/Supreme Court Some with pre-existing health conditions might not be allowed to vote early

Supreme Court Some with pre-existing health conditions might not be allowed to vote early

The state’s highest court ruled that Hinds County Chancery judge Denise Owens made a mistake in her ruling earlier in the month. She wrote that current state law allows any voter with preexisting conditions that can cause COVID-19 to vote absentee during the COVID-19 pandemic. Justice Dawn Beam, who was writing for the majority, stated that current law, as amended earlier in the year by the state Legislature requires that a person be directed to be quarantined and monitored by a doctor in order to vote. She wrote that a pre-existing condition does not automatically make a voter more vulnerable to absentee voting. On behalf of a group state voters, the Mississippi Center for Justice, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to try to get the broadest interpretation possible of state law to allow people to vote early during the pandemic. The appeals court ruling by Owens was overturned by Secretary of State Michael Watson who conceded that the lawsuit’s four plaintiffs, based upon their pre-existing condition, should be allowed early voting. Local circuit clerks could be required to decide who can vote early based on the Supreme Court’s ruling. Rob McDuff, from the Mississippi Center for Justice, said that the ruling was still a victory for people who are susceptible to the coronavirus due to pre-existing conditions. McDuff stated that the secretary of state had acknowledged that pre-existing conditions, which meet the definition of “physical disability” and increase the risk of severe COVID-19 consequences, can allow people to vote absentee. This includes four plaintiffs with severe asthma, kidney disease, lupus and diabetes. McDuff stated, “The Mississippi Supreme Court never rejected that statement by secretary… The secretary stated, however, that such conditions allow absentee voter if they, like those of the plaintiffs, meet the dictionary definitions of a disability.” Even if legislators are concerned about mail in voting, they could expand in person absentee voting or permit early in-person voter registration during the pandemic. They could also allow counties to hold Saturday outdoor sessions in October to allow people to vote in an outdoor setting that isn’t so easily transferred by COVID-19. Mississippi is one of a few states that won’t allow most people to vote early this election. This is to avoid large crowds during the pandemic. Most states allowed early voting before the pandemic. M.ississippi’s early voting was restricted to people 65 years and over, voters who are away from their homes on Election Day and persons with disabilities. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a second lawsuit in federal court. They claim that the state’s absentee voting rules could harm the health of citizens who are trying to vote during the COVID-19 epidemic. The lawsuit seeks to have provisions from state law that require the application for absentee voting and the ballot to be notarized be struck down. According to state senator David Blount (D-Jackson), Mississippi is the only country that requires both documents to be notarized. source.