In Missouri State Conference of Nat’l Ass’n for the Advancement of Colored People v. State (hereinafter “NAACP v. State”), the Supreme Court of Missouri interpreted a Missouri statute that expanded the right to vote absentee in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new provision allowed all registered Missouri voters to vote absentee during the 2020 elections but required most absentee voters to have their ballots notarized. Voters who were “confined due to illness” or qualified as part of an “at-risk” category, however, were not required to have their ballots notarized. Appellants challenged the bill, claiming that voluntarily confining oneself as a precautionary measure and in accordance with social distancing guidelines was a form of “confinement due to illness,” which would permit valid absentee voting without requiring the certification of a notary. Appellants also argued that requiring notarization for individuals that do not fall into the enumerated categories infringed on their fundamental right to vote under the Missouri Constitution. The Supreme Court of Missouri employed various methods of statutory interpretation to determine when individuals are “confined due to illness” and how enacted safety and social distancing measures affect the Constitutional right to vote.6 The decision in NAACP v. State provides insight into the Supreme Court of Missouri’s interpretation of legislative action in response to emergency situations.

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