A Washington, D.C.-based civil rights organization is suing Mississippi state election officials in preparation for Tuesday’s Senate election, claiming voting procedures relating to absentee ballots “threaten to disenfranchise honest, eligible voters.”
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights filed a lawsuit earlier in November in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Mississippi. The suit, filed on behalf of Mississippi residents, alleges that the process to obtain an absentee ballot is “onerous and costly” and that the timeframe to submit absentee ballots is too short. Therefore claiming Mississippi’s current absentee voting requirements violates both the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution.
“This burdensome process is difficult to navigate in the best of circumstances,” the filing reads. “When compounding circumstances — such as an inability to pay for or find notary services, or a delay in postal delivery — add further complications, it becomes impossible.” (RELATED: Leading Up To The Mississippi Runoff, Democrats Make It All About Racial Identity)
While the lawsuit further alleges that none of the three plaintiffs had received their ballots for the U.S. Senate runoff election, Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann told The Associated Press that Mississippi’s election management computer shows that ballots for two of the plaintiffs were downloaded on Nov. 17, the first day election officials were able to mail them out. It is unclear what happened to the ballots after they were downloaded.
Mississippians will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote in the runoff election between Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democratic challenger Mike Espy.
The race will be historic for Mississippi regardless of who wins — a Democratic win means Espy would be the state’s first black senator since the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. Conversely, Hyde-Smith would be the state’s first female elected to the U.S. Senate. Hyde-Smith was appointed to the seat in 2018 after former GOP Sen. Thad Cochran resigned.
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