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Federal judge extends Wisconsin’s absentee ballot deadline until week after election

By Phoebe Murray, MSN/WEAU | September 22, 2020

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A ruling by U.S. District Judge William Conley Monday night, would allow mail-in ballots, if post-marked by Election Day, to be counted through Monday November 9, six days after the election.

Conley also extended the deadline for online and mail-in registration from October 14 to October 21.

Dr. Eric Kasper, a political science professor at UWEC says we’re seeing a similar set of legal arguments that played out in April during the Wisconsin Primary, where thousands of voters did not receive their requested absentee ballots in time.

"Which is this question of what Wisconsin law says as far as the deadline for when a ballot has to be received and that is weighed against the constitutional right to vote.”

Federal judge Conley’s order comes after an onslaught of lawsuits brought by the DNC against the Wisconsin Elections Commission seeking election-related changes.

The ruling also provides a “fail-safe” option from October 22 through October 29 for voters who did not receive their requested mail-in ballots on time.

Jon Sherman, Senior Counsel with the Fair Elections Center explains.

"If someone doesn’t receive their requested mail in absentee ballot in the mail on time to vote, they have the option to receive their ballot by email or online access.

With clerks in some jurisdictions expecting 60-70% of voters to cast their ballots by mail, Conley makes the argument that accommodations need to be in place for voters who are most at risk from COVID-19 and cannot vote safely in person at a polling place.

“Since an appeal is likely, and this may not be the last word on it and with just six weeks before Election Day the actual rules as far as what will be enforced could still look different than what we’re expecting they are at the moment,” Kasper says.

An Eau Claire city clerk says that they have not acted on anything yet and are waiting to see what will come of the appeal.

If the ruling is not reversed, Wisconsinites may not know the results of the Presidential Election until several days after the polls close.

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