“GOP backs voting by mail, yet turns to courts to restrict it in battleground states”

Zach Roth:

Fearing that Democrats hold a crucial edge in ballots cast before Election Day, national Republicans are working to convince their voters to take advantage of mail and early voting this year.

“We can’t play catch up. We can’t start from behind. We can’t let Dems get a big head start and think we’re going to win it all on Election Day,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in November on a conference call aimed at promoting the group’s Bank Your Vote initiative to encourage early and mail voting. “Things happen on Election Day.”

But the party’s army of lawyers is, more quietly, sending a very different message. The RNC is fighting in courtrooms and legal filings in key election battlegrounds across the country to make it harder to cast a mail ballot and to have it counted. 

On Feb. 20, attorneys for the RNC were in a federal courtroom in Philadelphia, in a bid to require that Pennsylvania throw out mail ballots with missing or incorrect dates. 

Eleven days earlier, they filed a lawsuit challenging several provisions of Arizona’s newly adopted election rules, including a rule allowing voters who have not shown proof of citizenship to cast a mail ballot. 

And that same day, they asked a court in Georgia to uphold a state law that imposes stricter rules on mail voting. 

Separately, in recent months the RNC has asked courts to let it join the defense of laws in OhioWisconsin, and North Carolina that similarly impose tighter rules on mail voting (judges in the latter two states denied the requests, while the Ohio motion was approved). 

The party also has sued to block a New York law that lets people vote by mail without an excuse (the state’s Supreme Court this month dismissed the complaint). And it has formally weighed in against proposed changes to Nevada’s election rules, including one that makes it easier for election officials to prevent volunteer observers from disrupting the counting of mail ballots. 

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