The Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday blocked a 14-day extension of the reception and counting of absentee ballots allowed by some other states, including neighboring Minnesota.
Unless the 2020 presidential election is a landslide for President Trump or Democratic candidate Joe Biden, the results are unlikely to be known until a few days – or even weeks – after November 3rd.
“Although … factors may complicate the plaintiffs’ voting process, they do not automatically mean the loss of the right to vote in absentia,” the court said in its ruling. Hundreds of special ballot boxes have been set up across the state to vote for the missing ballot.
Initially, Claim Judge Cynthia Stevens ruled that ballots stamped by November 2 could still be counted if received two weeks after November 3, citing “incontrovertible evidence”; of mail delivery problems due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to her, more than 6,400 ballots arrived too late to be counted in the August initial vote.
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However, the appellate court said the pandemic and any delivery problems were “unrelated to the state.”
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted no country-wide voting applications; some states sent absentee ballots to all registered voters.
According to the US Election Project, nearly 1.4 million Michigan residents cast their ballots less than three weeks before election day, or 28.7% of the total 2016 voters.
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Some lawmakers feared that changes to the U.S. Postal Service introduced by Postmaster General Louis Dejoy a few months before the election could potentially delay the delivery service and, consequently, the ballot counting process.
DeJoy assured voters in a statement on August 18 that the USPS “is ready today to process any amount of campaign mail it receives this fall.” He has since postponed the changes.
“I am happy to see this unanimous decision to uphold the integrity of our election process and to refrain from excessive use of court decisions,” Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirky tweeted.
The Michigan Democratic Party was disappointed.
“Voters should not be punished for delays in the US Postal Service or for unexpected emergencies that could make it difficult for them to reach polling stations on election day,” the party said.
Courts in Wisconsin and Indiana have also blocked attempts to extend the number of days for receiving and counting ballots.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.