In a victory for President Trump and election security, a federal appeals court has temporarily halted a six-day extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s presidential election.
A lower court judge, appointed by former President Barack Obama, had sided with Democrats to extend the deadline to count ballots until November 9th. This appeals court ruling has returned the due date to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Democrats have insisted that an extension is necessary due to the higher volume of absentee ballots.
The Democratic National Committee, Wisconsin Democrat Party, the League of Women Voters, and other Democrat-allied groups sued to extend the deadline for counting ballots after the disastrous April presidential primary, which saw long lines, a shortage of workers, fewer polling places, and thousands of ballots mailed days after the election.
On September 21st, U.S. District Court Judge William Conley ruled that ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day will be counted, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. The decision by the appeals court to halt this extension put’s Conley’s decision on hold until further action is issued by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
It is estimated that as many as two million people in Wisconsin will be casting absentee ballots to avoid the risk of contracting COVID at the polls. According to Conley, this is around three times the number of absentee ballots cast in any previous election in the state, and could overwhelm the postal service and election officials.
The Republican National Committee, the Wisconsin GOP, and Wisconsin’s Republican legislators have argued that the current rules for absentee voting should remain in place, and that people have plenty of time to return their ballots.
Conley’s ruling also extended the deadline for registering to vote by mail or electronically by seven days, and allowed poll workers to work in any county, not just where they live, due to concerns that the state may not have enough workers to staff polling places.