Michigan Judge Rules Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s Election Manual Unconstitutional, Violates State Law

Michigan Judge Christopher Yates has just declared that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s Election Manual, sent to election officials statewide, violates the state constitution and laws.

Judge Yates also mandated strict signature verification for mail-in ballots, making it more difficult for Democrats to cheat with their mass-manufactured votes.

Here is Judge Yates’ ruling:

For all the reasons set forth in this opinion, the Court declares that the “initial presumption” of validity in signature verification of absentee-ballot applications and envelopes mandated by the December 2023 guidance manual issued by defendants is incompatible with the Constitution and laws of the State of Michigan.

For similar reasons, the Court declares that the catch line referring to an “initial presumption of validity” in R 168.22 is incompatible with the Constitution and laws of the State of Michigan.

Accordingly, those provisions must be excised from the guidance manual and the catch line in R 168.22. In contrast, the Court concludes that R 168.24 is permissible under the Michigan Constitution and the law of the State of Michigan in all respects, so the Court shall deny the plaintiffs’ request for declaratory relief with respect to Rule 4.

Finally, because the Court has ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor on the merits in addressing the guidance manual, the Court need not consider whether the guidance manual was promulgated in violation of the AP A.

The Court hereby invites the plaintiffs to submit a proposed judgment under MCR 2.602(B)(3) memorializing the Court’s rulings and, if appropriate, closing the case.

Benson argued that the manual was essential, asserting that it offers crucial guidance to local clerks regarding signature verification.

As reported by WKAR:

Benson, a Democrat, says it’s necessary to implement a voting rights amendment to the Michigan Constitution that passed in 2022. The Republican National Committee is among the plaintiffs challenging the guidelines.

Assistant Attorney General Heather Meingast represented the secretary of state in Monday’s Court of Claims arguments. She said the guidance will help local clerks know what to look for when they are comparing signatures on ballot sleeves against what is on file.

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“That’s exactly what this rule does – it fills in some gaps, giving clerks some understanding of discrepancies and significant dissimilarities,” Meingast said. “Otherwise, you have nothing. There’s zero guidance on what’s a significant discrepancy.”

The plaintiffs include the RNC, the Michigan Republican Party, a township clerk and others. They argue the guidance puts a spin on the rules that leaves too much room for mistakes or mischief.

GOP attorney Robert Avers said the guidelines are not necessary.

“There are a lot of safeguards built in that prevent disenfranchisement,” he said, adding the constitution’s early voting window gives voters and election officials time to correct discrepancies. He said, for example, the law requires that voters get a text when an absentee ballot is rejected.


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By Hunter Fielding
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