Virginia Court Blocks Plan to Accept Ballots Without Postmarks After Election Day

Published On: October 28th, 2020

Court Enjoins State Election Board from Accepting Absentee Ballots Without Postmarks After Election Day

(RICHMOND, VA.) – October 28, 2020: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), on behalf of Thomas Reed, a local electoral board member, praised a court injunction granted today to prevent the Virginia State Board of Elections from accepting absentee ballots received up to three days after Election Day without legible postmarks (Reed v. Virginia Dept. of Elections).

Mr. Reed had a straightforward request: follow the law,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “The judge enjoined the Virginia State Board of Elections from issuing instructions to count late ballots without postmarks.”

The ruling was given from the bench around 3pm Eastern time Wednesday. More documents about the ruling will be provided here as they are available.

Existing Virginia statute (24.2-709) is clear: “any absentee ballot returned to the general registrar after the closing of the polls on election day but before noon on the third day after the election and postmarked on or before the date of the election shall be counted…” (emphasis added).

The defendants’ guidance to local election boards on August 4, 2020, stood contrary to Virginia law, particularly allowing ballots received within the Election Day plus-3 window even if they do not “have a postmark, or the postmark is missing or illegible.”

The plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief from the Circuit Court of the County of Frederick that:

  1. Instructions issued by the defendants conflict with specific Virginia statute;
  2. A postmark dated on or before Election Day be required for acceptance;
  3. The Intelligent Mail Barcode system by the USPS be used to verify date of mailing in the cases of missing or illegible postmarks; and,
  4. Enjoin the defendants from issuing any further instructions that conflict with existing Virginia statutes.

The plaintiff for this action is Thomas P. Reed, a Frederick County Board of Elections Member.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is leading the nation in enforcing election integrity laws and the National Voter Registration Act, having brought cases in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Maine and filed amicus briefs in litigation across the nation.

The case was filed in the Circuit Court of the County of Frederick, Virginia. The case number is 20-622. Counsel for the Public Interest Legal Foundation is J. Christian Adams. Winchester-based Phillip S. Griffin II serves as co-counsel.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

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