others.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Ohio Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill to Transition to Absentee Vote-By-Mail in Presidential Primary

The Ohio legislature on Wednesday, March 25 unanimously passed legislation mapping out a finish to the March 17 presidential primary that was postponed.

Both the Ohio state House and Senate made quick work of an omnibus bill -- HB 197 -- dealing with broader coronavirus concerns. And part of that was finalizing how to complete the March 17 presidential primary election. In the bill, the provisions with direct influence on the presidential primary call for...
  1. The bill voids of Secretary of State LaRose's (R) March 16 directive postponing the March 17 primary and moving it to June 2. That change is now nullified. 
  2. In its place will be an absentee voting system to handled almost completely by mail. [The only exceptions to that are those voters with disabilities, cannot receive mail at their address or have some other need for accommodations/in-person voting.]
  3. Voters who cast ballots either early or absentee ahead of the March 17 primary will have their votes counted. That total comes to 523,522 early or absentee votes with another 66,723 requested absentee ballots outstanding. That latter group can still submit their ballots and have them counted. 
  4. All voters who registered to vote before February 18, 2020 and who did not vote early or absentee can request an absentee ballot in lieu of any in-person voting. All registered Ohio voters will receive a postcard from the secretary of state informing them of the ways in which they can participate, including absentee vote-by-mail. 
  5. Any voter who registered after February 18 is ineligible to participate. In fact, the bill calls on county boards of elections not to process those registrations at this time. 
  6. Voters can request an absentee ballot by printing off their own copy or by contacting their county board of elections. Voters will be required to pay postage to return those absentee requests. Should those requests be deemed valid by county elections administrators, then valid application voters will be sent an absentee ballot with pre-paid postage for returning it. 
  7. The deadline for returning ballots is April 28, 2020, but if the ballot is postmarked by April 27, then they will be accepted until May 8, 2020
The office of the secretary of state estimates that postcard notifications will be delivered sometime during the second week of April meaning that voters prompted by the postcards will have between 16-22 days to print off an absentee request, mail it to the county board of elections (with voter-paid postage), wait for the absentee ballot to arrive by mail, and return the completed ballot (postmarked) by April 27. That is a lot to ask of voters -- a lot of changes to throw at them -- in such a short period of time.

But it will allow Ohio to complete the voting that started before the original March 17 primary in a manner that greatly reduces face-to-face contact between the voters themselves not to mention voters and poll workers, and thus, the risk of further spread of the coronavirus.

The bill is set to take effect immediately upon Governor DeWine's (R) signature.

Regardless, April 28 is now just 33 days away.

Related Posts:
Ohio Presidential Primary Postponed Until June 2

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wyoming Democrats Shift Back Deadline to Have Mail-In Caucus Ballots in

A little more than a week after Wyoming Democrats eliminated in-person voting at its April 4 caucuses, the state party has again adjusted the voting in its 2020 delegate selection process. And again, the subtle change is aimed at easing participation in the process in the face of complications from the spread of the coronavirus. It buys Wyoming Democrats wanting to vote their presidential preferences a bit more time.

On Saturday, March 22, the Wyoming Democratic Party announced that it would mail ballots to any voters who had registered as Democrats from March 11-20 -- a ten day extension of that deadline -- and would additionally allow any Democratic voters a chance to request a ballot (replacement or otherwise) up until March 31. But beyond that, the state party also extended the deadline by which ballots must be received to Friday, April 17.

That gives voters who intend to participate a little less than two weeks to adjust to the changes the state party has made to the process and submit their ballots with their presidential preferences.

Again, this does have some impact on the delegate selection process. Those county caucuses initially slated for April 4 have been eliminated (and were when the in-person voting was discontinued). Those events will now happen electronically between the end of the caucus/party-run primary voting and May 24 to elected delegates to the state convention.

Although it is not listed as an "important date" on the state party caucus webpage, the June 6 state convention remains a go for now. State convention delegates elected at county caucuses will be the ones who ultimately make the decisions on who fills any delegate slots allocated to candidates after the caucus results are finalized after April 17.

Related Posts:
Wyoming Democrats Tweak Caucus Plan in the Face of Coronavirus Threat

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Alaska Democrats Extend Mail-In Voting Window, Cancel In-Person Voting

On Monday, March 23, the Alaska Democratic Party issued a press release announcing changes to the April party-run primary the state party planned on conducting. Like Hawaii and Wyoming, gone is the in-person voting component. And like those other two (formerly) April 4 states, a pre-planned mail-in option is in place to fill the void.

And in Alaska, that mail-in option is being enhanced. Already registered Democrats in the Last Frontier were mailed a ballot in March if they were registered by February 19. But now some additional accommodations have been announced to buttress that earlier alternative. First, the deadline to have vote-by-mail ballots in to the party -- originally today, March 24 -- has been extended to April 10, six days after to original in-person voting was to have concluded on April 4. Results will now be announced on Saturday, April 11, a week later than the original Alaska Democratic delegate selection plan.

Second, the state party is also posting online a downloadable PDF ballot that registered Democrats in the state can use once they have verified their registration. [It is a short ballot with a long list of instructions.]

