Wisconsin ballot-count extension upheld by appeals court

Tribune Content Agency

A federal judge’s ruling that allows Wisconsin election officials to accept mail-in ballots for six days after Election Day in the battleground state can be implemented, a U.S. appeals court said.

The Chicago-based appeals court on Tuesday lifted a hold that it had imposed yesterday. The court said the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State Legislature had no standing to fight the judge’s decision.

U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison, Wisconsin, had extended the deadline for counting ballots postmarked by Election Day because of the expected surge in mail-in votes during the pandemic, as well as the state’s chaotic primary. Conley had also extended by one week the deadline for registering to vote or requesting a ballot to Oct. 21.

The judge didn’t order the Republican National Committee or the Wisconsin Republican party to do anything or forbid them from doing anything, the appellate panel said. Likewise, the legislature’s power to pass laws wasn’t an issue in the judge’s ruling, the court said.

“None of the appellants has suffered an injury to its own interests, and the state’s legislative branch is not entitled to represent Wisconsin’s interests as a polity,” the court said. “The suit in the district court presented a case or controversy because the plaintiffs wanted relief that the defendants were unwilling to provide in the absence of a judicial order.”

While President Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by 1 percentage point over Hillary Clinton, this year’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden has a 5.5 point edge over Trump in the state, according to the RealClear Politcs average of recent polls. The election is Nov. 3.

Earlier Tuesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit to force the state’s election commission to purge more than 200,000 people from voter rolls because they might have moved and didn’t respond to notices whether they were still at the same address as where they are registered to vote. A decision in that case isn’t expected before the election.


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