The campaigns for President Donald Trump and Republican candidates for the Minnesota state legislature have requested that the Minnesota Supreme Court separate all mailed ballots received after Election Day in the event of legal challenges to their validity.
A petition filed on Oct. 28 (pdf) on behalf of the Trump campaign, the Senate Victory Fund, the House Republican Campaign Committee, and Ryan J. Beam, against Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, argues that segregation of ballots received after Election Day is necessary as “it could be impossible for a court to repair the election results tainted by illegally and untimely cast or mailed ballots if the ballots are not segregated.”
“The Petitioners request this Court issue an order directing the Secretary of State to segregate all late-arriving mail-in ballots in order to preserve the Petitioners’ ability to challenge the legality of the Secretary’s actions and to ensure the fairness and integrity of the election,” the petition states.
The campaigns and other petitioners claim that the Minnesota Secretary of State “unilaterally and without legal authority usurped the Minnesota Legislature’s—and Congress’s—power to establish rules regulating the manner and time of federal elections by deciding that he will not enforce Minnesota’s mail-in ballot deadlines.”
Ballots in Minnesota must normally be received by election officials by 8 p.m. on Election Day, but Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, granted a seven-day extension for the receipt of mail-in ballots amid mounting concerns over voter safety during the pandemic.
“I am committed to protecting and strengthening the security and fairness of our elections process,” Simon said in a statement.
The campaigns argue that, by declaring that election officials will accept and count mail-in ballots that are cast and postmarked on or before Election Day but received within 7 days of Election Day, Simon acted in way that is unconstitutional and violates both federal and state law.
The Petitioners are asking that mail-in ballots be separated into three categories: those received before the regular deadline of 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, those received after the regular deadline but before 8 p.m. on Nov. 10, and those received after Nov. 10.
“If county election officials do not segregate the late-arriving mail-in ballots, the Petitioners and other affected parties would be left without an effective remedy (either in the ongoing Carson litigation or in action brought after Election Day) to challenge the Secretary’s actions because once the late-arriving mail-in ballots are combined with the timely cast and received mail-in ballots, it would be practically impossible to differentiate those ballots,” the campaigns argued.
The move comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit heard arguments on Wednesday about whether leaving the deadline extension intact could lead to the disqualification of thousands of votes received after Election Day.
Simon’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Minnesota is a hotly contested battleground state, with both the Trump campaign and that of Democratic nominee Joe Biden seeking to persuade voters to get on board with their respective visions for governing the country.
In separate statements unrelated to the court filing released on Thursday, the Trump campaign said that, on Election Day, “the choice is simple: It’s a Trump boom versus a Biden depression,” and referred to a Biden tax hike and his support for the Green New Deal framework.
Biden took aim at Trump for his pandemic response, claiming, “President Trump’s failure to take action this spring to get control of the coronavirus led to gutted businesses, closed schools and tens of millions of people out of work that could have been prevented.”
“I will fight side-by-side with the American people to rein in the virus and provide needed economic relief,” he added, according to the campaign statement.