Court stops 10-day extension for accepting Indiana absentee ballots

Absentee ballots cast in Indiana must arrive by noon on Election Day to be counted, a federal appeals court said Tuesday, throwing out a 10-day extension ordered by a judge.

In ordering the extension in a decision announced Sept. 30, Southern Indiana District Court Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker cited slow mail delivery because of the coronavirus as a reason for extending the count if ballots were postmarked by Nov. 3. But the appeals court, in a 3-0 opinion, overturned the decision and said Indiana’s noon rule still stands.

The “pandemic has caused great loss but is not a good reason for the federal judiciary to assume tasks that belong to politically responsible officials,” said Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“It is rational to require absentee votes to be received by Election Day, just as in-person voting ends on Election Day. … Counting the votes, and announcing the results, as soon as possible after the polls close serves a civic interest,” Easterbrook wrote.

The lawsuit was filed by Common Cause Indiana and the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP. They said about 1,500 ballots in Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, and 400 in Hamilton County were rejected in the primary election because they arrived after the noon deadline.

Indiana voters who want a mail-in ballot must apply by Oct. 22. They also must have a reason accepted by the state.

The 7th Circuit also has stopped an effort to count late-arriving ballots in Wisconsin. Republicans in Michigan are in a different court appealing a decision to count absentee ballots that arrive 14 days after the election.

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4 thoughts on “Court stops 10-day extension for accepting Indiana absentee ballots

  1. Quit acting like any reason for Absentee voting is a big deal.
    If you’re planning on being out of town.
    A catch all for everyone. They aren’t going to check to see if you are actually in town, smh

    1. The “big deal” is the state law that says the absentee ballot needs to be received by the county board of elections by noon on election day. Why noon? It seems rather odd given the polls don’t close at noon. Why not just say as long as it is postmarked by election day, it will be counted? What is so difficult about that?

  2. Brent, it’s because if the ballot is postmarked ON Election Day, who knows when it will arrive at the County Board of Elections? It needs to be there ON election day so the votes cast thereon may be tabulated with the rest of the ballots. Election Day is supposed to be Election DAY, not Election Week, Election Month, or Election year, etc., etc..

    I’ve worked on The Hendricks County Election Board at the polls for 30-odd continuous years. Between Absentee ballots, Early Voting, and Election Day, if voters cannot or will not make the effort to vote during those times, they should move to a country where they don’t have to trouble themselves with voting at all.

  3. If our president had not complained often about the imagined “fraud” with mail in ballots and perverted the US Postal Service to his slow the mail ends, and if there was no health crisis facing our state (with worse results reported daily), adhering to our long standing state law rules would be reasonable, but these are not normal times. So an extension is reasonable and the 7th Circuit is being a political animal in its decision, to the detriment of our electoral process.

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