The American Civil Liberties Union, Campaign Legal Center, and law firm Fried Frank filed a federal lawsuit today challenging Rhode Island’s witness/notary requirements for voting by mail throughout the 2020 elections.
The case was filed on behalf of voting rights advocacy groups — Common Cause Rhode Island and the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island — and 3 Rhode Islanders with significant medical vulnerabilities that place them at risk.
“The pandemic has shone a bright light on the barriers facing our most vulnerable voters in Rhode Island. Without relief from onerous laws like our witness requirement, these voters will be disenfranchised,” said Jane Koster, president of the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island.
"Rhode Island requires mail voters to have their mail-in ballot envelopes signed by either two lay witnesses or one notary. Requiring a witness or notary for mail voting places Rhode Island in a minority of states. Requiring more than one witness places Rhode Island among an even smaller minority of states. While this requirement creates a burden under any circumstances, due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) pandemic, Rhode Island’s ballot witnessing requirements are not only needless and difficult, they are dangerous." https://campaignlegal.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/1.complaint.pdf