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Mail-in ballots will not be affected by the GOP lawsuit in Illinois

A potential vote-counting problem in Illinois was put on hold late Monday when a federal judge postponed until December a dispute over the validity of ballots mailed on or before Election Day but received by election officials within two weeks after.

U.S. District Judge John Kness scheduled oral arguments for Dec. 5 on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed in May in U.S. District Court in Chicago by a downstate Republican congressman and two GOP representatives. The timing of the dispute is too late to affect the vote count in the November 8 general election.

Adverse decision on election day could potentially invalidate tens of thousands general election ballots mailed by Illinois voters, including military personnel serving overseas, and postmarked on or before Election Day but received by election officials later.

The lawsuit, led by four-term U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro, echoes former President Donald Trump’s refusal to challenge other states in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, which he falsely claims was stolen.

The lawsuit was filed by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which was one of the groups helping Trump in his bid to stop the ballot counting after the 2020 election.

The group says the Illinois lawsuit was aimed at ensuring the integrity of the election and protecting the rights of Bost and other registered voters.

At issue is a 2015 state law that allows mail-in ballots to be counted if they are received within 14 days of Election Day, if they are posted on or before the last day of voting. If the ballot is not postmarked or illegible, the ballot may be counted if the voter has dated and signed the ballot on or before Election Day.

The 2015 law also aims to help military personnel and foreign nationals. This year, the 14-day period, which also counts advance votes, ends on November 22. The lawsuit sought to exclude mail-in ballots received after Nov. 8 from being counted.

The lawsuit alleges that the Illinois law violates federal law that sets the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years as election day for federal elections. The lawsuit further alleges that the Illinois law harms Bost, including post-Election Day observer costs and the ability to count mail-in ballots during a 14-day period that “dilutes” “timely” votes cast up to and including Election Day. .

Defending the state law, the Illinois attorney general’s office, led by Democrat Kwame Raoul, counters that the Illinois statute is “critical to ensuring the voting rights of millions of Illinois residents who exercise their right to vote by mail.

“Without this, these voters are at risk of being disenfranchised, despite casting their ballots on time, due to mail delivery delays and/or inconsistent postmarking practices,” the attorney general’s office said.

In the 2020 presidential election, which is traditionally more turnout than midterm elections and has seen a surge in mail-in voting amid the pandemic, one-third of the state’s nearly 6.1 million votes were cast by mail. Of those, an estimated 266,417 mail-in ballots were received and counted after Election Day, representing 4.4% of all votes cast in Illinois in 2020.



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