Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) urged voters in Minnesota not to vote by mail after a federal appeals court struck down a week-long extension for counting absentee ballots in the battleground state, and ruled that election officials must set aside absentee ballots received after Election Day.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 decision (pdf) on Oct. 29 that the state’s plan to include absentee ballots received seven days after Election Day in the vote count was an unconstitutional maneuver by Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, the state’s top election official.
The three-judge panel in their ruling also stated that absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day but not received until Nov. 3 should be separated from other ballots in case they are later invalidated by a final court order.
The ruling doesn’t block Minnesota’s seven-day extension for counting absentee ballots outright but puts the grace period in danger. The case was sent back to a lower court for more proceedings.
Klobuchar encouraged Minnesotans to use alternative voting methods.
“We really are focused right now on making sure people can vote and we’re just telling them, don’t vote by mail anymore,” Klobuchar told “Fox News Sunday.”
“Take your ballot to a dropoff box, we’ve got plenty of them in Minnesota,” she added.
The senator also noted that voters are still able to vote in person on Nov. 3, or through early voting.
“So we still feel really good about the voting in Minnesota. We are number one in the country nearly every presidential election for voting,” she said.
Following Thursday’s ruling, Klobuchar also asked voters to not mail in their ballots any more to avoid the risk that they would not be counted.
“Because of LAST MINUTE ruling, Minnesota DO NOT put ballots in mail any more,” Klobuchar wrote supposedly to Democratic voters on Twitter. “In the middle of a pandemic, the Republican Party is doing everything to make it hard for you to vote. Stand up for YOUR rights: Vote in-person or take mail-in ballot directly to ballot box.”
Secretary of State Simon meanwhile implied that it is now too risky for voters to place their absentee ballots in the mail.
“Voters should no longer place their absentee ballots in the mail,” Simon said. “It is too late for you, practically speaking, to get it back. Don’t risk it.”
“What the court left unsettled was the question of whether, once and for all and finally, ballots will or won’t be counted if received after Tuesday, Nov. 3,” Simon added. “The decision, to be candid, is not a model of clarity and it leaves open a lot of unanswered questions.”
The majority wrote in their decision that potential problems arising from the order were preferable to a post-election scenario where invalidated and valid votes are mixed.
“The consequences of this order are not lost on us. We acknowledge and understand the concerns over voter confusion, election administration issues, and public confidence in the election,” the majority wrote.
“Better to put those voters on notice now while they still have at least some time to adjust their plans and cast their votes in an unquestionably lawful way,” the court said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.