Michigan’s Democrat Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson told clerks in October of 2020 to presume that signatures on absentee ballots were valid. A judge has ruled that her guidance on the rules violated state law. Phil Shiver reports in The Blaze:
The directive went on to say that if there were “any redeeming qualities in the application or return envelope signature as compared to the signature on file,” clerks should “treat the signature as valid.” Such “redeeming qualities” allegedly included “similar distinctive flourishes” and “more matching features than nonmatching features.”
But that “presumption is found nowhere in state law,” State Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray wrote in his ruling, issued March 9. “The mandatory presumption goes beyond the realm of mere advice and direction, and instead is a substantive directive that adds to the pertinent signature-matching standards.”
Additionally, the judge found that Benson did not follow the state’s proper rule-making process, but instead circumvented the state legislature in issuing the guidance, and thus violated the state’s Administrative Procedures Act.
“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,” Murray wrote in conclusion.
According to the Detroit News, the Michigan Republican Party, one of the plaintiffs in the case, celebrated the judge’s decision but lamented that it ultimately came too late to bear any influence on the presidential election.
“It was clear from the outset that the secretary of state had violated Election Law by unilaterally directing local clerks to ignore their statutory obligation to compare absentee ballot signatures,” said Ted Goodman, the state GOP’s communications director.
The ruling appears to vindicate complaints made by many Republican lawmakers and former President Donald Trump’s campaign that Democratic secretaries of state violated their states’ own election in the lead-up to the election.
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