Federal judge sets aside Indiana's deadline for absentee ballots

Voters: Start your balloting! Ballots in North Carolina get mailed out Friday
Posted at 12:14 AM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 00:14:59-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge on Tuesday set aside Indiana's noon Election Day deadline to receive absentee ballots. The decision means Hoosiers will have more time for mail-in ballots to be counted in this year's presidential election.

The decision by a judge from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana means mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received on or before Nov. 13 will be counted.

"The noon Election Day receipt deadline disadvantages — indeed, disenfranchises — voters who vote by mail-in ballot by cutting short the time period within which they are permitted to exercise this right even though, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the timely delivery of their ballots is outside their control," Judge Sarah Evans Barker wrote in her ruling.

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Common Cause Indiana and the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP that was filed because of the rapid expansion of mail-in voting and problems that were experienced during the June 2020 primary.

"This is a huge win for Hoosier voters," Julia Vaughn, policy director at Common Cause Indiana, said. "Indiana has seen a surge in requests for mail-in ballots and this ruling will help ensure all those voters who choose to vote by mail do not face the unnecessary barrier of an overly strict return deadline in making their voice heard."

Barker Evans issued a preliminary injunction blocking officials from enforcing the early ballot return deadline and ordered members of the Indiana Election Commission to adopt rules or emergency rules requiring all county election boards and their employees, officer, agents and successors to count the ballots as long as they meet all other guidelines and are postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and are received on or before Nov. 13.