4th Circuit Gives Victory to North Carolina Democrats; Dissenting Judges Urge Appeal to Supreme Court

In this May 17, 2016, file photo, ballots are prepared for counting at Multnomah County election headquarters in Portland, Ore. The coronavirus has knocked presidential primaries back several weeks as officials worry about voters crowding into polling places. If the disease remains a hazard in November, Democrats say there's only …
Don Ryan/AP Photo

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled 12-3 in favor of Democrats and against Republicans over changes to voting rules that will allow mailed-in ballots to be counted nine days after Election Day and without a witness signature.

The decision leaves in place a district court’s decision that while Republicans were probably right, it was too late:

By this order, this court finds Plaintiffs have established a likelihood of success on their Equal Protection challenges with respect to the State Board of Elections’ procedures for curing ballots without a witness signature and for the deadline extension for receipt of ballots. This court believes the unequal treatment of voters and the resulting Equal Protection violations as found herein should be enjoined. Nevertheless … this court is of the opinion that it is required to find that injunctive relief should be denied at this late date, even in the face of what appear to be clear violations.

Democrats engineered the changes to mail-in voting through a “consent decree” between Democratic Party-aligned groups on the one hand, and state election authorities on the other. The state elections board is led by a Democrat appointed to the role.

Normally, mail-in ballots are counted in the state if they arrive up to three days after Election Day, and have a witness signature.

Politico noted that “the 4th Circuit’s three Trump appointees voted with all the court’s Democratic appointees,” but that the three dissenting judges — all Republican appointees — issued an unusually urgent demand that the plaintiffs appeal to the Supreme Court, to avoid future legal chaos: “We urge plaintiffs to take this case up to the Supreme Court immediately. Not tomorrow. Not the next day. Now.”

The North Carolina case is one of several closely-fought legal battles over mail-in voting.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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