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Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Supreme Court, for the second time in two days, rejected a GOP request to shorten the deadline mail-in ballots must be received by North Carolina officials to be counted.

The state of play: The state's deadline had been extended from 3 days to 9 days post-Election Day.

The big picture: These are the latest in a series of decisions over ballot deadlines in states across the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The rulings come shortly after the court rejected an effort by Wisconsin Democrats and civil rights groups to extend that state’s deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days post-Election Day.

Conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented in each of the decisions in a 5-3 vote.

  • As in the ruling to deny a bid from Pennsylvania Republicans to expedite their request to shorten the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots, newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in either decisions.
  • This was "because of the need for a prompt resolution and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings," the court said.

Background: A federal appeals court ruled last Wednesday that North Carolina could accept absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 3, Election Day, until Nov. 12 because of the pandemic.

What to watch: A similar case regarding Minnesota’s extended mail-in ballot deadline is making its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • The court has been siding with lower state courts’ decisions thus far, which would keep the extended deadline in place in Minnesota as well.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Judge tosses Trump campaign bid to block Pennsylvania vote certification

Election workers count ballots at the Philadelphia Convention Center Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

A judge in Pennsylvania on Saturday dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit that sought to invalidate millions of votes and block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the state.

Why it matters: The ruling is another blow to President Trump and his campaign as they seek to discredit election tallies in Pennsylvania and other key swing states, citing baseless and unproven claims of widespread voter fraud. Counties in Pennsylvania must certify their election totals and send them to secretary of the commonwealth by Monday.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

New deals in the COVID economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 is the macro horror of our lifetimes, and has destroyed or severely damaged countless businesses. But, like with most horribles, it also has created some opportunities.

Driving the news: Merck this morning announced an agreement to buy OncoImmune, a Maryland-based biotech that showed promising late-stage clinical results for a therapy that treats severe and critical coronavirus cases.

2 hours ago - Technology

Biden's openings for tech progress

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images 

Item No. 1 on President-elect Joe Biden's day-one tech agenda, controlling the flood of misinformation online, offers no fast fixes — but other tech issues facing the new administration hold out opportunities for quick action and concrete progress.

What to watch: Closing the digital divide will be a high priority, as the pandemic has exposed how many Americans still lack reliable in-home internet connections and the devices needed to work and learn remotely.