Supreme Court leaves NC absentee ballot deadline at Nov. 12

Supreme Court leaves NC absentee ballot deadline at Nov. 12
FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2020, file photo, workers prepare absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing millions of American voters worried about their health to scramble to vote by mail for the first time. But a requirement in a handful of states, including presidential battleground North Carolina and Wisconsin, that a witness or notary public sign a ballot envelope is tripping up some voters early. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) (Source: Gerry Broome)

WASHINGTON (AP/WBTV) - The Supreme Court will allow absentee ballots in North Carolina to be received and counted up to 9 days after Election Day, in a win for Democrats.

The justices on Wednesday refused to disturb a decision by the State Board of Elections to lengthen the period from three to nine days, pushing back the deadline to Nov. 12.

The board’s decision was part of a legal settlement with a union-affiliated group.

Under the Supreme Court’s order, mailed ballots postmarked on or before Election Day must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12 in order to be counted.

“Even with the deadline extension, we encourage voters to return their absentee ballot as soon as possible and ensure it is postmarked,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “Please make sure your ballot is counted. Return it now.”

An absentee ballot is timely if it is received by the county board by 5 p.m. on Election Day, or is postmarked on or before Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 12.

A ballot will be considered postmarked by Election Day if it has a postmark or if there is information in BallotTrax, or another tracking service offered by the U.S. Postal Service or a commercial carrier, indicating that the ballot was in the custody of the Postal Service or the commercial carrier on or before Election Day.

Along with mailing an absentee ballot, voters may return their ballot, enclosed in the container return envelope, in person to their county board of elections office by 5 p.m. on Election Day.

Voters may also bring their completed ballot to any early voting site in their county through the end of the early voting period, which is Saturday, October 31.

Voters may not bring their ballot to an Election Day polling place.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. WBTV contributed to this story.