A split federal court on Thursday ruled that ballots that were sent by Election Day but arrive after November 3 must be segregated from ballots that arrive earlier, suggesting late-arriving ballots could be thrown out, Politico reports.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon issued an order allowing ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted up to seven days after November 3.
But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals split 2-1 to order the ballots be segregated, arguing that a case seeking to bar the counting of those ballots was “likely to succeed on the merits.”
The order was handed down by judges appointed by Donald Trump and George W. Bush while an Obama appointee dissented.
State calls decision “troubling”:
The court order said that ballots should be segregated “in a manner that would allow for their respective votes for presidential electors … to be removed from vote totals in the event a final order is entered by a court of competent jurisdiction determining such votes to be invalid or unlawfully counted.”
Simon said on Thursday that the order was an “unnecessarily disruptive decision.”
“The substance of the decision is deeply troubling,” he said. “But so is the timing. This could have been decided months ago.“
Judges acknowledge ruling can cause confusion:
The judges in the majority acknowledged that the ruling could have a significant impact.
“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,” they said. “With that said, we conclude the challenges that will stem from this ruling are preferable to a postelection scenario where mail-in votes, received after the statutory deadline, are either intermingled with ballots received on time or invalidated without prior warning.”