Rise in use of ballot drop boxes sparks partisan battles
In the presidential election four years ago, there were fewer free-standing ballot drop boxes, and they were uncontroversial. This year, as officials in many states expand use of the boxes amid a pandemic, they have become another flashpoint in the controversy over voting access.Supporters of the expanded use of drop boxes say they make voting easier for people who are afraid to vote in person and fear their absentee ballots won’t be tallied if they send them through the mail. Opponents say they are worried about ballot security, despite little evidence that drop boxes are any less secure than...
Jeff Van Drew has been winning South Jersey elections for decades. Can he do it as a Republican?
HAMMONTON, N.J. — On a rain-drenched Columbus Day morning, Jeff Van Drew stood beneath a tent emblazoned with an Italian flag and spoke about his wife, Ricarda, and her parents. The Villanis, he said, saw America as the land of opportunity for immigrant families.“Today is about cherishing your heritage, cherishing the people who came here and worked so hard so we can all have the opportunities they had,” he told about 50 business and community leaders at the Sons of Italy lodge here.Van Drew, who is fighting to keep his seat in Congress, has attended Columbus Day events like this one for years...
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Texas judge blocks Abbott order limiting ballot drop sites
AUSTIN, Texas — A Travis County state judge issued an injunction Thursday blocking enforcement of Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting counties to one mail-in ballot drop-off location.The ruling was based on a lawsuit that raised state law claims and was separate from a similar federal court ruling that briefly blocked Abbott’s order before it was placed on hold by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week.State District Judge Tim Sulak, who presided over a hearing on the matter Tuesday, sent lawyers a letter Thursday saying he will issue a temporary injunction to block Abbott’s Oct...
Editorial: Shocking new rates for homeowners insurance threaten Florida's economy
Florida homeowners, already facing an anxious few months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, face a new threat — the prospect of major cost increases for property insurance.As the Sun Sentinel reported Sunday, the increases could range from 30% to 40%. They would come just as Gov. Ron DeSantis has ended the moratorium on mortgage foreclosures. It also seems likely that Senate Republicans won’t pass a second COVID-19 stimulus bill that could help laid-off homeowners pay their insurance premiums.How will the Florida Legislature respond? If history is a guide, the priority will be to please the ins...
Proposition 25 would end cash bail in California. Is the replacement any better?
SAN JOSE, Calif. — When the push to eliminate California’s cash bail system began in the state Legislature several years ago, the battle lines were clearly drawn.On one side were civil rights groups and criminal justice reform advocates arguing that cash bail is unjust because it allows wealthy defendants to buy their way out of jail as they await trial, while poor defendants who are unable to post bond — disproportionately Black and Latinx — wind up stuck behind bars. On the other side, advocates for tougher criminal penalties, as well as the bail bonds industry, insisted looser bail rules co...
The Mercury News
Graham campaign sets a Senate Republican fundraising record in SC's competitive race
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham brought in $28 million during the third quarter, an all time record for Senate Republicans.The amount is still about half of the $57 million raised by Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison raised in third quarter.Most of the money in the race has come from outside of the state.“Senator Graham is incredibly grateful for the tremendous support he has received,” said T.W. Arrighi, the communications director for Graham’s campaign. “Our campaign will have the resources we need to get our message out to voters, which is especially important now that un...
The State (Columbia, S.C.)
What is 'ballot harvesting,' and why is California fighting about it?
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Ballot drop boxes appearing in California this week prompted state officials to issue cease and desist orders against the Republican Party organizations that set them up.Yet California Republicans are refusing to remove the boxes, which Democratic officials say are illegal under state election law.The dispute highlights a longstanding rift between parties over a practice known as ballot collecting, sometimes called ballot harvesting.Ballot collection allows a designated person to deliver a voter’s mail ballot for them, and Californians have been doing it for several years....
The Sacramento Bee
Still slammed by unemployment, states try to avoid tax hikes
As a historic wave of layoffs continues, states are grappling with evaporating funds for unemployment benefits that could force cuts to those payments or hikes in business taxes.Thirty-one states already are dipping into federal CARES Act dollars or seeking federal loans to keep money in the unemployment coffers. Those and other states also are considering legislation or other actions to fend off business tax increases triggered by high jobless payouts.Unemployment insurance trust funds are paid for by business taxes and pay out benefits to laid-off workers. If the funds start to run out of mo...
Paramilitaries? Terrorists? What should militia groups be called?
LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who last week escaped an alleged militia-backed kidnapping plot when federal and state officials arrested and charged 13 men, says such groups are domestic terrorists.State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey says militias are “getting a bad rap,” and composed of people “not uniquely different” from you and me. “They have a real purpose, and I think a sincere purpose,” Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said in a May TV interview, months before Thursday’s charges.Both Whitmer and Shirkey were speaking broadly about private, armed paramilitary organizations, often sel...
Detroit Free Press
Joe Biden: 'Throughline from President Trump's dog whistles' to Whitmer kidnapping plot
DETROIT — It’s not difficult to draw a connection between the divisive and racist rhetoric of President Donald Trump and a thwarted plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said in a statement late Thursday.Biden said he’d reached out to Whitmer earlier in the day to check in after state and federal law enforcement announced they’d arrested 13 people in connection to what’s being called a domestic terrorism plot.Joe Biden said Thursday he spoke with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after news broke that federal and state law enforcement thwarted a kidnapping plot ...
Detroit Free Press