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Judge extends Minnesota vote-by-mail changes to November

Associated Press

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FILE - In this March 10, 2020, file photo wearing gloves, a King County Election worker collect ballots from a drop box in the Washington State primary, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A judge on Monday extended changes in Minnesota’s absentee ballot rules to the November general election.

Ramsey County Judge Sara Grewing approved the agreement allowing Minnesota voters to submit their mail-in or absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election without witness signatures, the Star Tribune reported.

Election officials also will count ballots that arrive within seven days of the election, as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3.

Last month DFL Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon approved similar election rules for the Aug. 11 primary. The rule changes were prompted by a lawsuit sparked by the health risks of in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Citizen groups including the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans brought the lawsuit.

“All voters should be able to vote by mail and know that their ballot will be counted,” Richard Fiesta, executive director of the national Alliance for Retired Americans, said in a statement. “This is especially critical for seniors, who are the most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, and need to be able to vote by mail to protect their health.”

Republican lawmakers have criticized the changes and have accused Simon of overstepping his authority.

Rep. Jim Nash of Waconia, a top-ranking House Republican on election issues, said he would not rule out a legal challenge to block the changes.

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