The state Supreme Court is considering a lawsuit designed to let all Missouri voters cast a vote by mail this year without a notarized signature. Under a bill signed into law this month by Gov. Mike Parson, Missouri voters can vote absentee during this year’s August and November elections only, but some are required to get a notary.
Those who have contracted or are at-risk of getting COVID-19 can cast an absentee ballot without notarization. All other voters can mail in their ballot without an excuse, but they must submit a notarized statement.
During oral arguments Tuesday, Sophia Lin Lakin, who is representing the NAACP, says requiring some voters to get a notary could put their health and the health of others at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
“SB 631 still requires voters whom the Legislature did not deem at-risk for covid or those caring for others who may be at risk, to comply with the notary requirement in order to vote by mail,” she says.
Assistant Missouri Attorney General D. John Sauer fired back.
“A bad flu season does involve tens of thousands of deaths nationwide. But nobody has ever contended that fear of contracting or spreading the flu is a statutory ground to cast an absentee ballot in Missouri,” says Sauer.
Lakin says the state already allows voters to cast an absentee ballot without a notary for multiple reasons.
“The sky hasn’t fallen and there is no indication that it would so here either,” she says.
The NAACP appealed its case to the high court after Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetum dismissed the case in May. In Beetum’s decision, he said the group wants widespread absentee voting for all future elections regardless of whether COVID-19 is still around.
The court could rule at any time. Beginning June 23, local election officials are scheduled to send absentee ballots for the August primary election.
To view the arguments, click here.
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