Return to News Mar 07, 2024

Vet Voice Foundation, Mississippi Alliance for Retired Americans Defend Against Lawsuit Threatening to Disenfranchise Mississippi Voters

GULFPORT, MS - On March 4, the Vet Voice Foundation and the Mississippi Alliance for Retired Americans were granted intervention in a dangerous new lawsuit in which the Republican National Committee and others seek a court order that would invalidate a Mississippi law that ensures that absentee voters who put their ballots in the mail by election day are not disenfranchised by mail delays out of their control. The law was passed by the Mississippi Legislature just four years ago in 2020 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The lawsuit threatens to roll back that sensible, bipartisan effort and disenfranchise lawful, qualified voters who timely voted their ballots.

In passing the law, Mississippi followed the lead of 18 other states and several U.S. territories which allow for the counting of ballots cast by election day and received by mail shortly thereafter. These types of ballot receipt deadlines are particularly crucial for the enfranchisement of voters who must rely on mail-in voting to cast their ballots—including members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families and voters with disabilities or other personal circumstances that can make voting in person difficult or even impossible. Because the voters that they serve are among those most likely to have their ballots rejected if the lawsuit is successful, Vet Voice and the Mississippi Alliance have intervened to defend the law. They are represented by Elias Law Group and the Mississippi Center for Justice in this litigation.

“The simple fact is that the Mississippi Legislature – Democrats and Republicans together – got it right when they allowed ballots that were cast on time, via mail, to be counted if the ballots were a few days late through no fault of the voter. If you are deployed overseas, fighting for America, sometimes the mail is a little late. Sometimes, if you’re a veteran who was wounded in combat, or an elderly veteran who served decades ago, mail-in voting is the only way you can cast a ballot. If one of our wounded warriors or older veterans cast a ballot on time, but the mail is slow, that voter shouldn’t be disenfranchised. These attacks on voting must end, and we’re hopeful the court will do just that, and help our servicemembers and veterans continue to vote by mail, just as they have done for generations,” said Janessa Goldbeck, Chief Executive Officer at Vet Voice Foundation.

“Seniors take the right to vote seriously and are the most likely to cast their vote by mail. This lawsuit is a blatant attempt to disenfranchise older voters. Our legislature got it right when they said that no voter should have their ballot thrown out simply because of delays in the mail,” said James Sims, President of the Mississippi Alliance for Retired Americans. “The Mississippi Alliance is proud to defend the constitutional right of older Mississippians to cast a ballot that will actually be counted.”

“Eligible voters who meet the deadline to cast their ballot should never be disenfranchised due to postal service delays that are outside their control. Elias Law Group is proud to work with the Mississippi Center for Justice to represent the Vet Voice Foundation and the Mississippi Alliance for Retired Americans to defend the ballot receipt deadline,” said Elias Law Group partner Elisabeth Frost.

“Senior citizens, people with disabilities, and members of the Armed Forces often must vote by mail.  But mail delivery times are unpredictable, and Mississippi’s absentee ballot process is time-consuming.  Mississippi law quite wisely allows a few extra days for the ballot to arrive as long as it is postmarked by election day. These voters have acted responsibly and their votes should continue to be counted,” said Rob McDuff, Director of Impact Litigation at the Mississippi Center for Justice.