CLC Event Discusses Voting Rights Litigation and Election Scenarios

Issues
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A woman dispenses hand sanitizer to a man and woman outside the open door of a building with "Vote Here" signs on the outside.
Voters line up to receive hand sanitizer before entering a polling place in Boston, MA on September 1, 2020. Photo by Casey Atkins/Campaign Legal Center.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) hosted the public education call “An Unprecedented Election: Protecting Democracy for November 3 and Beyond.”

CLC experts, Trevor Potter, president & founder, and Danielle Lang, co-director, voting rights & redistricting, were joined by special guests Ryan Haygood, president & CEO, New Institute for Social Justice, and Celina Stewart, senior director of advocacy and litigation, League of Women Voters. Jason Jaffery, chief development officer, CLC, moderated the event.

The panelists discussed successful and active legal fights around some of the most important voting issues this year and reviewed potential election scenarios—including not having the results of the election on election night.

Voting in 2020 will be different than any other election. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more states have expanded options for vote-by-mail and absentee voting, changing the way that votes will be submitted and counted.

Signature matching laws, which require state election officials to compare a voter’s ballot signature with another government record of their signature, will play a key role in determining which mail-in ballots count in the election. Without opportunities to give voters notice of issues with their ballot signatures and cure them, this could lead to ballots being rejected because of poor penmanship.

Learn more about CLC's work on signature match issues.

An increased reliance on mail-in ballots makes it more likely that our country will not have the results of the election until after Nov. 3, 2020. Many states allow ballots to be mailed as late as Election Day, which means that valid election results will arrive after that.

Since election results might arrive slower than we are used to, some have expressed concern about the systems in place to protect the legitimacy of the election should certain public officials try to undermine it. One of the most important safeguards in place are the laws binding the presidential electors of the Electoral College to voting for the candidate who won the popular vote in their state.

CLC has been increasingly focused on how laws, the U.S. Constitution, and other systems already in place will guide our country through the various situations way may find ourselves in after the November election. Amid this unusual election year, people should still remember that our country is a democracy, and that voters have power.

This democracy works best when all eligible voters can participate. With less than a month until Election Day, CLC will continue to support every voter’s fundamental right to do so.

Georgia is the 2020 CLC Communications Fellow