Federal judge says you won’t need a witness signature for your absentee ballot this November

Updated: Sep. 21, 2020 at 9:20 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Ernestine Moore, like many other South Carolina voters, will be casting her absentee ballot by mail for the 2020 November General Election.

Moore lives alone and is at high-risk for complications from COVID-19. She is also a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit regarding voting during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Carolina.

“We are not going to let coronavirus stop us from voting,” Moore said. Last week, Moore and others got some good news.

For the General Election in November, South Carolinians voting absentee by mail won’t need a witness signature on their ballot.

US District Court Judge Michelle Childs struck down the requirement just a few days after lawmakers passed a bill that expanded absentee voting because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In her 71 page order, she wrote, “adherence to the Witness Requirement in November would only increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 for members of the public with underlying medical conditions, the disabled, and racial and ethnic minorities.”

Judge Childs also struck down the requirement for the June primaries.

Moore’s son is Representative J.A. Moore (D-Berkeley). He and other Democratic House members tried to remove the witness signature requirement in the bill last week. “Here I am an elected official and I wasn’t able to get it done. But my momma was able to get it done. It goes to show you the greatness of this country and state that the people can really make a difference.”

The judge’s decision could still be appealed. Republican lawmakers opted to keep the witness signature requirement in the law because they said they believe this helps prevent voter fraud. Law enforcement said they are investigating possible cases of voter fraud during the June primaries.

We reached out to leadership at the State House, they were unable to provide a statement at this time.

Applications for absentee by mail ballots must be received by October 24th.

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