Michigan judge strikes down ‘presumption of validity’ guidance for absentee ballot signatures

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump and many of his Republican supporters raised allegations of widespread ballot fraud and voting irregularities, a big part of which were last-minute changes to state election rules made by executive branch officials instead of state legislatures.

While Trump’s legal challenges were essentially dismissed or ignored, he has now seemingly been vindicated by a Michigan judge who decided that a late rule change regarding absentee ballot signature matches made by the secretary of state was “invalid,” according to the Washington Examiner.

Presumption of validity

At issue in the lawsuit filed jointly by a county clerk and the Michigan Republican Party was “guidance” issued in October 2020 by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that instructed all county clerks to automatically presume the validity of signatures on an absentee ballot application or absentee ballot return envelope during the signature matching process.

That presumption of validity was made mandatory by Benson even when there were “slight differences” between the absentee ballot signatures when compared with an on-file signature in the voter rolls — ballots were to be accepted if there were any “redeeming qualities” between signatures — and ballots were to only be further scrutinized and potentially rejected if there were “multiple, significant, and obvious” discrepancies, Michigan’s MLive reported.

However, while Benson claimed that her mandatory instructions were mere “guidance” for clerks to follow, the plaintiffs argued that it actually constituted a formal “rule” change, an argument with which the judge agreed — and since Benson hadn’t followed the proper procedures for changing the rules, that change was deemed to be invalid and unlawful.

“The ‘rule’ is invalid”

In a 16-page ruling, Republican-appointed Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray ruled that “the challenged signature-matching standards were issued in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.”

“Nowhere 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 signature as compared with the signature on file,” Judge Murray wrote.

“Policy determinations like the one at issue — which places a 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,” he added.

“In sum, the standards issued by defendant Benson on October 6, 2020, with respect to signature-matching requirements amounted to a ‘rule’ that should have been promulgated in accordance with the APA,” Murray concluded. “And absent compliance with the APA, the ‘rule’ is invalid.”

Benson skipped the process

The Detroit News reported that in order for the new “rule” to be compliant with Michigan’s APA, Benson would have needed to engage in a lengthy, months-long process that includes providing public notice, submitting drafts, analyzing the rule’s impact, receiving public comments, and holding public hearings. After all of that, the new rule would still need to be submitted to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules for final approval.

Obviously, that didn’t happen, and while this judge’s ruling is far too late to be retroactively applied to the 2020 election, state Republicans are pleased that it will no longer be an issue going forward in future elections.

Ted Goodman, communications director for the Michigan GOP, told The Detroit News: “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.”

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23 Responses

    1. I’m so glad these people that lied, cheated and stole the election are finally going to jail. That tells you he was right, stolen, bought, all illegal. I was always taught to be honest even if it was bad, don’t think I could remember lies anyway. I’m learning there are a lot of people in Washington from calif. That never learned

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  2. Benson knew what he was doing, it was coordinated in those corrupt places. Yeah, all at once several States do the same or similar things like this to queer the election. He got some orders probably too. All at once is no coincidence. All ignoring the same laws at once. Yeah, did you think we wouldn’t notice? We watched in real time….lock him up……..

  3. Why isn’t the Secretary of State removed from Office for fraud? They made up their own rule and influenced a national election! Essentially the same thing was done in Pennsylvania. But the GOP is to scared to do anything!

  4. The very fact that we now have republican and democrat judges, is very telling and disastrous for our republic. Just how is it, that any law, can only apply to republicans or just democrats? There is no room in our legal system, for politics, the law is the law and it should apply to everyone. This is what communism has brought to our country and just as it always does, communism destroys everything that it touches.

  5. With all these “irregularities” and more PROOF of rampant voter fraud, why don’t we declare this “election” null and void, and toss the “deep state” communists OUT on their ear. Otherwise kiss this constitutional republic goodbye, and say “hello” to the new communist dictatorship.

  6. Why isn’t jo and the ho kicked out of office, for a fraudulent election that for reason only republican politician can answer did they stand up and fight for atheir president instead we have commie dem jo and ho destroying the country. Was well planned tho wasn’t it.

  7. Its not the GOP but the Supreme Court that let the NATION DOWN. They should have heard these cases and RULED!! Instead they HID and remained Quiet. They all ought to be removed except the two that said to hear the cases.. The rest of the court needs to THINK and be held responsible for what they have done. Put a man in office that is and will continue to destroy this nation. GOD help our country as Biden will bring in more and more votes to water down any disagreement. This Is a LEGISLATIVE COUP!!!

  8. Which means Trump is still president technically.Trump never conceded the election,so with all the lying and cheating that went on and now that it’s being proved, it’s time to throw the crooks out of the White House.

  9. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson needs to be removed from her position. She blatantly changed the rules to cover up the fraud perpetrated by the democrats. The republican party and President Trump need to keep filing lawsuits to make these rats pay.

  10. I will be happy when they prosecute this woman and the other people in the other battle states that did the same thing. And, by-the-way, now the Democrats have been caught for this voting fraud, they are on their way to committing more fraud by letting illegals into our country to insure they always get elected. These people are without morals and principal! None of them should be in our gov’t and they should all be prosecuted for treason against our country and our “Constitution”!

  11. Supreme Justices you need to resign after refusing to hear President Trump voter fraud. How can Americans think Justice is blind. Shame is all you have left.

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