Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

2020: The election lawyer full employment act

The coronavirus has sent overall U.S. unemployment into the double digits — but it's a sort of full-employment act for election law attorneys.

The big picture: The prospect of extended court fights over COVID-19-related voting changes, an absentee ballot avalanche, foreign interference and contested presidential results has prompted a hire-all-the-lawyers binge by candidates and campaigns — not just in swing states but around the country.


  • No one wants to be stuck in a recount without local counsel ready to work after hours and file suits quickly. That makes preemptive lawyering-up at the states and county level as important as securing big national names.

What they're saying: "I would beg candidates and campaigns to get counsel on retainer well before the election," said Jessica Furst Johnson, a Republican election lawyer.

  • "Not for any nefarious reasons, but simply to understand who to call if results or ballots are in dispute," said Johnson, who created an initiative called the Volunteer Attorney Network to train attorneys for Election Day.
  • Justin Riemer, the Republican National Committee's chief counsel, says the legal work is "going to be on steroids this year," and that "capable local counsel is critical" for technical and tactical reasons.

Details: The Biden campaign is planning an election program that includes volunteer lawyers who will focus on poll monitoring and watching for potential voter suppression, as well as substantial funding for election law specialists.

  • "The program underway this year is the most elaborate, highly resourced program of its kind," said Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel under President Obama who's working with the Biden campaign.
  • The RNC is coordinating the legal fight for the Republicans, along with the Trump campaign and volunteers across the country. They're already involved in legal challenges in 17 states.
  • Matthew Morgan, Trump 2020 general counsel, declared that "the Trump campaign is fighting to ensure every valid ballot across America counts."

Why it matters: Election-related lawsuits have been on the rise for the past two decades, but the coronavirus has supercharged them.

  • Marc Elias, who was general counsel for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, is involved in more than 30 ongoing election-related lawsuits in 17 states, according to his site Democracy Docket.
  • Georgia Democrats this week sued the Republican secretary of state over the the long wait times — in some cases more than eight hours — that some voters faced in the June 9 primary.

Between the lines: Courts are forcing some states to write new rules or laws to preserve the constitutional right to vote during a global pandemic, without opening the door to massive fraud.

  • North Carolina could see a tenfold increase in mail-in ballots. And a federal judge in the state ruled this week that primary voters who had their ballot thrown out must be given a second chance to prove that their ballot was indeed valid.
  • That decision could result in as many as 100,000 additional votes being ruled valid in November — "votes that otherwise would have been discounted," said Allison Riggs, an attorney who represented voters whose ballots were rejected. She expects Republicans to appeal.

What to watch: Issues with people not receiving absentee ballots in time due to postal service delays, concerns over rejected absentee ballots, and disruptions at polling places because of poll worker shortages could fuel litigation around and after Election Day, Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's voting rights project, told Axios.

  • "You could see suddenly Republicans arguing that these ballots shouldn't have been tossed, and you could see Democrats taking the opposite position."
  • A third of the states have changed mail-in voting laws because of the virus, a trend driving much of the current and anticipated litigation.

The bottom line: Legal disputes over results are less likely to succeed in any states with landslides — but any close election contests will almost certainly be litigated.

Naftali Bennett: How Israel's new PM plans to handle relations with Biden

New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is signaling he intends to move cautiously at first on issues like Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an approach that will suit the Biden administration just fine.

Why it matters: Bennett is aiming to avoid an early confrontation with the U.S., and his fragile and ideologically diverse government will have a hard time taking any groundbreaking steps on foreign policy in the first place.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden: Consequences for Russia would be "devastating" if opposition leader Navalny dies

President Biden said he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin during Wednesday's summit that if jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies in prison, the consequences "would be devastating for Russia."

Why it matters: Although the White House had previously warned the Russian government over Navalny's imprisonment, Biden personally delivered the message to Putin on Wednesday.

Keep reading... Show less

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will support Juneteenth bill

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will support a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday when it comes to the floor later Wednesday, his office tells Axios.

Why it matters: The House is slated to pass a bill making June 19 — Juneteenth — a federal holiday that memorializes when the last enslaved people in Texas learned about their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • It will then go to President Biden for his signature just days before the occasion and one day after the Senate passed the bill unanimously.

Biden says he raised human rights issues in Putin summit

President Biden said he raised issues including nuclear arms control, cybersecurity, election interference and violations of human rights in Russia in his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Tuesday.

What he's saying: "My agenda is not against Russia or anybody else. It's for the American people," Biden said at a press conference following the summit, which was shorter than expected.

Keep reading... Show less

Putin calls talks with Biden "constructive," says ambassadors will return to posts

Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia said Wednesday that his summit with President Biden was "constructive," and that the countries had agreed their ambassadors would imminently return to their posts in Moscow and Washington.

What he's saying: "Many of our joint positions are divergent but nevertheless I think both sides manifested a determination to try and understand each other and try and converge our positions," Putin told reporters at a press conference immediately following the meetings.

Keep reading... Show less

Southwest heat wave intensifies, 40 million likely to see 100-degree temperatures

A punishing and long-enduring heat wave is intensifying in parts of the West and Southwest, with heat warnings and advisories in effect across seven states Wednesday. The heat will not relent until late in the weekend.

Threat level: In the coming days, 40 million are likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100 degrees.

Keep reading... Show less

Lordstown Motors: A tale of hubris, political pandering and regulatory failure

Lordstown Motors is the quintessential business fiasco. Equal parts hubris, political pandering and regulatory failure.

Why it matters: There's no indication that anyone will learn their lesson, except perhaps for some random retail investors who didn't diversify.

Keep reading... Show less

GM boosts investment in electric, autonomous vehicles by $8 billion

General Motors plans to boost its cumulative investment in electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion from 2020-2025, a significant jump from a $27 billion target.

Driving the news: GM said this morning that the initiative will include building two new battery cell manufacturing plants in addition to the two already under construction in Tennessee and Ohio.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories