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Federal appeals court nixes Minnesota Democratic secretary of state’s plan to extend the mail-in ballot deadline — for now

A federal appeals court has upended Minnesota Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon’s plan to extend the state’s vote counting deadline by seven days.

In a 2-1 decision Thursday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Republican state representative and GOP activist could challenge Simon’s order to extend the deadline and ordered that all ballots received after election day must be separated “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.”

“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,” the decision added. “There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution.”

Reuters reported that while Minnesota law requires absentee ballots be received by Election Day, the deadline had been extended by Simon through a settlement reached with a citizens group which sued earlier in the year.

Under the settlement, mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Nov. 3 would be counted if received by Nov. 10 — and even those without postmarks would be counted unless it could be proven that they were not sent before or on the 3rd.

The ruling sends the case back down to a lower court for further litigation but orders that late-arriving ballots not be lumped in with the rest.

In response, Simon told reporters that the timing of the decision was “unnecessarily disruptive” and complained that “just shy of 400,000” absentee ballots requested by voters in the state have not been received.

“They could be in transit or they could be on coffee tables throughout Minnesota,” he said, adding that officials are considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday permitted North Carolina’s and Pennsylvania’s extended deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots.

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar blasted the ruling on Twitter, saying, “In the middle of a pandemic, the Republican Party is doing everything to make it hard for you to vote.”

Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan praised the decision.

“The Democrats are losing it,” she tweeted Thursday. “Their efforts to manipulate our election laws met a road block today: the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and the law. The integrity of our election to have votes in by 8 pm Election Day is intact. We will always applaud freedom and fairness.”

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More than 100 absentee ballots found in Kentucky dumpster; case handed over to the US Attorney’s Office

More than 100 unopened absentee ballots were discovered in a Kentucky dumpster, which has resulted in one U.S. Postal Service employee being terminated following an investigation.

The undelivered ballots, which had been sent out Oct. 3, were found in a dumpster on Thursday by a contractor renovating a home in eastern Jefferson County. The ballots, which were not filled out and intended for voters in the 40299 ZIP code, were found in the dumpster mixed in with other mail, according to the Courier-Journal.

Nore Ghibaudy, the spokesperson for the Jefferson County Clerk’s office, said he was “a little taken aback” by the incident. He added that some of the voters had contacted the office over concerns that they had yet to receive their absentee ballots.

U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General special agents found 112 ballots as well as two political flyers in the trash. The ballots and flyers were returned to the Postal Service to be delivered to their rightful owners, according to Special Agent Scott Balfour.

Balfour said on Friday that the USPS employee had been fired, adding, “federal privacy concerns preclude me from providing any more details about their employment.”

The case has been turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Balfour said.

“When the investigation is concluded, the case will be presented for federal prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” he said.

Balfour said that these such incidents involving mail-in ballots are “exceedingly rare.”

Also on Thursday, a waste collector claimed he found two ballots in a dumpster in Sandy, Utah, outside of Salt Lake City.

“I dumped a can today and I’m finding f***ing ballots in the garbage can, pardon my French, just mad,” said Charles West on video.

“I think it’s very important that we have a secure vote and peoples information isn’t compromised, I mean this opens these people up to fraud it opens these people up to everything, I’d be terrified if my name was on that ballot,” West told KSTU.

Last week, a California man discovered dozens of mail-in ballots discarded inside two trash cans in Santa Monica.

Two weeks ago, a United States Postal Service letter carrier from New Jersey was arrested for purportedly casting aside over 1,800 pieces of mail, including 99 election ballots, into dumpsters.

Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Elections announced that six outdoor mail collection boxes were broken into, and had been “pried open with a tool or force.”

Balfour said people could report crimes committed by postal employees by calling the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General hotline at 888-USPS-OIG or visiting

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Ohio elections board identifies nearly 50,000 incorrect absentee ballots

An Ohio county board of elections found that nearly 50,000 voters received incorrect absentee ballots this week, accounting for nearly 21% of the ballots mailed out.

