RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal appeals court has ruled that North Carolina can accept absentee ballots for more than a week after Election Day as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Tuesday night declining to block the deadline extension that was announced in late September.

At the time, the State Board of Elections increased the deadline from three days to nine, as long as ballots were postmarked by Election Day.

The change was part of a settlement with voting rights advocates. State and national Republican leaders went to court to fight the deadline extension.