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Michigan Court of Appeals blocks 14-day extension to accept absent ballots



The Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday blocked a 14-day extension to accept and count absent ballots allowed by some other states, including nearby Minnesota.

Unless the 2020 presidential election is a landslide for neither President Trump nor Democratic candidate Joe Biden, the results are unlikely to be clear until days – or even weeks – after November 3rd.

“While … factors may complicate the plaintiffs’ voting process, they do not automatically amount to a loss of the right of absence,” the court said in its decision. Hundreds of special ballot boxes that are absent have been set up across the state.

Originally, Court Cynthia Stephens had ruled that ballot papers postmarked on November 2 can still be counted if received two weeks after November 3, citing “unproven evidence”

; of mail delivery problems due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said more than 6,400 ballots arrived too late to be counted in the primary in August.

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However, the appellate court said the pandemic and any delivery problems “cannot be attributed to the state.”

The coronavirus pandemic has called for record absentee voting requests across the country; some states sent absentee ballots to all registered voters.

A person throws mail-in ballot paper applications at a mailbox in Omaha, Neb.  (AP Photo / Nati Harnik, File)

A person submits applications for post-in ballot papers at a mailbox in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo / Nati Harnik, File)

Nearly 1.4 million Michiganders have cast early ballots less than three weeks away from election day or 28.7% of the state’s total turnout in 2016, according to data from the U.S. election project.

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Some lawmakers feared that changes to the U.S. Postal Service introduced by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy months before the election could potentially delay delivery service and therefore voting counting processes.

DeJoy assured voters in a statement on August 18 that the USPS “is ready today to handle the amount of ballot it receives in the fall.” He has since postponed the changes.

“Glad to see this unanimous decision to uphold the integrity of our electoral process and reject judicial overreach,” tweeted Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

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 a challenge for them to get to the ballot box on election day,” the party said.

Courts in Wisconsin and Indiana have also blocked attempts to extend the number of days to accept and count ballots.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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