voting fraud protest
© WSJ.com
A Michigan court ruled that voters there have until the day before Election Day to postmark their mail-in ballots and ordered that they be counted as long as they arrive within 14 days of the Nov. 3 general election, a decision that could delay the call of the presidential contest.

The Friday ruling from the Michigan Court of Claims was lauded by Democratic groups that have urged states to loosen restrictions on mail-in balloting and take extra steps to ensure that votes cast through the mail are counted. More voters than usual plan to vote by mail because of concerns that pulling the lever in person might expose them to the coronavirus, a development that could delay the results of the election for days or even weeks.

"We have won yet another important victory for voters in the state of Michigan," Guy Cecil, chairman of the liberal group Priorities USA, said in a statement. Priorities USA, which funded the lawsuit that led to the ruling, is the designated outside group for Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential campaign.

Under the decision, mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 will be counted in the final tally as long as they are received within 14 days of the Nov. 3 elections. If the race between Biden and President Trump is too close to call on Election Day based on votes cast in person and through the mail, it could take days of counting late-arriving ballots to know who won Michigan's 16 Electoral College votes — and potentially the White House.

In 2016, Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Michigan by just 10,704 votes.

Trump has been critical of mail-in balloting, especially in states that send mail-in ballots to voters who have not requested them, arguing that it leads to massive fraud. However, the president has lately expressed support for "absentee voting" — a process that requires voters to apply for a mail-in ballot by verifying that they have a government-approved excuse to avoid pulling the lever at a physical polling place.

"Unsolicited Ballots are uncontrollable, totally open to ELECTION INTERFERENCE by foreign countries, and will lead to massive chaos and confusion!" Trump said Thursday in a post on Twitter. The same day, the president tweeted a link to request absentee ballots through his campaign.

Polls have shown that more than 50% of voters could choose to vote by mail this fall, a significantly higher figure than normal, and some key battleground states are not equipped to process ballots submitted in this fashion quickly. That has caused some political observers to speculate that in the event of a close race, the outcome of the presidential election might not be clear for days or weeks after Election Day.