PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The American Civil Liberties Union, Campaign Legal Center, and law firm Fried Frank filed a federal lawsuit challenging Rhode Island’s witness/notary requirements for voting by mail throughout the 2020 elections.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The American Civil Liberties Union, Campaign Legal Center, and law firm Fried Frank filed a federal lawsuit July 23, 2020, challenging Rhode Island’s witness/notary requirements for voting by mail throughout the 2020 elections.

The case was filed on behalf of two voting rights advocacy groups — Common Cause Rhode Island and the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island — and Rhode Islanders with significant medical vulnerabilities that place them or members of their household at a heightened risk of severe illness or death if they contract COVID-19.

The lawsuit seeks to block provisions of a state law that require Rhode Islanders who vote by mail to have two witnesses or a notary sign their ballot envelope, even in the midst of a highly contagious and deadly pandemic. These requirements necessitate face-to-face and hand-to-hand interaction between voters and others who pose a potentially fatal risk to the voters’health.

The lawsuit, Common Cause Rhode Island v. Gorbea, was filed in U.S. District Court.

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