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Federal appeals court forces Minnesota to set aside all late-arriving absentee ballots

The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that absentee ballots in Minnesota must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

This means election workers will not be able to count ballots that are received after Election Day. Instead, they’ll be forced to set aside those ballots in case a court later allows them to count.

This election, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon struck a deal with two voter groups in state court to extend the deadline so that ballots received up to seven days after Election Day would be accepted as long as they were postmarked on Nov. 3. Republicans challenged the agreement.

“However well-intentioned and appropriate from a policy perspective in the context of a pandemic during a presidential election, it is not the province of a state executive official to re-write the state’s election code, at least as it pertains to selection of presidential electors,” read the order.

This would mean if you have a mail-in ballot, you must drop it off at your designated location or you can vote in-person through early voting or vote in-person on Election Day. If you are returning a mail-in ballot in-person on Election Day it must be dropped off no later than 3 p.m.

In a statement, Simon called the order a “tremendous and unnecessary disruption to Minnesota’s election.” He says his mission now is to make voters aware of the rule change.

Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit called the decision a “significant victory for Minnesota voters, fair elections, and the rule of law.”

Democrats urged people that it was too late to mail back their ballots.

“Because of LAST MINUTE ruling, Minnesota DO NOT put ballots in mail any more,” U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar tweeted. “In the middle of a pandemic, the Republican Party is doing everything to make it hard for you to vote. Stand up for YOUR rights: Vote in-person or take mail-in ballot directly to ballot box.”

Guidance for absentee ballots

Simon says voters should no longer mail their absentee mail and should instead follow this guidance:

  • Voters who have already put their ballot in the mail can track their ballot at If their ballot has not yet been received, the voter can vote in-person either by absentee, or at their polling place on Election Day.
  • Voters can deliver their ballots to their county election office by hand (or have someone they trust hand-deliver it for them).
  • Voters can cast their vote in-person with an absentee ballot at their local election office up until November 2, 2020.
  • Voters can cast their votes in-person on Election Day
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