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Tennessee high court: COVID-19 not valid reason for absentee ballot

Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The Tennesse Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that voters in the state cannot receive absentee ballots for the November general election due to fears of COVID-19.

The high court ruled 4-1 to vacate an injunction by a Nashville judge that allowed voters concerned about the pandemic to vote by mail.

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"With respect to those plaintiffs and persons who do not have special vulnerability to COVID-19 or who are not caretakers for persons with special vulnerability to COVID-19, we hold that the trial court erred in issuing the temporary injunction," the ruling stated.

The court also ruled, however, that absentee ballots for Thursday's primary election sent in a timely manner from those who otherwise meet the statutory requirements for absentee voting will be counted.

The decision involves two cases in which plaintiffs alleged the state's interpretation of the law describing who may vote absentee burdens their constitutional right to vote amid the pandemic.

A trial court determined the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their case and issued an injunction allowing eligible absentee voters to vote by mail to avoid transmission of the virus.

The state, however, was allowed to challenge the injunction and the state Supreme Court agreed to take up the case.

Despite the ruling to lift the injunction, the individual cases remain unresolved.

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