A ruling Monday by a federal judge in Wisconsin that would extend the counting of mail-in ballots six days beyond Election Day would also allow those ballots to be counted even if there is no “definitive” sign of a postmark.
U.S. District Judge William Conley of the Western District of Wisconsin — an appointee of President Barack Obama — ruled that absentee ballots in the state can be counted until Nov. 9 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3. He cited the state’s difficult experience in the recent primary election, as well as projected difficulties with the U.S. Post Office as it handles an unprecedented number of mailed-in ballots.
In a footnote, Conley added:
Given the political deadlock among WEC Commissioners and the apparent lack of state law guidance on this subject — as well as the fact that this postmark requirement is federally mandated and the apparent importance of equal treatment of ballots after Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) — it is this court’s view that local election officials should generally err toward counting otherwise legitimate absentee ballots lacking a definitive postmark if received by mail after election day but no later than November 9, 2020, as long as the ballot is signed and witnessed on or before November 3, 2020, unless there is some reason to believe that the ballot was actually placed in the mail after election day.
That echoes last week’s ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled that mailed-in ballots should be counted up to three days after Election Day even if they did not have a postmark, unless there was a preponderance of evidence to believe that any particular ballot had been mailed after the deadline.
Conley put a seven-day hold on his own decision to allow appeals to the Seventh Circuit (and, presumably, to the U.S. Supreme Court).
He also declined many of the requests by the plaintiffs in the case, who challenged a broad range of Wisconsin laws designed to protect the integrity of the voting process.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.