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GOP turns to Wisconsin Supreme Court in absentee ballot case

By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans are asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to act in a matter of days to help undo a federal court ruling that extends the period that absentee ballots can be counted in the battleground state until Nov. 9, six days after the election.

The case is being closely watched in Wisconsin, which President Donald Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes four years ago. More than 1.2 million absentee ballots have been requested and more than a third of them have already been returned.

Republican lawmakers late Thursday asked the state Supreme Court, which is controlled 4-3 by conservatives, to rule by Tuesday that the Legislature has the legal standing to bring the case in federal court. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week ruled that the Legislature, along with the Republican National Committee and Wisconsin Republican Party, did not have the standing. It also rejected a request from the Legislature to put its decision on hold while the legal fight continues.

The appeals court gave Republicans until Tuesday to argue why the case should not be dismissed. A favorable ruling from the state Supreme Court would help Republicans in their appeal.
Republicans are asking for the full 11-member appeals court to re-hear the case that was first ruled on by a three-judge panel. Republicans said if the court didn’t decide by Tuesday, they would appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A federal judge last month sided with Democrats and their allies in extending until Nov. 9 the period that absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 will be counted. Previous to the ruling, only ballots received by the close of polls on Nov. 3 would be counted.

The appeals court ruling against the Legislature pointed to a July ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court in explaining why it did not have standing to bring the case. The Legislature now wants the state Supreme Court to say that its ruling in the earlier case does give it standing in this case.

“This Court can and should immediately avert that train wreck by simply saying what Wisconsin law plainly means: the Legislature has standing to speak on behalf of the State’s sovereign interest in the validity of state law and to litigate in defense of state law,” the Legislature’s attorney Misha Tseytlin wrote to the Supreme Court.

Republicans across the country have fought attempts to expand voting, particularly in battleground states such as Wisconsin. Democrats contend the move is meant to suppress the votes of people more likely to vote Democratic.

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