Federal District Court in South Carolina Holds It Unconstitutional to Apply Witness Requirement to Absentee Ballots for June Primary in Light of COVID; Rejects Motion to Extend Deadline for Receipt of Absentee Ballots Postmarked by Election Day

You can find the district court’s opinion at this link. On the witness requirement, the district court found that South Carolina does not use the witness requirement to ferret out voter fraud and in any case there is virtually nothing in the record demonstrating a problem with voter fraud in the state.

In rejecting an argument for extending the deadline for receipt of completed absentee ballots, the court noted the large window of time for plaintiffs to request absentee ballots, suggesting that any voter waiting until the last day allowed by the statute were being dilatory.

This opinion is the latest in which courts have used Anderson-Burdick balancing in the context of the pandemic to rule that ordinary burdens on voters like the witness requirement can become severe in the context of the pandemic. I write about this development in Part II of my current draft, Three Pathologies of American Voting Rights Illuminated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, and How to Treat and Cure Them.

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