State court stops 2-week absentee ballot extension

DETROIT (AP) – Absentee ballots must arrive by Nov. 3 to be counted, the Michigan Court of Appeals said Friday, blocking a 14-day extension that had been ordered by a lower court and embraced by key Democratic officials.

The appeals court, in a 3-0 opinion, said any changes must rest with the Legislature, not the judiciary.

Absentee ballot extensions ordered by judges in Wisconsin and Indiana have also been overturned by higher courts.

Michigan law says absentee ballots must be turned in by election night to be valid. But Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens had ordered that any ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 could be counted if they arrived within two weeks after the Nov. 3 election.

Stephens said there was “unrefuted evidence” about mail delivery problems because of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that more than 6,400 ballots arrived too late to be counted in the August primary.

Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, both Democrats, declined to appeal Stephens’ decision, leaving it to the Republican-controlled Legislature to intervene.


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