Judge tosses Trump challenge to New Jersey mail ballots

A mail ballot for the presidential election is positioned in the mailbox where it arrived in Rutherford, New Jersey on Friday, October 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

A mail ballot for the presidential election is positioned in the mailbox where it arrived in Rutherford, New Jersey on Friday, October 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s campaign that had sought to stop New Jersey’s mail ballot program.

U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp’s opinion was foreshadowed when he rejected the GOP’s request for an injunction to stop the program on Oct. 6 and wrote the plaintiffs “fail to establish they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims.”

A message was left Thursday seeking comment from a spokesperson for the Trump campaign.

In a court filing last month, the campaign alleged the state’s ballot procedures violated the Constitution and opened the door to widespread voter fraud, including that ballots mailed after Election Day would still be counted. Shipp wrote Thursday that the fraud claims rest on “highly speculative fear.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed legislation in August that allowed election officials to begin counting mail ballots 10 days before Election Day and accept unpostmarked ballots up to two days afterward. All registered New Jersey voters were mailed ballots in what Murphy has said are concerns over potential coronavirus transmission from in-person voting.

The GOP sued New Jersey in August, calling the state’s plan “a brazen power grab” by Murphy that created the possibility of widespread voter fraud. The suit named a recent incident in Paterson in which a campaign worker allegedly admitting stealing ballots out of mail boxes in a local election.

“It is difficult — and ultimately speculative — to predict future injury from evidence of past injury,” Shipp wrote Thursday.

The two major political parties are embroiled in dozens of lawsuits across the country over issues including mail ballots, ballot drop boxes, witness requirements and time extensions for voting and for counting ballots.

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