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Judgments of the Supreme Court just before the election : Why postal voting is so controversial in the US

These are two landmark decisions that the United States Supreme Court pronounced a few days ago. The Supreme Court dismissed a Republican motion to reduce the deadline for postal votes in the contested state of Pennsylvania. In addition, a court ruling from another decisive state, North Carolina, was confirmed: Postal votes that are sent with the appropriate election stamp on election day are valid even if they arrive nine days later. These decisions could become important on November 3rd.

More than 80 million Americans have already voted

More than 80 million Americans have already cast their votes and the United States is heading for a record turnout. And yet there is concern in the USA that many of the votes that have already been cast may not count in the end. In addition to the so-called “early voting”, voting in person before the actual election day on November 3rd, many voters send their votes by post, i.e. vote by letter. According to the US Election Project, more than 90 million Americans have applied for postal voting - that would be almost three times as many as in 2016, when 33 million voted by letter.

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This is a major logistical challenge, especially for the US Post. In some states, the Postal Service can no longer keep up with the delivery of letters, according to a report by the Washington Post. In fact, there are always cases of irregularities in postal voting. Cases have become known in New York and Ohio, for example, in which thousands of incorrect ballot papers were delivered, and in some cases ballot papers were requested that took a long time to arrive at all. Joe Biden's campaign team is therefore trying to motivate voters to vote in advance.

From when the votes are counted is regulated differently in the states

Since an above-average number of Americans are voting by letter this year, it could also take longer before all votes are counted. The regulations relating to elections - including the question of when postal votes may be counted - are regulated differently in the states and often change. Republicans and Democrats are trying to change the rules to their own advantage. Trump has been making the mood against the postal vote for months - and now also against a counting process that goes beyond November 3. “Big problems and discrepancies with election letters all over the US. Must have the final result on November 3rd, ”tweeted the President on Monday, previously speaking of massive postal voting fraud.

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However, his allegations are unfounded, despite the irregularities in the postal vote. FBI chief Christopher Wray said at a Senate hearing in September: "We have, historically, never had any form of coordinated election fraud during a major election, whether it was postal voting or some other type of vote." That Trump was still in opposition is mainly due to the fact that Democratic voters in particular vote by letter. The fact that he is now also questioning that all votes will be counted - even beyond November 3rd - increases concerns that there will be a wave of lawsuits against ballot papers that are counted and arrived later.

If there is any doubt about the result, the Supreme Court would have to take action

In case of doubt, the Supreme Court would have to take action. In this context, a statement by the Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by Trump, caused irritation. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected an extension of the voting deadline for the state of Wisconsin - unlike Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In the grounds for the verdict, Kavanaugh wrote: "States should want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of irregularity that could arise if thousands of postal votes were received after election day, potentially turning the election result."

"Nothing is more suspicious than the refusal to count votes"

His colleague Elena Kagan disagreed: “There are no results that can be 'rotated' until all valid votes have been counted. And nothing could be more 'suspicious' or 'more irregular' than the refusal to count votes when it strikes 12 noon on election day. ”That the Supreme Court - as in 2000 when it ruled between George W. Bush and Al Gore - under The Democrats fear that circumstances have to intervene in the election and decide. Since Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett was appointed constitutional judge last week, the conservative votes in the court have outnumbered them by six to three. Barrett abstained from ruling in favor of the Pennsylvania and North Carolina deadline extensions. She let it be known that she had not familiarized herself sufficiently with the subject.

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