SCOTUS reinstates witness signature requirement for SC absentee ballots

South Carolina News

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCBD) – The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Monday evening essentially overturned a lower court ruling, which waived the witness signature requirement for absentee ballots in the state of South Carolina.

The conflict over whether to require a signature on absentee ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to the Supreme Court following a back and forth between the US District Court for the State of South Carolina and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The US District Court ruled that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the witness signature requirement should be waived for the upcoming General Election.

On September 24, the District Court’s decision was put on hold by members of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, effectively reinstating the witness signature requirement.

Days later, the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the previous ruling, once again eliminating the witness signature requirement.

At this point, South Carolina Republicans filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, requesting a stay of the District Court’s ruling, “pending disposition of the appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is timely sought.”

A writ of certiorari is essentially a request for the Supreme Court to review the judgement of a lower court.

While the ruling by SCOTUS does not make a decision on whether or not the witness signature should or should not be required, it does give the power to the state election officials, who wish to maintain the witness signature requirement.

In their appeal for the stay, the plaintiffs insisted that “a stay would reinstate, not change, the status quo is South Carolina.”

SCOTUS said that the decision to grant the stay was in line with standard deference to state election officials.

However, as absentee voting in South Carolina began on Monday before the decision was made, the justices included a provision stating that “any ballots cast before this stay issues and received within two days of this order may not be rejected for failing to comply with the witness requirement.”

This story is breaking. We will provide updates as more details become available.

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