Michigan Court Allows Third Party Collection of Absentee Ballots (So-Called “Ballot Harvesting”) in the Weekend Before Election Day, and Requires States To Accept Ballots Arriving Up to 2 Weeks After Election Day if Postmarked the Day Before

You can find the opinion here.

I expect this will be appealed as have other Michigan fights over the ballot rules.

One notable finding:

One of the issues in this case concerns evidence—or lack thereof—of voter fraud and threats to election integrity associated with absent voter ballots. Plaintiffs produced largely unrefuted expert testimony and documentary materials from Dr. Michael C. Herron, who concluded that literature on voter fraud consistently concluded that incidences of fraud were “rare.” In addition, he concluded that there was “no evidence of significant voter fraud in [Michigan] associated with absentee voting and voter assistance.” Nor were there significant incidences of fraud reported with the May 2020 election, in which nearly all ballots were cast by mail or at a ballot drop-box….

Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on this matter is not affected by the amici’s concerns about election integrity. The documentary evidence in this case reveals that the incidences of voter fraudand absentee ballot fraud are minimal and that the fears of the same are largely exaggerated.

Moreover, there is little evidence to suggest that fraud would increase with a larger pool of persons eligible to assist absentee voters. Nor, for that matter, is there a compelling case to be made on this record that a voter’s neighbor, who otherwise would not be able to help her return a ballot, would be more likely to induce fraud than an individual who is approved to render assistance by MCL 168.932(f), such as a voter’s brother-in-law. Furthermore, as plaintiffs point out, the remaining provisions of MCL 168.932 already prohibit interference with the absentee voting process and are much more tailored to that purpose than the voter assistance ban. The fraudfighting role of the voter assistance ban is debatable, at best. As explained in League of Women Voters of Mich I, _ Mich App at _, slip op at 11, legislation supplementary to a self-executing constitutional provision such as art 2, § 4 “must be in harmony with the spirit of the Constitution, and its object to further the exercise of constitutional right and make it more available, and such law must not curtail the rights reserved or exceed the limitations specified.” (Citation and quotation marks omitted; emphasis added). Under the circumstances and timeframe identified in this case, the voter assistance ban curtails the self-executing rights set forth in art 2, § 4 in a way that cannot survive constitutional scrutiny.

Share this: