A Mississippi law limits who can help mail-in voters. A federal court struck it down

A U.S. District Court in Mississippi has temporarily halted a new voting law that would have brought in restrictions on who can assist someone in voting by mail.

Context: The law, known as Senate Bill 2358, was planned to go into effect on July 1.
* This law would limit who could collect and transmit a mailed ballot.
* Mississippi’s absentee-by-mail voting program is currently for a limited number of voters, including those out of town on Election Day, those 65 or older, and those with a physical disability.

Details of the law: Under Senate Bill 2358, only selected individuals, such as election officials, postal workers, family members, or caregivers could assist these voters in returning their ballot.
* The law also stipulates new criminal penalties, with violations punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000.

Critics’ view: Advocates for voting and disability rights, who filed the lawsuit, argue the law breaches a federal protection that allows a voter to choose who assists them in voting.
* Southern Poverty Law Center staff attorney Ahmed Soussi stated that Mississippian voters can now continue to receive voting assistance without fear of prosecution.

Supporters’ stance: Supporters like Mississippi’s Republican Governor Tate Reeves believe the law is necessary to prevent ‘ballot harvesting’ or collecting and returning other people’s ballots, a practice they argue leads to vote stealing and fraud.

Court’s ruling: District Court Judge Henry Wingate disagreed with the necessity of the restrictions, noting the lack of evidence illustrating widespread ballot harvesting problems in Mississippi.
* This judgement applies to the upcoming general election in November and the state’s primary in August.

View original article on NPR

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