October 23, 2020

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The GOP Lawsuits Fight Back

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Sample voting ballots sit in a pile during a training on a new ballot sorting machine at the Board of Elections in Doylestown, Pa, Sept. 22.


Rachel Wisniewski/Bloomberg News

Judges in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia have ordered that late-arriving ballots be counted this November, even (in one case) if they lack postmarks. North Carolina officials announced a settlement on Tuesday that includes tabulating tardy ballots through Nov. 12. Minnesota is under a similar consent decree.

Six weeks from Nov. 3, will these ad-hoc arrangements stand? More judges will decide. This week two Minnesota Republicans went to federal court to challenge that consent deal, which was entered into by a Democratic official. Minnesota’s Legislature has set the ballot deadline at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Yet Secretary of State Steve Simon, the lawsuit says, “has agreed with private parties to rewrite the times and manner of elections in Minnesota.”

The legal deal, approved in August, says Minnesota will count ballots postmarked Nov. 3 if they arrive a week later. As in Pennsylvania, officials are to presume that ballots without postmarks were mailed on time, unless evidence suggests otherwise. “This means,” the Republican lawsuit argues, “that persons in Minnesota may vote for days after Election Day.” At minimum, the suit adds, it will “create substantial uncertainty and delay over Minnesota’s ability to certify its results.”

The lawsuit that led to the consent decree was filed by the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans persuaded a judge there to order the tallying of ballots up to 14 days late. The North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans is behind that state’s settlement.

The national Alliance for Retired Americans says its job is to mobilize “retired union members, seniors and community activists” to advocate “a progressive political and social agenda.” The legal muscle for the lawsuits comes from Democracy Docket, a progressive group with ties to the national Democratic machinery.

The Minnesota suit is seeking an injunction against the vote-counting delays as a violation of federal law. If the election is close, this and other lawsuits could determine the winner.

Wonder Land: Today we call Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork back from 1987 as witness to what has happened to American politics, and why we’re going to war over Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement. Image: AP/AFP via Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the September 25, 2020, print edition.

2020-09-24 19:35:00

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