Michigan's top court has decided not to weigh in on one of the emerging big issues of the November election: whether absentee ballots delayed in the mail should still count.
The state Supreme Court decision means that Michigan, like most of the presidential battlegrounds and 33 states altogether, will only open and tabulate envelopes that have landed at election offices by the time polls close on Election Day. As a result, the franchise may be denied to millions nationwide unless the beleaguered Postal Service is able to keep up with the coming torrent of mailed-in ballots.
Friday's decision was part of the latest flurry of legal developments over voting rights — including a lawsuit, similar to the one in Michigan, to make Indiana count late-arriving ballots, along with two fresh suits to relax absentee voting rules in Ohio and a bid to force South Carolina to make elections safer for people vulnerable to the coronavirus.
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Michigan's Court of Appeals has rejected a voting rights group's bid to make the battleground state count absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day.
The decision upholds a state law, similar to those on the books in 33 other states, that says only envelopes that are in the local clerk's office by the time the polls close will be tabulated.
The 2-1 ruling Wednesday came in a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters. The group said it would appeal to the state Supreme Court, setting up the likelihood the rule will be either relaxed or solidified by November — when the counting of a surge of mailed ballots arriving at close to the last minute could decide the allocation of 16 electoral votes.
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