Maine judge rejects lawsuit challenging GOP-backed election law provisions

A Democratic Party-aligned advocacy group filed suit in Maine to challenge several provisions within the state’s laws ahead of Election Day over concerns about the ongoing public health crisis.

In a decision this week, however, a Superior Court judge rejected the organization’s request for an injunction, giving the state’s Republican secretary of state — and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign — a major win, as reported by Breitbart.

A range of complaints

The Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) launched the legal challenge against Maine officials, as well as the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee, arguing that a series of election laws amounted to “severe” and unconstitutional burdens on the right of Mainers to vote. Judge William Stokes disagreed with the position, however, as he explained in his ruling.

Among the issues cited as problematic by the plaintiffs was a requirement that voter registration forms be completed on paper and signed instead of allowing for electronic submission. The suit also cited the state requirement that first-time registrants provide some form of identification, either in person or via photocopy.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs challenged a prohibition against paid absentee ballot collectors, who commonly engage in a practice known as ballot harvesting, as well as the 8 p.m. deadline on Election Day by which ballots must be received, as the Portland Press Herald noted.

The suit similarly challenged provisions for the rejection of a ballot for certain defects and the state’s refusal to pay the postage cost of mail-in absentee ballots, which the plaintiffs deemed an unconstitutional “poll tax,” according to the Press Herald.

Stokes remained unpersuaded by the arguments, however, and refused to issue any injunctions or mandate specific changes to the state’s election laws.

“Another victory”

In his ruling, the judge went through each provision challenged by the group, finding any potential burden on voters to be either minor or moderate.

The judge went on to determine that those burdens are outweighed by the state’s interest in maintaining an orderly election process with clear guidelines, the Press Herald reported. As such, Stokes determined the plaintiffs would be unlikely to prevail on the merits of their case.

A number of Republicans and Trump allies responded enthusiastically to the judge’s ruling, including Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

“Big news!” she tweeted, denouncing the “bogus Democrat lawsuit” and declaring the outcome “another victory in our fight to ProtectTheVote.com,” according to Breitbart. McDaniel’s tweet referenced the RNC’s recently launched digital platform intended to “protect against the Democrats’ assault on our elections.”

Of course, the ARA has announced that it is “disappointed” with the ruling and filed an “emergency appeal” on one of the disputed provisions. For voters across Maine and beyond who are concerned about the security of the upcoming election, however, the decision likely comes as some much-needed reassurance.

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