A federal judge dealt a blow to Minnesota Republicans late Sunday night when she upheld a state court ruling in favor of Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon.
The case had been filed by State Rep. Eric Lucero and Ramsey County GOP activist James Carson, both Republican members of the Electoral College. Lucero and Carson argued that the deadline for submission of absentee ballots should be 8 p.m. on election night—just as it always has been. A citizens’ rights group sued, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a change to the rules in order to maintain voter safety. In June, Secretary Simon agreed via consent order (as part of that earlier lawsuit) to accept mail-in ballots arriving up to a week late.
The Republican plaintiffs argued that if Minnesota adopts the terms of the consent order, it will cause confusion and uncertainty. They even warned that the terms of the Consent Order are so suspect as to cast “substantial doubt whether the United States Congress will even accept the results of the popular vote in Minnesota.”
U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel, an appointee of President Donald Trump, disagreed, calling the electors’ argument “speculative at best.” Lucero and Simon, wrote the judge, “can do no more than guess what will occur if the Court does not enjoin the Consent Decree Order.” She went on to criticize them for the effects of bringing this subsequent litigation:
In reality, the Electors are in danger of creating confusion rather avoiding.
The judge noted that more than a million Minnesotans have already requested absentee ballots, along with clear instructions. Changing the applicable rules now is a bad idea, reasoned Judge Brasel.
“The Court is also cognizant of the equitable principle that district courts should be wary of changing the rules of elections near Election Day,” she wrote, “which is in essence what the Electors are asking the Court to do.”
Judge Brasel also rejected the contention that these particular members of the Electoral College even have standing to bring this litigation. Even if extending the mail-in deadline were to create a problem, explained the judge, there is no reason to believe that the plaintiff Electors would be harmed any more than anyone else:
The Electors allege that their votes will be diluted, but such dilution affects all Minnesota voters equally, giving no disadvantage to the Electors.
It is unclear at the moment whether the Republican Electors will appeal Judge Brasel’s ruling.
[Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
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