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“There is a surprising end to all 2020 elections that conflict on the deadline for absentee voting”


One of the most controversially debated voting policy issues in the 2020 election, in both courts and politics, is deadline to return absentee ballots. Now being able to get data on this problem I have synthesized essay look at what we can learn about the extent to which these deadlines – including last minute changes – did or not result in a significant number of ballots coming too late to be effective .

Here is a summary of what I found:

Perhaps surprisingly, the number of ballots that are too late to take effect is extremely small, regardless of which deadline the states use, or that deadlines switch back and forth in the months leading up to an election. Numbers not close to the number of votes could have changed the outcome of any important race.

One of the focal points of these battles was Wisconsin, which led to the Supreme Court’s most controversial decision regarding the general election:

In Wisconsin, state law requires that absentee ballots be returned by Election Night. Federal District Court command That deadline is extended for another six days. But the Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, has blocked the school district’s court order and requires that the deadlines in the state’s election code be respected.

Writing for three dissidents, Justice Elena Kagan cites the district court’s prediction that up to 100,000 voters will lose their right to vote on no fault of their own, since a majority ruled that the normal deadlines of state law must be followed. Commentators call this a “fatal ruling” that “could take ownership of tens of thousands” voters in this important state.

The post-election audit now takes a stance on this highly divisive controversy in the court. In the end, only 1,045 absentee votes was rejected in Wisconsin for failing to meet the Election Night deadline. That number was up to 0.05% of the number of votes 1,969,274 valid absentee votes were cast, or 0.03% of all votes in Wisconsin.

Minnesota is another state that has seen protracted legal battles over this issue:

The war over voting deadlines in Minnesota is even more complicated. If voters would be confused anywhere about these deadlines, resulting in so many votes coming too late, it could be expected here.

State law requires that valid ballots be returned by Election Night, but as a result of the litigation defied that deadline, The Secretary of State agreed in early August that the ballots would be valid if they are received within seven days thereafter.

But just five days before the election, a federal court pulled the carpet out of Minnesota voters. On October 29, it claimed that Minnesota’s foreign minister had violated the Federal Constitution and There is no power to extend the deadline. As a result, the original Election Night deadline was back in effect at the last minute.

However, it turns out that 802 votes, out of 1,929,945 absent candidates (0.04%), were rejected for being too late.

For comparison, I have considered a battlefield state where Election Day deadlines are set for the duration of the election:

Among the battlefield states, Michigan provides an example. Only 3,328 votes came after Election Day, too late to be counted, accounting for 0.09% of the total votes there.

What explains the very low lateness of votes, despite all the controversy over the deadlines?

Voters participated a lot, like the percentage of voters who turn to vote shows. They pay special attention to the risk of mail delays when they see it occurring in the primary elections. During the weeks leading up to the election, voters repeatedly returned absentee ballots rate is higher compared with previous elections.

Biden campaign and Democratic state media efforts party, who voters cast most of these absentee ballots, has received notice of this state deadline. Election officials have done a good job of communicating these deadlines to voters. In some states, drop boxes that allow return of out of office ballots without the use of mail could have helped reduce late arrival votes, although we don’t have any empirical analysis on that.

In a highly mobilized electoral district, it turned out that specific ballot return deadlines, and whether they moved even at the end of the day, did not result in a large number of ballots arriving too late.

It’s a tribute to voters, election officials, grassroots groups – and campaigns.



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