Federal judge extends Wisconsin absentee cutoff 6 days post-election

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LA CROSSE/EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – National Voter Registration Day comes one day after a federal judge ruled to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin. First News at Nine’s Phoebe Murray looks at what that could mean here in a key battleground state.

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, 6 days after the election.

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

UW-Eau Claire Political Science Professor Dr. Eric Kasper 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 ballots in time.

Kasper said, “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 quote “fail-safe” option from October 22 through the 29 for voters who did not receive their requested mail-in ballots on time. Senior Counsel at the center of the fair elections Jon Sherman explains.

Sherman said, “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 to 70 percent 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 work 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,” said Kasper.

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 might not know the results of the presidential election until several days after the polls close.

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