DETROIT (AP) – Elections should not arrive on Election Day to be counted, the Michigan Court of Appeals said on Friday, blocking a 14-day extension ordered by a lower court and accepted by the principal Democratic official in a battleground state.
Any changes should be up to the Legislature, not the judiciary, the Republican nominees of the court judges who said in a 3-0 opinion.
Ballot extensions not in Wisconsin and Indiana also expelled by the higher courts.
Michigan’s ability to handle a flood of ballots will soon be on the alert in a state narrowly won by President Donald Trump in 2016. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said last week that 2.7 million people requested absentee voters, a result of a change in the law that made them available to any voter.
Michigan law states that absentee ballots must be opened by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be valid. But Court of Appeals Judge Cynthia Stephens has ruled that any ballots posted on November 2 will count if they arrive within two weeks after the Nov. 3 election.
Stephens said there is “undeniable evidence” about mail delivery problems due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said more than 6,400 ballots were late to be counted primarily in August.
The appellate court, however, said the pandemic and any suffering “could not be attributed to the state.”
“While those factors can complicate the plaintiffs’ voting process, they do not automatically lose the right to vote without it,” the court said, citing hundreds of special boxes set up throughout Michigan. .
The court also overturned another part of Stephens’ decision, which would allow a non-family member to deliver a complete ballot in the last days before the election if a voter agrees.
“The constitution is not suspended or amended even during a pandemic, and judges are not allowed in a pandemic to rewrite laws or to overturn decisions made by government policy-making branches , “Judge Mark Boonstra said in a separate, 10-page concurrent opinion.
Benson and United States Attorney Dana Nessel, both Democrats, refused to appeal Stephens’ decisions, leaving it to the Republican-controlled Legislature to intervene.
“It is gratifying to see this unanimous decision to maintain the integrity of our election process and to reject the overreach of the judiciary,” Senate Senator Mike Shirkey tweeted.
The Michigan Democratic Party failed.
“Voters should not be penalized for delays in the U.S. Postal Service or for unexpected emergencies that could be a challenge for them to get to the polls on Election Day,” the party said.
The case was heard by appellate judges Boonstra, Michael Gadola and Thomas Cameron. All were appointed by Rick Snyder, a Republican, when he was governor and then elected.
The lawsuit was filed by a group called the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans.
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