Lawsuits hit mail-in ballots in four states

CNN/ Newswire | 9/15/2020, 9:43 a.m.

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

(CNN) -- You've heard of Kanye West. You've probably never heard of Howie Hawkins. And you might not have realized he's also running for president.

But efforts to keep the rapper and the Green Party candidate off ballots in certain states are starting to gum up the mechanics of a massive shift toward mail-in voting.

Today's the day Pennsylvania counties could have started sending mail-in ballots to voters.

Could have.

But they can't send anything because the state's ballot has not been finalized as Democrats try to keep the Green Party candidate off the ballot there. Republicans would love for him to be featured and have been helping to bankroll some of the Green Party's legal efforts.

A similar effort has already disrupted the mailing of absentee ballots in Wisconsin. The state's Supreme Court ruled on Monday that ballots could go out without Hawkins' name.

West was ruled ineligible for the Wisconsin ballot last week. But he will be on the ballot in a handful of states. Hawkins will be on most ballots.

These little court dramas about ballot access are taking place across the country -- Arizona, Montana and elsewhere -- and they're coming up to the wire.

Lawsuits over absentee ballots have forced some counties in Iowa to resend absentee ballot applications and thousands of voters in New York are being forced to reapply for ballots.

That's just the beginning

There are lawsuits about ballot drop boxes, voter ID laws and more.

"Voting lawsuits themselves aren't new -- but they matter more because so much of the election is shifting to mail," says CNN's Jeremy Herb.

He's on the byline of this very intense story about fights over signature verification, which could turn into the "hanging chads" of 2020. (If you're not old enough to get that reference, watch this video.)

Each state verifies mail-in or absentee ballots differently, but most use some form of signature verification, comparing the signature on a ballot to one on a voter registration or driver's license.

In some states, like Wisconsin, 1 in 50 ballots were rejected during the primaries this year. That's well more than President Donald Trump's margin of victory in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016.

A major issue this year is how or whether states will give voters whose ballots are rejected a chance to fix -- or "cure" -- them.

Normally when states move to a new election format, they test and plan. This year many of them are doing it on the fly.

And that means people who do vote by mail are going to have to take an interest in making sure their ballots are received and counted.

Got questions? Watch the replay of our live event on mail-in ballots here.

Got stories? Share your stories about voting, or about trying to vote, here.