MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Following a federal appeals court ruling that Minnesota may not be able to extend the deadline for accepting mail-in ballots, Minnesota’s secretary of state says voters with yet-to-be mailed ballots should take other actions to be sure their votes are counted.
And on Friday afternoon, Secretary of State Steve Simon said that he, in consultation with Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office, won’t seek a stay of the decision at the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We disagree with the court’s decision, and there may be cause for litigation later. While Minnesota will comply with the 8th Circuit’s ruling to segregate the ballots received after November 3, we need to emphasize that there is no court ruling yet saying those ballots are invalid,” Simon said. “We absolutely reserve the right to make every argument after Election Day that protects voters. For now, our focus is to make sure that every Minnesota voter knows to cast their ballot by 8 p.m. on November 3, and that every ballot legally cast is counted.”
On Thursday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with state Republicans, ruling that mail-in ballots in Minnesota should to be in by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. Previously, a ballot that was postmarked Nov. 3 would still be counted so long as it arrived within a week.
While this week’s ruling doesn’t block the state’s seven-day extension period for counting absentee ballots, it does require that late ballots be segregated. Those votes may not be counted if a final order finds them unlawful. The case is now in the hands of a lower court for further proceedings.
Steve Simon says voters should bring their filled-out ballots to a proper drop-off site any time before 3 p.m. on Election Day. (For information on where to find a drop-off site, click here.)
RELATED: WCCO Election Guide 2020
Voters can also shred their mail-in ballots and vote at an early voting site, or go to their polling place on Tuesday. (For information on early voting sites, click here.)
What if the absentee ballot is currently in the mail? Voters can track their ballots online, Simon says. If the ballot has yet to be received, voters are advised to vote at an early voting site or go to the polls on Election Day.
“Anyone is free to vote in person. You can override that in-transit vote, you can vote in person, absentee, today, tomorrow, Saturday, and on Monday. Or you can go to your polling place on Election Day,” Simon said.
At an early voting site in Roseville on Friday morning, the line was long, with voters waiting more than an hour to get to the front of the line.
“I feel like a change like that should’ve already been a discussion way before it was time to send in those ballots. It’s kind of a question mark to me,” Najee Kennedy said.
“I think court-wise that’s probably the right thing to do. The way I look at it the absentee ballots should’ve been in by that time,” Lee Von Lehe said.
While voters in line had mixed reactions to this week’s appeals court ruling, no one WCCO-TV spoke with said the change had affected their plans.
Nearly 2 million Minnesotans requested an absentee ballot. More than 1.5 million have already been successfully returned. There are more than 388,000 absentee ballots that are still out there or in transit.