“We can now confirm that 49,669 voters received an incorrect ballot,” the Franklin County Board of Elections said Friday. According to a press release statement from the board, the incorrect ballots were mailed as part of 237,498 ballots mailed through the U.S. postal service.

The election board has begun printing and mailing replacement ballots to every voter who received an erroneous ballot. They expect the ballots to be sent to the postal service within 72 hours for delivery.

There is also a plan to mail informational postcards to all impacted voters alerting them of the problem and instructing them on how to submit a corrected ballot.

“We want to make clear that every voter who received an inaccurate ballot will receive a corrected ballot,” the board said. “Stringent tracking measures are in place to guarantee that a voter can only cast one vote.

Steps taken to ensure that each voter only votes once include “sorting systems” that will “drop out and not accept any replacement ballots that are submitted if a voter has already voted in person.” Additionally, voters who have an active absentee ballot but show up to vote in person on Election Day “MUST vote provisionally.” Provisional ballots are not counted until the eligibility of a voter to cast that ballot is verified.

On Tuesday, as early voting began in Ohio, several residents of Franklin County began reporting that their envelopes and ballots contained incorrect information, such as the wrong precinct or congressional race, WOSU reports.

Election officials say a malfunction with one of their high-speed scanners used to process ballots caused the error.

“On October 3 at 2:24 p.m., a function of one of those scanners was disabled,” election board director Ed Leonard said Thursday. “This was determined to be the root cause of the system error that led to voters receiving an incorrect ballot.”

The board now says the scanner is repaired and an investigation has been started into BlueCrest, the vendor of the scanners.

WOSU reports that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has instructed the state elections board to hold onto incorrect ballots received until a correct replacement ballot is submitted. If a replacement ballot is never submitted, the original must be “processed, remade, and scanned on or after the 11th day after the election.”

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‘This is an issue’: Some Virginia voters received duplicate ballots in mail, but officials say all is well

Just weeks before Election Day, at least 1,400 Virginia voters who had requested absentee ballots received duplicates in the mail.

What are the details?

According to the Washington Post, at least 1,000 registered voters in Fairfax County received multiple absentee ballots, while voters in Henrico County and the city of Richmond also received duplicate absentee ballots.

Maurisa Potts told WRC-TV that she was shocked to find four ballots in her mailbox recently, two for her and two for her husband.

“When I got the mail, we got four ballots — two for me, addressed to me, and two addressed to my husband, so for someone who is a first timer doing mail-in I was confused,” she said. “With this year, with people are concerned about election fraud and being fair and counting ballots, this is an issue.”

Jean Brennan, a voter in Leesburg, told WTTG-TV that she received one ballot in the mail and her husband received two.

“This is what [Trump’s] concerned about and I am too and I wanted to bring it to your attention,” Brennan told the news station.

Despite the alarming development, officials said there is no reason for concern. Officials in both counties blamed the error on printing issues and record demand for absentee ballots.

More from the Post:

[E]lection officials said safeguards are in place to ensure that only one ballot is counted per voter. Each ballot cast by a Virginia voter is recorded into a state verification system, election officials said. If someone were to try to vote more than once with the same identity, the system would reject the extra ballot as invalid.

What’s the background?

With concerns over the spread of coronavirus, this year’s election will place a greater emphasis on absentee and mail-in ballots than ever before. Republicans claim the process is ripe for voter fraud, while Democrats say mail-in voting is safe for conducting a national election.

But there have been numerous problems with mail ballots thus far.

For example, as many as 140,000 mismatched ballots were mailed in New York. As TheBlaze reported, voters received ballots containing the wrong name, wrong address — or someone else’s ballot altogether.

Meanwhile, over 20% of the mail-in ballots cast during New York City’s presidential primary in June were disqualified.

