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23 states accepting ballots after election day, including these battleground states

A secrecy envelope for mailed voting ballots. (Chris Phan/Flickr)
October 30, 2020

Twenty-three U.S. states are accepting mail-in ballots after election day, so long as ballots are postmarked in time for the election.

According to a chart provided by Buzzfeed, five of the states are among those accepting mailed ballots after election day, including the reported battleground states Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

According to CNN, the 23 states accepting mailed ballots after election day represent 317 of the 538 available Electoral College votes, about 59 percent of the available Electoral College votes. This significant number of Electoral College votes means that the winner of the presidential election might not be decided until after election day.

A presidential candidate must have a 270 Electoral College vote majority to win the presidency.

The Republican Party has challenged rules in Pennsylvania which allow the state to receive ballots for up to three days after the election so long as they are postmarked in time, and rules in North Carolina that allow up to nine days after the election, The New York Times reported. On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled those two states could accept mailed ballots even if they arrive after election day on Nov. 3.

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The North Carolina legislature originally called for receiving ballots for up to three days after the election, but the state’s board of elections agreed to receive ballots up to nine days after the election, as part of a settlement of a lawsuit in state court.”

In the Pennsylvania case, Pennsylvania officials told the court that they had instructed county election officials to segregate ballots arriving after 8 p.m. on Election Day through 5 p.m. three days later. The action could allow a later court ruling to determine whether the late-received ballots are counted.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who officially joined the court on Tuesday, Oct. 27, did not participate in either the Pennsylvania or North Carolina case and said she had not had time to fully review the legal briefs in the cases.

Among the other states accepting late ballots, Buzzfeed reported Ohio, another battleground state, requires that ballots be postmarked by Nov. 2, but that they can arrive as late as Nov. 13, 10 days after the election.

Utah and Louisiana also require ballots to be postmarked the day before election day, on Nov. 2, according to Buzzfeed. Utah will reportedly accept ballots received through Nov. 4 at 12 p.m. MST while Louisiana requires mailed ballots to be received by 4:30 p.m. CST on Nov. 2.

According to Buzzfeed, Washington State, which conducts its election entirely by mail, will accept ballots as late as Nov. 23.