Republican National Committee v. Wetzel

Location: Mississippi
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: March 26, 2024

What's at Stake

In 2020, in a nearly unanimous bipartisan vote, Mississippi joined eighteen other states in accepting mail ballots postmarked by Election Day that arrived after Election Day (in Mississippi’s case, up to five business days). This lawsuit by partisan actors seeks to disenfranchise these voters who mail their ballot by Election Day but which, through no fault of their own, does not arrive until afterwards.

In Mississippi, this harm will fall disproportionately on voters with disabilities, older voters, and other communities that rely upon absentee voting. Twisting the words and meaning of Congress, the RNC argues that three federal laws that set a uniform election day for federal races mean that any ballots must be received by Election Day and not merely sent. If accepted, this radical argument would not only disenfranchise thousands upon thousands of voters in Mississippi and eighteen other states, but also upend election administration in every state as it would forbid counting even ballots received on Election Day after midnight of that day.

On January 26, 2024, the Republican National Committee, Mississippi Republican Party, and two individuals sued the Mississippi Secretary of State and several local election officials, seeking to overturn a four-year old Mississippi law that allows for people voting absentee to mail ballots up until Election Day and count those ballots so long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received within five business days after. Specifically, they argue that by accepting absentee ballots that cast on or before Election Day but received after, Mississippi is “holding voting open beyond the federal Election Day,” which they say “effectively extends Mississippi’s federal election past the Election Day established by Congress.

On February 21, 2024, the ACLU, ACLU of Mississippi, Dechert LLP, and Disability Rights Mississippi filed a motion to intervene in the case to defend Mississippi’s law on behalf of their clients, Disability Rights Mississippi and League of Women Voters of Mississippi. They did so to safeguard their members’ rights to vote and have that vote counted, and to protect their institutional interests in promoting democratic participation in Mississippi. The court denied intervention, but granted our clients leave to participate as amici in expedited summary judgment briefing.

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