Authored by Joe Gomez via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Newly passed legislation that would ban ballot harvesting in Mississippi is being challenged in court by several civil rights organizations that claim it would harm minority voters and those with disabilities.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Mississippi Center for Justice, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU-MS, and Disability Rights Mississippi (DRMS) filed a federal lawsuit challenging S.B. 2358, legislation which would prevent a third party from collecting an absentee ballot from a voter and delivering it to a polling place. It’s due to take effect on July 1.
“Across the country, we’ve seen how bad actors have used ballot harvesting to take advantage of elderly and vulnerable voters in other states—all so they can try to circumvent our democratic process and cut you out of it. But here in Mississippi, we’re just not going to let that happen. Here, we will make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. I was proud to sign Senate Bill 2358,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves told The Epoch Times.
The governor’s office describes ballot harvesting as a process where a political operative collects and handles massive amounts of absentee ballots and maintains the practice could take advantage of elderly and vulnerable voters.
“National Democrats are pushing for a federal takeover of elections and are advocating to push ballot harvesting on states all across the U.S. This is nothing more than a blatant political power grab, and we must continue standing up to them,” said Reeves.
Meanwhile, plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue the new law would do the opposite by disenfranchising and preventing minorities or those with disabilities from voting.
“Anti-voter politicians are trying to deny a fair voice in government to Mississippians with disabilities while criminalizing their friends and neighbors who want to help them deliver absentee ballots,” said Ahmed Soussi, staff attorney for voting rights with the SPLC. “This bill would diminish American democracy by punishing volunteers who facilitate voting for historically discriminated against communities.”
Voting rights activists have described the terms “ballot harvesting” or “voter harvesting” as essentially pejoratives for “voting.”
The Democratic Governors Association (DGA), which has been trying to prevent Reeves from being reelected, has also voiced their concern over the new law, using it as political ammunition in the group’s attempt to turn Mississippi blue by electing Democrat Brandon Presley to the governor’s office instead.
“Tate Reeves is trying to rip power away from everyday Mississippi voters because he’s scared of being held accountable for his failures and corruption,” DGA Communications Director Sam Newton told The Epoch Times. “In fact, a new poll this week showed that over 20 percent of Mississippi GOP voters are crossing party lines to support Brandon Presley, who is launching a ‘war on corruption’ and putting working people first with plans to axe the food tax, slash car tag fees in half and expand Medicaid to save rural hospitals.”
Reeves has denied any allegations of corruption or misconduct.
Ballot Harvesting Bans in Other States
Mississippi is not the only state to pass a law banning ballot harvesting.
Over 30 other states have placed restrictions or bans on the practice of third-party ballot collections and some have even made it a jailable offense.
Read more here...