A federal appeals court halted an extension for counting absentee ballots Sept. 27, after a previous ruling extended the deadline for mail-in ballots for up to six days after the Nov. 3 election.

A federal appeals court upheld the extension Sept. 29. Had the extension been successfully halted, the ballots would be due at 8 p.m. the night of election day, instead of six days later. 

The Republican National Committee, state GOP and Wisconsin legislators argued against the deadline extension, saying voters have plenty of time to obtain ballots and return them on time, according to The Washington Post.

Wisconsin ballots must now be postmarked by Nov. 3 and will be counted up until Nov. 9, according to MyVote Wisconsin. Therefore, delays in the true results of the race can be expected.

Conley issued the original ruling after lawsuits from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Party of Wisconsin and several nonprofits sought to change voting laws due to constraints related to COVID-19.

According to professor emeritus of public affairs and political science at the University of Wisconsin La Follette School of Public Affairs Dennis Dresang, there were multiple factors that led to the ultimate decision of the court.

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“Because of the concerns of the pandemic and a lot of people voting absentee, the post office expects to see a surge in absentee ballots,” Dresang said. “It was unreasonable to say that any ballot not counted by midnight on Nov. 3 will not be counted at all.”

Conley said in the ruling from Sept. 21 absentee voting is necessary to avoid an infringement on Wisconsin citizens’ right to vote.

President of the Young Progressives Club at UW Avra Reddy said absentee ballots could easily be the determining factor of the election. Reddy used Gov. Tony Evers’ victory in the 2018 Wisconsin gubernatorial election against the Republican incumbent Scott Walker as an example.

“It was 12 a.m. and we thought Evers was going to lose, but a huge amount of absentee ballots counted in Milwaukee pushed Tony Evers to win the election,” Reddy said. “Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election results could very easily come down to absentee ballots in Madison or Milwaukee.”

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, 1,212,358 absentee ballots were sent out and 437,535 were returned as of Oct. 2 with over a month before the election.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump said there is tremendous potential for voter fraud when it comes to mail-in voting. 

Though, Trump will be voting absentee in the 2020 presidential election.

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According to Dresang, Republicans are aware past elections with a high voter turnout means a greater chance for a Democratic victory — therefore Republicans aim to discourage voters, specifically students.

“All of these court cases, challenges, impediments … are part of the general strategy of discouraging people from voting,” Dresang said. “And they have realized that the ones they are most likely to be successful with are students in terms of the age cohort and the fact they are students.”

According to the Campus Vote Project website, young adults vote at lower rates than older cohorts, but will be the largest share of eligible voters in 2020.

The Institute for Democracy and Higher Education created an action guide for Addressing Non-Statutory Barriers to College Student Voting

Some barriers listed in the guide include physically inconvenient voter locations, poll watchers in precincts near campuses challenging student voter eligibility or publishing misleading information about consequences of registering to vote near campus rather than a home town.

According to Dresang, some of these barriers may be successful in deterring students.

“I have my fingers crossed that students are smart enough to see through all of this. Someone might get overwhelmed with all of the details and decide to pass on voting,” Dresang said. “That would be rewarding to people who are discouraging people from voting.”

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According to the Associated Student of Madison Voter Information website, UW students can register to vote online or at on-campus voter registration tents at Memorial Union and Union South from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Students can request a mail-in ballot or attend one of the in person absentee voting stations listed on the City Clerk’s Office webpage.

“It is important for students to send in absentee ballots and not vote in person on election day to prevent the spread of COVID and so the lines at polling locations aren’t too long,” Reddy said. “There are so many students in Madison and Milwaukee and their absentee ballots really count in those cities.”