Courts grant more time for absentee ballots in Indiana, Wisconsin
A federal judge extended the deadline Tuesday for mail-in ballots to arrive at the election offices in reliably red Indiana, while an appeals court upheld a similar extension in battleground Wisconsin.
Judge Sarah Evans Barker of Indianapolis ordered a 10-day extension for absentee ballots, meaning as long as they are postmarked by Election Day they will still be tabulated if they arrive by Nov. 13.
That ruling makes Indiana the ninth state where the window for accepting mailed ballots this year has been extended, either by the state voluntarily or as a result of a court order. The longer deadlines, which have become one of the more frequent easements for the record surge of voting by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic, mean results of close contests up and down many ballots may not be reliably clear for many days after Nov. 3.
That now looks quite likely to be the case in Wisconsin, a presidential tossup with 10 electoral votes on the line. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Republican Party did not have standing to appeal last week's trial court ruling extending the deadline to count ballots in that state by six days.
The Indiana case was brought by the NAACP and Common Cause. They were represented by, among others, the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.
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"Indiana's early deadline would have posed a particular risk to the voting rights of young voters and voters of color," said Jenny Terrell, an attorney for the plaintiffs. "This ruling will certainly help avoid mass disenfranchisement for all Hoosiers."
Indiana remains one of five states that still require an excuse, beyond fear of contracting Covid-19, for requesting an absentee ballot.
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