By Jessica Mathews /

A local Republican lawmaker says the Legislature is still seeking to intervene in a major court decision that would allow Michigan absentee ballots to be counted days after the election.

Preliminary injunctions were issued last Friday in a case brought by Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. The court ordered that for the November 2020 election any ballot postmarked by November 2nd and received by the deadline for certifying election results, November 17th, must be counted.

State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township said the Michigan Legislature has filed a renewed motion to intervene in a lawsuit against the Secretary of State – fighting the Court of Claims decision. The GOP-controlled House and Senate want to join the case and appeal the decision, saying Nessel and Benson have “abdicated their duty” to defend state law.

Bollin says the Legislature had attempted to intervene in the lawsuit earlier this year to argue in defense of Michigan’s election laws, which she says clearly prohibit ballot harvesting and require ballots to be submitted by the close of polls on Election Day. Unfortunately, Bollin says the motion was denied and the Legislature was not given the opportunity to defend the constitutionality of the law in court. She says they’re not giving up the fight as election security is too important – adding they’ve filed another motion to intervene so they can appeal the issue all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court if necessary.

Bollin, who served as the longtime Brighton Township clerk before being elected to the House, said “While the Secretary of State should appeal, she appears too focused on her own agenda to defend the laws that were put in place to safeguard our elections.” Bollin said the injunctions issued by the Court of Claims directly contradict many of the protections the Legislature has put in place to protect the integrity of elections. The court also ordered that during the three days before the election, a voter could choose any person they wanted to return their absentee ballot for them – which Bollin says opens the door for a controversial practice known as “ballot harvesting” that has been illegal in Michigan and most other states. Bollin said local clerks have been working hard to prepare for an expected increase in absentee voting and to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in polling locations this November. She encouraged everyone to either vote in person on Election Day or return their absentee ballot directly to their local clerk’s office.

In the decision, Judge Cynthia Stephens noted chronic delays with mail during the coronavirus pandemic. Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, both Democrats, have said they won’t appeal the decision. On Friday, Benson issued the following statement: "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."