Judge Dismisses Election Lawsuit Challenging Mail-in Ballots in North Dakota

A lawsuit challenging the acceptance of mail-in ballots after election day, which was filed by a county election official and supported by a legal organization affiliated with former President Donald Trump, was dismissed by a federal judge in North Dakota on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor, a Trump appointee, ruled on Friday that Burleigh County Auditor Mark Splonskowski lacked standing, did not specify a constitutional violation, was not conflicted by his oath of office, and that the state election director named in the lawsuit “has no enforcement authority and is therefore not a potential cause for Splonskowski’s alleged injuries.”

Splonskowski alleged he was “harmed by instructions to accept and cast ballots received after Election Day,” and that “because federal and state law conflict on the day the ballots must be turned in, he faces an impossibility in enforcing the law,” according to the complaint filed in federal court.

“Despite federal law assigning one day as Election Day, North Dakota law allows ballots to arrive and be counted up to 13 days after Election Day,” the complaint states.

The U.S. Constitution also gives state legislatures the authority to decide how their elections are run, so long as those election laws are in conformity with other Constitutional guidelines.

Public Interest Legal Foundation’s President J. Christian Adams provided a statement on the lawsuit’s reasoning.

“Election Day has ceased to be a day,”  “Instead, we have election month because states accept ballots that arrive days and even weeks after Election Day. Not only does this lead to distrust and chaos in the system, but it also violates federal law. PILF is fighting to end this lawlessness and restore the day in Election Day.”

But on Friday, Judge Traynor dismissed the lawsuit over a lack of standing and other purported legal reasons.

North Dakota’s Republican Secretary of State Michael Howe hailed the ruling as “a win for the rule of law in North Dakota and a win for our military and overseas voters.”

In September, attorneys for the Voting Section of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed a statement of interest in the case, stating, “Permitting the counting of otherwise valid ballots cast on or before election day even though they are received later does not violate federal statutes setting the day for federal elections. Indeed, this practice not only complies with federal law but can be vital in ensuring that military and overseas voters are able to exercise their right to vote.”

A legal review conducted on the 92 court challenges filed over the 2020 election found that a clear majority of the cases decided on the merits were ruled favorably for the plaintiffs, particularly, the Republican Party and the Trump campaign.

The election review noted the cases that were decided on the merits and those cases that were dismissed for lack of standing or other procedural issues.

The list of court cases, as well as the links to the case information, can be found below.

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By Melinda Davies
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