“Mass. Top Court Loosens Ballot Signature Rules Due To Virus”

Law 360:

Political candidates seeking to get on to the Sept. 1 primary ballot in Massachusetts will only need to collect half the number of signatures usually required and can now use some electronic means to gather names, according to a decision Friday from the state’s high court.

In its opinion easing ballot access restrictions, the Supreme Judicial Court also extended the filing deadlines for district and county races from Feb. 28 to May 5 and June 5, respectively, aligning the due dates for signatures with those of federal and statewide offices.

The opinion — written by Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and released less than 24 hours after oral arguments in the case — said the spread of the novel coronavirus has transformed the state’s long-standing policy on signatures into an “unconstitutionally severe burden” on candidates’ fundamental rights.

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