Michigan court rules that late arriving ballots must be counted
A Michigan judge ruled on Friday that mailed ballots postmarked by 2 November must be counted in the state as long as they are received within two weeks after the 3 November election, the latest move by a US court to protect voting rights in the pandemic, Reuters report.
Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens made the ruling in a case brought by the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, and argued for by Marc Elias, an elections lawyer working with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign. The ruling said the ballots must be received ‘by the clerk’s office no later than 14 days after the election has occurred,’ and would apply to this year’s election as a special provision due to the coronavirus pandemic. Late arriving ballots ‘are eligible to be counted in the same manner as all provisional ballots’ up until the time when the election is certified, Stephens said.
Elias, in a tweet, called the ruling a ‘major victory for voting rights’ in the state, though it is likely to be appealed. ‘This helps rectify issues with delays from the USPS, while relieving pressure on voters to make sure their ballot is received in time to be counted,’ said Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes. ‘This is a victory for every voter in Michigan.’
Democrats and Republicans have clashed over the rules for voting by mail ahead of the November election, when there is expected to be a surge in mail voting because of the virus. That has led to controversy over whether the US Postal Service (USPS) will be able to handle the mail rush in time to ensure that voters who mailed their ballots would not be disenfranchised.