New Lawsuit Challenges Extended Ballot Count In North Dakota

The integrity of U.S. elections is a concern at the heart of our democratic process – a foundation stone of our republic. The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a renowned election integrity group, has stepped forward to challenge practices undermining that foundational integrity.

On Thursday, PILF filed a federal lawsuit against North Dakota, targeting the state’s law which permits mail-in ballots to be accepted and counted up to 13 days after each official Election Day. PILF asserts this law directly contradicts controlling federal legislation.

North Dakota stands among 18 states and the District of Columbia that maintain practices allowing for accepting and tallying mail-in ballots for days after polls officially close. PILF’s President, J. Christian Adams, highlighted the severity of this ongoing issue.

“Election day has ceased to be a day,” Adams stated. “Instead, we have election month because states accept ballots that arrive days and even weeks after election day.” Adams added, “Not only does this lead to distrust and chaos in the system, but it also violates federal law. PILF is fighting to end this lawlessness and restore the ‘day’ in election day.”

Federal law dictates that a single national Election Day should be held on “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every even-numbered year.” PILF emphasizes that every reference to Election Day in federal law is singular, not plural. This clarification underscores their argument that extended ballot counting is unsound and illegal.

In the last election cycle, North Dakota officials reportedly accepted almost 300 mail-in ballots after election day, counting more than 200. Alarmingly, according to PILF’s lawsuit, one ballot had no postmark but was still counted.

By contrast, PILF and its advocates champion the concept of a single Election Day as a core pillar of a secure and reliable democratic process. The group argues that not only does post-Election Day counting raise questions around legality, but it also fosters widespread distrust and potential chaos in our election system.

The plaintiff in the case is Mark Splonskowski, the County Auditor of Burleigh County, North Dakota. The named defendant is Erika White, the State Election Director of North Dakota. The case does not allege improper conduct or misuse of office on White’s part. Instead, it asserts she is executing her official duties according to a state law that conflicts with federal law.

PILF’s lawsuit is a call to action against practices that seemingly stretch the definition of Election Day and potentially open the door for electoral uncertainty. In doing so, the organization underscores its commitment to preserving an essential aspect of our democratic process: the security and integrity of our elections.

Here’s commentary from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) back in 2020, warning of the risks involved in permitting ballot counting long after the conclusion of elections:

As PILF’s lawsuit moves forward, it highlights the challenging and important questions facing our nation: When should we count ballots? And at what point does flexibility in accepting votes become a threat to the democratic process itself?

These questions are not just legal or academic but deeply practical. Their answers could shape the future of elections in North Dakota and nationwide. For all Americans who care about the integrity of our electoral system, this is a case to watch.