Protecting voters' health

Our team, with assistance from the Advancement Project, spent its Memorial Day weekend helping Virginia's first Commissioner of Elections, Edgardo Cortés, file an urgent amicus brief supporting the Virginia government in a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The case Thomas Curtin v. Virginia State Board of Elections was filed by voters who sought a preliminary injunction barring Virginia from advising voters that they could use concern about contracting or spreading COVID-19 as a reason to receive an absentee ballot under the "disability and illness" in the upcoming primary. Because the election was already underway, with more than 60,000 absentee ballots already mailed, the plaintiffs were also requesting that the State Board of Elections ask every voter why they marked "disability or illness" on their requests, despite the fact that the Virginia legislature had explicitly removed the requirement to list what the "disability or illness" was in 2013.

Our team filed a brief arguing that an injunction coming this late in the process would cause massive disruption in an ongoing election, would disenfranchise thousands of voters who would only vote if they could do so by mail and would fail to give the deference that is due to government orders issued to protect the public health in a pandemic. The brief also pointed out that a no-excuse-needed absentee voting regime was set to take effect a mere eight days after the election.

The court denied the preliminary injunction and ruled in favor of the state largely on the basis of the plaintiffs' delay in seeking relief – one of the key issues raised in the amicus brief we filed.

Read the press release.

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