Mississippi. (Ben Caxton) —The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling Friday that would have allowed those most vulnerable to COVID-19 to cast ballots using absentee voting.
On Sept. 2, Judge Denise Owens of the Hinds County Chancery Court ruled that Mississippi law’s exception for temporary disabilities “permits any voter with pre-existing conditions that cause COVID-19 to present a greater risk of severe illness or death to vote by absentee ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A majority of the higher court justices disagreed, saying, “Having a preexisting condition that puts a voter at a higher risk does not automatically create a temporary disability for absentee-voting purposes.”
Unlike many other states, Mississippi does not allow early voting. The state allows absentee ballots but only under a limited set of circumstances. Voters 65 or older or those permanently disabled can use absentee ballots, as are those who are out of town on Election Day or who must work during the hours polling places are open.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mississippi Legislature added some leniency to the rules, allowing those under “a physician-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19” or a person who is “caring for a dependent that is under a physician-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19” to vote by absentee ballot. Those provisions expire at the end of 2020.
Read the MIssissippi Supreme Court decision