The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that ballots received in Wisconsin after Election Day cannot be counted, no matter when they were mailed.
According to the Washington Post, on Tuesday voters in the battleground state so far have returned more than 1.45 million of the 1.79 million absentee ballots they had requested — a return rate of more than 80 percent.
Nearly 327,000 absentee ballots have yet to be returned.
Wisconsin state law prohibits counting ballots that arrive after polls close on Election Day, even if voters mailed them before the deadline.
Democrats and civil rights groups sought to extend the deadline of when ballots needed to be received by six days, arguing that a surge in absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic and a slowdown in mail delivery meant large numbers of voters could otherwise be disenfranchised.
During the primary elections, a similar deadline extension resulted in the counting of more than 79,000 late-arriving ballots that were postmarked by Election Day.
In the April contest, more than 10 percent of the vote from Democratic strongholds like Madison and Milwaukee arrived after Election Day.
A federal court agreed to extend the ballot deadline for the November election but in a 5-to-3 decision, the Supreme Court sided with the Republican Party by deciding to maintain the Election Day deadline.
In North Carolina, Republicans are also challenging a deadline extension for ballots.
Pennsylvania Republicans are asking the court to reconsider its 4-to-4 tie last week that allowed a three day ballot deadline extension in that state.
The commonwealth’s constitution mandates that “all aspects of the electoral process in Pennsylvania be open and unrestricted so as not to disenfranchise Pennsylvania voters,” but Republicans argue extended voting beyond Election Day to cure the exigent circumstances surrounding the global pandemic would disrupt the November General Election but Democrats claim the republic is best served by counting all the votes.
While the U.S. Supreme Court is often skeptical of federal judges changing rules during an election, it would have been rare for the court to intervene when a state court was interpreting the state’s constitution and laws.
That makes the tie vote surprising, considering it was the court’s conservatives who were ready to stop the state court.
A coalition of Republican lawyers and officials from previous administrations had warned the court in an amicus brief that would be a mistake.
They said that a denial of the stay request “by the broadest majority possible will benefit this court, our country, and its precious tradition of the peaceful retention or transfer of power.”
Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor and the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security, was among the Republican officials who signed the brief.
In July 2020, Ridge criticized President Donald Trump for saying in June that vote-by-mail leads to widespread voter fraud, insisting that it is not a threat and that voters need a safe way to cast a ballot amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ridge also said that it was “sad” that the President wants to quash the legitimacy of the election.
Since 2017, Senate Republicans have been packing the federal courts with young conservative judges, hoping to prejudicially influence rulings on variety of cases involving a litany of matters, including health care, the environment and government regulations.
There is irony in the fact that the top court, which will make arcane procedural decisions that might very well determine the winner of a close election, is occupied by a majority of justices appointed by presidents elected to the office despite having lost the popular vote.
Most dangerous about this strategy of stacking the courts with conservative ideologues is that the express purpose behind their selection is to negate the independence and integrity of America’s judiciary.
New Jersey Democrat Lisa McCormick posted the question on Twitter: “Why bother having an election if they are not going to take the time to count all the votes accurately?“
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