Ruling that cleared way to drive people to vote is blocked

Posted at 8:09 AM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 08:09:50-04

DETROIT (AP) — A federal appeals court suspended a decision that would allow groups to offer free or reduced price rides to polling places in Michigan.

The court issued a stay Wednesday to allow the Republican-controlled Legislature to appeal the ruling by a federal judge in Flint.

Since 1895, Michigan has banned paying someone to transport a voter unless the voter can’t walk. It was aimed at preventing fraud or undue influence. But U.S. District Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis said the state law conflicted with federal law.

Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, declined to appeal. So Republicans in the Legislature sought to intervene. The appeals court agreed, 2-1.

“The Legislature’s likelihood of success on appeal is high,” Judge Danny Boggs wrote.

In a dissent, Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. said the plaintiffs, which include the liberal group Priorities USA, simply “want to rent buses to help people get to the polls.”

He noted it’s already unlawful to bribe a voter.

It’s not clear if the appeal will be settled before the Nov. 3 election.