Voting Rights Advocates Sue to Protect the Right to Vote of Missourians in the November 2020 Election

Challenge seeks to streamline processes absentee and mail in ballots and ensure counting of ballots cast by valid voters.  

ST. LOUIS, MO—Today, the Organization for Black Struggle, Missouri Faith Voices, the St. Louis and Greater Kansas City Chapters of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and the National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis Section filed[1] a federal lawsuit against Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Missouri’s 116 local election authorities alleging that the state’s absentee and mail voting systems place unlawful restrictions on Missourians’ right to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Dēmos, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition jointly represent the Plaintiffs. 

In the midst of a global pandemic when more people than ever are casting a ballot outside of their Election Day polling place, Missouri has constructed barriers to the ability of people to request and cast an absentee or mail ballot, and then have that ballot counted. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western Division in Missouri, seeks relief for aspects of Missouri’s absentee and mail-ballot provisions, specifically differing rules for requesting and returning mail-in ballots compared to absentee ballots; and rejection of absentee and mail-in ballots for minor deficiencies in ballot envelope forms, without consistent notice and cure guarantees for voters. 

In June 2020, Missouri, which only allowed people to cast an absentee ballot if they could proffer one of a limited number of excuses, temporarily extended opportunities to vote absentee, and also created a new category of remote voting (referred to in the state as “mail-in voting”) that is open to all registered Missourians in 2020 due to the pandemic. The law restricts how mail-in ballots may be requested and returned that do not exist for absentee ballots, increasing the risk that people who vote a mail ballot will be disenfranchised this November, and fails to provide basic procedural safeguards to prevent rejection of mail and absentee ballots.  

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