Voting during a pandemic: Hearings begin today on lawsuit to ease restrictions

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The differences between a genuine threat (Coronavirus) and a perceived threat (voter fraud):

U.S. District Judge William Osteen scheduled three days of hearings starting Monday involving a lawsuit by two voting advocacy groups and several citizens who fear current rules threaten their health if they want to vote. There's already been a spike in mail-in absentee ballot applications, presumably by voters who prefer not to venture out to in-person voting centers and precincts.

The plaintiffs want Osteen to block several voting restrictions like how mail-in ballots are requested, who can help voters with forms and the hours early in-person voting centers operate. They also want drop boxes for completed absentee ballots and later registration deadlines.

I find it almost absurd that groups have to file their lawsuits against the NC Board of Elections, and not the Republican lawmakers who put these roadblocks in place. The NC BoE has tried to get many of these changes done by asking those Republicans, and have been mostly rebuffed. Granted, if the court rules to do x or y, Republicans will have to comply anyway. But it just seems wrong. But I won't be surprised of those Republicans file their own lawsuit against the Board of Elections over this necessary policy order:

North Carolina's top elections administrator on Friday ordered that counties open a minimum number of early in-person voting sites this fall as a way to buttress ballot access during the COVID-19 pandemic. They'll also have to be open on otherwise optional voting weekends.

State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell cited her emergency powers during a “catastrophe arising from natural causes” and resulting in a disaster declaration for making changes before the high-stakes November election. The order also tells election workers that while they will have to wear face coverings at voting centers and Election Day precincts, voters will not be required to do so.

The order for early voting sites has nothing to do with demographics or geography, it is specifically about the volume of voters. One site for every 20,000 voters is actually a bare minimum in a Presidential Election year, but of course Republicans see evil Socialist plots behind every bush:

Senate elections committee Chairman Ralph Hise, a Mitchell County Republican, was suspicious of the order and questioned its legality.

“It appears that areas with high concentrations of Democrats will have dozens of early voting sites while more Republican areas may have just one,” Hise said in a news release.

You probably have only one McDonald's in town too, while them big cities have 'em all over the place. But it's not a hamburger conspiracy.

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