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

Poll: 92% of battleground state voters are "extremely motivated to vote"

Voters stand in line at the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center in Houston, Texas, on Oct. 13. Photo: Mark Felix for The Washington Post via Getty Images

91% of likely voters nationally say they are "extremely motivated to vote," including 92% in battleground states Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to a Change Research/CNBC Poll.

Why it matters: The 2020 election could see record-breaking levels of voter turnout. Voters last week cast ballots at nearly five times the rate they did at this point in the 2016 election, per the U.S. Elections Project. Over 39 million ballots have been cast in early voting states as of Wednesday.

Updated Oct 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With less than two weeks until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Oct 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Election Assistance Commission: Spreading out voting is key to limiting congestion

Benjamin Hovland, chair of the bipartisan Election Assistance Commission, said at an Axios virtual event on Tuesday that "helping to spread out voting over all of the options" — whether it's mail-in ballots, early voting or in-person Election Day voting — is crucial to limiting congestion and making it as safe as possible for voters and poll workers.

The big picture: Hovland said that in this unprecedented election year, which is likely to see a record number of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic, it is important that Americans pick the option that's best and safest for them.

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