DETROIT (AP) – Absentee ballots must arrive by election day to be counted, the Michigan Court of Appeals said on Friday, blocking a 14-day extension ordered by a lower court and embraced by key Democratic officials in a country on the battlefield.
Any change should depend on the legislature, not the judiciary, the Republican Court of Appeals said in a 3-0 opinion.
Bulletin extension in absentia in Wisconsin and Indiana have also been overturned by higher courts.
Michigan’s ability to deal with flooding with ballots will be closely monitored in a state that was briefly won by President Donald Trump in 201
Michigan law says absentee ballots must be handed in by 8pm on election day to be valid. But Claim Judge Cynthia Stevens had ordered all ballots stamped by November 2nd to be counted if they arrived within two weeks of the Nov. 3 election.
Stevens said there was “irrefutable evidence” of mail delivery problems due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said more than 6,400 ballots arrived too late to be counted in the primary in August.
However, the appellate court said the pandemic and supply troubles were “not due to the state.”
“While these factors may complicate the plaintiffs’ voting process, they do not automatically result in the loss of the right to vote in absentia,” the court said, noting that hundreds of special boxes were placed in Michigan.
The court overturned another part of Stevens’ decision, which would have allowed a non-family member to hand in a completed ballot in the last days before the election, if the voter agreed.
Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, refused to appeal Stevens’ decisions, leaving the Republican-controlled legislature to intervene.
“I am delighted to see this unanimous decision to maintain the integrity of our election process and to reject the crimes of the judiciary,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirky wrote on Twitter.
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 challenge them to reach polling stations on election day,” the party said.
The case was heard by appeals judges Michael Gadola, Mark Bunstra and Thomas Cameron. They were all appointed by Rick Snyder, a Republican when he was governor and subsequently elected.
The lawsuit was filed by a group called the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans.
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