Court Battles

Appeals court upholds extension of Wisconsin absentee ballot deadline

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A federal appeals court upheld a lower ruling extending Wisconsin’s absentee ballot deadline in the general election. 

The three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that mail-in ballots received by election officials in the highly contested swing state can still be counted if they are received after Election Day so long as they are postmarked Nov. 3 or earlier. 

Before the ruling, ballots in Wisconsin received after 8 p.m. on Election Day were not counted. Now, if the ruling stands, ballots postmarked on Election Day or before will be counted as long as they reach election officials by Nov. 9 — nearly a week after the general election.

The ruling marks a victory for Democrats, who sued after the state’s April presidential primary saw long lines, fewer polling places, a shortage of workers and thousands of ballots mailed days after the election.

It also comes amid concerns over the Postal Service’s ability to mail ballots in time for individual state deadlines. 

The decision was issued by Judges Frank Easterbrook, Ilana Rovner and Amy St. Eve. Easterbrook, who were all appointed by former Republican presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and President Trump, respectively. 

The judges said that the Republican National Committee and state Republicans did not suffer any damages by the extension of the deadline. 

“Neither group contends that the new deadlines established by the district court would violate the constitutional rights of any of their members,” the appeals court wrote. “The political organizations themselves do not suffer any injury caused by the judgment.”

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