A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Michigan has ruled that there will be no extended deadline for voters to hand in their absentee ballots on election day. A lower court had allowed for an extended deadline of up to 14 days to count ballots as long as the ballot was postmarked before election day.
In a separate ruling, the judges overturned a decision that would have allowed for third-party collection of ballots for 3 days before the election.
The twin rulings will help secure ballots before they’re counted and prevent fraud. The rulings continue a winning streak for ballot integrity activists and the Michigan Republicans who have fought various schemes to draw out the vote unnecessarily and reduce ballot security.
The Court of Appeals panel noted the appellate court had already ruled the 8 p.m. Election Day ballot deadline as constitutional in a separate case and the Supreme Court had rejected an appeal of that decision.
“We are not only bound by that holding, but we fully agree with it,” Cameron wrote in the majority opinion.
Perhaps the judges believe they’re not the legislature.
In addition, the duty to draft and pass election integrity laws, such as the one that bans the collection of ballots by third parties, “is the responsibility of our elected policy makers, not the judiciary,” he wrote.
“To be sure, the pandemic has caused considerable change in our lives, but election officials have taken considerable steps to alleviate the potential effects by making no-reason absent voting easier for the 2020 election,” added Cameron, noting the installation of more ballot drop boxes and satellite election centers.
“On balance, the ballot-handling restrictions pass constitutional muster given the state’s strong interest in preventing fraud.” Well, most of the state anyway.
The ruling came after an emergency appeal from Republicans because the Democratic Attorney General, Dana Nessel and Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson refused to appeal the lower court decision that overturned state law regarding election deadlines.
Typically, Democrats cried “voter suppression!” “Our courts should be following the example set by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and reinforcing efforts that remove barriers to voting,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes said.
Obeying the law is not a “barrier” to voting — especially when that law is in place to maintain the integrity of the election. It’s a cynical, dishonest political ploy to allege voter suppression whenever Republicans demand states take measures to maintain ballot security.
One of the judges, Mark Boonstra, wrote a concurring opinion that sought to school liberal Democrats about the separation of powers.
Perhaps it would be easier, Boonstra said, to live under a “benevolent dictator” who wouldn’t have “to endure the inconvenience of others’ input.”
But the “inefficiencies” in the separate branches of power in the state “are there by design,” he wrote, and a “price we willingly pay so that we may live under the banner of freedom in the United States of America.”
The judiciary is meant to “decide actual controversies,” not to “be hijacked to achieve political ends outside of the legislative process,” Boonstra said. Even in a pandemic, he wrote, judges do not gain the authority “to rewrite statutes.”
Three cheers for the Constitution.
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