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Judge Rules To Extend Absentee Ballot Postmark Deadline

(CBS DETROIT) - Michigan voters are being encouraged by the Department of State to return absentee ballots as soon as possible to avoid a late rush following a court's decision to extend the postmark deadline.

"Many of our local leagues are volunteering to help the clerks out then of course we're encouraging poll workers, people to volunteer for poll workers to help on the absentee ballot counting boards," Christina Schlitt, president of The League of Women Voters of Michigan.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens made the ruling Friday mandating clerks to count all absentee votes with a Nov. 2 postmark even if it arrives after polls close.

If the ruling holds it applies only to the Nov. 3 election and could increase the possibility of slowing down the counts which could leave voters waiting days for the final results.

"Well I'm not sure exactly how long it will take but the secretary of state has been very clear in the fact that don't expect to have it resolved on the election day because we are encouraging so many absentee voters," said Schlitt.

Some members from the Michigan Republican Party tried to intervene as defendants in the case but those motions were denied.

"Some of the changes the judge just ruled on are sitting in the legislature right now and they just haven't moved. That's a very good question. I don't know why they wouldn't want to support voters. In Michigan two years ago we voted to overwhelmingly to make voting easier and more efficient and convenient for the voters. We just need to get the rest of the laws in place to complete that whole package," said Schlitt.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson released a statement about the court's ruling:

"No eligible voter should be disenfranchised through no fault of their own for exercising their right to vote by mail. The court's decision recognizes many of the unique challenges that the pandemic has created for all citizens and will reduce the potential for voter disenfranchisement due to mail delays. However we still want voters to make a plan to vote now, and not wait until the last minute if they want to vote by mail. That's why we will continue to strongly encourage voters to request and return their absentee ballots as soon as possible."

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