Given the COVID-19 outbreak, the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit today seeking to make absentee mail-in balloting available to all eligible voters in Missouri. The case was filed on behalf of the NAACP of Missouri, the League of Women Voters of Missouri, and several individuals.

Given the COVID-19 outbreak, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Missouri, and Missouri Voter Protection Coalition filed a lawsuit today seeking to make absentee mail-in balloting available to all eligible voters in Missouri.

The case was filed on behalf of the NAACP of Missouri, the League of Women Voters of Missouri, and several individuals.

Requiring voters to be physically present at their traditional polling places during the COVID-19 pandemic — where they will be congregating and waiting in line with others in order to vote — is contrary to the advice of public health experts and puts people’s health at risk.

Most states allow any eligible voter to cast an absentee ballot. Missouri, however, requires voters to provide an excuse in order to vote absentee. One of the allowable reasons is “incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability.” These absentee ballots also do not require a notary seal.

With at least three elections in the upcoming months (June, August, and November), the lawsuit seeks a ruling from the court clarifying that all eligible voters who are confining themselves to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19 may invoke the confinement-due-to-illness reason for absentee voting in order to prevent large-scale disenfranchisement and to secure public health.

The lawsuit charges that refusing to allow no-excuse absentee voting  — or in the alternative, refusing to allow voters who are confining themselves to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19 to vote absentee — is a violation of the right to vote under the Missouri Constitution and the state’s voting laws.

Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said: “No one should be forced to choose between staying safe and voting. Expanding absentee ballot access to all registered voters during the pandemic is a common-sense solution that protects people’s health and their right to vote.”

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