Missouri Supreme Court: There is no constitutional right to absentee or mail-in voting

Presidential Election 2020

The Missouri Supreme Court rejected the arguments of voting rights groups that voters who are afraid of contracting COVID-19 at the polls should not have to get a notary public to sign their mail-in ballots. The Missouri Conference of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and two citizens appealed that “The trial court erroneously upheld a notarization requirement that imposes myriad burdens on Missouri citizens seeking to vote during a global pandemic.” Full story on arguments in this case.

A majority of the judges concurred that there is no constitutional right to absentee or mail-in voting and that the state law allowing voters who expect to be confined “due to illness” to cast an absentee ballot without notarization extends only to those who are ill.  The opinion also says the state had actually extended voting options during the pandemic.

Read the official decision here.

The ACLU of Missouri, which assisted in arguing the case before the state’s high court, issued this statement after the ruling:

Today’s mixed opinions from the Missouri Supreme Court make clear what we have said from the start: Missouri voters get to decide for themselves whether they are eligible to vote absentee without a notary during COVID-19. It is reasonable for any voter to expect now that she might have to stay away from the polls on election day because she will have contracted or been exposed to the virus. That is enough to apply for an absentee ballot under the “confinement-due-to-illness” provision.