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Judge stays earlier ruling on absentee ballot return deadline, back to initial rules

Posted at 5:06 PM, Oct 07, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal court has stayed its earlier decision to extend Indiana’s absentee voting deadline, again changing the deadline for when absentee ballots must be returned.

Last week, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana Judge Sarah Evans Barker ruled that anybody who votes by mail can send in their ballot by Nov. 3 and it will still count, as long as their county’s office receives it within 10 days.

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The latest ruling means Indiana election offices can only accept absentee ballots to noon on Election Day, which was the previous rule.

"... Indiana voters eligible to and desirous of voting by absentee ballot are encouraged to submit their applications well in advance of Indiana's October 22, 2020 deadline, and, upon receipt, to promptly complete and return their absentee ballots without delay," Barker wrote Tuesday.

Don’t get too comfortable though. The stay granted by Barker only lasts one week, and a new ruling may be issued then.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to consider the case after Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill appealed the earlier decision by Barker.

"The noon Election Day deadline set by the General Assembly is as reasonable as any other," Hill said in a statement. "It ensures that the vast majority of ballots cast are counted on Election Day, thereby promoting public confidence in elections by allowing most races to be called on Election Day, not days or weeks later."