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Maine Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Whether Absentee Ballots Should Be Counted After Election Day

Andrew Catalina
Maine Public
A Maine absentee ballot, with its deadline highlighted.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is deciding whether absentee ballots received up to two days after the election should be counted. The court heard arguments from several groups that are seeking an opinion.

Lawyers for the Alliance for Retired Americans and other groups say that Maine has unique provisions in its constitution that ensure not only the right to vote, but also the safety of its citizens. Zachary Heiden of the ACLU of Maine argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a health risk for voters that warrants changing the deadlines for receiving and counting ballots.

“They’re not doing it for the reason that people often vote absentee through the mail, which is convenience. But rather, they are doing it for safety. They are doing it to protect their health, the health of their family, the health of their community,” he said.

Current law requires absentee ballots be returned to the local clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day. But Heiden says because of mail delivery slowdowns at the U.S. Postal Service, the court should allow ballots received two days after the election to be counted.

The law court says it will expedite its consideration of the request, given the election is less than three weeks away.