Appeals court extends pause on absentee ballot extensions in Wisconsin

Posted at 11:27 PM, Sep 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 06:35:47-04

With a little more than five weeks out from the election, any extra time to get your mail-in ballot delivered will remain on pause by order of a federal appeals court.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order Sunday continuing a stay on absentee ballot extensions until at least the court makes a decision on the case, which could take days or weeks.

This is the court on which Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett serves.

Last week, a district court judge granted six extra days to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 3, to ease the potential strain on postal and election workers as they prepare for an influx of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic.

The judge put a stay on his decision in anticipation of Sunday's appeal.

UW-Milwaukee Political Science Prof. Kathleen Dolan says these decisions could have an impact on the election, especially in battleground Wisconsin.

"Some number of people will decide to vote in those last four, five, six, days, so given the razor-thin margin we saw in 2016, I don't think either side would say that every single vote doesn't matter," Dolan said.

The latest data from the Wisconsin Elections Commission shows 1,158,919 absentee ballots have been requested, and 213,061 ballots have been reported returned.

The people involved in the lawsuit could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

The Court blocked the same request to extend absentee ballot delivery during the April 7 primary. On election day, many people waited in long lines at the polls. The Wisconsin Elections Commission reported more than 120,000 absentee ballots were never returned for the primary election.

"The question the petitioners are going to have to ask themselves is, how close to Election Day do we want a potential change in the policy to occur, because the problem becomes then individual voters on the ground can sort of get confused," Dolan said.

In the meantime, your ballot is still due by 8 p.m. Nov. 3.

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