MI Voter Registration Deadline. Oct 19, 15 days before Nov 3, 2020.
- Stage 3 -- No excuse required to vote by mail
Online registration available
Gary Peters won US Senate
Jon Hoadley lost
Gretchen Driskell lost
Elissa Slotkin won US House of Representatives
Haley Stevens won US House of Representatives
Tim Wallberg won US House of Representatives
• Michigan: A 6th Circuit Court of Appeals panel has ruled 2-1 along ideological lines to overturn a lower court decision that had blocked Michigan's unique law banning third-party organizations from hiring paid transportation to take voters to polling places, with the panel's two GOP appointees siding with Michigan Republicans.
• Michigan: The state Court of Appeals has sided with Republicans and overturned a lower court ruling that had required mail ballots to count if postmarked by the day before Election Day and received up to two weeks afterward.
• Michigan: Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a bill allowing election officials to begin processing mail ballots the day before Election Day. Previously, officials were only allowed to start doing so the morning of Election Day.
• Michigan: A federal district court has ruled partially in favor of Democrats by temporarily blocking a lone-in-the-nation law prohibiting the use of paid transportation to the polls such as ride-hailing services and hired drivers, but the court refused to block another limitation preventing most third-parties from collecting voters' completed absentee ballots and delivering them to officials on those voters' behalf.
• Michigan: A state court judge has ruled that Michigan must count mail ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within two weeks. The judge also blocked a law limiting the class of persons who can assist a voter in returning mail ballots; voters can now ask anyone to return their ballots.
Republicans are appealing the extension of the mail ballot return deadline, and they've also filed a separate suit in federal court challenging the ruling. In addition, they've filed a suit in state court challenging the ballot return assistance ruling.
• Michigan: The Michigan Supreme Court issued a decision that declined to hear an appeal of a Court of Appeals ruling that rejected a request by the League of Women Voters that election officials be ordered to accept mail ballots so long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received within six days. Under current law, ballots must be received by Election Day, but plaintiffs argued that this practice conflicts with an amendment to the state constitution that voters passed in 2018 establishing the right to vote by mail.
The court's four Republican justices voted not to take up the appeal, but its three Democratic members signed on to a dissenting opinion authored by Justice Richard Bernstein. "I write to express how strongly I disagree" with the court's decision not to consider plaintiffs' appeal, Bernstein wrote, adding that he was "baffled and troubled by the majority's vote."
Bernstein noted that the number of absentee ballot requests in Michigan was already far greater than in previous years, creating an issue that should merit judicial review. He also pointed out that the state's 2016 presidential race was decided by just 11,000 votes, fewer than the 41,000 to 64,000 absentee ballots plaintiffs estimate will not be counted because of the election day receipt deadline.
Michigan: County lawmakers from both parties in Oakland County, a suburban county north of Detroit whose 1.3 million residents make it the second-largest in the state, voted unanimously to prepay the postage on absentee mail ballots for the November elections, making it the first in the state to do so.
Idaho, Michigan: The Supreme Court has stayed a lower court ruling that had ordered Idaho officials to allow proponents of an education-funding initiative to gather signatures electronically in an effort to get onto November's ballot. This ruling is the first of the pandemic to see the Supreme Court weigh in on a case involving the loosening of rules for ballot measure access, and it's an indication that the justices are likely to block similar rulings in other states where proponents are trying to place electoral reforms on the ballot.
Supporters of a criminal justice reform ballot initiative in Michigan were also poised to go before the Supreme Court after Democratic officials appealed a ruling easing the state's signature requirements. However, that case ultimately short-circuited after initiative proponents said they discovered that they had mistakenly obtained far fewer signatures than they had originally told the court. Backers moved to dismiss their own case, leading Democratic state Attorney General Dana Nessel to withdraw Michigan's petition for the Supreme Court to step in.
Michigan: A panel of three judges on the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 along ideological lines to uphold Republican-backed voting restrictions that Democrats were challenging. The ruling maintains a limitation on what counts as proof of residency for voter registration. It also rejects Democrats' demand that the state start automatically pre-registering all citizens under age 18 who conduct business with the state's driver's licensing agency so that they will be automatically added to the rolls when they turn 18. Currently, only citizens aged 17-and-a-half or older are automatically registered.
Democrats have not yet indicated whether they will appeal to Michigan's Supreme Court. The high court has a 4-3 Republican majority, though one of the GOP justices has been a swing vote when similar issues have come before the court.
Michigan: A federal district court has dismissed a Republican-backed lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Michigan's new independent redistricting commission that voters passed at the ballot box in 2018. This ruling follows a GOP loss in April before a panel of three judges on the GOP-heavy 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had unanimously upheld the lower court's refusal to temporarily block the law creating the commission while the case proceeded on the merits.
Republicans had been challenging the new commission in two lawsuits that were consolidated into a single set of proceedings. One lawsuit argued that the new commission violated Republicans' First Amendment rights to free speech and association and their 14th Amendment right to equal protection because it imposes prohibitions on who may serve as a commissioner.
Republicans argued in the other lawsuit that the process for selecting commissioners violates the GOP's First Amendment rights to freedom of association by preventing political parties from picking their own commissioners. The appeals court rejected both arguments by citing Supreme Court precedent enabling prohibitions on certain individuals serving on the commission, a decision the district court cited in its own ruling.
The Republican plaintiffs have not yet announced whether they will appeal but said they are considering their options.
• Michigan: A Republican appeal of a state appellate court ruling blocking the restrictions on ballot initiatives that the GOP approved during a 2018 lame-duck session remains pending after the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in March. After voters used initiatives in 2018 to ban gerrymandering and expand voting rights, Republicans passed the law in question to make it harder for progressives to put initiatives on the ballot but not conservatives.
