A last-minute court ruling reversed Michigan’s ballot deadline extension. That means absentee ballots should be mailed by Oct. 19 to be counted on Election Day.
MICHIGAN—If you haven’t voted yet, drop your ballot off at one of Michigan’s ballot drop boxes or your local clerk’s office.
A Michigan Court of Appeals ruling—by three Republican judges—reversed a lower court decision allowing any Michigander’s ballot that was sent by Nov. 2 to be counted as long as it was received within two weeks after the election.
The three judges, all appointed by former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, made their decision just as the United States Postal Service recommended all ballots be mailed by Oct. 19. This means a lot of Michiganders’ voting plans need a last-minute change as ballots mailed almost immediately after the court’s Friday ruling may not reach their local clerks in time.
Writing for the court, Judge Thomas Cameron praised the work of election officials in making voting during the pandemic easier as part of justifying the court’s decision.
“To be sure, the pandemic has caused considerable change in our lives,” he wrote, “but election officials have taken considerable steps to alleviate the potential effects by making no-reason absent voting easier for the 2020 election.”
But those same election officials have begged the courts to authorize the exact extension that the Court of Appeals rejected.
After thousands of ballots were rejected for arriving late in the August primary, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called on Michigan to change the deadline for ballots to be received due to postal slowdowns and the high rate of absentee voters.
“Those are valid ballots that were voted on time and submitted on time, and our voters’ rights should not be subject to the capacity of the US Postal Service,” said Benson.
Benson has repeatedly encouraged Michiganders to mail in ballots by Oct. 19—even while the lower court ruling was standing. After that date, Benson has encouraged Michiganders to deliver their ballots to their local clerks or drop them at ballot drop boxes.
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So far, over 1 million absentee ballots have been received by local clerks out of the nearly 3 million requested. If the same percentage of ballots arrive late in November as in August, over 12,000 ballots will be rejected for no reason other than late arrival.
But Benson remains optimistic about the election overall, and in Michiganders’ ability to make their votes count in spite of the Oct. 16 ruling.
“With more than 1 million ballots already returned, we’re seeing an incredible amount of enthusiasm from Michiganders excited to participate in our democracy,” Benson said. “Voters have more options than ever before for how to register and cast their ballot. And that’s why we’ve been working around the clock to ensure citizens understand those options and can exercise their rights in the way that works best for them.”