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Voter advocates file lawsuit over new Mississippi law

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Mikara Stewart, 5, looks around a voting privacy kiosk while her grandmother, Doris Thomas, obscured, votes in Precinct 36 after standing in line for almost two hours in Jackson, Miss., on Nov. 3, 2020.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Multiple voting rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit against Mississippi over a new voting law.

Lacey Alexander

Voter advocates file lawsuit over new Mississippi law


The American Civil Liberties Union announced yesterday that they have joined a collection of advocacy groups across the state to challenge Senate Bill 2358. They join the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Mississippi Center for Justice, ACLU-MS and Disability Rights Mississippi (DRMS). The plaintiffs are listed as DRMS, the League of Women Voters of Mississippi, and three Mississippi voters.

In a Tweet announcing the suit, the ACLU referred to SB 2358 an “anti-voter bill.”

The bill was signed by the governor this year and blocks anyone from assisting a Mississippi voter with their ballot unless they are: 

  • An election official
  • A postal worker
  • A family member or caregiver

The ACLU released a statement this week that says the term "caregiver" is not adequately defined, meaning that nursing home attendants and other healthcare institution workers could be liable should they aid patients with voting.

Author of the bill, state Senator Jeff Tate, claims it would prevent "ballot harvesting."

Ahmed Soussi is a staff attorney on voting rights at the Southern Poverty Law Center. He says this law is in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

“Federal law, specifically section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, guarantees that it's the voter's choice who can assist them.” he says. “if the voter wants to choose a neighbor, someone who isn't a family member, a household member, even if it's one of an organization that goes out to assist, that's their choice.”

Florida and Georgia have also recently passed controversial voting laws in the last few years, including one that prohibits giving out food or water to people waiting in line to vote.

Soussi says SB 2358 and many similar laws being passed across the country are designed to make it harder to vote. As a result, he says it’s causing more people not to vote at all.

“Our system already has such a high standard that people have to go through just to, you know, actually register and then to go and vote.” he says. “All these barriers that are being put up are making people not go to the polls.”

Soussi's team hopes to have a hearing scheduled before the law takes effect on July 1st.