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Vermont official asks Kavanaugh to correct claim about state's voting procedures

Vermont’s Secretary of State on Wednesday called for Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process MORE to correct a claim made in a Monday opinion that Vermont had not made any election rule changes this year, which the justice used as a justification to deny Democrats’ request to extend the deadline for mail-in voting in Wisconsin. 

In a letter sent to the clerk of the Supreme Court, Vermont Secretary of State James Condos said that in Kavanaugh’s opinion, the Trump-appointed justice claimed that Vermont “decided not to make changes to their ordinary election rules, including to the election-day deadline for receipt of absentee ballots.” 

Condos added that while Vermont issued a directive in July stating that it would make every effort to “depart as little as possible from our voting traditions and our safe and secure voting processes,” the secretary of state noted that the state had actually recently implemented two changes. 

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In September, Condos announced that each registered voter would automatically be sent an absentee ballot, a change from the previous requirement of submitting a formal request for one. 

Condos also pointed out that given the surge in early and absentee voting this election cycle amid the coronavirus pandemic, his office “authorized Local Election Officials to begin processing such ballots confidentially and with strict security protocols during the 30 days preceding the election in order to facilitate timely results.” 

“Since the state of Wisconsin neither changed its ordinary election rules this year to mail each of its active registered voters a ballot nor authorized its Local Election Officials to process ballots early, Vermont is not an accurate comparison for the assertion Justice Kavanaugh has made,” Condos argued in the letter. 

“I respectfully ask that the record is corrected to reflect that,” he added. 

On Monday, the Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision along ideological lines denied a bid by Democrats to reinstate a six-day extension for the receipt of mail-in ballots in Wisconsin, a key battleground state in the presidential race.

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Kavanaugh wrote an opinion concurring with the majority decision. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchCalifornia megachurch says it has a 'biblical mandate' to meet after Supreme Court decision For Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Supreme Court blocks New York coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship MORE also wrote separate concurring opinions. 

The ruling may have a disproportionate impact on supporters of Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenLawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list GOP lawmaker blasts incoming freshman over allegations of presidential voter fraud Haaland has competition to be first Native American to lead Interior  MORE, who are more likely to vote by mail than backers of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE, who won Wisconsin in 2016 by fewer than 23,000 votes.

A federal district judge had ruled in September that Wisconsin mail ballots postmarked by Election Day and received up to six days later would be counted, saying that the coronavirus pandemic posed a threat to in-person voting in the state. 

However, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit earlier this month reversed the lower court and reinstated the Nov. 3 due date, prompting a petition by the Democratic National Committee asking the Supreme Court to restore the judge’s ruling.

The recent Wisconsin polling average from RealClearPolitics puts Biden approximately 6 percentage points ahead of Trump in the Badger State.