Wisconsin Democrats Say Voters Should ‘Hand-Deliver’ Their Ballots Now

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Democrats in the battleground state of Wisconsin are urging voters not to rely on the struggling U.S. Postal Service following the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to extend the deadline for ballots to arrive at election offices.

The high court late Monday rejected Democratic calls to reinstate an extension ordered by a lower court that would have allowed ballots to count as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3 and arrived at voting facilities by Nov. 9.

Ben Wikler, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, urged voters in a tweet to apply for an absentee ballot “and *hand-deliver it* by 8pm 11/3” -- when polling ends on Election Day. Wikler’s tweet included a link for people to find a local election clerk or drop box to receive the ballot.

Similar warnings about the mail in other states have been issued in recent days by voting advocates.

“Don’t put it in the mail. Not at this point,” said Suzanne Almeida, interim executive director of the policy group Common Cause in Pennsylvania. “We’re at that point where if you can drop it off in person, drop it off in person.”

Wisconsin voters have requested almost 1.8 million mail ballots, and have already returned 1.1 million, or 62%, according to the U.S. Elections Project, which tracks early voting. That leaves 700,000 still outstanding -- more than President Donald Trump’s 22,748 vote margin of victory in the state in 2016.

Mail service remains sluggish after changes ordered by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor. Less than 85% of First Class mail was delivered within the three-day window considered on time in mid-October in the district that covers most of Wisconsin, according to Postal Service data.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission posted a tweet repeating its longtime message to voters not to delay, and adding that “You can also drop off your voted ballot to your municipal clerk!”

Republicans cheered Monday’s high court’s action.

“Democrats’ attempts to get the courts to rewrite Wisconsin’s election laws on the eve of an election have failed,” Wisconsin GOP Chairman Andrew Hitt said in a statement posted online. “Last-minute attempts to change election laws only cause more voter confusion and erode the integrity of our elections.”

A Postal Service spokesman, David Partenheimer, called delivering election mail the agency’s top priority. “Our message for those who are eligible and choose to vote through the U.S. Mail has been and is to plan ahead and vote early,” Partenheimer said in an email.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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