Politico

Trump campaign seeks to halt early vote counting while lawsuit against New Jersey is decided


President Donald Trump’s campaign wants a federal judge to act soon to prevent New Jersey from counting mail-in ballots starting 10 days before the Nov. 3 election.

In a court filing Wednesday, the campaign also asked U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp to bar elections officials from accepting mail-in ballots that do not have a postmark for two days after Election Day.

The campaign and its co-plaintiffs, the Republican National Committee and the New Jersey Republican State Committee, filed an “an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not issue” — its first move to hasten the lawsuit they filed Aug. 18.

But the motion, signed by state Sen. Michael Testa (R-Cumberland), does not seek to immediately pause the larger plans for a mail-in election, despite the Trump campaign’s claims it violates the U.S. Constitution and three federal laws.

Context: Gov. Phil Murphy on Aug. 14 ordered that the general election be conducted primarily by mail, with all active voters automatically sent a mail-in ballot. Voters can also fill out provisional ballots in person at polling places. The law also allows county election officials to begin counting mail-in ballots 10 days before Election Day, and for them to accept un-postmarked ballots through Nov. 5.

The Trump campaign sued on Aug. 18, calling the plans a “recipe for disaster” and alleging potential for voter fraud. But it did not file a motion to temporarily halt the election plans while the lawsuit was decided. Shipp last week told attorneys on the case to hurry up, saying the case was “butting up against the election.”

“I’m just not sure why this was not filed with any urgency,” Shipp said.

Some county clerks began sending mail-in ballots to voters last week.

Impact: If Shipp sides with the Trump campaign and bars elections officials from counting ballots early, it could take days or even weeks to know the results of close races and could make it hard to certify election results by the late November deadline.

What’s next? Arguments and briefings on the lawsuit are expected to be scheduled later Wednesday, Testa said.

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