(Headline USA) The Michigan appeals court denied a request to require the counting of absentee ballots received after the time polls close on Election Day, ruling that the battleground state’s deadline remains intact despite activist efforts to allow voting after Election Day.
The court, in a 2-1 decision released Wednesday, said it is up to lawmakers to change the deadline that has been in place for at least 91 years.
The League of Women Voters of Michigan and three voters sued in May, seeking a declaration that absentee ballots be counted as long as they are mailed on or before Election Day and are received within six days of the election.
The plaintiffs, who will appeal to the state Supreme Court, pointed to voters’ new constitutional rights to cast an absentee ballot without giving a reason 40 days before an election and to do it in person or by mail. They also noted fears of visiting polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We follow the view that courts should typically defer to the Legislature in making policy decisions,” Judge David Sawyer wrote, adding that organizers of the ballot drive did not include a deadline in the initiative.
Judge Michael Riordan agreed with the ruling, while Judge Elizabeth Gleicher dissented.
“This case should be easy,” she said. “Because voters have a right to vote by mail if they mail their ballots to the clerk during the 40 days before an election, they have right to have their votes counted when those votes arrive in the clerk’s office. This interpretation squares with the historical and legal meaning of voting. It corresponds with the voters’ intent.”
The Republican-controlled Legislature appears unlikely to revise the deadline.
Many have noted the serious concerns of voter-fraud and polling-place chaos that such measures would introduce, and the bad-faith approach leftists have taken in their pursuit of them, often targeting swing states like Michigan that President Donald Trump won by a narrow margin in 2016.
Trump won Michigan by slightly more than 10,700 votes in 2016.
A coalition of electoral watchdogs recently sent a letter to Trump calling on him to issue an executive order prior to an early-August deadline that would require states to adhere to normal election procedures.
The groups pointed to primaries in places like nearby Wisconsin, where hundreds of absentee ballots remained uncounted, and others where ballots that were automatically mailed out wound up being carelessly discarded.
A Georgia couple said last week that it had received a double-whammy of election fraud after an activist group registered its cat to automatically receive a ballot—despite the cat having been dead for more than a decade.
The Michigan judges unanimously rejected a request by the leftist activists to “compel” Democrat Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to direct local clerks to provide paid postage on return envelopes.
Although plenty of time remains between now and election day for state officials to prepare adequately, the suit claimed inherent variations in mail delivery schedules could result in one person having the ballot counted and another not, even if they send them back on the same day.
It also said the deadline especially burdens undecided and late-deciding voters and said at least 11 states count ballots sent by Election Day.
However, the argument seemed clearly designed to sway the election toward a particular outcome by motivating voters to turn out after the fact only if Trump were to win.
Only 1.75% of ballots were not counted in the recent May local elections because they came in too late.
A similar suit — funded by Priorities USA, a powerful super PAC in Democratic politics — is pending in the state Court of Claims. Arguments were heard last week.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press