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Lawsuit seeks to delay Arkansas runoff elections, cites virus spread

by Linda Satter | March 27, 2020 at 3:50 p.m.
In this file photo Secretary of State John Thurston is shown speaking to supporters the night he was elected.

The Christian Ministerial Alliance filed a federal lawsuit Friday in an effort to force the state to delay the March 31 runoff elections to protect the voting public in light of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The lawsuit alleges that Secretary of State John Thurston, by failing to delay the runoff, has failed to take adequate steps to protect the public’s fundamental right to vote in the midst of the public heath crisis.

“As Arkansans continue to socially distance themselves to comply with state and federal rules to ensure their own and the community’s safety, many citizens will reasonably determine that they cannot risk their safety and the safety of others by waiting in line to cast their vote in-person on Election Day,” or leave their homes to take the steps required to obtain and submit an absentee ballot by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, the suit states.

The suit notes that on March 20, Gov. Asa Hutchinson suspended the March 24 date for absentee ballots to be submitted by email, fax or mail, but, “nonetheless, state officials have not suspended the requirement that election officials receive absentee ballots by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day for the ballots to be counted.”

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