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Michigan Court: Sec. of State Broke Election Law with Absentee Ballot Order

    A Michigan court has ruled that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson broke the law by unilaterally changing rules on absentee ballots before the 2020 election.

    The Michigan Secretary of State thus usurped the constitutional role delegated to the state legislatures. It was an argument that was consistently made by Donald Trump when he contested election in a number of states, including Michigan.

    Michigan Court of Claims Chief Judge Christopher Murray ruled that Benson violated the state’s Administrative Procedures Act in the case Genetski v. Benson.

    Judge Murray ruled Benson violated the law “because the guidance issued by the Secretary of State on October 6, 2020, with respect to signature matching standards was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA),” Breitbart News reported.

    The judge nonetheless turned down the Plaintiffs’ request for an audit with signature-matching.

    “Plaintiffs acknowledge that an audit of the November 2020 general election results was conducted,” the judge argued. “They argue that they have the right to request an audit with respect to the subject of their choosing—signatures on absent voter ballot applications and on absent voter ballots—and in the manner of their choosing. For at least two reasons this claim is not supported by art 2, § 4 or the implementing statute, MCL 168.31a.”

    “First, the constitution speaks of an audit of election results, not signature-matching procedures,” the judge continued. “Second, while the statute allows for an audit that includes ‘reviewing the documents, ballots, and procedures’ used in the election, the statute plainly leaves it to the Secretary of State to ‘prescribe the procedures for election audits’ and mandates that the Secretary of State shall conduct audits ‘as set forth in the prescribed procedures.’ In other words, there is no support in the statute for plaintiffs to demand that an audit cover thesubject of their choosing or to dictate the manner in which an audit is conducted. MCL 168.31a(2) leaves that to the Secretary of State. As a result, plaintiffs have failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted as it concerns Count IV, and this count will be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(8).”

    However, the acknowledgment that the Secretary of State violated the law is the first sign of legal vindication for a key argument in Donald Trump’s court cases. All of these cases were either dismissed without a hearing or were vacated without a serious attempt to weigh the merits.

    Michigan was far from the only state to make such unlawful changes to election ‘law’ before the 2020 elections. The Washington Examiner reported last week that as many as 28 states changed their election laws to boost mail-in voting, which favored the Democratic Party.

    “The group Nonprofit Vote said today that 28 states changed voting rules enabling more people to vote by mail than in person,” the Examiner reported. “Among the three ‘key takeaways’ cited was this: ’28 States changed their policy to make it easier to use a mail ballot.'”

    The Michigan court case is thus one of the first serious attempts to recognize that such unilateral changes to election laws were unlawful. Far from it being an isolated case, the ramification is that such unlawful election practices were rampant.


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    OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.