A federal New Jersey judge on Tuesday rejected President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign lawsuit that sought to overturn New Jersey’s mail-in ballot procedures that allow ballots received two days after the election without a postmark to be counted.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation in August allowing election officials to count mail-in ballots 10 days before Election Day and accept ballots that aren’t postmarked up to two days after the election, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The campaign said the rules would “establish conditions likely to incentivize and facilitate the same kind of fraud and confusion that have plagued New Jersey elections for years,” per the AP.
The campaign also argued that processing ballots before Election Day is illegal since federal law “establishes a national uniform Election Day for Congress and the Presidency,” according to CNN. Canvassing is when election officials open ballots in preparation for them to be counted and check signatures to make sure they match and that the ballot is valid, per the report.
Judge Michael Shipp denied the campaign a preliminary injunction, ruling the state had the legal authority to issue the rules.
“Federal law establishing a national uniform Election Day does not prevent New Jersey from canvassing ballots before Election Day so long as the election is not consummated and the results reported before the polls close on Election Day,” Shipp ruled.
“Although federal law prohibits New Jersey from canvassing ballots cast after Election Day, it is within New Jersey’s discretion to choose its methods of determining the timeliness of ballots, so long as there is no appreciable risk of canvassing untimely ballots,” the ruling added, according to Fox News.
Shipp added that granting a preliminary injunction to the Trump campaign would negate public interest. (RELATED: More Than 1,600 Uncounted Ballots From New Jersey Primary Found In Bin)
“Here the risk is not just voters remaining away from the polls but also voters traveling to the polls,” he wrote. “It is foreseeable that an injunction on the eve of the by-mail election could prompt such confusion or distrust that voters opt to avoid the mail system altogether and cast provisional ballots in person. Such an outcome would defeat the purpose of the vote-by-mail election and needlessly force voters and poll workers into close proximity.”
Shipp also said that changing the rules this late in the game would cause confusion.
“Some voters have already received and cast ballots. Further changes to the State’s election procedures on the eve of the election are likely to cause confusion among the electorate that is against the public interest.”
Shipp’s ruling doesn’t end the lawsuit, but it makes it likely that the GOP and Trump’s campaign will not stop the new rules from taking effect before Election Day, according to NorthJersey.com.
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal celebrated the decision in a tweet.
A major victory for New Jersey’s voters! Today, a federal judge rejected a challenge to NJ’s new elections laws.
As your AG, I will keep fighting for your right to vote and your right to remain healthy. You shouldn’t have to choose. pic.twitter.com/JEy2mqMODS
— AG Gurbir Grewal (@NewJerseyOAG) October 6, 2020
“A major victory for New Jersey’s voters! Today, a federal judge rejected a challenge to NJ’s new election laws. As your AG, I will keep fighting for your right to vote and your right to remain healthy. You shouldn’t have to choose.”
Courtney Parella, the Deputy National Press Secretary for the Trump campaign called the decision irresponsible in a statement to the Daily Caller.
“This decision irresponsibly upholds the New Jersey Democrats’ system that brought them the fraud-ridden Paterson case and unsurprisingly brought on a fresh batch of chaos for November’s election just yesterday. The Trump Campaign will continue President Trump’s fight for a free, fair election in New Jersey.”