(The Center Square) – A federal appeals court wiped out a lower court's ruling requiring Indiana to accept main-in ballots after the legal deadline of noon on Election Day.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which stayed a U.S. district court order to allow expanded acceptance, issued a summary decision reversing the district court injunction. It had said boards of election must accept mail-in ballots up to 10 days after the Nov. 3 general election.
Indiana law requires ballots to be received by noon on election day.
“Our system provides adequate opportunity for all Hoosiers to cast a ballot by election day, and the absentee ballot-receipt deadline as written by the Indiana General Assembly helps most races to be called on election day, and not days or weeks after,” Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said. “The U.S. Supreme Court has said repeatedly that courts should not issue election-related injunctions at the 11th hour, and we are pleased that the court of appeals has implemented that directive.”
The district court had ruled the COVID-19 pandemic created a risk that ballots mailed close to election day would not be received on time. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit wrote that the pandemic is “not a good reason for the federal judiciary to assume tasks that belong to politically responsible officials.”
Early voting began last week in Indiana, and mail-in ballots are allowed under 12 circumstances, including when voters are disabled or elderly or when voters expect to be away from their homes.
“People who worry that mail will be delayed during the pandemic can protect themselves by using early in-person voting or posting their ballots early,” Hill said.