Michigan appeals court overturns lower court’s order allowing deadline extension for absentee ballots

Democratic Party officials in various states have pushed to change election laws to make mail-in voting easier, ostensibly in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In Michigan, however, the state appeals court overturned a lower court’s order that would have allowed for absentee ballots to be received and counted up to two weeks after Election Day, as reported by The Hill.

Courts disagree

As a result, ballots across the state must be received no later than 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 in order to be counted.

The latest ruling also reversed an order that would have allowed so-called ballot-harvesting, which lets non-relatives collect and submit completed absentee ballots for other voters.

A unanimous ruling by the appeals court rejected the lower court’s argument that expected coronavirus-related slowdowns in mail delivery necessitated a two-week extension on the deadline as well as the provision for harvesting ballots.

Instead, the three-judge panel found that the state was not at fault for either the pandemic or slower mail delivery, going on to point out that nearly 1,000 ballot drop-off boxes and early voting sites are available statewide.

The decision asserted that voters have multiple voting options to ensure their ballots are submitted early and in time to be counted in the upcoming election.

“Considerable change in our lives”

“To be sure, the pandemic has caused considerable change in our lives, but election officials have taken considerable steps to alleviate the potential effects by making no-reason absent voting easier for the 2020 election,” the court’s written opinion stated.

Despite the fact that “those factors may complicate plaintiffs’ voting process, they do not automatically amount to a loss of the right to vote absentee,” the judges concluded.

As for the decision on ballot-harvesting, Politico reported that the appeals court found such changes to election laws must be approved by lawmakers, not judges.

While state Democrats were obviously disappointed by the ruling, GOP officials are hailing it as a win.

Michigan GOP Chairwoman Laura Cox reacted with a tweet: “This is a great day for the rule of law. It’s important that the rules aren’t changed during an election to advantage one party over another. I applaud the Michigan Court of Appeals for standing up for the rule of law and the laws passed by the people’s representatives.”

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