Supreme Court Restores Witness Requirement for South Carolina Absentee Ballots

October 6, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Within hours of the start of its new term on Monday, the Supreme Court revived a South Carolina law that requires absentee ballots to be returned accompanied by a witness’s signature.

Lower courts had set aside the law, holding it interfered with the right to vote during a pandemic.

Though the court as a whole did not explain its rationale for upholding the law, in a concurring opinion Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the conservative majority was correct because state election laws should not be second-guessed by federal judges.

He also noted the Supreme Court has typically refrained from ordering changes to voting procedures so close to an election.

The justices did carve out exceptions to the witness requirements, applying it to ballots cast before they rendered their decision and those received by election officials within two days of the justices’ order.

But Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr. and Neil Gorsuch said they would have reinstated the requirement for all ballots.

The underlying lawsuit was filed by Democratic groups and several South Carolina voters. On the other side were state officials and the South Carolina Republican party, who argued the witness requirement was a not an undue burden and that the practice helped prevent fraud.

U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs disagreed, finding the requirement served no useful purpose.

“The fact the witness requirement may provide a lead to investigate absentee fraud is undercut by an utter dearth of absentee fraud,” Childs noted.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals initially overruled the judge, but the full Appeals court reinstated Childs’ injunction.

State officials then appealed to the Supreme Court.

In The News

Health

Voting

State News

New Caucus Aims to Bring Main Street Priorities to Capitol Hill
Congress
New Caucus Aims to Bring Main Street Priorities to Capitol Hill
April 22, 2021
by TWN Staff

Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that the priorities and concerns of cities and counties across America are heard on Capitol Hill. The bipartisan Congressional Caucus of Former Local Elected Officials was formed... Read More

35 States at Extreme Risk of Partisan Gerrymandering
In The States
35 States at Extreme Risk of Partisan Gerrymandering
April 16, 2021
by TWN Staff

Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs organization. The Gerrymandering Threat Index rates all 50 states, and its authors argue their findings underscore the urgent need to pass the redistricting reforms within the... Read More

Plan Afoot to Extend PPP Deadline to May 31
In The News
Plan Afoot to Extend PPP Deadline to May 31

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House and the Senate and will likely be voted on before lawmakers head back to their districts at the end of the month. The proposal to extend... Read More

Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Date Announced
District of Columbia
Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Date Announced
March 2, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms ringing the Tidal Basin in Washington is currently expected to occur April 2-5.  That means the most vivid of blooms... Read More

Once the Mainstream Model, Michigan GOP Embraces Right Wing
In The States
Once the Mainstream Model, Michigan GOP Embraces Right Wing

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Josh Venable, a longtime Michigan GOP operative and chief of staff to former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, can trace the arc of the state's Republican Party clearly."This was the state where to be Republican was defined by Gerald Ford and George... Read More

What NY Prosecutors Could Learn from Trump's Tax Records
In The States
What NY Prosecutors Could Learn from Trump's Tax Records

NEW YORK (AP) — Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. fought for a year and a half to get access to former President Donald Trump's tax records.Now, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, he will soon have them. But what will that mean for... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top