In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that it will not grant a stay in the case of RNC vs. Common Cause Rhode Island, which centered on whether two witnesses or a notary public must be present when a voter signs their absentee ballot. The court noted that state election officials support the decree and none have opposed it.
“Under these circumstances, the applicants lack a cognizable interest in the State’s ability to ‘enforce its duly enacted’ laws,” the court said in an order. “The status quo is one in which the challenged requirement has not been in effect, given the rules used in Rhode Island’s last election, and many Rhode Island voters may well hold that belief.”
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch all said they would have granted the stay.
The case involves several voting rights groups and Rhode Island officials. The RNC and the Republican Party of Rhode Island had asked for a decision before mail-in ballots are due to go out Aug. 12.
Laws dealing with absentee or other mail-in voting have been the focus of great debate heading into November’s election. Democrats have supported widespread voting by mail, claiming that it is the best way to protect people who do not want to expose themselves to coronavirus by voting in person.
Republicans have opposed this, arguing that voting by mail exposes the election to potential fraud, as has been the case in Paterson, N.J., or at the very least complications like what took place in a New York congressional primary where it took weeks to count the votes.
President Trump has said that he is in favor of absentee ballots, which requires individuals to request a ballot, but he opposes states automatically sending ballots to everyone in their voter rolls, as this may include people no longer eligible to vote. States including California and Massachusetts have passed laws to do just that.
Fox News’ Shannon Bream and Bill Mears contributed to this report.