Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens essentially extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to be counted, even if they arrive after the polls close on Election Day, which stood as the previous deadline. Stephens attributed her ruling to the impact of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic:
"The unrefuted affidavits and documents compel the conclusion that, in light of delays attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, mail delivery has become significantly compromised, and the risk for disenfranchisement when a voter returns an absent voter ballot by mail is very real," Stephens stated in the lawsuit the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans lodged.
The ruling also authorizes the use of ballot harvesting — allowing a third party to deliver the ballots, although it is confined to a specific timeframe.
The ruling states:
As it concerns the voter assistance ban, MCL 168.932(f) is unconstitutional as applied to only a narrow timeframe: the time between 5:01 p.m. on the Friday before the election and Election Day, i.e., when the clerk or an assistant is not required to assist a voter who wishes to cast an absent voter ballot.