Georgia absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day must be counted, a federal judge ruled Monday.
The Hill reports U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross decided to extend a previous deadline that would have rejected absentee ballots that arrived after 7 p.m. Nov. 3.
Now, officials will be required to count all absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day. Ballots must arrive within three business days of Nov. 3.
"Extending the deadline would ensure that voters who receive their ballots shortly before Election Day are able to mail their ballots without fear that their vote will not count," Ross wrote in the 70-page order.
Voter registration group New Georgia Project filed a lawsuit a few months ago asking for a preliminary injunction that would block officials from enforcing Georgia's 7 p.m. deadline.
The complaint also asked a court to order free ballot postage and the automatic mailing of absentee ballots to registered voters, among other things. The judge denied the other requests in her ruling, according to The Hill.
Attorneys for the state of Georgia claimed that a deadline extension could cause a long delay in counting ballots, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
But Ross said "narrowly tailored injunctive relief is appropriate" given the risk of disenfranchisement that could be caused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The court emphasizes that the equitable relief it provides is limited to the November 2020 election during these extraordinary times," Ross wrote.
According to the AJC, the extension could result in tens of thousands of additional ballots being counted.
The judge's ruling comes as states scramble to prepare for a surge in mail-in voting ahead of the presidential election.
Some lawmakers have raised concerns about mail delays and how slowdowns might impact the election.
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