Michigan appeals court blocks 14-day extension to accept absentee ballots
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The Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday blocked a 14-day extension to accept and count absentee ballots that some other states, including nearby Minnesota, are allowing.
Unless the 2020 presidential election is a landslide for either President Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden, results will likely not be clear until days — or even weeks – after Nov. 3.
"Although … factors may complicate plaintiffs’ voting process, they do not automatically amount to a loss of the right to vote absentee," the court said in its decision. Hundreds of special absentee-ballot voting boxes have been set up across the state.
Initially, Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens had ruled that ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 can still be counted if they are received two weeks after Nov. 3, citing "unrefuted evidence" about mail delivery problems because of the coronavirus pandemic. She said more than 6,400 ballots arrived too late to be counted in the August primary.
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The appeals court, however, said the pandemic and any delivery woes “are not attributable to the state.”
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted record absentee ballots requests across the country; some states sent absentee ballots to all registered voters.
A person drops applications for mail-in-ballots into a mailbox in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
Nearly 1.4 million Michiganders have submitted early ballots less than three weeks away from Election Day, or 28.7% of the state's total 2016 voter turnout, according to data from the United States Elections Project.
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Some legislators feared that changes to the U.S. Postal Service put in place by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy months before the election could potentially delay delivery service and, therefore, ballot-counting processes.
DeJoy assured voters in an Aug. 18 statement that the USPS "is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall." He has since postponed the changes.
“Happy to see this unanimous ruling to uphold the integrity of our elections process and reject judicial overreach,” Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey tweeted.
The Michigan Democratic Party was disappointed.
“Voters should not be punished for delays in the U.S. Postal Service or for unexpected emergencies that could make it a challenge for them to get to the polls on Election Day,” the party said.
Courts in Wisconsin and Indiana have also blocked attempts to extend the number of days to accept and count ballots.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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