The Supreme Court has upheld the requirement for witness signatures to be on mail-in ballots in South Carolina, overturning lower court rulings.

Democrats Claim Witness Signatures “Risky” During Pandemic

South Carolina had previously had the requirement for witness signatures for all mail-in and absentee ballots. The signatures are meant to combat voter fraud, ensuring at least one other, trackable person has signed off that the ballot is legitimate.

However, lower courts had ruled that the requirement was a “risky imposition” during the current coronavirus pandemic, USA Today reported.

Republican legislators had urged the Supreme Court to overturn these rulings.

“Each passing day increases the risk that ballots will be returned that, in mistaken reliance on the district court’s injunction, do not comply with the witness requirement,” one Republican official argued.

South Carolina Democrats instead insisted the Supreme Court stick by the intial ruling of the lower courts, arguing that “the witness requirement increases the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission and unconstitutionally burdens the right to vote.”

Democrats also argued that ruling in favor of witness signaturies would put a “burden” on black voters, “whose communities have been hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19.”

Temporary SCOTUS Ruling Keeps Signatures in SC, For Now

While the case continues through the court, an initial ruling has been granted by the Supreme Court to ensure that witness signatures will be required on all ballots.

However, any ballots received in the next two days with no signature must be counted. Conservative justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, have said that they would not have included this concession.


The ruling follows an upholding of Alabama’s witness signature rules in July, of which the votes fell along conservative and liberal lines. However, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in August against similar rules in Rhode Island.

The vote breakdown for this specific ruling is not available, as it is considered to be an emergency ruling while the case continues.

The Importance Of Witness Signatures

Witness signatures are one of the ways in which states can combat the scourge of electoral fraud. As I have reported previously, voters are extremely concerned about the security of their ballots this election, especially with recently reported mishaps.

In New York City last month, voters received mail-in ballots with the incorrect name and address attached, something that could easily result in the ballot being invalidated if cast with the incorrect information.

While in Pennsylvania, seven military ballots cast for President Trump were found discarded by officials in Luzerne County. And in New Jersey, 1600 ballots from a primary election this year were found in a bin, uncounted, months later.

The Supreme Court may continue to rule on these ballots way after the election, with a strong possibility that results may be challenged across the country this electoral cycle.

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