Supreme Court: Reversal on vulnerable voters makes absentee balloting ruling unnecessary

The state Supreme Court has vacated a lower court’s temporary injunction allowing anyone fearful of contracting COVID-19 to cast absentee ballots after the state reversed itself to say it considers people with an underlying vulnerability to the virus — or those caring for someone who does — to be eligible to vote by mail.

State Election Coordinator Mark Goins told Associated Press reporter Jonathan Mattise in May that “in consultation with the Attorney General’s office the fear of getting ill does not fall under the definition of ill.”

But under questioning during oral arguments in the Supreme Court last week, Janet Kleinfelder of the AG’s office conceded that voters’ underlying conditions or of those living with them would be allowed to vote by mail.

“If the voter has made that decision, then yes, they may vote absentee,” Kleinfelter said.

Justice Cornelia Clark wrote in the majority opinion:

At oral argument before this Court, the State conceded that, under its interpretation […] persons who have underlying medical or health conditions which render them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 or at greater risk should they contract it (“persons with special vulnerability to COVID-19”), as well as those who are caretakers for persons with special vulnerability to COVID-19, already are eligible to vote absentee by mail. We hold that injunctive relief is not necessary with respect to such plaintiffs and persons. We instruct the State to ensure that appropriate guidance, consistent with the State’s acknowledged interpretation, is provided to Tennessee registered voters with respect to the eligibility of such persons to vote absentee by mail in advance of the November 2020 election.

The high court said the lower court erred in extending the order to people who have no specific vulnerability to COVID-19.

5 Responses to Supreme Court: Reversal on vulnerable voters makes absentee balloting ruling unnecessary

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    David Collins says:

    Hard to understand the reasoning on this one. Even people who may not have underlying conditions can contact the virus and ultimately die from it. While the odds are somewhat stacked against someone with underlying conditions as far as surviving the virus is concerned, dead is dead and the common thread is the virus. Unfortunately, the only remedy now for those who fear catching the virus would be a statutory change in the law made by the general assembly. Fat chance of that happening. I mean, even if all this had happened when they were in session, since there would be no fat cat lobbyist up there spending money on legislators to get them to vote for a change, such a bill wouldn’t have a snow balls chance in hell of passing.

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    James White says:

    This is a good decision. If not, then everyone will want to do mail-in during a regular flu season, or just about anything.

  • Avatar
    Taxpayer #314 says:

    James, Why would being able to vote by mail during a “regular flu season” be bad? Trump and Fox News has the public snowed with all this voting by mail NONSENSE. There is not one shred of any evidence of voter fraud with voting by mail. Anyone registered to vote in any state should be able to vote by mail for any reason, period! On the other hand…Tampering with the US Post Office’s ability to collect and count those votes, like Trump is doing, IS voter fraud.

  • Avatar
    Eddie White says:

    #314 sounds like you have been watching too much MSNBC….

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