One week from Election Day, panic and confusion once again abound over mail-in ballots after the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Wisconsin will not be able to count ballots that are postmarked by Election Day but arrive later. The ruling, a significant blow to Democrats seeking to extend the deadline, was somehow made all the more ominous thanks to a concurring opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which all but confirmed his willingness to carry out Trump’s plans to steal the election beyond Wisconsin. As my colleague Ari Berman wrote:
Kavanaugh echoed President Trump’s rhetoric that ballots postmarked by Election Day but arriving afterward—which are legally required to be counted in at least 18 states—could lead to perceptions of voting malfeasance and signaled he might be prepared to throw out such ballots in any post-election dispute.
States that require ballots to be received by Election Day “want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election,” Kavanaugh wrote. “And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter.”
In emphasizing a rush to declare the results of the election as soon as possible, even as a significant portion of ballots are expected to arrive after polls close, Kavanaugh injected a new dose of chaos into a presidential race in its final week. But the Trump-appointed justice isn’t alone in setting off anxiety. Reports are mounting this week of last-minute Postal Service delays just as strict deadlines in key battleground states are fast-approaching, reviving fears of a deliberate effort by the Trump-allied postmaster general to slow down mail and impede fair elections. Those reports come as the agency warns that Tuesday is the last day Americans should mail their completed ballot to ensure they arrive in time, though the Post Office notes that deadlines vary by state.
So, what to do? At this point, if you’ve got an unmailed ballot still lounging about your house, the safest option to make sure it is counted is to hand-deliver that bad boy to election officials. Doing so comes with its own host of unique guidelines which—you guessed it—differ by state. So, do a bit of research and get on it!