Court: Minnesota Absentee Ballots Must Be Received by 8:00 P.M. on Election Day

In this July 29, 2020, file photo, Lisa Finander, right, checks that each ballot has the voter's name on the ballot and mailing envelope and Laurie Mattila, left, checked that it was correct at Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services in Minneapolis. A federal judge has upheld a state court agreement …
Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that absentee ballots in the battleground state of Minnesota must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

The ruling follows Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon extending the deadline allowing ballots received up to one week after Election Day would be accepted if postmarked on November 3.

“However well-intentioned and appropriate from a policy perspective in the context of a pandemic during a presidential election, it is not the province of a state executive official to re-write the state’s election code, at least as it pertains to selection of presidential electors,” reads the court order.

The ruling is a win for Republicans, who argued that the extension — which had been approved in both state and federal courts due to the COVID-19 pandemic — violated federal law that establishes Nov. 3 as the date of the 2020 election.

Democrats called the ruling “an attack on democracy” brought about by Republicans.

“This absurd and misguided opinion will toss out the rules that have been in place since before voting began in September,” state party Chairman Ken Martin said. “Now, with just five days before election day, and Republicans surely heading for defeat at the polls, the Republican Party is responsible for potentially disenfranchising thousands of Minnesotans who were prepared to vote by mail in the coming days.”

State GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan called the ruling a “big win for election protection and freedom.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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