The general election is less than three months away, and Republicans and Democrats are engaged in down-to-the-wire contests to persuade voters—and courts.
The 2020 vote, coming amid the coronavirus pandemic and accusations from each side that the other is seeking to exploit voting rules for partisan advantage, has resulted in a flurry of litigation that is on track to set a record, according to observers who track election suits.
More than 190 lawsuits across 43 states and the District of Columbia—on issues like mail-in ballots, voter eligibility, voting deadlines and polling sites—have been filed about coronavirus issues related to the election, according to data compiled by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt. With other lawsuits about issues unrelated to the pandemic, 2020 could surpass the previous record of 394 cases during the 2018 election year, documented by University of California, Irvine law professor Richard Hasen’s book “Election Meltdown,” which tracked cases in recent decades.
In some key states, lawsuits that could affect turnout and outcomes in races across the ballot are making their way through the court hierarchy and could land at the U.S. Supreme Court. Several have been there already through emergency appeals—fast-track cases without oral arguments that require the justices to effectively decide what rules will be in place for November. The court so far has shown a reluctance to interfere with state elections officials, who have considerable latitude in how they structure voting procedures.