FILE PHOTO: A SafeVote official ballot drop box for mail-in ballots is seen outside a polling site at the Milwaukee Public Library’s Washington Park location in Milwaukee, on the first day of in-person voting in Wisconsin, U.S., October 20, 2020. Wisconsin’s early voting period, known as absentee in-person voting, began October 20. REUTERS/Bing Guan//File Photo


The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Wisconsin voters must have their absentee ballots in by 8 p.m. Election Day or they won’t count. Democrats urged voters in battleground states Wisconsin and Michigan to return ballots via drop boxes, stating that the post office may not have the ballots in by Nov. 3.

The 5-3 ruling rejected an effort by civil rights groups and Wisconsin Democrats 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. The ballots also must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day for them to be counted in Michigan. The ballots in both states could swing the election, as President Donald Trump won both by thin margins in 2016. In Wisconsin,1.3 million of the 1.7 voters who requested ballots had returned them. In Michigan, more than 3.1 million voters requested ballots, and more than 2 million had been returned as of Tuesday. Still, Democrats frantically got the word out as soon as the ruling came down. 

“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,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “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.”

Justices made the ruling after a lower court called for the order to hold the ballots six days after Election Day, but that ruling was reversed and then upheld by the Supreme Court. The courts’ three liberal judges dissented. “As the Covid pandemic rages, the court has failed to adequately protect the nation’s voters,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that states should announce results on election night: “Counting all the votes quickly can help the state promptly resolve any disputes, address any need for recounts, and begin the process of canvassing and certifying the election results in an expeditious manner,” he wrote, adding that states should avoid “the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day.” 


In Wisconsin decision, Supreme Court foreshadows election night cliffhanger – Politico – 10/27/2020
Justice Brett Kavanaugh conjured up the specter of such a protracted battle as he argued in favor of allowing states to maintain firm deadlines requiring absentee ballots to be received by election officials on Election Day.

Kavanaugh has wild ideas about voting. They likely won’t matter on Election Day. – Washington Post – 10/27/2020
The short answer is that an intervention by the Supreme Court to decide the presidential election is still extremely unlikely — but if the extremely unlikely happens, there’s great reason to be worried about the court’s protection of voting rights and the integrity of the vote.

Voters in some states unable to cast early ballots in person – Associated Press – 10/27/2020
With coronavirus cases spreading rapidly across her state, Samantha Allen laments that Missouri does not allow voters to cast their ballots in person before Election Day.

Election experts doubt Supreme Court decides White House race – Roll Call – 10/27/2020
The 2020 presidential election probably won’t end in the sort of nightmare scenario where a legal challenge or recount winds up at the Supreme Court and the justices decide who wins the White House. Probably.


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