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Court:Halt WI Ballot-Counting Extension09/28 06:15

   

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily halted a 
six-day extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin's presidential 
election, a momentary victory for Republicans and President Donald Trump in the 
key presidential battleground state.

   As it stands, ballots will now be due by 8 p.m. on Election Day. A lower 
court judge had sided with Democrats and their allies to extend the deadline 
until Nov. 9. Democrats sought more time as a way to help deal with an expected 
historic high number of absentee ballots.

   The Democratic National Committee, the state Democratic Party and allied 
groups including the League of Women Voters sued to extend the deadline for 
counting absentee ballots after the April presidential primary saw long lines, 
fewer polling places, a shortage of workers and thousands of ballots mailed 
days after the election.

   U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled Sept. 21 that ballots that arrive 
up to six days after Election Day will count as long as they're postmarked by 
Election Day. Sunday's action puts Conley's order on hold until the 7th Circuit 
U.S. Court of Appeals or U.S. Supreme Court issues any further action.

   No further details were immediately posted by the appeals court.

   State election officials anticipate as many as 2 million people will cast 
absentee ballots to avoid catching the coronavirus at the polls. That would be 
three times more absentee ballots than any other previous election and could 
overwhelm both election officials and the postal service, Conley wrote. If the 
decision had stood it could have delayed knowing the winner of Wisconsin for 
days.

   The Republican National Committee, the state GOP and Wisconsin's Republican 
legislators argued that current absentee voting rules be left in place, saying 
people have plenty of time to obtain and return their ballots.

   Conley in April had ruled that absentee ballots in the state's presidential 
election could be submitted up to six days after election day. The 7th Circuit 
let that decision stand but the U.S. Supreme Court said only ballots postmarked 
on or before election day would count.

   Conley on Sept. 21 also extended the state's deadline for registering by 
mail or electronically by seven days, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21 and declared that 
poll workers can work in any county, not just where they live. Clerks have 
reported fears of the virus caused shortages of poll workers in both 
Wisconsin's spring presidential primary and state primary in August. Loosening 
the residency requirements could make it easier to fill slots.

   Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 percentage point --- fewer than 23,000 
votes --- in 2016 and the state figures to be a key battleground again in 2020. 
Polls show Democrat Joe Biden with a slight lead but both sides expect a tight 
race.

 
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