Federal judge rules absentee ballots in battleground Wisconsin can be counted up to six days after Election Day

Democrats had sued to extend the deadline in the crucial swing state

Madeline Roth
Tuesday 22 September 2020 00:30 BST
A federal judge has extended the deadline for absentee ballots in Wisconsin, a key swing state.
A federal judge has extended the deadline for absentee ballots in Wisconsin, a key swing state. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
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A federal judge is giving Wisconsin voters extra time to get their absentee ballots back to election clerks for the November election.

The ruling Monday by US District Judge William Conley has ordered that absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day on November 3 will be counted so long as they are received by November 9. Wisconsin's normal deadline for ballots is 8 p.m. Election Day, when polls close.

In another victory to Democrats — who had sued in an effort to expand access to mail-in voting during the Covid-19 pandemic — Conley also extended the deadline for registering to vote or requesting a ballot from October 14 to October 21. Absentee voting is expected to hit a record this fall because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The hotly anticipated ruling means that the results of the presidential race in Wisconsin will likely not be known for days after the polls close. As ABC News points out, however, Conley's ruling is expected to be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and could be overturned as a result.

In addition to those extended deadlines, Conley's ruling will also make it easier to hire poll workers. Under his new decision, poll workers can work in any county, not just in the county where they reside, which will make it easier for polling places to recruit workers.

Conley's ruling sets the election guidelines for one of the country's most crucial swing states. President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by less than a percentage point in 2016, and recent polls show a similarly tight race underway. According to a Reuters survey published on Monday, Democratic candidate Joe Biden leads the state with 48 percent support, while Trump trails at 43 percent.

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