Court Blocks Late Absentee Ballot Counting In Michigan
The administration of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer earlier this year issued orders allowing up to two weeks to count late-arriving absentee ballots. But that unilateral move is being nullified by a state Appeals Court panel. Unless there is a new court ruling to overturn the unanimous State Court of Appeals decision from the three-judge panel, existing state law stands. Critics of the Governor say that’s as it should be.
The ruling also puts a stop to the administration’s plans to allow third parties from gathering ballots to deliver to election clerks. That activity is known as “ballot harvesting” and is expressly disallowed by existing state law. Both moves by the Whitmer administration were claimed to help make life easier for voters during the COVID-19 virus outbreak. The administration also got an initial supportive ruling from none other than Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stevens. She has routinely decided cases challenging the Governor’s virus related actions, only to have them overturned in higher courts, including this new appeals court decision.
The Detroit News reports the ruling came from a challenge to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office ordering the notable elections changes. But no one questions Governor Gretchen Whitmer was fully involved in the plan. It appears Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was ready for the decision which was handed down late Friday. She immediately issued a media release telling voters who plan to use ansente4e ballots to have them in the mail no later than today. Benson is also telling voters who can’t mail in their ballots by today, to hand-deliver the ballot to an election clerk’s office or a designated dropbox. Predictably, liberal Democratic leaders in Michigan are upset at the Appeals Court ruling. Conservative Republican leaders are applauding the court’s unanimous decision to keep laws enacted by the legislature intact.