ACLU Sues North Carolina Over Mail-In Vote Rule: Campaign Update

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The American Civil Liberties Union sued North Carolina election officials over a requirement that mail-in absentee ballots must include a signature from a witness, claiming the rule will needlessly put voters at risk of exposure to Covid-19 when cases and deaths may be soaring.

The ACLU filed the suit on Friday in Wake County on behalf of several individual voters, including some with chronic health conditions that put them at greater risk from the virus. They allege North Carolina officials are well aware of the risk from the signature requirement because the state recently passed a law that temporarily reduces the requirement from two witnesses to one for 2020.

“The adoption of this temporary regime does not ameliorate the severe health risks caused by witnessing ballots during Covid-19 and merely reflects an acknowledgment on the state’s part that the witness requirements are at odds with public health,” the ACLU said.

North Carolina is one of 12 states that require voters to have witness signatures on their mail-in ballots, according to the civil rights group, which added that minorities are being hit hardest in the pandemic and would therefore be at greater risk from the signature requirement.

President Donald Trump has railed against mail-in voting, which is becoming more popular as people fear lining up at polling places during the coronavirus pandemic. As recently as Friday he’s claimed, without evidence, that it leads to fraud.

McConnell Casts Doubt on GOP Convention (9:12 a.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called his party’s plans for a 2020 convention “a challenging situation,” suggesting President Donald Trump’s dreams of a large, in-person gathering in Jacksonville, Florida, might not come to fruition.

“A number of my colleagues have announced that they’re not going to attend, and we’ll have to wait and see how things look in late August and determine whether or not you can safely convene that many people,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky on Thursday when asked if he planned to attend the event.

Trump recently relocated the bulk of his party’s convention to Jacksonville, which last week had the fastest-growing rate of coronavirus cases of any metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Evercore ISI. Republicans had previously planned to hold the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, but changed course after that state’s governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, balked at holding a full-capacity gathering due to the outbreak.

At least six Republican senators -- Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, Utah’s Mitt Romney, Kansas’s Pat Roberts, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and Maine’s Susan Collins -- aren’t planning to attend the Florida gathering, according to various media reports.

David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, said earlier the senator “has every intention of attending.” -- Kathleen Miller

Coming Up

Trump is planning his next campaign rally in New Hampshire on Saturday.

The Democratic National Convention is scheduled for the week beginning Aug. 17 in Milwaukee, while the Republicans are slated to meet a week later with events in Charlotte and Jacksonville.

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