Last Updated on November 2, 2020
Voters will have to play by the legislated rules in the State of Minnesota where absentee and mail-in ballots are concerned. A US appeals court had determined executive branch administrators do not have the authority, no matter how well intentioned, to circumvent legislated election law.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on October 29, 2020, that the state’s plan to allow the counting of absentee ballots received up to 7 days after Election Day was unconstitutional.
The court rebuked Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon (D), the state’s top election official, saying absentee ballots in the battleground state are due by 8pm on election night.
“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 ruling read.
“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. The democratically-enacted election rules in Minnesota provide that mail-in votes must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted (or 3:00 p.m. if delivered in person).”
“There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution,” the majority wrote.
Minnesota election law mandates that absentee ballots be received by Election Day. That deadline was extended through a settlement Simon reached with an activist group that sued earlier this year; a settlement that ignored legislated election law.
Simon called the ruling “a tremendous and unnecessary disruption,” in a statement issued Thursday night. “This last-minute change could disenfranchise Minnesotans who were relying on settled rules for the 2020 election; rules that were in place before the August 11 primary and were accepted by all political parties.”
“We applaud the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for upholding the integrity of the election and affirming Election Day as November 3rd,” Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said in a statement. “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.”
Election law in jurisdictions in many battleground states have been the centers of controversy as courts and election authorities alike have sought to disregard established, legislated election law under the guise of catering to the electorate in the face of the COVID pandemic.
With established early voting, mail-in voting, and absentee voting options available to the citizens, the issue for many election authorities is one of staffing, not time.
Proponents of maintaining the legislated election law across the country caution about the vulnerability of ballot and vote manipulation through voter fraud facilitated by extended ballot tabulation hours.
Minnesota awards 10 Electoral College votes in the election of the President.