Secretary of State explains plans for segregated absentee ballots

Election officials are reminding voters that it's too late to mail in your absentee ballots.
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A court ruling on Thursday requires any absentee ballots received by mail after 8 p.m. on Election Day to be separated from the ballots received on time.

So what happens to the absentee ballots that arrive too late and have to be segregated? Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon explained in a Zoom call with reporters on Friday what will likely happen.

Related: It's too late to mail your ballot, but you can still vote. Here's how.

Basically, from what Simon and the state's attorneys gleaned from the U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling on Thursday, is that ballots that arrive after 8 p.m. on Election Day are not automatically invalidated – the state's plan is to segregate them from the other ballots and still count them. 

Vote totals, including from the segregated ballots, will be included in the election results data that's available on the Secretary of State's website. (Simon noted that the office won't be releasing separate information on segregated ballot totals but will be updating the vote tallies in the seven days following the election so people could do the math themselves.)

From his understanding, Simon says the late ballots will still be counted unless a candidate's campaign seeks to invalidate the segregated votes. 

And, the court signaled in its ruling that if a campaign does seek to invalidate the votes, they'll likely be successful. 

Simon also said that the ruling only appears to impact votes for the presidential race. That being said, down-ballot races may also have the legal standing to challenge the segregated votes based on the court's decision. 

Meanwhile, Simon could appeal the 8th Circuit Court's ruling to the Supreme Court. However, Simon said they hadn't decided if they would do this or not, but a decision is expected some time on Friday. 

Simon said on Friday that there are more than 300,000 absentee ballots that have not yet been returned, noting this could include people who decided to vote early in-person, they could be in the mail or they could still be at people's homes. 

If you still have an absentee ballot, Simon says it's "too risky" to drop it in the mail. Instead, you should drop it off at your local election office by 3 p.m. on Election Day or vote early in person or in person on Tuesday. More information on what to do if you're worried your ballot won't get there in time is available here

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