Mississippi leaders appeal absentee vote ruling

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A decision on expanding absentee voting in Mississippi is heading back into the courts after an appeal by Secretary of State Michael Watson and Attorney General Lynn Fitch.

Last week, a Hinds County Chancery Court judge ruled that people at high risk from COVID-19 could request an absentee ballot. Now, Watson and Fitch are appealing to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

According to the appeal, any voter who has a pre-existing condition that is not itself a ‘physical disability’ cannot satisfy the statue, no matter if the voter believes the virus might make voting in-person dangerous.

The legal director of ACLU Mississippi said the Secretary of State’s appeal was expected and that it is still pushing for absentee voting across the board.

“If you’re following public health guidance by the Mississippi Department of Health or the CDC, to stay at home in order to take the necessary precautions to prevent you or your friends or family from contracting COVID, then you should also be able to vote absentee under the statute that was passed this summer by legislature,” expressed Joshua Tom of ACLU Mississippi.

The Secretary of State’s Office said it can’t comment due to pending litigation.

The appeal notes the Secretary’s office is spearheading plans, consistent with CDC guidelines and other public health agencies suggestions, to provide a safe voting environment at polling places including personal protective equipment for all poll workers, additional curbside voting and mask recommendations for voters.

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