State Watch

Federal appeals court rules Minnesota must separate late-arriving mail-in ballots

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A federal appeals court Thursday evening ruled that Minnesota mail-in ballots received after Nov. 3 must be segregated from those received by Election Day.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit said that a Republican state representative and a GOP activist could challenge the order by Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) to extend the counting deadline by seven days, adding that votes received after Election Day should be separated “to be removed from vote totals in the event a final order is entered by a court of competent jurisdiction determining such votes to be invalid or unlawfully counted.”

The ruling comes after the campaigns for President Trump and Minnesota GOP state legislature candidates on Wednesday filed a motion for the state’s Supreme Court to order the separation of all mail ballots collected after Nov. 3, arguing that “it could be impossible for a court to repair the election results tainted by illegally and untimely cast or mailed ballots if the ballots are not segregated.” 

On Oct. 11, a state judge upheld the extension after state Rep. Eric Lucero (R) and Ramsey County GOP activist James Carson called on U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel, a Trump appointee, to rule that the extension was a violation of federal law, which establishes Nov. 3 as the 2020 election date, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

In Minnesota, ballots traditionally need to be in by 8 p.m. on Election Day. With the extension, ballots postmarked on or before Election Day could still be counted as long as they are received within the seven-day period.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Trump campaign spokeswoman Thea McDonald called Thursday’s decision a major victory for Republicans. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told Minnesota voters not to mail their ballots at all, tweeting, “Because of LAST MINUTE ruling, Minnesota DO NOT put ballots in mail any more. … Vote in-person or take mail-in ballot directly to ballot box.”

Tags 2020 election absentee ballots Amy Klobuchar Coronavirus Donald Trump Election Day mail-in ballots Minnesota U.S. Court of Appeals
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