The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s ruling to eliminate the state’s requirement for absentee ballots to be signed by a witness.
The court issued its ruling Monday in favor of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who filed the lawsuit in early September against the state, accusing its law of requiring voters who wish to cast absentee ballots by mail have their ballot envelopes signed by a notary, official or someone over the age of 18 to be unconstitutional amid the pandemic.
Pooja Chaudhuri, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said following the decision that they are happy the court ruled in their favor as “Alaska’s election officials failed to take common-sense steps to protect the fundamental right to vote.”
“No Alaska voter will have to sacrifice their health and well-being to cast their vote this November,” Chaudhuri said in a statement. “Today’s ruling is another victory in the fight against voter suppression efforts.”
The Alaska Supreme Court said in its ruling that a full opinion would follow.
The court’s decision follows Anchorage Superior Court Judge Dani Crosby ruling on Oct. 5 that the witness requirement for absentee ballots was unconstitutional as it “impermissibly burdens the right to vote” during the pandemic.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which filed the lawsuit with the Native American Rights Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, had argued the requirement would force those who live alone, are immunocompromised or have been self-isolating since the beginning of the pandemic to risk their health to vote.
“We’ll keep fighting coast to coast to protect voters from being disenfranchised amid the pandemic,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Right Under Law, said following the announcement of the decision on Twitter.
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