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The Supreme Court will not allow Wisconsin to count mail-in votes that arrive days after the election


Voting rights groups and the state and national Democratic parties had filed lawsuits to extend the deadline.

By Pete Williams -

NBC News

WASHINGTON - Wisconsin will not be able to count mail-in ballots long after the polls close, according to a Supreme Court decision Monday, a defeat for Democrats in a key state that is up for grabs in this election.

In a 5-3 vote, the justices refused to reverse a lower court ruling that

prevents the state from counting mail-in ballots that arrive until six days after Election Day.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said they would have granted the request.

Voting rights groups, the state and national Democratic parties and the League of Women Voters sued to extend the deadline for accepting mail-in ballots.

They said the flood of votes by mail and the problems stemming from the coronavirus pandemic make it difficult for voters to receive their ballots by mail and return them on time.

Wisconsin has been hit especially hard by COVID-19, its hospitals nearly full.

[Follow our coverage of the 2020 presidential elections]

District Court Judge William Conley agreed and ordered the state to accept ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day, as long as they are postmarked before the polls close.

But the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the order.

"A last minute event may require a last minute reaction. But it is not possible to describe COVID-19 as a last minute event," the court said.

Courts are often reluctant to change the rules so close to Election Day

, but when they asked the Supreme Court to reverse the suspension of the appeals court, the Wisconsin groups said there is no risk of voters being confused by the grant your request. 

[Early voting records a record for youth and black momentum: Trump closes the gap against Biden, according to polls]

"Ballots for a substantial number of voters who will follow all Wisconsin rules will arrive after the current deadline due to conditions caused by the pandemic," they argued.

Without the support of the Supreme Court, the groups said, "there would be a massive disenfranchisement of Wisconsin voters."

Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, sided with those who sued.

Two residents deposit their ballots by mail in an official ballot box outside the Tippecanoe Library in Milwaukee on Oct. 20, 2020. Getty Images

But Republicans urged the Court to stick to the current state deadline.

"Wisconsin law gives voters who may experience mail delays multiple avenues to cast their vote, including two weeks of early voting in person, more avenues than are available in most other states," they said in documents. judicial.

President Donald Trump

won Wisconsin in 2016 by less than one percentage point,

an advantage of less than 23,000 votes.

Three of the last five presidential election results in the state have narrowly missed.

The Supreme Court made a different decision last week by allowing mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania to be counted that arrive on the Friday following the election.

By a 4-4 vote, the justices enforced a state court ruling that extended the voting time.

They did not explain their reasoning.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in a brief explanation of his vote in the Wisconsin matter, said the cases got to the Supreme Court in different ways.

In Pennsylvania, state election officials were already planning to extend the deadline by order of their highest state court, while in Wisconsin election administrators had no such plans because a federal appeals court blocked a similar request.

"This case involves federal intrusions into state legislative processes," he said, while the Pennsylvania case "involved the authority of state courts to apply their own constitutions."

[Early voting period begins in New York]


Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch said Wisconsin has made several changes to accommodate the pandemic

, such as sending ballot requests to all registered voters, allowing more time to vote, and providing mailboxes as an alternative to mailing.

"Elections must end sometime, a single deadline provides clear notice, and requiring ballots to be mailed before Election Day puts all voters on an equal footing," they said.

But Judge Elena Kagan, writing on behalf of the three dissidents, said extending the deadline "would prevent the state from wasting the votes of people actively participating" in the democratic process.

"Protecting the right to vote in the midst of a health crisis exceeds meeting a deadline on safer days."

The Court is still considering a similar term extension in North Carolina, and Pennsylvania Republicans are making another attempt to shorten the time a ballot can be accepted in that state.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2020-10-27

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