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Minnesota opts against asking Supreme Court to block mail-in ballots ruling

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden gets elbow bump greetings from local supporters who his campaign said had voted for him for president during the first day of early 2020 general election voting in Minnesota earlier in the day, during a campaign stop in Duluth, Minnesota, U.S., September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Minnesota officials decided on Friday not to seek emergency intervention from the conservative-majority Supreme Court over an appeals ruling that questioned the legality of their decision to count mail-in ballots received after Election Day.

Thursday’s ruling by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of Republicans in the battleground state indicated that ballots received after Election Day, which is on Nov. 3, would not be counted if the extended deadline was ultimately found to be unlawful.

The ruling, which is not the final word in the litigation, requires that ballots received after Election Day be separated from other ballots.

“While Minnesota will comply with the 8th Circuit’s ruling to segregate the ballots received after November 3, we need to emphasize that there is no court ruling yet saying those ballots are invalid,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat.

“We absolutely reserve the right to make every argument after Election Day that protects voters,” he added.

Simon, who said he conferred with the state attorney general’s office, urged voters not to send ballots in the mail at this point but instead deliver them to county election offices or vote in person.

Minnesota law requires that mail-in ballots be received by Election Day. But that deadline was extended through a settlement Simon reached with a citizens group that sued earlier this year.

Under that settlement, which was approved by a judge, state election officials could count ballots received until Nov. 10 as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3.

Two Minnesota Republicans, James Carson and Eric Lucero, challenged the settlement.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley Additional reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Tom Brown