Home - Breaking News, Events, Things-To-Do, Dining, Nightlife


Secretary of state moves to dismiss GOP lawsuit trying to limit mail-in absentee ballots 

The secretary of state’s office and two advocacy groups on Tuesday asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the state Republican and Libertarian parties seeking to limit the number of  mail-in absentee ballots during the upcoming presidential and congressional election.  

The Mississippi Alliance for Retired Americans and Vet Voice Foundation, two groups who intervened in the suit, and Secretary of State Michael Watson’s office argued in separate briefings that the federal litigation should be dismissed because the political parties lack legal standing to bring the suit.

“The Mississippi Statute does not harm the plaintiff individuals or political parties in any way,” Special Assistant Attorney General Rex Shannon III wrote on behalf of Watson’s office. “It does not conflict with laws that set the election day for federal offices. And it does not impair the plaintiffs’ rights to vote or to stand for office under the First and/or Fourteenth Amendments.” 

The litigation marks a peculiar scenario where the national and state Republican parties have filed suit over a law that passed a GOP-dominated Legislature and was signed into law by Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. 

Watson, a Republican, is the state’s chief elections administrator and is now tasked with fighting his own political party in court using attorneys from Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office.

The statute in question is a 2020 law requiring local election workers to count mail-in absentee ballots for up to five days after the election date. The Mississippi law currently permits election workers to count mail-in votes only if the ballots were postmarked by the election date.

Legislative leaders at the time pushed for the law because election officials worried they would have an influx of mail-in ballots to process during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national and state GOP and the state Libertarian Party argue that the federal judge presiding over the suit should bar election workers from counting mail-in absentee ballots after Election Day because only Congress gets to determine the procedures for federal elections. 

To support the Republican Party’s argument, Mississippi GOP Chairman Frank Bordeaux wrote in a signed declaration that the statute dilutes the weight of ballots cast on Election Day and harms conservative candidates running for office. 

“Mississippi’s mail-in deadline forces the MS GOP to divert resources and spend money on absentee-specific programs and post-election activities,” Bordeaux wrote. “The mail-in deadline effectively forces the MS GOP to run Election Day activities for an additional week after the national Election Day has passed.” 

The Democratic National Committee, Disability Rights Mississippi and the League of Women Voters of Mississippi attempted to intervene in the litigation, but U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. denied their request. 

Instead, the DNC and the two advocacy organizations filed a “ friend-of-the-court” brief also arguing the suit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs do not have legal standing. 

U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. ordered all of the parties to file all responses to the pending motions by April 9 and file responses to the replies by April 16. 

While the litigation is pending, the Republican-majority state Senate passed a bill to abolish the five-day window for processing the absentee ballots after Election Day, but it has not yet passed the GOP-controlled House. Senate Elections Chairman Jeremy England, the author of the bill, said the legislation was not a response to the federal litigation.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

Local Dining Stream

Things To Do

Related articles