A federal judge has rejected a suit by the Trump campaign on Thursday attempting to prevent New Jersey governor Phil Murphy from sending mail-in ballots to all voters in the state.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread concerns of voting in person for the presidential elections, leading millions of Americans to choose to cast an early vote by mail. President Trump and his campaign have warned that universal mail-in voting is open to fraud, and problems with ballot distribution have cropped up.
In many states, voters who cast their ballots by mail must request applications, which include identity verification, and are then returned before a ballot is mailed to them. Under universal mail-in voting, which a number of states have adopted due to the pandemic, ballots are distributed to all registered voters without requiring proof of identification. In some cases, elections officials have sent ballots to voters who moved to a separate state or are deceased.
However, U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp wrote that Governor Murphy, a Democrat, should be able to send ballots to all registered New Jersey voters and that concerns of fraud were overblown. The Trump campaign’s concerns “are largely conjectural, hypothetical, and lacking in imminence,” Shipp wrote in a ruling obtained by Bloomberg.
“Perhaps [fraud] will recur. But perhaps not,” Shipp wrote. “It is difficult—and ultimately speculative—to predict future injury from evidence of past injury.”
Republican National Committee press secretary Mandi Merritt condemned the ruling in a statement.
“We are disappointed with the ruling and are assessing our options,” Merritt said.
If there are no further challenges, all New Jersey voters will receive a mail-in ballot on election day.
The pandemic has already driven record numbers of voters to cast their ballots before November 3, either by mail or at designated in-person locations. As of Friday morning, 51 million Americans have already voted, according to JMC Analytics. By comparison, 138 million Americans voted in total in the 2016 presidential election.