Supreme Court Reinstates South Carolina Ballot Witness Requirement, Says It’s Up To State To Make Election Law Changes

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The Supreme Court ruled Monday to reinstate the witness signature requirement on South Carolina mail-in ballots.

Issued Monday evening, the Supreme Court invalidated a lower court ruling that originally suspended the witness requirement, according to Politico.

The Supreme Court Justices did not explain their decision for the temporary stay as the case proceeds, though Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing solely for himself, said he agreed with the decision because it was not up to the courts to second-guess lawmakers’ decision to retain the witness requirement.

“It follows that a State legislature’s decision either to keep or to make changes to election rules to address COVID-19 ordinarily ‘should not be subject to second-guessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary,’ which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people’.”

Kavanaugh also said that altering election rules this close to the election goes against precedent set by the Supreme Court.

South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick welcomed the decision.

“Despite the Democrats’ efforts to hijack a pandemic and use it to meddle with our election laws, they’ve lost,” McKissick said in an official statement. “We’re pleased the Supreme Court reinstated the witness signature requirement and recognized the importance in helping to prevent election fraud.”

“We were willing to go all the way to the highest court in the land, and it’s a great day for those who care about the security and integrity of our elections,” he continued.

Democrats tried to do away with the requirement due to the coronavirus pandemic, arguing it posed a risk to voters who were required to get someone to witness them swearing an oath on the return envelope that the ballot was indeed theirs and that they were eligible to vote. Witnesses were required to sign the envelope as well, according to the Associated Press (AP).

But Republicans argued that lack of witness signatures could lead to fraud, per the report.

While more than 18,000 ballots have already been returned out of more than 200,000 that were sent out, the court ruled “that any ballots cast before this stay issues and received within two days of this order may not be rejected for failing to comply with the witness requirement.”

Democrats had originally challenged the requirement months ago and a judge blocked the requirement before the June primary.

State lawmakers then made changes to the election law, like allowing voters to vote absentee in November, but left the witness requirement in place, according to the AP. (RELATED: South Carolina Ballots Found In Baltimore As Voter Fraud Concerns Grow)

U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs then put the witness requirement on hold, citing health concerns. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reinstated the requirement before the full court of appeals reversed the decision and once again put it on hold until the Supreme Court took it up, the AP reported.