Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

United States

(212) 549-2666

Press Release

ACLU and Partners Challenge Michigan Absentee Ballot Deadline


The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Michigan, Arnold & Porter, and Goodman Acker filed a lawsuit today challenging Michigan’s requirement that absentee ballots be received by Election Day in order to be counted.  

The lawsuit, League of Women Voters of Michigan v. Benson, was filed in the Michigan Court of Appeals on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Michigan and individual voters.

The people of Michigan overwhelmingly approved Proposal 3, a 2018 ballot initiative that gave voters a constitutional right to submit an absentee ballot, including by mail, at any point during the 40 days before the election.

An Election Day return deadline for absentee ballots, as opposed to a postmark deadline, violates this right and could illegally lead to thousands of voters being disenfranchised by their absentee ballot being rejected.

According to the most recent data from the Michigan Secretary of State, 1.75 percent of absentee ballots were rejected for the May 5, 2020, election because they arrived at their respective clerks’ offices after 8 p.m. on Election Day. This means of the 7.7 million registered Michigan voters, at least 134,000 voters could be disenfranchised in November.

The groups are seeking an expedited decision due to the fast-approaching August 4 primary and November 3 general election.

Several states have taken related steps to help ensure that every vote cast is counted, including Alaska, Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. 

The following statements are from:

Theresa Lee, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project: “Given COVID-19, vote by mail will play a critical role in the 2020 elections as voters look to protect their health and participate in democracy. Right now, Michigan’s absentee ballot voting process is not ready to meet its biggest test ever when millions attempt to vote by absentee ballot. This lawsuit seeks to resolve those issues.”

Sharon Dolente, ACLU of Michigan voting rights strategist: “Voters must never have to choose between their health and safety or their sacred right to vote. We celebrate the increase of absentee voting we are seeing statewide, but Michigan’s election officials must continue to expand access to the ballot by allowing voters to mail their ballots in on Election Day. This will ensure voters have a clear deadline and give Michigan’s clerks and staff more time to process ballots.”

Christina Schlitt, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan: “Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed Proposal 3 and enhanced their access to the ballot. Now it is in the duty of our election system and officials to ensure that every vote counts in Michigan by removing the unconstitutional barriers to absentee voting. Proposal 3 needs to be supported the way it was written, as voters approved it.”



The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Hopes Rise for Return to Iran Nuclear Deal Destroyed by Trump

"We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line," said one negotiator, who added that "three or four issues" that are "sensitive for Iranians and Americans" remain to be resolved.

Brett Wilkins ·

Sinema Received Over $500K From Private Equity Before Shielding Industry From Tax Hikes

"Remember the days when taking half a million bucks from an industry, and then passing legislation that only benefits that industry, while passing the costs onto everyone else, would be called corruption?" asked one critic. "Today it's just lobbying as usual."

Kenny Stancil ·

Wildlife Defenders Slam Senate Dems' Bill for Not Protecting Refuge in Alaska

"We will never stop fighting to protect these sacred lands, the Porcupine caribou, and our communities," vowed the Gwich'in Steering Committee's executive director.

Jessica Corbett ·

Fears of Hate-Inspired Serial Killer Grow as 4th Muslim Man Murdered in Albuquerque

"We're scared for our families, we're scared for our children," said one local Muslim leader. "And we are incredibly confused about why this is happening."

Jake Johnson ·

'Let Those Numbers Sink In': At Least 45 Palestinians Killed During Israeli Attacks on Gaza

The dead include 16 children and four women, according to Palestinian officials, who said that at least 360 others were injured.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo