The Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday evening that voters, including those with impaired mobility or vulnerable to coronavirus, cannot cast their ballot curbside in Alabama. The state does not require voters to wear masks at the polls.
The case was decided by a 5-3 margin. Republican Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill challenged a ruling from September that determined curbside voting was permitted, according to Fox News.
Jefferson and Montgomery counties planned to allow curbside voting for vulnerable voters since the state does not require face masks at polling locations. Merrill barred the practice in May, prompting several lawsuits, according to UPI.
Federal Judge Abdul K. Kallon ruled in September that the ban violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by forcing vulnerable voters to vote in person and ruled that voters could hand off their ballots to an election worker outside a polling location. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Kallon’s ruling, prompting the state to appeal to the Supreme Court, according to The New York Times.
Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan dissented. (RELATED: Appeals Court Rules North Carolina Absentee Ballots Postmarked By Nov 3 Are Valid If They Arrive Before Nov 12)
“If those vulnerable voters wish to vote in person, they must wait inside, for as long as it takes, in a crowd of fellow voters whom Alabama does not require to wear face coverings,” Sotomayor wrote. “The secretary does not meaningfully dispute that the plaintiffs have disabilities, that COVID-19 is disproportionately likely to be fatal to these plaintiffs, and that traditional in-person voting will meaningfully increase their risk of exposure.”
Sotomayor quoted testimony from Howard Porter Jr., a black man in his seventies who has asthma and Parkinson’s disease and is one of the plaintiffs in the case.
“‘So many of my [ancestors] died to vote. And while I don’t mind dying to vote, I think we’re past that – we’re past that time,'” he said.
Sotomayor noted other counties agreed to help “vulnerable voters” like Mr. Porter.
“This Court should not stand in their way,” she reportedly wrote.