Election workers process absentee ballots for the primary elections in Portland City Hall on July 14, 2020, in Portland, Maine. Credit: David Sharp / AP

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is deciding whether absentee ballots received up to two days after the election should be counted.

The court heard arguments from several groups that seek an opinion.

Lawyers for the Alliance for Retired Americans and other groups said that Maine has unique provisions in its constitution that ensure not only the right to vote, but also the safety of its citizens.

Zachary Heiden of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine said that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a health risk for voters that warrants changing the deadlines for receiving and counting ballots.

“They’re not doing it for the reason that people often vote absentee through the mail, which is convenience,” Heiden said. “But rather, they are doing it for safety. They are doing it to protect their health, the health of their family, the health of their community,”

Current law requires absentee ballots be returned to the local clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day. But Heiden said because of mail delivery slowdowns at the U.S. Postal Service, the court should allow ballots received two days after the election to be counted.

The law court said it will expedite its consideration of the request, given the election is less than three weeks away.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.