A Michigan judge ruled last week that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) broke the law when she issued absentee voting laws during the 2020 election, confirming one of Trump’s legal challenges regarding his claims of a “stolen election.”
Benson made served unilateral orders during the 2020 election, including mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. The action violated Michigan’s Administrative Procedures Act.
Michigan Court of Claims Chief Judge Christopher Murray wrote, “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).'”
Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski had sued Benson and Michigan Director of Elections Jonathan Brater over the order “requiring local election officials to apply a presumption of validity to all signatures on absent voter ballots.”
Benson had prioritized absentee voting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 3 million Michigan voters cast an absentee ballot in the 2020 election.
The Secretary of State approved use of CARES Act funding to mail absentee voters in May 2020. She noted, “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”
The court’s concern related to Benson’s approval of voter signature validation rules. Changes were made without the approval of the state’s legislature.
The decision helps to validate Republican claims that Democrats changed the rules to help win the 2020 presidential election. The ruling also challenges Democrat claims that election fraud claims were mere conspiracy theories.
The case serves as one of several state-level disputes remaining from the 2020 election. Arizona and other battleground states continue to pursue legal efforts related to the past election to improve future election integrity.