We do not have vote by mail in France since 1975 and I do not have a clear understanding of how it works in the US - but from what I read the time validity of such a vote is decided upon the post office stamp on the letter.

I also hear that President Trump asks for some counting to be stopped (the idea being probably that these will be in majority Democrat's votes).

On which legal basis is this even possible? Such voting is allowed by law so except changing it on the fly (by setting a limit other than, I believe, the Electoral College vote early December) is this a power the president would have?

2 Answers 2


Every state in the US has their own election law. Those laws define the rules for processing mail-in votes, under which conditions a vote is considered valid and how long the counting takes place. As long as those state laws aren't violated, there is little way to challenge those elections in a state-level court of law.

However, it would be possible to declare those state laws themselves as incompatible with the constitution of the United States and demand them to be applied differently. This would be a matter of the US Supreme Court. This would not be without precedent. It was a US Supreme Court decision which stopped the vote count in Florida in 2000 and lead to George W. Bush being elected.

The US Supreme Court currently contains 9 judges. In theory, the supreme court justices are supposed to be politically neutral, but in practice they are not. 3 are considered pro-Democrat and 6 are considered pro-Republican. Of those 6 pro-Republican judges, 3 were appointed by Trump personally.

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    It wasn't the initial vote counting that was stopped, it was a recount that was stopped. To my knowledge there is no precedent for halting the initial counting of votes.
    – user5155
    Nov 5, 2020 at 12:57
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    Didn't the majority in Bush Vs Gore also say it shouldn't be used as precedent?
    – Joe W
    Nov 5, 2020 at 13:19
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    It should be worth noting that the reason that the Supreme Court ordered the counting to be stopped in 2000 was because it was just a couple of days before the Electoral College was supposed to meet. Needless to say, we are nowhere near that today.
    – Joe C
    Nov 5, 2020 at 13:21
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    @Philipp Unless I am reading what you said wrong that is what I said.
    – Joe W
    Nov 5, 2020 at 13:30
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    "it would be possible to declare those state laws themselves as incompatible with the constitution of the United States and demand them to be applied differently" Not likely. In McPherson v. Blacker the US Supreme Court decided that state legislatures have plenary power (not subject to ANY review) when setting the rules for selecting Electors. Much more likely to be overturned are judicial decisions and executive orders modifying the legislature-approved process, such as allowing ballots that aren't postmarked by election day.
    – Just Me
    Nov 5, 2020 at 13:30

On which legal basis is this even possible?

The situation in Pennsylvania is questionable. The Pennsylvania legislature passed a law in 2019 permitting mail-in voting and requiring that those ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court later ruled that, given the extraordinary circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, mail-in ballots can be counted if they are postmarked by 8 p.m. on November 3 and arrive at county boards of election by 5 p.m. on November 6.

These late arriving ballots have not yet been processed. They have been segregated so as to keep them separate from the mail-in ballots that arrived before the 8 p.m. deadline set by the Pennsylvania legislature. The problem is that Pennsylvania was so overwhelmed with mail-in ballots that those ballots that were delivered prior to the 8 p.m. deadline that those ballots are still being tallied.

The Trump campaign wants counting of those ballots delivered before the 8 p.m. Election Day deadline to be stopped. These claims are dubious.

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    @JustMe The claims that are dubious are the claims demanding stopping the count on ballots received before the 8 p.m. Election Day deadline. The counting has not yet started on ballots received after the 8 p.m. Election Day deadline but before 5 p.m. today. Nov 5, 2020 at 13:39
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    @JustMe Courts / election officials have stepped into elections prior to this. Some state legislatures mandate that people can only vote in the official polling place for the precinct in which they reside. There have been multiple times which those official polling places have been rendered unusable, such as by fire, tornado, or hurricane. Courts / election officials have deemed that effected voters can vote elsewhere -- and no one has complained. Nov 5, 2020 at 13:45
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    I removed the "These claims are dubious" line, because without any further explanation why they are dubious, it just leads to arguments. If you want that line in your answer, please add an explanation.
    – Philipp
    Nov 5, 2020 at 13:48
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    @Philipp And I rolled it back. It is rather clear from the sentence prior to that that I am referring to stopping counting on ballots received before the 8 p.m. deadline set by the PA legislature. Nov 5, 2020 at 13:51
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    "It is rather clear from the sentence prior...": But what is the dubious claim? They must be claiming some basis in law for an order to stop the counting, but it is not clear from this answer what that claimed basis is, much less that the claim is dubious. Is it the claim that the Pennsylvania judiciary has no power to order a modification of the deadline laid out in statute? If so, can you cite precedent in support of your assertion?
    – phoog
    Nov 5, 2020 at 15:45

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