WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court upheld a provision in South Carolina that votes by mail must have a witness.
Citing the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats had tried to get the provision put on hold. But Republicans advocated for the provision as deterring fraud. Some experts are looking to this case to see how the Supreme Court may rule on future vote by mail issues that could arise in November.
“This sends a strong signal that the Supreme Court is going to be wary of federal court ordered changes close to the election, even those done to deal with burdens on voters created by the pandemic (like the need to get witness signatures),” Rick Hasen, a noted election law expert at the University of California-Irvine, wrote about the ruling.
While the high court reinstated the rule, voters have already begun to return ballots. According to the state’s election board, more than 200,000 absentee ballots have been mailed and 18,000 returned.
The court claimed that any ballots cast on Monday evening before the court’s action “and collected within two days of this order could not be disqualified for failing to comply with the witness requirement.”
The decision was cheered by State Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick.
Approximately a dozen states that require mail-in ballot envelopes to be signed by one or more witnesses or a notary.