by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Election lawyers say that the outbreak of the coronavirus combined with the postponement of multiple state primaries may increase the chances of legal challenges to Tuesday’s results, particularly among down ballot races.
As voters in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois cast ballots Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic, reports emerged of disarray at polling places, including absentee election judges and insufficient voting materials that forced some polling locations to redirect voters. Those issues could give losing candidates an opportunity to challenge the results, state election experts told the Washington Free Beacon.
“The Illinois primaries are, as you can imagine, a mess,” Illinois election attorney Richard Means said. “If there are some really close races, then that might keep lawyers and judges busy for some time.”
The main source of chaos in the Prairie State, Means said, was the decision to relocate polling locations away from nursing homes filled with a population vulnerable to the coronavirus. Although the move is prudent given the risk seniors face from the virus, it also opens the door to legal challenges. …
… While the likelihood of suits may increase due to the coronavirus, some legal experts say plaintiffs face an uphill battle to prove it affected the outcome of races.
“If it is very close, I would expect to see challenges to some of these results,” said John Fogarty, an election attorney based in Illinois. “But the burden of proof on anything that you’d see an election contested on is extraordinarily high. So you’d really need solid evidence, affidavits of people who tried to vote but were turned away and not able to vote otherwise.”