On Tuesday, June 2, Priorities USA announced it was supporting and funding a legal challenge to three provisions that limit access to absentee voting in Michigan. This is Priorities USA’s third lawsuit addressing the concerns regarding Americans casting their ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, the Downriver/Detroit Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, as well as Michigan voters are listed as plaintiffs in the filing.
Because of the coronavirus, election officials across the country are facing fundamental changes to the way they administer elections, including consolidated polling locations, loss of poll workers and election staff, and an unprecedented demand for absentee ballots. Those administrative challenges create obstacles that could suppress the vote and infringe on the rights of the people of Michigan. As a result of these and other concerns, the suit seeks the following:
- Michigan must provide prepaid postage on all absentee ballots.
- Michigan must ensure that ballots delivered after 8 p.m. on Election Day will be counted, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.
- Michigan must allow voters to designate a third party to assist in collecting and submitting their sealed absentee ballots and ensure that all such ballots are counted if otherwise eligible.
“Local leaders in Michigan have made notable progress in combating the coronavirus and that is critical in the fight to ensure safe and fair elections,” said Guy Cecil, Chairman of Priorities USA. “As we look ahead, it is critically important that we remove barriers to vote by mail that lead to voter suppression and disenfranchisement.”
“We’re happy to work with Priorities and the Alliance to make sure that our get-out-the-vote efforts can continue and grow during these unprecedented times,” said Andrea Hunter, President of the Detroit/Downriver Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. “Voting and organizing are important ways for people to exercise their First Amendment and fundamental rights.”
“In 2018, voters overwhelmingly approved changes to the Michigan Constitution to expand our voting rights, including the right to vote by absentee ballot without restriction,” said Dick Long, President of the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans. “This was accomplished through the efforts of seniors and many other independent groups coming together to assure fair elections. We now face attempts to interfere with this voter-approved election process. We have witnessed voters in other states risking their lives and health to cast an in-person vote, especially seniors who are at high risk for the COVID-19 virus. If renowned expert opinions are correct, we could face another spike of the virus this fall. It is vital that we protect all voters’ rights to obtain absentee ballots and to assure that those votes are counted. We must not let politicians take away these hard earned rights. Nor should we allow them to require that we stand in long lines and risk our health to cast our votes.”