Republican lawsuits opposing extended postal ballot deadlines in at least two states might affect mail voting before the November presidential election.
Last week's Mississippi case follows last year's North Dakota one in conservative federal courts in overwhelmingly Republican states. Democratic and voting rights groups worry about the implications beyond those two states if a court decides that mailed ballot deadlines past Election Day, Nov. 5, violate federal law.
They warn such a ruling might lead to a countrywide injunction like last year's Texas judge's halt on mifepristone's FDA clearance.
In reaction to the latest lawsuit, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee communications director Abhi Rahman said, “This effort risks disenfranchising Mississippi voters, but we don't want that to be precedent for other states.”
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists Mississippi and North Dakota as two of 19 states that accept late-arriving postal votes if they are postmarked before Election Day. That includes Nevada and North Carolina, political swing states. Mail voting is popular in Colorado, Oregon, and Utah.
During the 2020 COVID-19 epidemic, when Republican Donald Trump lost his reelection effort to Democrat Joe Biden, numerous states increased postal voting, something Trump has long opposed. Trump erroneously claims that shifting vote totals after Election Day indicate rampant fraud. Many Republican-controlled states tightened postal voting laws after his loss.
On Friday, the Republican National Committee, Mississippi Republican Party, state Republican Executive Committee member, and county election commissioner sued Secretary of State Michael Watson and six local election officials in federal court.
The lawsuit challenges a Mississippi statute that counts presidential absentee ballots provided they are postmarked by Election Day and received within five days. It alleges that Mississippi unjustly extends the federal election beyond Congress's deadline, diluting “timely, valid ballots by untimely, invalid ballots
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