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Signs for Joe Biden are seen outside a home in Coon Valley, Wisconsin, on Oct. 3. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Gettyy

Wisconsin Democrats and the Democratic secretary of state of Michigan are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes, warning that the U.S. Postal Service may not be able to deliver ballots by the Election Day deadline.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court rejected an effort by Wisconsin Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the state's deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. In Michigan, absentee ballots must also be received by 8pm on Election Day in order to be counted.

Why it matters: Both Wisconsin and Michigan are critical swing states that President Trump won by thin margins in 2016.

  • In Wisconsin, 1,451,462 of the 1,778,157 voters who requested absentee ballots have already returned them, according to the New York Times. That leaves 326,695 ballots that Wisconsin Democrats have mobilized to track down.
  • In Michigan, more than 3.1 million voters have requested absentee ballots and about 2.1 million had been returned as of Tuesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Between the lines: While Wisconsin does not track the party affiliation of voters who request absentee ballots, states that do found that Democrats requested nearly two-thirds of absentee ballots this fall, according to the Times.

What they’re saying:

  • Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler tweeted after the Supreme Court ruling: “We’re phone banking. We’re text banking. We’re friend banking. We’re drawing chalk murals, driving sound trucks through neighborhoods, & flying banners over Milwaukee. We’re running ads in every conceivable medium."
  • Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement: "We are too close to Election Day, and the right to vote is too important, to rely on the Postal Service to deliver absentee ballots. Citizens who already have an absentee ballot should sign the back of the envelope and hand-deliver it to their city or township clerk’s office or ballot drop box as soon as possible."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that Jocelyn Benson is Michigan's secretary of state (not attorney general).

Go deeper

Dec 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Early voting begins in Georgia's key Senate runoffs

Voters line outside the High Museum polling station in Atlanta, Georgia on the first day of voting in the state's Senate runoffs. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

People lined up outside polling places across Georgia on Monday for the first day of early voting in the state's two runoff elections that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

The big picture: More than 1.2 million people have already requested mail-in absentee ballots and more than 260,000 have returned them as of Monday, per data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Updated Dec 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Electoral College affirms Biden's victory

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Biden officially received the majority of Electoral College votes on Monday, further solidifying his victory even though the outcome of the election has been known for weeks.

Why it matters: The Electoral College result affirms Biden as the next president after weeks of President Trump's false accusations that the election was stolen from him, dozens of failed legal challenges from the Trump campaign, and protests threatening the safety of states' electors.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.