Judge tells Indiana to count ballots mailed by Election Day

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that an Indiana law wrongly throws out mail-in ballots that don’t arrive at county election offices by noon on Election Day.

The decision issued late Tuesday orders state election officials to count mail-in ballots if they are postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by voting offices no later than Nov. 13.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker rejected arguments from state attorneys that extending the deadline would confuse voters, add strain to county election staff and delay completion of vote counting.

Barker ruled that thousands of people voting by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic faced being disenfranchised because of slow mail delivery and other factors outside their control.

The lawsuit filed by Common Cause Indiana and the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP said about 1,500 ballots in Marion County and 400 in Hamilton County were rejected for this year’s primary election because they arrived after the noon deadline.

Another federal judge last month rejected an attempt to force Indiana election officials to allow all voters to cast their ballots by mail because of the pandemic.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and other GOP leaders have turned aside calls from Democrats and others to lift Indiana’s mail-in voting limits, which allow people to vote by mail only if they fall into one of several categories, including being 65 or older or being absent from their home counties on Election Day.

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