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Democracy 2020: SCOTUS, voting and the election

Posted at 12:05 AM, Oct 28, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — In a 52-48 vote Monday, Amy Coney Barrett became the next Supreme Court Justice. Justice Barrett's confirmation gives republicans a 6-to-3 majority.

As the general election nears, election lawsuits from nearly every state are piling up. Many of them concern absentee ballots.

The Supreme Court weighed in most recently Monday over absentee ballots in Wisconsin. The court decided any absentee ballot that comes in after election day will not be counted. In fellow battleground state Pennsylvania, there is a renewed focus over absentee ballots. Republicans are asking the court to reconsider a ruling last week that stated absentee ballots would be counted if received within three days after the election.

“When you talk about something like the presidential election, there’s really 50 state elections with a few exceptions, the states are really in the drivers seat,” Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Buffalo and elections expert Jacob Neiheisel said.

This has some looking at a potential case of “déjà vu” from 2000. Neiheisel said a repeat of the general election 2000 could happen, but it is not as likely.

“If the polling is correct, I do think that it is going to be more of a statement in the Biden direction, again if the polls are correct, and there are some reasons to believe why they might get it right this time and not 2016,” said Neiheisel.

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled George W. Bush won Florida and the election. Neiheisel said that ruling changed how America handles elections forever.

“Speaking as a political scientist, it actually opened up a whole new field within the study of election administration that didn’t exist prior to 2000,” said Neiheisel.

Traditionally Nieheisel said the Supreme Court stays away from weighing in on elections, partly to stay out of politics.

“For the most part, the extent to which the Supreme Court has any role to play at all when it comes to voting rights, elections is through something like the 14th amendment. So we have seen in recent years we have seen the court take a somewhat active role in these questions,” said Neiheisel.