Montana Supreme Court Upholds Nov. 3 Absentee Ballot Deadline, Blocking Lower Court

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Adam Barnes General Assignment Reporter
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The Montana Supreme Court upheld the state absentee ballot law Tuesday that requires all counted ballots to be received by 8pm Nov. 3.

The court’s ruling marks the second time the Montana Supreme court has blocked a lower court ruling to allow ballots to be counted after the presidential election if the ballots were postmarked by Nov. 3, the Associated Press reported. Justices overturned District Judge Donald Harris’ Sept. 25 ruling, which argued that voters needed more time due to COVID-19 concerns and unpredictable mail delivery. (RELATED: How 5 Swing States’ Mail-In Voting Laws Are Setting Up An Election Day Disaster)

Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton argued that extending counting time would cause confusion and potentially disrupt the process, the Billings Gazette reported.

“Having reviewed the District Court’s order, the Court agrees with the Secretary that the injunction disrupts the status quo, is likely to cause voter confusion, and interferes with the ability of the State to administer an orderly general election process already underway,” the justices ruled.

“The postmark deadline was never the law or the status quo for the general absentee ballots at issue,” Justice Beth Baker wrote in the decision. “The District Court failed to analyze how the ballot deadline would impact other related election functions and deadlines, or to consider whether (blocking) the (old) ballot deadline would maintain the status quo.”

The court’s decision joins a larger national discussion over election integrity, the AP added. A court decision in Wisconsin upheld the states extended deadline assuming counted absentee ballots were postmarked by election day and received by Nov. 9 (RELATED: Here Are All The States That Have Extended Their Mail-In Ballot Receipt Deadline)

There have been more than 30 million ballot requests in 36 states, according to CNN.