“As November Looms, So Does the Most Litigious Election Ever”

Michael Wines for the NYT:

Four months before Election Day, a barrage of court rulings and lawsuits has turned one of the most divisive elections in memory into one that is on track to be the most litigated ever.

With voting amid a pandemic as the backdrop, at stake are dozens of lawsuits around the country that will determine how easy — or hard — it will be to cast a ballot.

Justin Levitt, an election scholar and associate dean at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, is tracking nearly 130 pandemic-related election lawsuits. The firm of Marc Elias, a lawyer who frequently represents the Democratic Party, is pursuing more than 35 voting rights cases, a number he calls an order of magnitude greater than in the past. The Republican National Committee, which pledged this spring to spend at least $20 million fighting attempts to loosen voting rules, boasts of filing or intervening in 19 suits to date.

In his book “Election Meltdown,” Richard L. Hasen, a legal scholar at the University of California-Irvine, calculated that election-related litigation nearly tripled on average between 1996 and 2018. In an interview, Mr. Hasen said 2020 is on track to become the most litigated election season ever.

Perhaps the most sweeping ruling occurred on Wednesday, when a federal appeals court blocked a lower-court ruling that would have restored voting rights to about 774,000 impoverished Floridians with felony records. On Thursday, the Supreme Court voted along ideological lines to block, at least for now, a loosening of Alabama’s strict absentee ballot requirements in a runoff election on July 14.

Last week, another federal appeals court ruled — after three years of deliberations — that Republican legislators in Wisconsin were largely within the law when they imposed an array of restrictions on balloting, even if their motives were baldly political.

And in scores of state and federal courts nationwide, lawyers for advocacy groups, the Republican and Democratic Parties and their allies are litigating a sheaf of rules governing the November vote.


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