Skip to content

Republicans hail Michigan mail-in-ballot ruling as victory: ‘Incompatible with the Constitution’

In a dispute that dates from the hotly contested 2020 presidential election, Appellate Judge Christopher Yates described Benson’s guidance as “incompatible with the Constitution and laws of the State of Michigan.”

The ruling this month puts to rest a three-year legal fight — at least for now.

Michigan Republicans have been battling Democrats over how closely public officials should scrutinize absentee ballots in elections. Similar fights are going on in other states.

The dispute started when in October 2020, Benson instructed public officials to presume the validity of voter signatures on absentee ballots.

Michigan Republicans filed suit.

The state’s Court of Claims ruled in March 2021 that Benson’s guidance violated the Administrative Procedures Act.

Benson’s Department of State wrote new rules in an initial draft, but these, too, instructed officials to assume that signatures on absentee ballots are valid and not falsified.

According to Judge Yates, this draft received a “negative response” during the public comment period, persuading Benson to remove “presumption of validity” from the rule.

Remarkably, the phrase “initial presumption of validity” remained in the title of the rule even after it had been removed from the text.

In December something else came up. Benson issued a manual to public officials stating that “voter signatures are entitled to an initial presumption of validity.”

The Michigan Republican Party, alongside Cindy Berry, a clerk from Chesterfield township, filed suit March 28 against Benson and Director of Elections Jonathan Brater, calling the presumption of validity a violation of Michigan’s Constitution.

Judge Yates agreed.

In his ruling, he declared the concept of “initial presumption of validity” is “incompatible with the Constitution and laws of the State of Michigan” and ordered this provision excised from all of Benson’s guidance to public officials.

Judge Yates agreed.

It was not a complete victory for Berry and the GOP.

Yates denied their request to amend a Michigan administrative rule mandating that officials consider age, health issues and writing in haste as possible reasons for a suspicious signature.

Nonetheless, leading Republicans celebrated. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley called it a victory for safeguarding mail-in ballots: “The Secretary of State’s covert attempts to sidestep these rules were rightfully rejected by the court.”

Today's News.
For Conservatives.
Every Single Day.

News Opt-in
(Optional) By checking this box you are opting in to receive news notifications from News Rollup. Text HELP for help, STOP to end. Message & data rates may apply. Message frequency varies. Privacy Policy & Terms:
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.