North Carolina can accept absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day for more than a week afterward, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to block an extension for accepting the ballots that was announced in late September. The State Board of Elections decided then that absentee ballots could be accepted until Nov. 12 as long as they were mailed by Election Day, lengthening the timeframe from three to nine days. The change was made as part of a legal settlement with voting rights advocates….
The court’s majority opinion notes that ballots must still be postmarked by Election Day to be counted. The opinion says that “everyone must submit their ballot by the same date. The extension merely allows more lawfully cast ballots to be counted, in the event there are any delays precipitated by an avalanche of mail-in ballots.”
The ruling was decided 12-3. All 15 of the court’s active judges participated, rather than a smaller panel, in a sign of the case’s importance.