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Groups sue over witness requirement for absentee ballots

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MADISON (WKOW) – Concern over a requirement that absentee ballots must have a witness signature has prompted a lawsuit to overturn the requirement.

The Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and four registered Wisconsin voters filed the lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin seeking to protect the rights of self-quarantining voters who cannot obtain a witness signature on their mail-in ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit alleges that due to the severe health threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many Wisconsin voters will be forced to vote by mail-in absentee ballot, according to a news release.

Because the state requires each voter to secure a witness signature, it will prevent certain eligible voters who live alone or without an adult U.S. citizen in the household from casting a vote, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs allege that this constitutes an undue burden on the right to vote not justified by any legitimate or important government interest in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

They are asking the Court to issue an order that would prevent the State of Wisconsin from rejecting and/or refusing to process and count absentee mail-in ballots that lack a witness signature during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, The Republican National Committee and the state Republican Party are asking a federal judge to let them officially oppose a lawsuit brought by Democrats seeking to ease voting regulations for Wisconsin's spring election because of the coronavirus.

Democrats filed the lawsuit last week.

According to the Associated Press, the Republicans have asked U.S. District Judge William Conley to let them join the lawsuit, arguing they should be allowed to protect their constituents from last-minute changes to voting laws and procedures. 

Dan Plutchak

Social Media and Digital Content Manager, 27 News

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