The court said ballots must be postmarked by the time polls close and be received by county election boards at 5 p.m. on Nov. 6, three days after the Nov. 3 election.
It cited warnings of the prospect of Postal Service delays in invalidating huge numbers of ballots and demand for mailed ballots during the coronavirus pandemic to invoke the power, used previously by the state’s courts, to extend election deadlines during a disaster emergency.
Ballots can be counted if they lack a postmark, a legible postmark or some other proof of mailing unless a “preponderance of the evidence” shows it was mailed after Election Day, the court said.
Republicans opposed changing the deadline, as well as counting ballots without legible postmarks to prove they were mailed before polls closed. They say the ruling violates federal law that sets Election Day as the first Tuesday in November and exceeded the court’s constitutional authority.