Appellate Court Pauses Wisconsin Absentee Ballot-Counting Extension

September 28, 2020 Updated: September 28, 2020

A federal appeals court on Sept. 27 temporarily paused a nearly week-long extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin state in the upcoming election.

Absentee ballots in the key presidential battleground state will now, as it stands, be due by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Sunday.

It comes after U.S. District Judge William Conley previously sided with the Democratic National Committee, and asked Wisconsin officials to count the ballots six days after the presidential election to make counting ballots easier amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While more than 1 million absentee ballots have been requested to date, the Wisconsin Elections Commission anticipates that as many as 2 million will eventually be cast. Conley argued last week that the figure would be three times more than any previous election, and could overwhelm election officials.

The U.S. Postal Service will also “undoubtedly be overwhelmed again with ballots in November, as they were in April,” Conley wrote on Sept. 21, ruling that ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day will count as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day.

Wisconsin Republicans have echoed President Donald Trump’s concerns over mail-in voting and potential voter fraud this November.

The appeals court will now further review Conley’s order. The federal judge’s order will be halted 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.

Wisconsin is seen as a crucial battleground state. In 2016, Trump took the state by just 0.77 percent—fewer than 23,000 votes—over then-presidential rival Hillary Clinton. Both sides expect a tight race this year.

Epoch Times Photo
People check in to vote at a polling location in Sun Prairie, Wis., on April 7, 2020. (Andy Manis/Getty Images)

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has long raised the alarm about the dangers of mail-in ballot fraud.

“Absentee ballots are the tools of choice of election fraudsters because they are voted outside the supervision of election officials, making it easier to steal, forge, or alter them, as well as to intimidate voters,” wrote Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans A. von Spakovsky, in an op-ed.

The Heritage Foundation’s own database of all reported instances of election fraud, dating back to 1979, lists only 1,298 “proven instances of voter fraud,” though the organization’s Communications Manager told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that “the database is only intended to represent a small sampling of the types of voter fraud that can occur—it is by no means a comprehensive report of all the voter fraud that happens around the country.”