Judge hands defeat to Michigan secretary of state in case challenging changes to absentee voting

On his complaints about unfair rules changes ahead of his November 2020 match-up against Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump has just been vindicated, at least in part.

According to the Washington Examiner, a state judge ruled last week that Michigan’s Democrat secretary of state violated the law by unilaterally changing how some ballots would be examined in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

The case at hand

The case at issue had to do with guidelines first issued by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson last October.

Benson’s order reportedly required local election officials to give a presumption of validity to signatures found on absentee ballots, loosening state-sanctioned requirements.

A lawsuit was soon brought on the grounds that Benson did not have the authority to issue such an order; a move like that should be left to the state legislature, the plaintiffs said.

“Nowhere in state law”

And according to the Examiner, Michigan Court of Claims Chief Judge Christopher Murray agreed. In his ruling, Murray was clear that the idea of such a “presumption is found nowhere in state law.”

“[N]owhere in this state’s election law has the Legislature indicated that signatures are to be presumed valid, nor did the Legislature require that signatures are to be accepted so long as there are any redeeming qualities in the application or return envelope as compared with the signature on file,” Murray wrote.

The judge went on: “Policy determinations like the one at issue — which places the thumb on the scale in favor of a signature’s validity — should be made pursuant to properly promulgated rules under the APA or by the Legislature.”

The bottom line

To put things into perspective, President Biden only won the state of Michigan — a key battleground — by a margin of about 154,000 votes, according to a report from PJMedia.

Meanwhile, there were over 3 million absentee ballots cast in the state in total — meaning Benson’s order could potentially have had a substantial impact on the outcome of the presidential race there, reports suggested.

The U.S. Supreme Court has shown it has no interest in taking up cases like these, but that doesn’t mean Republicans are willing to give up that easily.

“I’m glad the court sees Secretary of State Benson’s attempts at lawmaking for what they are — clear violations of her authority,” one GOP state lawmaker told PJMedia. “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.”

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