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Judge Extends Absentee Ballot Deadline, State Legislature Appeals

U.S. District Judge William Conley ordered Monday that absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day will count as long as they arrive by November 9th. In other words, Wisconsinites might not know who who won till the Monday after Election Day. The Wisconsin Legislature appealed the decision to the federal 7th Circuit on Wednesday. The case could go to the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Conley cited the COVID-19 pandemic as grounds for his order, stating: “While the Legislature would opt to disregard the voting rights of these so-called procrastinators [who submit ballots late], Wisconsin’s election system sets them up for failure in light of the near certain impacts of this ongoing pandemic.”

Judge Conley was the same judge who extended the deadline for absentee ballots in Wisconsin by six days for the spring election, an order the United States Supreme Court¬†blocked. But the court has recently shied away from taking cases that touch on state law and “fundamentally alter the nature of an election.” Their hesitation could be particularly strong with the spotlight shining on the court as President Trump moves to appoint a successor to Justice Ginsberg who died last week.

Wisconsin law requires absentee ballots to be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day.