A Michigan judge on Friday ordered elections officials to accept mail-in ballots for two weeks after the 2020 election as long as they’re postmarked before Election Day.
The ruling substantially increases the amount of time ballots can be accepted in the state. Under existing law, officials count only mail-in ballots received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
The preliminary injunction applies only to the Nov. 3, 2020, election.
The ruling in the Court of Claims was the result of a lawsuit brought by the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans.
“Judge Cynthia Stephens agreed with the Michigan Alliance that the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges facing the U.S. Postal Service warrant a change in the state’s voting procedures,” the organization said.
Last month, some voting rights groups became concerned after the USPS began removing some mail collection boxes from streets and sorting machines from some branches. The USPS sent letters to dozens of states warning them that some mail-in ballots might not be counted in time for the November election because state deadlines are “incongruous” with delivery standards.
After an uproar over the charges, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy ordered that operational changes he’s overseeing will be halted “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
In addition to extending the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots, Stephens also said a third party can submit a mail-in or absentee ballot for a voter — a practice described by critics as ballot harvesting.
Trump has repeatedly denounced voting by mail, claiming that it would invite voter fraud. A study by Stanford University’s Democracy and Polarization Lab in April, though, found that mail-in voting doesn’t favor one political party over another, nor does it invite more frequent incidents of fraud.
Trump himself regularly votes by mail in Florida.
A Gallup poll released in April indicated that 70% of Americans favor allowing all registered voters to vote by mail.
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