Missouri Supreme Court rules COVID-19 vote-by-mail lawsuit can proceed

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Case heads back to Cole County Circuit Court for review; deadline to apply is July 22

By SHERI GASSAWAY
Correspondent

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled June 23 that a lawsuit seeking to allow all state voters to vote by mail without a notary during the COVID-19 pandemic can proceed.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri and Missouri Voter Protection Coalition on behalf of the NAACP of Missouri, the League of Women Voters of Missouri and several individuals, now goes back to the Cole County Circuit Court for consideration.

In May, the Missouri Legislature approved a measure expanding options for voting absentee or by mail in the 2020 elections because of the coronavirus pandemic. The expansion offers two options:

  • A voter can request an absentee ballot if he/she is in an at-risk category for contracting the virus. This option does not require notarization.
  • Any voter can request a mail-in ballot. This option does require an in-person notarization.

Last month, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem dismissed the lawsuit, arguing that it failed to show real, substantial claims necessary to change Missouri voting practices without the authorization of the Legislature.

PROTECTING RIGHT TO VOTE
The Supreme Court reversed the decision and stated in its opinion that, “The petitioners seek to protect their right to vote guaranteed by the Missouri Constitution, and, given the upcoming August and November elections, their claims are ripe for judicial determination.”

Denise Lieberman, lawsuit co-counsel and general counsel to the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, said the group is looking forward to bringing the claims of the people back to the court for relief.

VOTERS IN MISSOURI will have to wait a little longer to learn whether they can vote by mail without a notary in the Aug. 4 primary and Nov. 3 general elections. The Missouri Supreme Court, last week, sent a case challenging the notary requirement back to Cole County Circuit Court for review. – Associated Press photo

VOTING SAFELY
“We are gratified that the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that Missouri voters have a ‘real’ and ‘substantial’ claim to ensure they can vote safely in the midst of this pandemic with the upcoming elections ahead,” she said. “No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote.”

Tony Rothert, of the ACLU of Missouri, said he was glad that the Supreme Court recognized the groups have a valid case on behalf of all voters.

“All Missouri voters should be allowed to participate in this year’s elections without putting themselves and their loved ones at risk by having unnecessary contact with third parties,” he said, referring to the in-person notarization requirement.

REQUESTING AN ABSENTEE/MAIL-IN BALLOT
Absentee/mail-in ballot requests can be downloaded at sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri//2020FillableBallotApplication.pdf.

Fill out the request and submit the form to your local election authority. You can find the address of your local election authority online at sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/localelectionauthority.

Requests for mail-in ballots must be received by July 22 for the Aug. 4 primary election and by Oct. 21 for the Nov. 3 general election.

Request a mail-in ballot in Missouri and Illinois

MISSOURI – To download an absentee/mail-in ballot request in Missouri, visit sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri//2020FillableBallotApplication.pdf. Fill out the request and submit the form to your local election authority.

You can find the address for your local election authority in Missouri online at sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/localelectionauthority.

Requests for mail-in ballots in Missouri must be received by the second Wednesday before election day by email, fax, mail or in person. For the August primary, requests must be received by July 22 for the Aug. 4 primary election and by Oct. 21 for the Nov. 3 general election.

ILLINOIS – Any registered voter elector or member of the military serving overseas may vote by mail in Illinois. To download a mail-in ballot, visit elections.il.gov/VotingAndRegistrationSystems/VotingByMailMove.aspx.

Illinois has already held its primary elections. Requests by mail must be received by the local Election Authority by Oct. 29 for the Nov. 3 general election.

You can find your local election authority in Illinois online at elections.il.gov/electionoperations/electionauthorities.aspx.

 


 

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