Appeals Court Blocks Wisconsin Absentee Ballot Deadline Extension

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Adam Barnes General Assignment Reporter
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A federal appeals court blocked an absentee ballot counting extension Thursday in Wisconsin that would require the state to count ballots up to 6 days after the presidential election if they were postmarked by Nov. 3.

The 11-member panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold existing state law, which requires absentee ballots to be delivered to elections officials by 8 p.m. election night, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The ruling blocks U.S. District Judge William Conley’s Sept. 21 decision that all absentee received by November. 9 must be counted if stamped on or before election day. (RELATED: Montana Supreme Court Upholds Nov. 3 Absentee Ballot Deadline, Blocking Lower Court)

“While the Legislature would opt to disregard the voting rights of these so-called procrastinators, Wisconsin’s election system sets them up for failure in light of the near certain impacts of this ongoing pandemic,” Conley wrote in his Sept. 21 decision.

“While the exact trajectory of COVID-19 in Wisconsin is unknown, the unrebutted public health evidence in the record demonstrates that COVID-19 will continue to persist, and may worsen, through November,” Conley wrote.

A panel of 3 judges from the 7th Circuit Upheld Conley’s decision Sept. 29 after a Republican appeal, the AP reported. Republicans then asked for the entire panel to review the decision. The case could now be on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the AP added. (RELATED: Texas Appeals Court Rejects Democrats Push To Expand Mail-In Voting)

Over 1.3 million absentee ballots have been requested in Wisconsin as of Nov. 8.

Before Thursday’s decision, Wisconsin was among several states with absentee ballot-counting extensions. The North Carolina State Board of Elections agreed to a settlement in September that allows votes to be counted until Nov. 12, if the ballot is postmarked by Nov. 3. Similarly, Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled Sept. 18 that absentee ballots in Michigan must be counted for up to two weeks after election day.