University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Title "Oppenheim v. Watson"
Date Sep 8, 2020
Author COVID-Related Election Litigation Tracker
External Link https://healthyelections-case-tracker.stanford.edu/detail?id=196
Abstract Plaintiffs sued Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson for a declaratory judgment regarding the meaning of the absentee ballot provision in Mississippi law (Section 23-15-713(d)) and who can vote absentee in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including clarification regarding the meaning of "physician-imposed quarantine" and "dependent" in Section 23-15-713(d). In particular, plaintiffs asked the court to declare that: (1) "any elector who has an underlying physical condition that places them at a higher risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19 has a physical disability under the terms of the statute and may vote by absentee ballot under Mississippi Code§ 23-15-713(d)"; (2) "a voter may vote absentee if he or she wishes to avoid voting in-person at a polling place due to guidance from the MDH, the CDC, and other physicians or public health authorities to avoid unnecessary public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic," because "guidance from the MDH, CDC, or other physician to avoid unnecessary public gatherings or other congregate settings qualifies as a 'physician-imposed quarantine' that a voter could invoke as a 'temporary physical disability' in order to avoid the grave health risks posed by going to the polls and encountering groups of people during this pandemic"; and (3) "a voter may vote absentee if he or she provides care or support to any other individual who is avoiding unnecessary public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic," because a dependent is "anyone who is caring for someone who is under a 'physician-imposed quarantine.'" Consistent with the declaration, plaintiffs asked the court to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering the Mississippi Secretary of State to instruct county elections officials about the application of Mississippi Code § 23-15-713( d).
Source Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project


This Resource Relates To
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