A federal court of appeals put on hold yesterday a previous decision to extend the number of days absentee ballots can be requested, mailed-in, and counted in Wisconsin.
The original ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge William Conley last Monday, would allow absentee ballots received up to six days after Election Day to be counted. Last Monday’s ruling would also extend the deadline to request absentee ballots by seven days, until October 21st.
Expecting for the case to be immediately appealed, Judge Conley put his ruling on hold for one week to give time for a higher court — the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals — to sort through the details of the case.
And last Wednesday, when lawyers for the Republican-controlled Wisconsin state legislature filed their appeal, they argued that the extension was unnecessary and that current laws give ample time for absentee ballots to be requested.
And now the case is on hold by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, halting Judge Conley’s ruling until they have made a decision.
Conley issued his ruling in response to four lawsuits brought by state Democrats with worries about voting during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it would affect the absentee ballot system. Some of these lawsuits are continuations of lawsuits stemming from the spring election in April.
Doug Poland is a voters’ rights attorney working on the case brought by state Democrats. He thinks it’s likely that the 7th Circuit Court will rule promptly on the case.
“I think the 7th circuit will act fairly promptly, I would not be surprised to see them act before the end of the week; impossible to tell, impossible to predict, but I wouldn’t surprise me if they do rule before the end of the week.”
With the entire nation facing the issue of voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, Poland says this case may have national reverberations.
“Depending on whether parties win or lose on the issues that matter to them the most, that’ll probably tell what they decide to do. I would expect that we could see an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with the 7th circuit ruling.”
Until the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on this case, voters will have to request absentee ballots by October 14th and turn in these ballots by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Voters can mail their absentee ballots back, return their ballot to the Clerk’s office before Election Day, or return their ballot to their polling place on Election Day.
For voters who would like to cast their ballot in person before the November 3rd election, early in-person absentee voting will begin in Madison in about three weeks at a number of sites around the city. (link)
Reporting for W-O-R-T news, I’m Ryan Wollersheim