Fact Check: It is NOT True That All Ballots Arriving After Election Day Will Be Thrown Out

Fact Check

  • by: Victoria Eavis
Fact Check: It is NOT True That All Ballots Arriving After Election Day Will Be Thrown Out Not All States

Is it true that all mail-in ballots received after Election Day will not be counted in the upcoming election? No, that's not true: 22 states have extended mail-in ballot receipt deadlines beyond Election Day. However, almost all other states require mail-in ballots to be received by Election Day -- Tuesday, November 3, 2020 -- to be counted

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) where it was published by author and journalist Elizabeth Gilbert on October 28, 2020. Gilbert posted a screenshot of a tweet from Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general from 2009-2015, with Holder saying, "Given Supreme Court rulings on mail ballots and Trump's effort to undermine the Postal Service, I strongly suggest that you now vote in person - try early voting or find a drop box. Protect your health but don't let anyone deprive you of your most precious right. Have a plan."

The caption on Gilbert's Facebook post started:

Even if your mail-in ballot is postmarked today, if it arrives after Election Day, it will be thrown out. Discounted. Ignored. (Thanks, Supreme Court. Thanks, GOP. Thanks for your constant, tireless work to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of American voters. You are literally the worst.)

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Oct 28 20:38:59 2020 UTC)

Holder's tweet does not contain misinformation, saying only, "I strongly suggest that you now vote in person." It is Gilbert's caption, posted to her 1.7 million followers, that contains misinformation. Here are the states with extensions to ballot receipt deadlines where ballots will still be counted if received after Election Day:

Alaska: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 13.

California: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 20.

District of Columbia: Mail-in Ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 13.

Illinois: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 17.

Iowa: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 2 and received by 12 p.m. on November 9.

Kansas: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 6.

Kentucky: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 6.

Maryland: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by 10 a.m. on November 13.

Massachusetts: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 6.

Minnesota: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 10. A federal judge upheld the decision to count ballots that arrive a week after election day. However, Minnesota's GOP appealed this ruling to a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. There has been no ruling as of this writing.

Mississippi: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 10.

Nevada: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 10.

New Jersey: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 10.

North Carolina: The receipt deadline has been extended by the Board of Elections to 5 p.m. on November 12 if the ballot is postmarked on or before November 3. The North Carolina State GOP tried to challenge this extension, but they met a similar fate as Pennsylvania Republicans when on October 28, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reduce the nine-day receipt extension set in North Carolina.

North Dakota: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 2 and received by November 9.

Ohio: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 2 and received by November 13.

Pennsylvania: As of this writing, mail-in ballots must be received by November 6, three days after Election Day, following a recent state Supreme Court ruling. On October 28, 2020 -- six days before Election Day -- the U.S. Supreme Court refused a request from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania to fast-track the party's case seeking to overturn the three-day extension in the state. Because of the Supreme Court's rejection of the fast-track, further challenges following Election Day were still possible.

Texas: The ballot must be postmarked by 7 p.m. local time on November 3, and received no later than 5 p.m. local time on Wednesday, November 4, the day after Election Day.

Utah: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 2 and received by noon on the day of the county canvass, or final certification of the election. In Utah's largest counties, the canvass will be two weeks after the election on November 17, while some smaller counties will hold the canvass as early as a week after the election, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Virginia: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by 12 p.m. on November 6.

Washington: Ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 23.

West Virginia: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by November 9.

In almost all other states mail-in ballots must arrive by Election Day (the exact time varies from state to state), so voters risk having their ballot disqualified if they still choose to vote by mail and have not mailed in their ballot yet. Louisiana mail-in ballots must arrive the day before election day, November 2.

Check with your state's secretary of state or local board of elections on any late changes to mail-in voting procedures, as situations are ever-changing in 2020.

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  Victoria Eavis

Victoria Eavis is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She recently graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. In her last few months at Duke, she was a reporter for a student news site, The 9th Street Journal, that covers the city of Durham, North Carolina. 

Read more about or contact Victoria Eavis

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