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Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an effort by the Trump campaign and Republicans to reverse a six-day mail ballot due date extension in North Carolina.

The ruling was a major blow for President TrumpDonald Trump Pence said he's 'proud' Congress certified Biden's win on Jan. 6 Americans put the most trust in their doctor for COVID-19 information: poll OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Biden administration to evacuate Afghans who helped US l Serious differences remain between US and Iran on nuclear talks l US, Turkish officials meet to discuss security plans for Afghan airport MORE, who polls show to be locked in a tight race with Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe Biden Pence said he's 'proud' Congress certified Biden's win on Jan. 6 Americans put the most trust in their doctor for COVID-19 information: poll US to give Afghanistan 3M doses of J&J vaccine MORE in the crucial battleground state, a must-win for the president’s reelection chances.

The court’s three most conservative justices — Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasSupreme Court strikes down FHFA director's firing protection Supreme Court backs cheerleader over school in free speech case Biden's bad run: Is he doing worse in the courts than Trump? MORE, Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoSupreme Court strikes down FHFA director's firing protection Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision The Hill's 12:30 Report: Supreme Court unveils two major opinions MORE and Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court strikes down FHFA director's firing protection Student athletes or independent contractors? Supreme Court moves the goalposts on the NCAA The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats await Manchin decision on voting rights bill MORE — would have granted the request. Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettSupreme Court's Cedar Point property rights decision protects both sides Supreme Court strikes down FHFA director's firing protection Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 MORE, who joined the court Tuesday, did not participate in consideration of the case.

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The court did not disclose the justices’ exact voting breakdown, though it was clear the GOP bid failed to garner the five votes needed to block the deadline extension.

North Carolina Republicans had asked the justices to effectively undo a state court-approved agreement to push back the deadline for the receipt of mail ballots to accommodate voters during the pandemic. The new deadline added six days, from Nov. 6 to Nov. 12, for the receipt of ballots that are postmarked by Nov. 3.

In a dissent, Gorsuch, joined by Alito, said the relaxed limits reflected an unlawful encroachment by North Carolina’s Board of Elections into the legislature’s management of the election. The due date extension, Gorsuch said, represented an “override [of] a carefully tailored legislative response to COVID.”

“Such last-minute changes by largely unaccountable bodies, too, invite confusion, risk altering election outcomes, and in the process threaten voter confidence in the results,” Gorsuch wrote.

Roughly 1.4 million voters in the state requested mail ballots for the upcoming election, which is almost seven times as many requests compared to this point in 2016, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. Polls show that supporters of Biden are about twice as likely as Trump voters to cast ballots by mail.

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The ruling Wednesday by the justices in the North Carolina case may not be the final word in the Tar Heel State, since it applied to only one of two GOP challenges.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Carolina Republicans filed a second request to the Supreme Court asking justices to reverse a North Carolina's top state court upholding ballot due date extension.

The Wednesday evening ruling came shortly after the court weighed in on a fight over Pennsylvania’s mail-ballot extension. In that case the court denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to fast-track their bid to reinstate a stricter due date, but held open the possibility of addressing the GOP effort after the election.

Updated 8:40 p.m.