On April 22, 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of South Carolina, and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a federal lawsuit over South Carolinas failure to take action to ensure all eligible voters can vote by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic — even for its fast-approaching June 9 statewide primary elections. The lawsuit challenges a state requirement that forces people who vote absentee to have a third-party witness signature on their ballot envelope, as well as an “excuse” requirement that fails to provide an accommodation to allow all eligible voters to vote absentee during the pandemic. Even if voters are allowed to vote absentee “because of injury or illness” that keeps them at home, election officials have rejected the view that this currently “include[s] self-isolating due to a pandemic.”

Requiring voters to be physically present at their traditional polling places during the COVID-19 outbreak — where they will be congregating and waiting in line with others in order to vote — is contrary to the advice of public health experts. In addition, in the midst of a pandemic, the witness requirement also puts peoples health at risk. 


Susan K. Dunn, Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, Dale E. Ho, Sophia Lin Lakin, Davin M. Rosborough, Theresa J. Lee, Brian Hauss, Deuel Ross

Date filed

April 22, 2020


United States District Court, District of South Carolina, Columbia Division


J. Michelle Childs



Case number