The Republican Party is plotting in plain sight to steal the election. The plan goes like this: Democrats are disproportionately voting by mail or early, while most Republicans are planning to vote in person on Election Day. Therefore, Republican operatives trying to get as many mail-in ballots thrown out as possible, and then will try to stop the count as soon as possible after Election Day in order to exclude any late-arriving ballots.

The whole scheme relies on the right-wing judges that President Trump and Mitch McConnell have installed throughout the court system to issue orders and rubber-stamp their actions. On Thursday, a 2-1 conservative majority on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals advanced a brazen new argument that both boosts Trump's chances in Minnesota by changing the election rules at the last minute and usurps states' control over their election systems.

The ruling instructed the state to segregate all mail-in ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day so they can be legally challenged, and likely thrown out. The reasoning is completely preposterous. The previous timetable allowing ballots to be counted so long as they were postmarked by Election Day and received by November 10 comes from a consent decree approved by the state courts in a previous case. The court majority now claims they are merely preserving the power of the legislature, but in fact Minnesota law explicitly makes allowances for the state government to follow such an agreement. Indeed, as part of the consent decree, the Trump campaign agreed in writing not to levy further challenges to the state's election. The majority didn't even bother to mention that.

Finally, the ruling baldly violates the longstanding "Purcell principle," which holds that courts should not change election rules on the eve of an election, for obvious reasons. Now, all the instructions carefully mailed out with nearly 2 million Minnesota ballots are wrong.

Without question, this ruling will disenfranchise many Minnesotans, and is clearly intended to do so. We can now expect right-wing legal Calvinball across the land, with no principle aside from "it's legal if it benefits conservatives." There can be no doubt that if the tables were turned, and it were Republican ballots coming by mail, the exact same partisan judges would cook up pretexts to extend the deadline as long as possible.

Should you live in Minnesota, I suggest returning your ballot yourself, or voting in person.