A Michigan judge ruled last week Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) broke state law when she unilaterally issued rules related to absentee balloting, legitimizing a key claim made by the Trump campaign in its legal challenges to the 2020 election.
Benson issued several unilateral orders during the 2020 election including sending absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. She also issued “guidance” on how to evaluate absentee ballots, a move Michigan Court of Claims Chief Judge Christopher Murray held violated the state’s Administrative Procedures Act.
In the guidance, Benson said “slight similarities” in signatures on absentee ballots should lead a counter to decide “in favor of finding that the voter’s signature was valid.”
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).”
“I’m glad the court sees Secretary of State Benson’s attempts at lawmaking for what they are — clear violations of her authority,” Michigan state Rep. Matt Hall (R) said in a statement.
“If she wants to make changes like these, she needs to work with the Legislature or properly promulgate them through the laws we have on the books — in this case the Administrative Procedures Act,” he continued.
Murray’s ruling came after Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski sued Benson and state Director of Elections Jonathan Brater over Benson’s order which Hall described as a “mandatory directive requiring local election officials to apply a presumption of validity to all signatures on absent voter ballots.”
According to the suit, Genetski argued “the presumption contained in the guidance issued by defendant Benson will allow invalid votes to be counted,” but Genetski did not allege “that this guidance caused him to accept a signature that he believed was invalid.
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