Michigan Court Says Sec. of State Broke the Law with Absentee Ballot Order

'An agency must utilize formal rulemaking procedures when establishing policies that ‘do not merely interpret or explain the statute or rules...'

A Michigan Court of Claims determined last week that election clerks no longer need to follow Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s unilateral absentee ballot orders, MLive.com reported

The ruling vindicates then-President Donald Trump’s claims about illegal voting practices in Michigan.

Without consulting the state’s GOP-led legislature, Benson, a Democrat, ordered the sending of absentee ballots to all registered voters before the 2020 election.

The secretary of state also instructed state clerks to consider valid all signatures on absentee ballots unless they contain “multiple significant and obvious” inconsistencies.

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The Michigan Court of Claims ruled that Benson ignored the rulemaking processes laid out by the Administrative Procedure Act by acting outside of the established laws to promulgate her mandate.

Judge Christopher Murray ruled that “[a]n agency must utilize formal rulemaking procedures when establishing policies that ‘do not merely interpret or explain the statute or rules from which the agency derives its authority,’ but rather ‘establish the substantive standards implementing the program.’”

Benson’s original order came in the wake of the coronavirus lockdowns. She and other progressive secretaries of state altered rules which aggressively favored mail-in voting under the guise of protecting against the coronavirus. 

Although too late to impact the disputed 2020 election outcome, Republican state lawmakers responded to the judge’s ruling with approval. 

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“I’m glad the court sees Secretary of State Benson’s attempts at lawmaking for what they are—clear violations of her authority,” Michigan state Rep. Matt Hall said.

“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—in this case the Administrative Procedures Act,” he added.

The Secretary of State’s office had no comment on the ruling.

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