Minnesota Mail-In Ballots Can’t Arrive Late To Be Counted, Appeals Court Rules

(PoliticalLookout.com)- Minnesotans need to get their ballots received by election officials in the state by Election Day if they want their vote to be counted.

A federal appeals court ruled 2-1 Thursday in favor of Republicans who were challenging an accommodation Minnesota’s secretary of state, Steve Simon, had passed. Simon passed a rule that usurped a state law saying all ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

According to the ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals:

“The Secretary’s instructions to count mail-in ballots received up to seven days after Election Day stand in direct contradiction to Minnesota election law governing presidential elections.”

The court suggested that voters consider other options for voting in Minnesota, other than mailing in their ballot, as the court hasn’t decided if ballots received after Election Day are legal yet. It pointed this out in its ruling, writing:

“Better to put those voters on notice now while they still have at least some time to adjust their plans and cast their votes in an unquestionably lawful way.”

Absentee ballots in Minnesota can still be turned in via a drop-off location, as long as it’s done by 3 p.m. on November 3. Residents of the state can still vote in person even if they requested absentee ballots.

Further, Minnesotans can track online whether their ballots haven’t been received by the elections board. If they haven’t, residents can then go vote in person, and their mail-in ballot won’t be counted.

For now, the appeals court ruled that election officials should set aside ballots received after the 8 p.m. deadline on November 3, and not count them.

The Thursday ruling means Minnesota voters who were planning to have their mail-in ballots postmarked in the next few days should probably seek alternate ways of voting, just in case.

Simon said he wasn’t sure if the state would appeal the ruling at this time. For now, the late-arriving ballots must be set aside, but a successful appeal could eventually allow them to be counted.

As of Thursday night, almost 400,000 mail-in ballots that were requested by Minnesota residents haven’t been received by election officials, according to Simon.

The court’s opinion recognized this potential problem:

“The consequences of this order are not lost on us. We acknowledge and understand the concerns over voter confusion, election administration issues, and public confidence in the election … With that said, we conclude the challenges that will stem from this ruling are preferable to a postelection scenario where mail-in votes, received after the statutory deadline, are either intermingled with ballots received on time or invalidated without prior warning.”

Jennifer Carnahan, the chairwoman of the Republican Party in Minnesota, said she was happy with the court’s decision. In a statement, she said:

“We applaud the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for upholding the integrity of the election and affirming Election Day as November 3rd. The pandemic has caused upheaval in many areas of life but hiding behind the pandemic to manipulate the election process is not democratic, and we appreciate that our laws and interpretation of those laws matter.”