The Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision Monday 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.
Why it matters: All ballots must now be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in Wisconsin, a critical swing state in the presidential election.
- A federal district court in Wisconsin had extended the state’s deadline for counting absentee ballots until up to six days after Election Day, but an appeals court earlier this month blocked the order. The Supreme Court upheld the appeals court’s decision.
Of note: The decision came as senators were preparing to vote on confirming President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
- Last week, the court’s 4-4 deadlock allowed ballots to be counted for several days after Election Day in Pennsylvania.
What they’re saying: Chief Justice Roberts noted that unlike the Pennsylvania case, the Wisconsin one “involves federal intrusion on state lawmaking processes.”
- “Different bodies of law and different precedents govern these two situations and require, in these particular circumstances, that we allow the modification of election rules in Pennsylvania but not Wisconsin,” Roberts added.
The other side: The court’s liberal justices opposed the decision.
- In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites, through no fault of their own, may receive their mail ballots too late to return them by Election Day.”
- She added that “without the district court’s order, they must opt between “brav[ing] the polls,” with all the risk that entails, and “los[ing] their right to vote.”