Sep 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Judge extends deadline for Wisconsin ballots postmarked by Election Day

A poll worker in a hazmat suit.
A polling location in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Photo: DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge in Wisconsin on Monday extended the state's deadline for counting absentee ballots until up to six days after the Nov. 3 election if they are postmarked by Election Day, AP reports.

Why it matters: The ruling, unless overturned, "means that the outcome of the presidential race in Wisconsin likely will not be known for days after polls close," according to AP.

  • Without the decision, ballots would have had to be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

The state of play: The lawsuit was part of a series of challenges from the Democratic National Committee, the Wisconsin Democratic Party and other groups to make absentee voting easier in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Republicans argued that the current rules should stay in place because people have plenty of time to obtain and return ballots.
  • Both sides expect a close election in the battleground state, which President Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.

Worth noting: District Judge William Conley, an Obama appointee, also extended the Oct. 14 deadline for mail-in voting and electronic voter registration until Oct. 21.

The big picture: Judges in four presidential swing states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and now Wisconsin — have ruled that ballots can be counted if they are postmarked by Nov. 2 (or Nov. 3 in Michigan), Business Insider's Grace Panetta notes.

Go deeper