LANSING The Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday reversed a decrease court ruling that mentioned late-arriving ballots should be counted, so long as they’re postmarked the day earlier than Election Day.
The Republican-controlled Legislature had appealed the September ruling by Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens that mentioned ballots postmarked earlier than Election Day might arrive as a lot as 14 days late and nonetheless be counted.
On Friday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals dominated unanimously in favor of the House and Senate within the case involving the union-backed Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans.
The ruling additionally reversed Stephens on the query of who could lawfully possess one other voter’s poll to provide help. Stephens mentioned that with a voter’s consent, anybody may also help ship an absentee poll from 5 p.m. on the Friday earlier than the election till polls shut. Under regular state regulation, solely rapid relations or a neighborhood clerk, till 5 p.m. on the Friday earlier than Election Day, may also help.
Stephens had ordered the adjustments for the Nov. 3 election solely, citing issues associated to the coronavirus pandemic and a slowdown within the U.S. Postal Service.
The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office, which have been the defendants within the case, opted not to enchantment Stephens’ ruling. As a results of that call, the House and Senate got authorized “standing” to enchantment the ruling, as a substitute.
It was not instantly recognized whether or not the retiree group would attempt to enchantment to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The court dominated that on the statutory requirement that absentee ballots should be obtained earlier than the polls closed, it’s sure by an earlier ruling it issued, in a case involving the Michigan League of Women Voters, that the deadline is constitutional.
The court dominated that the ballot-handling restrictions are justified in preventing voter fraud, even when such fraud is uncommon, and quite a few steps have already been taken to assist absentee voters in mild of the pandemic.
“Municipalities across Michigan now have installed more than 700 ballot drop boxes available for absent voters who do not want to use the mail to deliver their ballot, and … there will be more than 1,000 drop boxes available by Election Day,” the ruling mentioned.
“Additionally, satellite election centers embedded in some communities allow eligible persons to register to vote, receive a ballot, vote, and drop off their completed ballot, all on-site.”
Further, the Legislature handed a regulation to permit clerks to start processing absentee ballots early, the court mentioned.
“While plaintiffs may view these efforts as inadequate first steps, there is no reason to believe that these specific efforts are constitutionally required, even in the midst of a pandemic.”
Judge Thomas Cameron wrote the bulk opinion, joined by Judges Mark Boonstra and Michael Gadola. All three have been Republican appointees to the court. Boonstra wrote a separate concurring opinion to blast Stephens for “judicial overreach.”
Laura Cox, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, known as the ruling “a great day for the rule of law.”
“It’s important that the rules aren’t changed during an election to advantage one party over another,” Cox mentioned in a information launch. “I applaud the Michigan Court of Appeals for standing up for the rule of law and the laws passed by the people’s representatives.”