VICTORY: Federal Judge Dismisses Challenge to North Dakota’s Mail-in Voting Process after League of Women Voters of North Dakota, CLC Seek to Join Suit
Today, in a victory for North Dakota voters, a federal judge dismissed a challenge to North Dakota’s mail-in voting process.
"The fundamental right to cast your ballot and have it counted is key to our democracy,” said Barbara Headrick, president of the League of Women Voters of North Dakota. "The League will always stand up for every voter's right to cast their ballot in the way that works for them. North Dakotans deserve to have their voices heard and respected, and we’re pleased the court ruled to ensure that every validly cast mail ballot will be counted."
“In our democracy, every vote counts, and that means we must count every vote — including mail-in ballots,” said Molly Danahy, senior legal counsel for litigation at Campaign Legal Center. “We are glad a federal judge dismissed this challenge to North Dakota’s clearly lawful requirement that counties count mail-in ballots postmarked before election day, which ensures North Dakotans who vote by mail in the lead up to election day are not denied a voice in our elections.”
"Every voter deserves confidence that their voice will be heard, regardless of how they choose to submit their ballot, said Celina Stewart, chief counsel and senior director of advocacy and litigation at the League of Women Voters of the US. "We're proud that today’s decision ensures trust in the electoral process for the people of North Dakota. The League remains committed to advocating for increased access to the ballot, including voting by mail, for all voters across the country.
North Dakota is one of several states that set uniform deadlines for the counting of mail-in ballots to help ensure postal issues don’t prevent voters from having their timely ballots counted. Under current North Dakota law, otherwise valid mail-in ballots postmarked up to the day before Election Day must be counted so long as they are received prior to the vote canvassing deadline, 13 days after the Election Day.
In July, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed suit on behalf of Burleigh County Auditor Mark Splonskowski seeking to prevent election officials from counting mail-in ballots that are mailed before, but received after, Election Day – a move that would have needlessly upended North Dakota’s election process. Today, a federal judge dismissed this suit because Splonskowski could not demonstrate he was personally harmed by the law. As a result, North Dakotans who timely cast their mail-in ballots will continue to have their voices heard at the ballot box.
More information about the case can be found here.