Most United States citizens have certain expectations when they go to their polling station; voters expect to stand in a line, to be handed a ballot by an official, or to vote on a touch screen system. Yet, amid COVID-19, for many Americans, going to a polling station presents too many opportunities for the transmission of the virus. As a result of the danger of voting in-person and the desire to vote by mail, it is projected that the United States Postal Services (hereinafter “USPS”) will deliver an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots.
Five years after the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the effects of dismantling Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act are manifesting themselves across the United States. Since 2013, several states have passed laws that have the ability to suppress voters. Voters in Georgia and South Dakota have recently filed suits claiming the state’s laws and practices in the 2018 election amounted to voter suppression.
On September 18, 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned a stay blocking a District Court ruling requiring non-profits to disclose identity of all contributors who give more than $200 a year. Prior to the ruling, IRS designated 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations and 501(c)(6) organizations such as business leagues and boards of trade, who do not register as political committees with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), were required to disclose donors only when they contributed for specific political advertisements. While the ruling requires the FEC to give guidance, newly issued FEC rules limit the scope of the court’s intention. It is likely that the new ruling will allow some donors to remain undisclosed while requiring partial disclosure of donors who contribute towards certain, but not all, expenditures.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has released over $300 million in Help America Vote Act funds to 48 states and territories intended to improve election security and administration. This comes after the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 appropriated $380 million into the Help America Vote Election Security Fund in March of this year.