Michigan’s ability to handle a flood of ballots will be closely monitored in a state won narrowly by President Donald Trump in 2016. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said last week that 2.7 million people had requested absentee ballots, a result of a change in the law that makes them available to any voter.
Michigan law states that absent ballot papers must be submitted by 6 p.m. 20 on election day to be valid. But Judge Cynthia Stephens in court had ordered that any ballot paper mailed on November 2 could be counted if it arrived within two weeks of the November 3 election.
Stephens said there was “undisputed evidence”
However, the appellate court said the pandemic and any delivery problems “cannot be attributed to the state.”
“While these factors may complicate plaintiffs’ voting process, they do not automatically amount to a loss of the right of absence,” the court said, noting that hundreds of special boxes have been set up throughout Michigan.
The court also reversed another part of Stephens’ decision that would have allowed a non-family member to cast a completed ballot in the final days before the election if a voter gave his or her consent.
“The Constitution is not suspended or transformed even in times of pandemic, and judges are not in any way authorized in a pandemic to rewrite statutes or to displace the decisions made by the political branches of government,” said Judge Mark Boonstra. in a separate, 10-page joint statement.
Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, had refused to appeal Stephens’ decisions, leaving it to the Republican-controlled legislature to intervene.
“Glad to see this unanimous decision to uphold the integrity of our electoral process and reject judicial overreach,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey 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 a challenge for them to get to the ballot box on election day,” the party said.
The case was heard by the judges of the Court of Appeal Boonstra, Michael Gadola and Thomas Cameron. All were appointed by Republican Rick Snyder when he was governor and then elected.
The lawsuit was filed by a group called the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans.