It's a generally accepted principle that each state is responsible for running its own elections. This leads to a lot of variation between different states - some states let felons vote, some don't; some states allow same day registration, some don't; different states require different forms of ID; etc.

If one were to assume that the legal theory behind Texas' lawsuit against Pennsylvania and other states is upheld by SCOTUS, how would this variation be affected? Could Pennsylvania sue Florida for subverting the change to the FL constitution to let felons vote? Could Georgia sue Kentucky over it's "or be known by a precinct officer" form of voter ID?

How far could this go? Is there a possibility that all the potential suits and countersuits could result in forcing a nationally-uniform set of voting laws, or is this lawsuit narrowly tailored enough that it wouldn't have repercussions like that?


2 Answers 2



The Texas suit alleges that significant changes were made to the election rules in the various defendant states, and that these were not approved by the legislatures of those states, but were made by administrative or court decisions. It also claims that differences in local practice and polices made absentee or mail-in voting easier, or invalid votes less likely to be detected, in some counties than in others, meaning that voters in some parts of those states were treated differently than voters in other parts.

Note that this theory has not yet been accepted, or in any way passed on, by SCOTUS. But even assuming that the theory were to be accepted, it would require, at most, strict adherence to the election statutes of each state, and that changes or variances be approved by the state legislature. It would have nothing to say about the actual content of the various state laws, unless those laws treated different parts of a state differently, in which case there would be an equal protection violation.

The Electors clause, cited in this suit, gives to the legislature of each state the power to "direct" how electors are to be appointed. This is done through laws, statutes. The suit cites this clause as a source of authority, and nothing in it could be taken as suggesting a requirement of national uniformity in election law.

I have not yet seen the response to this suit, if indeed one has been filed. It may be that a response would argue that the changes were, in fact, authorized by provisions of the various state laws granting authority to officials. No one knows how the Court will respond to this suit. But even if it were to rule for the plaintiff Texas, that would not impose a national standard, nor permit one state to challenge the provisions of the law of another. It might permit one state to challenge how well another state had applied its own law.

  • The response is due to SCOTUS by Close of Buisness 12/10/20 (Later this afternoon as of writing).
    – hszmv
    Dec 10, 2020 at 19:10
  • Ah, I see the difference now. Thanks.
    – Bobson
    Dec 10, 2020 at 21:17
  • 3
    The responses are available here, and in particular, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania,
    – Mark
    Dec 11, 2020 at 2:54
  • 2
    Michigan, and Georgia.
    – Mark
    Dec 11, 2020 at 2:54
  • "claims that differences in local practice and polices made absentee or mail-in voting easier" Not sure what the point of that particular claim is, because 'making voting easier" is not illegal.
    – TylerH
    Dec 11, 2020 at 14:29

Is there a possibility that all the potential suits and countersuits could result in forcing a nationally-uniform set of voting laws

No. Article 2 of the US Constitution explicitly states that state legislature is responsible for selecting the electors in a manner that it sees fit:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Therefore, different states can have different procedures for doing it.

The Texas lawsuit claims that the defendant states' elections were held in a way that violated the laws applicable in these respective states, not that these laws differ from one state to another.

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