USPS: Ballots need to be in the mail by today to ensure they’ll be counted

MADISON, Wis. — If you haven’t sent in your absentee ballot yet and are still planning to mail it in, you’ll want to make sure it’s in the mail today.

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday night means any absentee ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day won’t be counted. The court did not reinstate a lower court order that would have allowed mail-in ballots to be counted up to 6 days after the election, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

The U.S. Postal Service generally recommends allowing one week between mailing the ballot before it reaches its destination. Because of that, if you’re planning on mailing in your absentee ballot, it’s recommended you get it in the mail by the end of business today, October 27th, to make sure it arrives at your clerk’s office in time.

The Court’s decision differs from one they made in a similar case in Pennsylvania. In that case, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s liberals, allowing ballots postmarked by Election Day to be accepted up to 3 days after the polls close.

The Wisconsin decision could also complicate some other election deadlines coming up in the state. You can still request an absentee ballot up until 5 p.m. Thursday, October 29th. But it will still take a few days for the ballot to be mailed to you, meaning there likely won’t be time for your ballot to get back to the clerk’s office if you were to mail it back.

In that case, you’ll want to consider delivering your ballot yourself in person to your clerk’s office, using an official dropbox, or voting in-person — either early through this week or on Election Day.

As of Monday, the City of Madison Clerk’s Office says 86% of the absentee ballots they’ve issued have been returned to be counted on Election Day.