The invalidated law would have required those gathering petition signatures to disclose whether they were paid or volunteers in both an affidavit and on the petition itself. Another provision that was also struck down would have prevented any group seeking to get on the ballot from gathering more than 15% of petition signatures from any of the state's 14 congressional districts. Because Republicans gerrymandered the map by packing Democrats into a few lopsided districts, the law would have made it disproportionately harder to put progressive measures on the ballot than conservative ones.
Republicans hold a 4-3 majority on the state Supreme Court, but Republican Justice Elizabeth Clement has broken with her fellow conservatives on high-profile issues such as allowing the redistricting reform measure to appear on the ballot in the first place. Her vote is therefore likely to decide the outcome of the case.
Bottom line: Democrats can flip the Michigan Supreme Court from Republicans
Composition: 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
2020 elections: 2 seats up (nonpartisan with partisan primaries)
Democratic Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, first elected in 2012
OPEN (Republican Justice Stephen Markman, first appointed by ex-Gov. John Engler (R) in 1999, faces mandatory retirement)
Democrats have an excellent chance to take control of the supreme court in the battleground state of Michigan thanks to an open Republican seat, though they’ll also have to defend a seat held by a Democrat, Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.
Michigan voters approved a new independent redistricting commission at the ballot box in 2018, meaning Republicans don’t have free rein to gerrymander once again as they did a decade ago. However, the courts could still play a big role. For starters, the members of the commission could deadlock, which would require judges to step in and drew new maps. And anyone who has a grievance against the new lines could wind up suing in state court.
The commission itself is also vulnerable, because the U.S. Supreme Court could always overturn its 2015 decision that upheld a similar commission in Arizona. That ruling featured a narrow 5-4 majority, with former Justice Anthony Kennedy casting the deciding vote. Now that Kennedy has been replaced by Brett Kavanaugh, the court could very well reach a different conclusion in a future case and strike down Michigan’s commission—as well as Arizona’s, of course, and a similar panel in California.
Should that happen, Michigan will need its own supreme court to serve as a backstop and ensure the state’s next set of maps are fairly drawn.
• Michigan: A federal district court has denied a motion to dismiss a Democratic-supported lawsuit challenging Michigan's procedures for rejecting mail ballots over problems with a voter's signature supposedly not matching. The court also allowed Republican legislative leaders to intervene as defendants (plaintiffs originally named Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson as the sole defendant).
The plaintiffs contend that the ballot rejection process is arbitrary and lacks a statewide standard. Michigan law does not require officials to notify voters that their ballots have been rejected or allow them to challenge any such rejections. Similar laws have been struck down in other states in recent years.
• Michigan: The Democratic Party organizations suing Michigan in part over a Republican-backed law restricting same-day voter registration have announced that they are dropping that portion of their lawsuit after the state issued new guidelines that would let local clerks effectively circumvent much of the restriction.
The law in question only allows same-day voter registration on Election Day and two weeks prior to take place at a local clerk's office instead of each polling place. However, the state's new guidelines give clerks the option to designate temporary satellite offices that may be used for same-day registration, effectively opening up more locations, including at polling places themselves.
Democrats are continuing to sue in state court over Michigan's policy of refusing to automatically pre-register citizens when they obtain a driver's license if they are younger than 17-and-a-half, which would mean they would be added to the rolls once they reach voting age. The suit is also challenging what the type of documentation voters must produce for same-day registration during that final two-week period up to and including Election Day.
Detroit, MI: A conservative outfit headed by Christian Adams, a former member of Trump's bogus voter fraud commission and one of the country's leading voter suppression activists, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to require Detroit, Michigan to remove thousands of voters from its rolls whom plaintiffs claim are dead, duplicate, or are no longer eligible to vote. Detroit is the most heavily black major city in America, and low turnout there played a key role in Donald Trump narrowly winning Michigan in 2016.
Adams has long tried to bully local governments into aggressively purging their voting rolls by launching frivolous lawsuits, with his intent being to kick eligible voters who tend to vote for Democrats off the rolls. Adams’ organization for years largely targeted rural counties with sizable black populations, and those underfunded localities often lacked the resources to fight expensive legal battles, preferring instead to settle and avoid the costs of a trial.
However, when Adams tried this scheme in Florida's far more populous Broward County, county officials fought back and prevailed at trial. Adams had argued the county failed to maintain accurate registration rolls because there were ostensibly more registered voters than eligible voters, but election experts testified he was misusing outdated census information and cherry-picked registration statistics that exaggerated the results. The court agreed, calling Adams' supposed evidence "misleading," and Adams' loss of credibility in that defeat could undermine his latest effort.
• Kansas: Kansas Republicans have agreed to settle a federal lawsuit whereby they will shut down the Interstate Crosscheck program for "the foreseeable future" after its security flaws were exposed.
Crosscheck was championed by former GOP Secretary of State Kris Kobach, ostensibly to find voters who are improperly registered in multiple states. But as multiple analyses have previously shown, Crosscheck's intentionally shoddy design led to a sky-high number of false positives that voter suppression zealots like Kobach blithely used as supposed evidence of widespread voter fraud so they could legitimize new voting restrictions.
Consequently, the system will remain inoperative and won't be used to wrongly purge eligible voters' registrations for the time being. Kansas officials have previously indicated they could use $2 million in federal funds to use an alternative database called the Electronic Registration Information Center, which is a bipartisan system for maintaining accurate voting rolls and is used in a number of states.