Democrats file federal lawsuit in Columbia due to COVID-19 pandemic

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Democrats filed a “four pillars” suit in a U.S. Federal Court in Columbia on Saturday, May 2.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic National Committee, and South Carolina Democratic Party are seeking to remove four restrictive and unconstitutional barriers to accessing an absentee mail-in ballot.

The barriers they seek to remove include:

  • Eliminating the “Witness Requirement” which would force voters to who live alone to cease social distancing practices in order to find someone else to validate their secure ballot
  • Removing the “Postage Tax” which requires voters to secure and append their own postage to an absentee mail-in ballot. At any time, requiring voters to pay to vote is unconstitutional. In the wake of an unprecedented health crisis, it additionally would require voters to discontinue social distancing practices;
  • Addressing the “Election Day Cut-off” in a manner that recognizes that the postal service is operating under taxing demands amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While voters may mail their ballots in time for the cut-off, the postal service may not receive them ‘on time’ to count the votes of  South Carolinians, rendering them voiceless in this process;
  • Removing the “Absentee Assistance Ban” which makes it a criminal felony for a candidate or campaign staffer to assist voters with returning their ballot. This unmerited rule makes it harder for South Carolinians to vote absentee

They believe that without implementing protections that open access to using an absentee mail-in ballot, the current pandemic could force voters to choose between their health and safety or participating in democracy. 

The suit today is following a suit in April that was seeking to expand absentee voting access ahead of the South Carolina primary election on June 9, 2020 and the November general election.

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