Wisconsin voters will have until Nov. 9 for their mailed absentee ballots to arrive so long as they are postmarked by Election Day, according to an order issued by a federal judge on Monday.
The order states that all ballots postmarked before or on Nov. 3 will count even if they arrive as late as six days after Election Day. In addition, the ruling extends the deadline for Wisconsinites to register to vote online or through the mail by changing the registration deadline from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21.
The extension of the absentee ballot receipt deadline has been sought by voting rights advocates in states across the country during the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic and self-inflicted efficiency reforms instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have caused a degradation in mail delivery across the country. The Postal Service even warned 46 states in a letter that it could not guarantee the delivery of mail ballots in time for them to count.
This extension will allow tens of thousands of votes to be counted that otherwise would have been invalidated due to no fault of the voter.
The ruling is also yet another major win for the Democratic Party, which brought this challenge to the receipt deadline in Wisconsin. It is the third such judicial ruling to extend the deadline in the past six days, including rulings in Michigan and Pennsylvania. With Wisconsin, these states delivered the White House to President Donald Trump in 2016. Trump won Wisconsin by a mere 23,000 votes.
In each court case, Trump and his fellow Republicans opposed the extension of the ballot receipt deadline. Trump has sought to delegitimize the 2020 election by sowing doubt about the absentee voting with a series of lies. As for the ballot receipt deadline, Trump states, falsely, that any ballots counted after election day should not count.
After the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump stated his desire to fill her seat before the election so that his nominee could help him steal the election by stopping legitimate vote counting.
“Now we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so that we can actually have an evening where we know who wins. Not where the votes are going to be counted a week later or two weeks later,” Trump said on Saturday.
Monday’s order in Wisconsin mirrors a series of rulings handed down ahead of the state’s April 7 primary ― the first election held in the United States during the pandemic ― that extended the ballot receipt deadline to three days after that election. Tens of thousands of ballots that otherwise would have been excluded solely for arriving too late by mail were counted in the primary election thanks to this change.