The Supreme Court in a 5-4 move Thursday blocked a lower court’s injunction against some of Alabama’s absentee voting requirements.
Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by the high court’s conservative wing, lifted a district court’s injunction that relaxed photo ID and witness signature requirements for absentee voters in Alabama concerned about COVID-19 in three counties.
The four Democratic-appointed justices would have allowed the lower court order to stand.
The state appealed to the high court to lift the injunction, noting the last-minute election law changes ahead of the July 14 run-off elections, and the different rules between counties would cause chaos.
Alabama gave the voters months to copy their IDs and have a notary public or two witnesses watch them sign their ballots, but the lower court sided with the voters who said the requirements could cause them to “risk death.”
“Of course, neither the plaintiffs nor the courts below quantified the risk to plaintiffs or explained why it was unavoidable. Nor could they, because no voter need ‘risk death’ when she can, for example, simply meet two masked neighbors outside for a few moments while they watch each other, from several yards away, sign an absentee ballot,” wrote Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill in his petition to the high court.
“Yet here we are, where such lack of imagination is enough to grant a federal court the power to rewrite State election law in the middle of an election,” he added.