By Andy Sullivan and Jacqueline Thomsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -In the months leading up to the U.S. midterm elections, lawyers for Democrats and Republicans are already squaring off in a wave of lawsuits challenging state rules on how to vote and the counting of ballots.
Here is a summary of significant cases filed ahead of the Nov. 8 election and where they stand.
The Republican National Committee in November reached a settlement in a lawsuit against officials in Clark County, Nevada, that requires election officials to release poll workers' partisan affiliations. The party filed a similar lawsuit this month seeking information on poll workers in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The RNC also successfully sued authorities in North Carolina and Michigan to roll back new restrictions on partisan poll watchers.
Meanwhile in Arizona, voting rights groups have sued over "drop box watchers" in Maricopa County, claiming their actions, including allegedly carrying weapons and tactical gear, are intimidating voters who visit the boxes to deposit their ballots.
A federal judge in Phoenix on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order that bans members of a group targeted in that lawsuit from coming within 75 feet (23 meters) of a ballot drop box, following voters or harassing them.
COUNTING VOTES, QUESTIONING VOTERS
The American Civil Liberties Union sued to challenge the counting of votes by hand in Nevada's rural Nye County, arguing that the process violates federal and state law. County election officials halted the hand count in response to a ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court late Thursday, the ACLU said.
A lawsuit by a senior citizens' group against a hand count in Arizona's Cochise County is also pending. That case alleges the count would violate state law, which county election officials have denied.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered election officials in the state to save but not count undated mail-in ballots, after the Republican National Committee and others sued over the issue.
In response, Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman as well as voting rights groups have sued in federal court to force officials to count the undated ballots.
A Phoenix judge in August blocked a bid by Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake to stop the use of electronic vote tabulators. Lake claimed the machines created "unjustified new risks" of fraud. The decision is on appeal.
In Colorado, the state chapter of the NAACP and other voting-rights groups lost a bid in April to stop a conservative group called the U.S. Election Integrity Plan from canvassing individuals about their voting activity in the 2020 election. The group claims the effort is an attempt to root out voter fraud, and the case is ongoing.
MAIL BALLOT BATTLES
Rules that concern voting by mail have been a particular flash point this year. After many states expanded mail voting in the 2020 election in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Republicans and conservative groups have sought to roll it back, arguing that it leads to fraud.
They have had success in some states, including Delaware, where the state Supreme Court this month overturned a law that allowed people to vote by mail for any reason.
In July, the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty won a challenge to ban drop boxes in the state.
Other Republican efforts have faltered. Earlier this month, a judge rejected a bid by America First Legal, a group founded by former Trump aides, to require that drop boxes in Pennsylvania's Lehigh County be physically monitored to ensure that voters are only delivering their own ballots. The group has appealed.
In Arizona, where mail-in ballots have been widely used for decades, a state court in June dismissed a lawsuit by the state Republican party seeking to ban the practice. The party has appealed.
And in North Carolina, Republicans lost a bid to shorten the deadline for election officials to receive mail ballots from Nov. 14 to Nov. 11. Another lawsuit in Illinois, challenging the counting of mail ballots up to two weeks after Election Day, is pending.
Civil rights groups and, in some cases, the Biden administration are challenging new Republican-backed state laws that seek to limit voter registration and outreach.
Civil-rights groups in Florida won a ruling that struck down most of a new law restricting voter-registration activity and limiting the use of drop boxes, but the provisions remain in effect while the state appeals.
In Arizona, a judge in September temporarily blocked a 2022 law allowing the cancellation of voter registrations of people suspected to be registered to vote in another county, following a challenge by a civil rights group.
The U.S. Justice Department and several Hispanic groups have separately challenged the state's proof of citizenship requirement.
In Texas, the Justice Department and civil-rights groups are challenging a wide-ranging 2021 state law that criminalizes many voter outreach efforts. That litigation is ongoing.
The Justice Department and civil-rights groups have also sued Georgia to overturn a state law that criminalizes efforts to help people who are waiting in line to vote, among other restrictions.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Jacqueline Thomsen; Editing by David Bario, Noeleen Walder, Daniel Wallis, Rosalba O'Brien and Jonathan Oatis)