The Supreme Court on Wednesday night let stand a lower court ruling allowing North Carolina to extend its deadline for accepting mail-in ballots.
With the extension, ballots that are postmarked by Election Day can arrive up to nine days later and still be counted. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the Supreme Court on Tuesday, did not participate in the 5-3 decision. A spokesperson said she sat this one out "because of the need for a prompt resolution and because she has not had time to fully review the parties' filings."
In June, North Carolina's state legislature moved the mail ballot deadline from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6, but the North Carolina Board of Elections extended it even further, to Nov. 12, saying this protected "lawful North Carolina voters from having their votes thrown out because of mail delays that the Postal Service had explicitly warned the state about." Under state law, the board has the authority to make temporary changes to election rules during an emergency, like the coronavirus pandemic, NBC News reports.
North Carolina's Republican Party and President Trump's campaign challenged the extension, saying it posed "an immediate threat to the integrity of the federal elections process," but a federal district court judge and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals both refused to block the change.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) said it was "a disgrace that Republicans are trying to block eligible voters from having their votes counted. If voters comply with the statute and mail in their ballots on or before Election Day, they should not be penalized by slow mail delivery in a pandemic."