(Official Washington Examiner editorial, July 13)  When Election Day actually lasts for weeks, logic says something is wrong with the system. Now, there’s a lawsuit that compellingly argues that extending deadlines past Election Day violates federal law as well.

Plaintiff Mark Splonskowski, the county auditor of Burleigh County, North Dakota, deserves to win the suit. His victory should, in a just world, set a precedent for states across the nation to end their practices of allowing vote deadline leniency. It shouldn’t take weeks after Election Day just to start counting some votes, not to mention actually seeing final results.

North Dakota’s system is particularly egregious. There, ballots can still be counted even if they arrive up to 13 days after Election Day. Utah and Illinois are among other states that, like North Dakota, merely require that mail-in ballots be postmarked, but not necessarily delivered, by the end of Election Day itself. Illinois had six congressional races close enough for the results to remain in doubt while officials waited for late-arriving ballots.

Such systems obviously delay the announcement of winners. In close races, it causes public confusion, at the very least. Worse, the longer the delays are, the more chance there is for people to suspect skulduggery. Public confidence in election systems, the bedrock of our republic, erodes when results, or the system of delivering results, are so uncertain.

Splonskowski would not have a lawsuit, however, if his only point were to argue that North Dakota’s system is unwise. It’s a good point, but the efficacy of systems is something for legislatures, not courts, to decide. What’s new, and what makes it a court’s responsibility, is that Splonskowski and his counsel, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, make a strong argument that the state’s system violates existing law….. [The full column is here.]


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