WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, July 26, a federal judge in Illinois tossed out a lawsuit brought by three Republicans — including the current representative for the state’s 12th Congressional District, Michael Bost (R) — alleging that the state’s mail-in ballot receipt deadline violates federal law and burdens the right to vote under the First and 14th Amendments.
The Republicans behind the lawsuit argued that an Illinois law — which allows mail-in ballots that are postmarked or certified on or before Election Day to be counted for up to two weeks after Election Day — conflicts with federal law that requires states to hold Election Day on the first Tuesday in November. According to the Republicans’ suit, the challenged law allowing Illinois to count ballots after Election Day would “dilute” the value of their timely cast ballots.
In countering the Republicans’ arguments, the defendants asserted that excluding validly cast mail-in ballots received after Election Day from the total vote tally would result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Illinoisans who rely on mail-in voting and whose ballots might not arrive by Election Day due to “delayed mail delivery and/or inconsistent postmarking practices.”
The defendants also cited the fact that 17 other states allow the counting of mail-in ballots delivered after Election Day in order to ensure that “timely cast mail-in ballots are not rejected merely because of delays attributable to the Postal Service, which are beyond the control of voters.”
In yesterday’s order granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss the Republicans’ lawsuit, the judge held that “because Plaintiffs fail to plead sufficiently concrete, particularized, and imminent injuries sufficient to meet the requirement of standing under Article III of the United States Constitution, the Court lacks the power to hear this case.”
In addition to ruling that the court lacks jurisdiction, the judge added that “[i]n any event, Plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that the Ballot Receipt Deadline Statute conflicts with federal law.” The order notes that despite the fact that federal law sets a “national standard” for holding Election Day on the first Tuesday in November, “states retain significant discretion—frequently exercised—to prescribe the times, places, and manner of conducting elections” under the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Finally, the judge rejected the Republicans’ assertion that the challenged ballot receipt deadline burdens their right to vote: “Plaintiffs’ votes here are not diluted by other valid, lawfully cast votes.” Yesterday’s order is a victory for Illinois voters and represents the latest repudiation of Republicans’ continued attacks on mail-in voting, which is a secure, reliable and accessible method of voting.