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Court Won't Extend WI Ballot  10/27 06:47

   The Supreme Court is siding with Republicans to prevent Wisconsin from 
counting mailed ballots that are received after Election Day.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court is siding with Republicans to prevent 
Wisconsin from counting mailed ballots that are received after Election Day.

   In a 5-3 order, the justices on Monday refused to reinstate a lower court 
order that called for mailed ballots to be counted if they are received up to 
six days after the Nov. 3 election. A federal appeals court had already put 
that order on hold.

   The three liberal justices dissented from the order that the court issued 
just before the Senate started voting on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court 
nomination.

   Chief Justice John Roberts last week joined the liberals to preserve a 
Pennsylvania state court order extending the absentee ballot deadline but voted 
the other way in the Wisconsin case, which has moved through federal courts.

   "Different bodies of law and different precedents govern these two 
situations and require, in these particular circumstances, that we allow the 
modification of election rules in Pennsylvania but not Wisconsin," Roberts 
wrote.

   Democrats argued that the flood of absentee ballots and other challenges 
posed by the coronavirus pandemic makes it necessary to extend the period in 
which ballots can be counted. Wisconsin is one of the nation's hot spots for 
COVID-19, with hospitals treating a record high number of patients with the 
disease.

   Republicans opposed the extension, saying that voters have plenty of 
opportunities to cast their ballots by the close of polls on Election Day and 
that the rules should not be changed so close to the election.

   Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler responded to the ruling by 
pledging Democrats would be "dialing up a huge voter education campaign" to 
prod roughly 360,000 people who hadn't yet returned absentee ballots to 
hand-deliver them by 8 p.m. on Election Day, or to vote in person.

   State Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt praised the ruling.

   "Absentee voting in Wisconsin is extremely easy and hundreds of thousands of 
people have done it already -- last-minute attempts to change election laws 
only cause more voter confusion and erode the integrity of our elections," he 
said in a statement.

   The justices often say nothing, or very little, about the reasons for their 
votes in these emergency cases, but on Monday, four justices wrote opinions 
totaling 35 pages to lay out their competing rationales.

   "As the COVID pandemic rages, the Court has failed to adequately protect the 
Nation's voters," Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent that noted the state 
allowed the six-day extension for primary voting in April and that roughly 
80,000 ballots were received after the day of the primary election.

   Justice Neil Gorsuch acknowledged the complications the pandemic adds to 
voting, but defended the court's action.

   "No one doubts that conducting a national election amid a pandemic poses 
serious challenges. But none of that means individual judges may improvise with 
their own election rules in place of those the people's representatives have 
adopted," Gorsuch wrote.

   Justice Brett Kavanaugh also wrote an opinion concurring in the order.

 
 
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