High court won’t extend Wisconsin’s absentee ballot deadline

Election

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is siding with Republicans to prevent Wisconsin from counting mailed ballots that are received after Election Day.

The justices on Monday refused to reinstate a lower court order that called for mailed ballots to be counted if they are received up to six days after the Nov. 3 election. A federal appeals court had already put that order on hold.

Democrats argued that the flood of absentee ballots and other challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic makes it necessary to extend the period in which ballots can be counted. Wisconsin is one of the nation’s hot spots for COVID-19, with hospitals treating a record high number of patients with the disease.

Republicans opposed the extension, saying that voters have plenty of opportunities to cast their ballots by the close of polls on Election Day and that the rules should not be changed so close to the election.

A federal judge in September sided with Democrats and said ballots postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, could be counted if they’re received by Nov. 9. The judge also ruled that poll workers could include people from outside the county, a change Democrats wanted in order to make it easier to fill vacancies. The judge’s ruling also extended the state’s deadline for registering by mail or electronically by seven days, from Wednesday until Oct. 21.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling but put the lower court’s decision on hold pending further appeals earlier this month.

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