A national civil rights group has filed a lawsuit against state officials over Mississippi’s absentee voting procedures, which “threaten to disenfranchise honest, eligible voters,” the suit alleges. The suit, filed last week by the Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in the state’s Southern District, seeks emergency relief on behalf of three Mississippi residents who will be away from home during Tuesday’s runoff election and intend to vote absentee instead. None of the three had received their requested ballots as of Nov. 20, stated the suit, which was also filed on behalf of the NAACP’s Mississippi chapter. But according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, computer records show that county officials downloaded ballots for two of the plaintiffs, William Sewell and Julianne Huber, on Nov. 17, the first day that those ballots could have been mailed out, the Associated Press reported.
Current state law requires people applying for absentee ballots to have those applications notarized before mailing them to the circuit clerk. The ballot itself must also be notarized before it is mailed.
The circuit clerk’s office must receive absentee ballots before 5 p.m. Monday, the day before Election Day itself — and a deadline that, for this year, has already passed.
“This burdensome process is difficult to navigate in the best of circumstances,” the Lawyers’ Committee said in the complaint. “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.”