Trump asks Supreme Court to block deadline extension for North Carolina ballot

FILE PHOTO: Election workers test voting tabulators for accuracy at the Wake County Board of Elections on the first day that the state started mailing out absentee ballots, in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S. September 4, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s campaign again asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Sunday to block North Carolina’s plan for counting absentee ballots that arrive after the Nov. 3 Election Day, the latest legal tussle in a wide-ranging fight over mail-in voting.

The campaign initially filed the application on Thursday after a U.S. federal appeals court decision last week left in place North Carolina’s plan, dealing a setback to Trump’s re-election campaign.

In a 12-3 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last Tuesday denied a bid to halt the North Carolina State Board of Elections from tallying ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 that arrive before Nov. 12.

The Trump campaign, the North Carolina Republican Party and others had sued over the timetable, saying that it violated the state’s election code.

“An emergency injunction is urgently needed to ensure that our federal election is governed by the statutes enacted by the people’s duly elected representatives, and not by the whims of an unelected state agency,” the campaign wrote to the Supreme Court on Sunday in a new filing.

Next month’s election promises to be the nation’s largest test of voting by mail because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and Democrats and Republicans are locked in numerous lawsuits over the issue. About 58.8 million voters have already cast ballots.

Trump has repeatedly and without evidence claimed that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud, while his challenger, Joe Biden, and the Democratic Party have sought to remove obstacles to voting by mail.

The Republican-controlled Senate is due to vote on Monday to confirm Trump’s third appointee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, cementing a 6-3 conservative majority. Trump has said he wants Barrett on the court to address any election-related cases.

(Story corrects second paragraph to clarify application was initially filed on Thursday (not Sunday), adds word “again” in first paragraph)

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Peter Cooney