'Canceling votes': Republicans have filed 3 times more lawsuits to throw out ballots as they did 2 years ago
A poll worker places vote-by-mail ballots into a ballot box at the Miami-Dade Election Department headquarters on October 14, 2020 (AFP)

On Tuesday, writing for The Bulwark, Kimberly Wehle sounded the alarm on efforts by the Republican Party to block access to the ballot.

"According to Democracy Docket, GOP-aligned groups have filed nearly five times the number of anti-voting lawsuits that they brought in 2021 and three times the number filed in 2020," wrote Wehle. "And this time around, the fight is not focused on whether folks should be allowed vote. It’s about canceling votes after they’ve been cast, particularly if via dropbox or absentee ballot, the use of which was popularized during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the GOP has opened new frontiers on criminal penalties if voters make mistakes."

Many of these lawsuits, wrote Wehle, are happening in key swing states where critical races are taking place.

"In Michigan, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, Kristina Karamo, along with a collection of poll 'watchers' and 'challengers,' sued the Detroit city clerk, Janice Winfrey, seeking an injunction banning the counting of absentee ballots that aren’t physically requested in person rather than absentee (including for military personnel overseas). Only Detroit voters, who are 77 percent black, were targeted," wrote Wehle.

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Meanwhile, "in Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Waukesha County sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission, but managed to secure a temporary restraining order banning the use of a 'guidance' document for election workers," which gives instruction when the address for the witness to the ballot is incomplete. And in Pennsylvania, "the Republican National Committee won their legal bid to stop the counting of all mail-in ballots lacking a date on the outer envelope. Again: nothing wrong with the name or address, mind you, or the contents of the actual ballot. This time, the ruling came down after people had already voted." Pennsylvania voters are now scrambling to revote after another court blocked the GOP's efforts to prohibit outreach to affected voters.

A small bit of consolation, Wehle concluded, is court decisions like those that push back on what Republicans are demanding.

"Perhaps most strikingly, in Arizona, a state that’s frighteningly poised for potential violence at the polls, a judge entered a restraining order preventing camo-clad ballot-watchers — some reportedly already hiding in bushes — from openly carrying firearms within 250 feet of a polling location," she wrote. "Phew, I guess."