Daily Briefs

Complaint flushed: No charge in toilet election display

MASON, Mich. (AP) — A prosecutor in Michigan has flushed a complaint about a toilet that was promoted as a place to drop absentee ballots.

The election clerk in Ingham County informed police about a toilet on the front lawn of a home in Mason, near Lansing. A sign said, “Place mail in ballots here.”

Barb Byrum, a Democrat, said it’s a felony to take illegal possession of absentee ballots.

But there was no evidence of an intent to violate Michigan law, said the office of county prosecutor Carol Siemon, a Democrat.

“Instead, this seemed to be an effort to make a humorous political statement,” the statement said.

Byrum, who drives by the home on her way to work, said she didn’t see the toilet Tuesday. She said she respects the decision by the prosecutor but added that “elections are never a laughing matter.”

“The safety and secure administration of elections is of utmost importance,” Byrum said.

She has been critical of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly warned that voting by mail could lead to fraud and spoil the election. Election officials fear that Trump’s claims could cause anxiety among voters at a time when absentee ballots are being promoted to avoid coronavirus risks.

More than 2 million Michigan voters could cast absentee ballots this fall.

Republicans want to appeal major Michigan ballot decision

DETROIT (AP) — The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature is seeking to intervene in a major court decision that will allow absentee ballots to be counted days after the election.

The House and Senate want to join the case and appeal the decision.

Absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 are eligible to be counted if they arrive within 14 days after the Nov. 3 election, Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens said Friday, noting chronic delays with mail during the coronavirus pandemic.

Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, both Democrats, said they won’t appeal and instead will urge the public to submit ballots as soon as possible.

Nessel and Benson “are not protecting the state’s interest in the constitutionality of a Michigan statute. They have abdicated their duty to defend this lawsuit in its entirety, which now falls to the Legislature,” attorney Michael Steinberger said in a court filing Monday.

The judge told state officials to respond by next Monday.

Nessel doesn’t oppose the Legislature’s attempt to join the case, “but it’s ultimately Judge Stephens’ call,” spokesman Ryan Jarvi said Tuesday.

State law normally requires absentee ballots to be received by the time polls close on Election Day, not days later.

Michigan’s absentee ballots will flood local governments after voters in 2018 expanded eligibility. About 2.4 million have been requested so far, which accounts for 35% of registered voters.


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