A legal case that sought to challenge a North Dakota law on mail-in ballots was recently dismissed by a federal judge.
The lawsuit, filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), sought to invalidate a state law that allows mail-in ballots to be counted for up to 13 days post-election. However, Judge Traynor, appointed by former President Donald Trump, dismissed the complaint.
The lawsuit was brought forth by Mr. Splonkowski, a county auditor responsible for enforcing state law in election administration within Burleigh County. His argument revolved around conflicts between state and federal law, which he claimed put him in a precarious position where he risked potential criminal penalties. The legal dispute arose from a dilemma wherein state law mandated acceptance and counting of votes after Election Day, while federal law necessitated a singular Election Day.
Splonkowski’s legal counsel argued that these conflicting laws put him in an impossible situation, risking either a misdemeanor charge for not performing his duties as an election official, or a felony for certifying a potentially false vote count. The lawsuit called for a court declaration that North Dakota’s extension of Election Day is unlawful and requested an injunction against laws permitting such an extension.
However, Judge Traynor disagreed with this stance. His ruling cited reasons including lack of standing, failure to demonstrate harm, and absence of constitutional violation. He expressed deep concern over an elected official advocating for violation of a law they were sworn to enforce based on their personal interpretation of its contradiction with federal law.
Traynor also noted that accepting the logic of Splonkowski’s lawsuit could potentially undermine the right to vote for overseas and military voters.
Responding to the judgment, PILF spokesperson Lauren Bowman Bis expressed disappointment, stating to The Epoch Times, “We believe unresolved elections undermine confidence and that federal law should be followed.”
In contrast, North Dakota’s top election official, Secretary of State Michael Howe, lauded the ruling, labeling it a victory for the rule of law in North Dakota and for the state’s military and overseas voters.
This lawsuit is among several challenging laws that allow post-Election Day ballot counting. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has voiced opposition to such practices, stating that federal law clearly specifies Election Day as the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.