A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from President Donald Trump's reelection campaign that tried to stop New Jersey’s all vote-by-mail election.
The lawsuit was filed in August by the campaign, the Republican National Committee, and the New Jersey State Republican Committee, arguing that the state’s vote-by-mail election was a violation of their constitutional rights because it would facilitate fraudulent and invalid votes.
On Thursday, New Jersey District Judge Michael E. Shipp ruled that the Republicans did not present any evidence of actual harm and that the claim of inevitable fraud was speculative.
The Republicans also argued that a fraud case involving mailed ballots in Paterson, N.J., in a municipal election in May is evidence that the November election would invite even more problems. But the judge rejected that argument.
“It is no more than speculation to claim that those unfortunate instances will repeat themselves in the 2020 General Election,“ said U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp.
The lawsuit was becoming increasingly moot as ballots have started to flood into county offices. More than 2 million ballots—about 35 percent of the total mailed out to voters—have already arrived. But it caused some anxiety among voters who said they were worried about whether their ballots will arrive or whether the result will be challenged.
The state elections division, the counties, and advocacy groups have been working since the summer to educate voters about what will be different this election.
“Any changes to that—especially as we get closer to the election—would have not only been disruptive to election officials, but would have led to massive voter confusion,” said Henal Patel of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
Additionally, the complaint asked the court to stop other provisions that state has made to hold the election during a pandemic. Ballots without a postmark will be allowed if they arrive within two days of Election Day, because the U.S. Postal Service does not postmark every single piece of mail, and they informed New Jersey officials it was unlikely that anything mailed after Election Day could arrive before the two-day deadline.
The state is also allowing county election boards to begin counting ballots this weekend, 10 days before Election Day, to help with the huge number of ballots that normally would be cast on a machine in person.
The Republican attempt to stop these provisions was also deemed speculative and not likely to cause harm to voters.
The New Jersey League of Women Voters had filed a brief in support of the state and its vote-by-mail system.
“The state’s election plan, which will stay in place now, really does prioritize public health without jeopardizing voting rights and ensures that voters are able to have many options for casting a ballot safely and securely,” said Jesse Burns, executive director of the New Jersey League of Women Voters.
New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way oversees elections and was the named defendant in the suit. She declined to comment about the decision..