An election integrity group has filed a federal lawsuit against North Dakota, seeking to block a law that allows the state to accept and count mail-in ballots that arrive within 13 days after Election Day. The lawsuit, filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), argues that accepting ballots after Election Day violates federal law mandating a single national Election Day. If successful, this lawsuit could set a precedent for other states to stop accepting late-arriving ballots.
Currently, there are 18 states, along with the District of Columbia, that accept mailed-in ballots delivered after Election Day. However, this exception was originally created by Congress for military and overseas voters, not for all voters. Democrats have opposed efforts to restrict mail-in voting, but even former President Donald Trump criticized the practice, calling it a “whole big scam” and claiming that mail-in ballots were “out of control.”
According to PILF President J. Christian Adams, Election Day has lost its essence as a single day due to states accepting ballots that arrive days or even weeks after the designated day. The lawsuit argues that this lawlessness undermines the purpose of having a single national Election Day, which was originally enacted by Congress in the 1800s to address chaos and uncertainty surrounding elections.
The plaintiff in the case is Mark Splonskowski, a Republican and the County Auditor of Burleigh County, North Dakota. Splonskowski claims that North Dakota’s law and its enforcement by the state election director, Erika White, harm him because he is caught between state law and federal law. He fears criminal penalties if he chooses incorrectly. Splonskowski is seeking a judgment declaring the state’s extension of Election Day to be unlawful and an injunction blocking the laws that allow for the extension.
Lauren Bowman Bis, PILF’s director of media affairs, emphasized that federal law only mentions “Election Day” in the singular, not plural. Accepting ballots that arrive after Election Day, therefore, goes against federal law. This lawsuit specifically targets late-arriving ballots and is unrelated to early voting or other voting methods. The purpose is to ensure ballots are in the hands of election officials on Election Day, as required by federal law.
One motivation behind this lawsuit is the extended time it takes to count ballots, which has contributed to public distrust and lack of confidence in the electoral system. In previous elections, results were known either on election night or the following morning. However, in recent elections, the counting process has been prolonged due to states accepting ballots up to two weeks after Election Day, including North Dakota’s 13-day extension.
The PILF aims to restore the integrity and efficiency of the electoral system by advocating for the return to a system where election results are known promptly on Election Day or the next morning. The organization believes that the current system, with its extended acceptance of late-arriving ballots, undermines public trust and confidence in elections.
The Epoch Times reached out to the defendant, Erika White, but had not received a response at the time of writing. This lawsuit against North Dakota could have significant implications for the handling of late-arriving ballots across the country, potentially leading to further legal challenges in other states.