With the midterm elections today, hundreds of thousands of citizens across the country have already cast their ballots. In pivotal swing states, Republicans are trying to have those votes disqualified.
All of the states seeing challenges from Republicans have abortion on the ballot in some form. Michigan is one of the states with a constitutional amendment on the ballot that allows voters to decide on the legality of abortion in the state. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin both have key elections whose officials could decide its fate.
The Republican National Committee of Pennsylvania recently made a case to the state Supreme Court on the efficacy of mail-in ballots. They claim election officials should not count ballots where the voter did not mark the date on the outer envelope, even if the ballot arrived before election day. As of last week, the court ruled in their favor, setting aside thousands of ballots.
Sunday night, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in a statement that “no voter should be disenfranchised simply because they made a minor error in filling out their ballot.”
“This was not a controversial concept in our country or our commonwealth until recently, with the rise of the Big Lie and the efforts to spread mis and disinformation in the days leading up to the general election,” he continued. “I urge counties to continue to ensure that every vote counts.”
Kristina Karamo, the Republican nominee for secretary of state in Michigan, recently sued the highest election official in the city of Detroit. Despite state law not requiring ID for mail-in ballots, Karamo is seeking to disqualify those votes. When asked in a hearing why her lawsuit targets the primarily-Black city alone and not the entire state, her lawyers did not respond.
Experts say that the Michigan case will likely be thrown out, as it has no legal ground to stand on. Democratic election lawyer Mark Brewer called the lawsuit “racist, frivolous, and sanctionable.”
However, in Wisconsin, Republicans recently won a ruling that will disqualify mail-in ballots if the witness address is incompletely filled out. Jeff Mandell, a Democratic election lawyer, said that Republicans lawsuits primarily target ballots that are Democratic.
“There is a concerted effort by the Republican infrastructure, the party, and others working with it, as well as Republican leaders in the legislature, to undermine absentee voting and make it harder for people to vote that way," he told The Washington Post.
Sylvia Albert, director of elections for Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for democracy, said that former president Donald Trump's encouraging Republican supporters to vote in person during the 2020 elections is part of the GOP's larger strategy to separate votes Democrats and Republican. These recent lawsuits are a continuation of their plan to disenfranchise votes they know will be primarily Democratic.
“They’re looking for every advantage they can get, and they’ve calculated that this is a way that they can win more seats," she said. "Research has shown that absentee ballots are more likely to be discarded if they are voted by young people and people of color, which are not generally seen as the Republican base.”
As more Americans voice support for abortion and the Democrats that protect, Republicans push to disqualify their votes. As voting becomes more crucial to preserving democracy every election, be sure to make your voice heard.