U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel has issued a new ruling protecting mail-in voting in Minnesota. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) recently agreed to an extended deadline for election authorities to receive mail-in ballots to be counted, adding a full week onto the time in which mail-in ballots can be delivered to authorities and still count. Minnesota state Rep. Eric Lucero (R) and Republican activist James Carson filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to get the extended mail-in ballot receiving deadline thrown out, but Brasel ruled that the duo did not have the appropriate legal standing to bring the lawsuit. Further, she added, their fundamental claims were baseless, upholding the extended ballot receiving deadline.
As in other cases in which states have added time to the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots to be counted, these ballots still must be mailed by Election Day. The deadline extension in Minnesota was originally the result of an agreement in state court after a citizens’ rights group brought a case seeking action to accommodate the changing elections procedure landscape heading into Election Day. Voting at in-person polling places has become more precarious, especially for medically vulnerable populations, due to the spread of the Coronavirus, and there have also been numerous slowdowns in mail delivery across the country. These slowdowns could, of course, impact the timely handling of mail-in ballots.
Despite the ongoing issues weighing on the election process, Republicans have been fighting against the expansion of access to voting across the country. A federal appeals court recently blocked an extension of the deadline to receive mail-in ballots for counting in Wisconsin, although many wins have also emerged for Democrats and voting rights advocates more broadly. For example, a Pennsylvania federal judge recently threw out a Trump campaign lawsuit that was seeking a ban on using drop boxes for mail-in/absentee ballots in the state. That judge — Trump appointee J. Nicholas Ranjan — determined that the Trump campaign had failed to prove their premise that there was some kind of imminent threat of major, system-threatening election fraud in Pennsylvania.
In Minnesota, the Republican plaintiffs “argued that the extension violates federal law that establishes Nov. 3 as the date of the 2020 election,” while the state’s legal team “said the extension should stay in place, arguing that blocking it would create confusion and likely disenfranchise voters who are relying on instructions they have already received,” the Associated Press reports.
The outlet adds that Brasel “rejected” the plaintiffs’ claim that counting votes received after Election Day would “dilute the value of their own votes,” and she also dismissed the claim that the extended deadline for receiving mail-in ballots would create some kind of confusion among voters. In fact, it’s a last-minute change to elections procedure like that which the plaintiffs were seeking that could spark confusion among voters.
Besides contexts like this court case, the GOP’s baseless claims of some kind of looming voter fraud could also be used as a basis for a potential refusal by the president to accept the results of the election if he loses. This potentially looming refusal could lead to even more court battles.