MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Minnesota’s absentee ballots that come in after Election Day should be separated from the rest of the ballots, in case a future order makes those votes invalid.
Thursday's ruling doesn’t block Minnesota’s seven-day extension for counting absentee ballots — but it does order a lower court to issue a ruling that would keep the late arriving ballots separate.
Republicans had argued that the extension — which had been approved in both state and federal courts due to the COVID-19 pandemic — violated federal law that establishes Nov. 3 as the date of the 2020 election. Democrats said eliminating the extension would create voter confusion.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan released the following statement:
"We applaud the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for upholding the integrity of the election and affirming Election Day as November 3rd."
"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."
"The Republican Party of Minnesota encourages Minnesotans to either vote absentee in person or vote in person on Election Day. Nobody should be disenfranchised because of the Democrats unconstitutional actions."
DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin released the following statement on Thursday’s ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals:
“Today’s ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is an attack on democracy brought about by a Republican Party desperate to stifle the voices of Minnesotans across our state. This absurd and misguided opinion will toss out the rules that have been in place since before voting began in September. Now, with just five days before election day, and Republicans surely heading for defeat at the polls, the Republican Party is responsible for potentially disenfranchising thousands of Minnesotans who were prepared to vote by mail in the coming days."
“I urge the people of Minnesota to return any outstanding mail-in ballots in-person as soon as possible. The reason the Republican Party is attacking your right to vote is because of the power of that vote to change our state and country. The Republicans are so desperate to win they are willing to trample on our most fundamental right as Americans - the right to vote. Despite their disgusting maneuvers, this ruling cannot and will not stop the people of Minnesota from holding Republicans accountable for failing us during this pandemic.”