Judge throws out Trump campaign lawsuit against New Jersey’s election plans

By Matt Friedman
·2 min read

A federal judge on Thursday tossed the Trump campaign’s lawsuit against New Jersey’s primarily mail-in election, ruling that most of its arguments were speculative and that the campaign failed to show how it‘s being harmed.

The lawsuit, filed in August by the Trump campaign as well as the Republican State Committee and Republican National Committee, was basically moot anyway.

The plaintiffs did not seek an injunction to keep New Jersey from changing the way it was conducting its election. County clerks began mailing out ballots weeks ago and about 2 million have been cast so far.

“Plaintiffs have alleged nothing more than the possibility of future injury to their members,” U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp wrote in his ruling.

Neither the Trump campaign nor the Republican State Committee immediately responded to requests for comment.

Context: Citing the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy, through executive order, required that New Jersey’s 2020 election be conducted mainly through mail-in ballot. Voters can still vote in-person on Election Day by provisional ballot.

The Trump campaign sued in August, largely on the grounds that Murphy bypassed the state Legislature through the executive order. So the Democrat-led Legislature passed a bill that Murphy signed, effectively writing the executive order into law and allowing county boards of elections to count votes beginning 10 days before Election Day.

The Trump campaign then amended its lawsuit with new arguments, including challenging the early vote counts and a provision that allows elections officials to accept mail-in ballots without postmarks for up to 48 hours after the polls close.

Impact: Since the election is well under way in New Jersey, Shipp’s decision is more of a symbolic blow to the Trump campaign and Republicans, who have argued that universal mail-in elections create the opportunity for voter fraud. While there was a case of alleged voter fraud in Paterson’s May municipal election, there is little evidence it is a widespread problem.

What’s next? The Trump campaign can choose to appeal Shipp’s decision.