Republican state legislators in North Carolina pushed a court challenge against a consent decree that opened up the electoral process in their state — and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has now dismissed their challenge. The original “consent decree” is an agreement reached at the conclusion of a recent court fight with the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans on one side and North Carolina state authorities on the other. The plaintiffs in the case secured some key concessions from state authorities, including an extension of the deadline for receiving absentee ballots for counting in the state. With the decree in force, that deadline stood at Nov. 12, although ballots still had to be postmarked by Election Day to remain valid.
🗳️Remember all the drama before the election over our consent decree in North Carolina and the predictions that it would spell the end of voting rights?
Today the Fourth Circuit dismissed the GOP case.
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) November 23, 2020
The extension of the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots for counting in North Carolina helped accommodate potential slowdowns in mail delivery and major upticks in the usage of mail-in voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a part of the original consent decree, North Carolina authorities “also agreed… to set up ballot drop-off stations and to allow North Carolina voters to correct errors on mailed-in ballots,” according to Bloomberg Quint. Voters already had the opportunity to correct issues with mail-in ballots in other areas of the country, and other areas of the country have also used ballot drop-off stations, which helped to accommodate this year’s major influx of mail-in ballots.
Trump won North Carolina, although the state was on the map as a potential swing state ahead of Election Day. Biden flipped five states that Trump won in 2016, including Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia. In mostly final or close-to final tallies, Biden was on track to officially win the exact same number of electoral votes (306) that Trump won in 2016. Trump was slated to win the same number of electoral votes that Hillary Clinton won.
Trump and his allies have fought against the election results in states around the country, but their challenges have consistently come up entirely short. In Pennsylvania, for instance, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit attempting to block the certification of the state’s results, but recently, Judge Matthew Brann dismissed their complaint, concluding that the Trump campaign presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.” A stream of appeals can’t automatically erase the problem of a lack of supporting evidence.