Sep 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Court battles shift mail-in voting deadlines in battleground states

Illustrated collage of a hand casting a ballot with a mailbox and laptop in the background

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Michigan joins Pennsylvania in extending mail-in ballot deadlines by several days after the election, due to the coronavirus pandemic and expected delays in U.S. Postal Service.

The latest: Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled that all ballots postmarked before Nov. 2 must be counted, so long as they arrive in the mail before election results are certified. Michigan will certify its general election results on Nov. 23.

Why it matters: Official results in most states are not certified until several weeks after Election Day, this ruling could improve voter turnout, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Details: Stephens made the ruling, which is likely to be appealed, in a lawsuit brought by the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans

  • Stephens said she heard evidence of ballots in the August primaries being routed out of state, which contributed to the "over 6.400 otherwise valid ballots that were rejected for having been received after the Election Day receipt deadline."
  • Stephens ruled that absentee voters could get transportation from anyone to return their ballots to local clerks.
  • She also wrote in her decision that "incidences of voter fraud and absentee ballot fraud are minimal and that the fears of the same are largely exaggerated."
  • Michigan's Republican-led House and Senate, the Michigan Republican Party, and the Republican National Committee have sought to intervene in the case, but their appeal options remain unclear, according to the Free Press.

What they're saying: The ruling is "especially critical for the 1.6 million Michigan voters who are over the age of 65 and whose health is most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Free Press reported Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, as saying.

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