Both moves are intended to replace the in-person voting opportunity now lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

Importantly, the Alaska Democratic Party punted on any issues surrounding either the mid-April House district conventions and the May state convention. Those are still technically scheduled but the timing and process of each is being reviewed. State convention delegates elected at the House district conventions are the only ones eligible to be national convention delegates of any pledged variety. The state party will have to address how it will work around the possibility that any or all of those meetings will have to be canceled or held remotely.

Alaska Democratic Party press release on changes archived here.

Hawaii Democrats Nix In-Person Voting in April Primary

The Hawaii Democratic Party on Friday, March 20 followed Wyoming Democrats' lead and cancelled the in-person voting component of their April 4 party-run presidential primary. The decision comes as gatherings both large and small come under increased restriction amid the rising threat of the coronavirus spread.

Ballots were mailed to all registered Democrats across the Aloha state, but another round will go out to those who are registered to vote and enrolled as Democrats by April 4, the original end to the voting phase of the process. But that "by April 4" implies that the deadline for submitting those mail-in ballots will be extended further in an effort to both increase participation, but also provide fair opportunities to vote to every Democrat in Hawaii who wants to. Those deadlines will be shared with the public when they are settled.

Among the other parts of the process that remain unresolved for Hawaii Democrats is the delegate selection process. District delegates were originally slated to be selected in congressional district caucuses at the May 23 state convention. But that convention has now been shifted to September, after the Democratic National Convention in July. That, in turn, means that the Hawaii Democratic Party will have to fundamentally reshape the way in which it had planned to select delegates in 2020. The party is in consultation with the DNC over how best to do that.

For now, Hawaii will remain on April 4 on the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar and will stay there until the Democratic Party in the Aloha state finalized mail-in deadlines.

Hawaii Democratic Party's press release/email on primary changes archived here.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Kansas Democrats Forge Ahead with May 2 Party-Run Presidential Primary, but...

Kansas Democrats are not planning at the moment to make any changes to their Saturday, May 2 party-run primary.

And that is because, the party, like those in Hawaii and Wyoming has an insurance policy: mail-in voting. As in Hawaii and Wyoming, Kansas Democrats, too, had a pre-existing mail-in option in place as part of their original delegate selection plan. It was part of the the party's response to new Rule 2 encouragements to increase participation from the DNC for the 2020 cycle. That uniquely positions these states to lean on those mail-in options in lieu of in-person voting amid the coronavirus outbreak without having to change much about what they are doing.

Alaska also has a party-run primary with a mail-in option, but unlike Hawaii, Kansas and Wyoming, Alaska is not mailing out ballots to all registered Democrats in the state. Again, that uniquely positions the above trio of states to quickly and easily respond to the crisis. They were all already planning on mailing ballots to all Democrats in the state. Alaskans are not without that option. But Democrats in the Last Frontier have to request a ballot and have it postmarked by this coming Tuesday, March 24.

But for now in Kansas, Democrats are holding pat with their originally laid out delegate selection plan -- including in-person voting -- but are encouraging the use of the mail-in option.

March 17 Kansas Democratic Party press release on party-run presidential primary archived here.

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Kansas Democrats Eliminate In-Person Voting in May 2 Party-Run Presidential Primary

Friday, March 13, 2020

Wyoming Democrats Tweak Caucus Plan in the Face of Coronavirus Threat

The Wyoming Democratic Party on Friday, March 13 opted to alter the course of its delegate selection process for the 2020 Democratic presidential race, dropping the in-person portion of the party's April 4 caucuses.

In a statement, the party said...
Wyoming Democratic Party (WDP) Chair Joe M Barbuto has announced that the in-person portion of the 2020 Presidential Preference Caucus, as well as county conventions, are suspended due to growing concern over COVID-19. Our priority is ensuring that people are healthy and safe. Holding public events right now would put that in jeopardy, so this is the responsible course of action. ‍  
Voters are highly encouraged to vote by mail; as of now, voters may still vote via ballot pickup and drop off on March 28 and April 4. We will continue to work with public health officials, and assess local conditions, to ensure voters’ health and safety.  
The WDP is working with our partners around the state and nation to develop a plan that ensures necessary tasks and duties are achieved. Details will be released as they become available.
This change will shift the process to a mail-in option that was already built into the Wyoming Democratic Party delegate selection plan. And though the last day to register to vote in the caucuses (and receive a mail-in ballot) has passed (March 10), every registered Democrat in the state by that time was mailed a ballot. The last day to postmark those ballot for mail in is on March 20. Democrats in the Cowboy state will also have the option after that of dropping off those ballots mailed to them on either Saturday, March 28 or Saturday, April 4, the original date of the caucuses. There are at least two drop off locations in each county in Wyoming.

None of this will necessarily materially affect the delegate allocation process. Voters will still have options in terms of getting their votes submitted. But the change will impact the delegate selection process. The in-person caucuses would not only have served the purpose of being a part of the delegate allocation, but on choosing delegates to attend the state convention. It is those state convention delegates that were initially ultimately charged with selecting the national convention delegates. The state convention is still scheduled to occur on June 6.

But how state convention delegates will be selected remains a blank that will need to be filled in the coming days and weeks by the Wyoming Democratic Party likely working in concert with the DNC and the Rules and Bylaws Committee.

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Wyoming Democrats Shift Back Deadline to Have Mail-In Caucus Ballots in