In Georgia, state Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirmed in August that 1,000 people voted twice during Georgia’s primary, casting absentee ballots and voting in person. Although the apparent voter fraud did not change the outcome of any elections there, Raffensperger suggested it proved mail-in voting is not suitable for conducting a fair and safe election.

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As many as 140,000 New Yorkers receive absentee ballots with wrong names and addresses

Voters in New York City are sounding the alarm after several have reported receiving absentee ballots containing either the wrong name and address, or another person’s ballot altogether — and officials estimate as many as 140,000 mismatched absentee mailings were sent out.

What are the details?

Gothamist reported Monday that multiple voters in Brooklyn said “they have received a mislabeled ‘official absentee ballot envelope.’ Normally, the voter inserts their completed ballot into the envelope and signs the outside. But in these cases, their ballot envelopes bear the wrong name and address. If a person signs their own name to this faulty ballot envelope, the ballot would be voided.”

The outlet noted that “the New York City Board of Elections has mailed out nearly half a million absentee ballots ahead of Election Day this November,” and “more than 140,000 absentee ballots have gone out across the borough.”

Business Insider reporter Grace Panetta tweeted, ”
And it looks like some people are getting not just the wrong return envelopes with their ballot, but other’s people’s ballots entirely. I can only hope this isn’t a widespread problem bc it’s a pretty serious safety/privacy issue.”

Impacted New Yorkers also took to social media to sound the alarm. One Brooklyn resident called out her city councilman, Brad Lander, tweeting, “I, too, received somebody else’s absentee ballot. Pls help your constituents/our democracy, @bradlander?”

Lander responded, “Sigh. You and apparently as many as 140,000 others. Here’s what we know so far,” pointing to his own Twitter feed where he had linked to the Gothamist article. He had written earlier, “Emerging from Yom Kippur to dozens of emails from Brooklyn voters who were mailed absentee ballots with the wrong name/address on the return envelope. Just so enraging & depressing.”

“Voting absentee is going to work. It really is,” he also tweeted, followed by a “fingers crossed” emoji.

He added, “As @commoncauseny‘s Susan Lerner says: ‘Look, this is a stupid error, but there is time to get it fixed.’ And I know it won’t affect the Presidential race (fortunately, swing states have been doing mail-in ballots longer & better). But still, [New York City Board of Elections], please. I can’t take it.”

The New York City Board of Elections blamed an outside vendor for the error, and advised voters to send them a private message, email them, or call to rectify the problem.

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More than 1,600 uncounted NJ primary ballots found in ‘mislabeled’ bin from July primary

Election workers discovered 1,666 uncounted New Jersey state ballots last week.

The ballots, from New Jersey’s Sussex County, were found in a “mislabeled” bin.

The primary election was on July 7.

What are the details?

Board of Elections Administrator Marge McCabe said that the ballots were subsequently counted and added to the state’s final tally on Saturday.

The ballots purportedly did not affect the outcome of the election “in any race for any office, Republican or Democrat.”

Officials added that as soon as the ballots were found, they notified the state Attorney General’s office.

“The Board of Elections is confident that all ballots received have been processed and the security of all the ballots has remained in place,” McCabe said.

According to the New Jersey Herald, authorities discovered the ballots in a “secured area” at the Board of Elections office, and have not explained how the ballots were misplaced to begin with.

The outlet reported, however, that the error was “perhaps the result of a unique election process caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a majority of county residents voting by mail and the Board of Elections temporarily relocating to count the votes.”

“According to a New Jersey Herald article two weeks after the primary, the county had received 28,062 mail-in ballots and an additional 2,126 provisional ballots for this year’s elections,” the Herald added.

Pending litigation

The snafu follows New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s order mandating that New Jersey would be a universal mail-in election state.

Murphy unilaterally made the move, prompting the Republican National Committee and the Trump re-election campaign to file suit against the order.

On Friday, the campaign filed an amended complaint against New Jersey, insisting that the order violates the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes as they pertain to Election Day.

You can read more on the suit here.