Wisconsin’s conservative-leaning Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Republican legislators have the legal status to appeal the recent federal court ruling to extend the state’s deadline for counting absentee ballots.
Last month, U.S. District Judge William Conley issued a ruling to extend the deadline from Nov. 3 to Nov. 9 to allow more absentee ballots to be counted during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Madison.com.
Previously, Wisconsin’s absentee ballots could only be counted if they are with elected officials by the time polls close the day of the election, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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“No voter can depend on any extension of deadlines for electronic and mail-in registration and for receipt of absentee ballots unless finally upheld on appeal,” Conley said when he initially extended absentee ballot counting for one week in September, according to CNBC.
The 4-3 ruling gives Republican lawmakers the opportunity to pursue an appeal that would prevent a longer absentee voting counting period, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This ruling is a victory for Republicans, but they still face challenges to appeal the court order.
The case will be sent back to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where they will decide whether lawmakers can continue the appeal and whether to eliminate the extension, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The appellate court has questioned if legislators have the jurisdiction to continue defending the Nov. 3 deadline on appeal, according to Madison.com. Usually, the attorney general is responsible for defending the state’s law, but Wisconsin’s current attorney general is a Democrat.
Wisconsin’s presidential race winner may not be known for at least a week after Election Day if the extension holds, according to Madison.com. This could cause tension as Democrats hope to flip the state after President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in the 2016 election.
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The Wisconsin Supreme Court voted along party lines, with conservative Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Justices Rebecca Bradley, Brian Hagedorn and Annette Ziegler voting in favor of the ruling.
Liberal Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky were in dissent.