Court: Michigan Secretary of State Broke The Law On Absentee Ballot Guidelines In The 2020 Election

The litigation over the 2020 election seem to be continuing with a ruling this week from Michigan Court of Claims Chief Judge Christopher Murray that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) broke state law in issuing new rules on absentee balloting before the 2020 election. The orders concerned instructions on what constitutes a “match” for verification signatures — a core issue raised by the Trump campaign in its election challenges. There is no evidence that the violation of state law altered the outcome of the election in the state and the court declined to order a new audit. However, the court found that Murray should not have issued the orders and, in doing so, violated the state’s Administrative Procedures Act.

Benson ordered that clerks follow a highly deferential standard in favor of the voter and verification. The court explained:

The stated purpose of the at-issue document was to “provide[ ] standards” for reviewing signatures, verifying signatures, and curing missing or mismatched signatures. Under a heading entitled “Procedures for Signature Verification,” the document stated that signature review “begins with the presumption that” the signature on an absent voter ballot application or envelope is valid. Further, the form instructs clerks to, if there are “any redeeming qualities in the [absent voter]application or return envelope signature as compared to the signature on file, treat the signature as valid.” (Emphasis in original). “Redeeming qualities” are described as including, but not being limited to, “similar distinctive flourishes,” and “more matching features than nonmatching features.” Signatures “should be considered questionable” the guidance explained, only if they differ “in multiple, significant and obvious respects from the signature on file.” (Emphasis in original). “[W]henever possible,” election officials were to resolve “[s]light dissimilarities” in favor of finding that the voter’s signature was valid.

The section on signature-verification procedures goes on to repeat the notion that “clerks should presume that a voter’s [absent voter] application or envelope signature is his or her genuine signature, as there are several acceptable reasons that may cause an apparent mismatch.”

The court found that the orders on the signature-matching requirements amounted to a “rule” and thus should have followed the requirements under the APA. 

Murray states that “The presumption is found nowhere in state law. 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.”

Trump campaign lawyers argued that state officials were usurping legislative authority in issuing such guidelines or rule changes before the election. This is a ruling supporting those objections. However, the problem has been the nexus between such irregularities or unlawful orders and any determinative impact on the outcome. The court noted that Genetski did not allege that Benson’s directive “caused him to accept a signature that he believed was invalid.”

While celebrating the finding of unlawfulness, Trump supporters are frustrated with the failure to order additional discovery to establish such impacts.  However, Murray  noted that

while the statute allows for an audit that includes ‘reviewing the documents, ballots, and procedures’ used in the election, the statute plainly leaves it to the Secretary of State to ‘prescribe the procedures for election audits’ and mandates that the Secretary of State shall conduct audits ‘as set forth in the prescribed procedures.’ In other words, there is no support in the statute for plaintiffs to demand that an audit cover the subject of their choosing or to dictate the manner in which an audit is conducted.”

That will not sit well with many since it was the Secretary of State who violated the state law in the first place. This would mean that she could violate the law and then dictate how that violation is investigated.

Allegan County Clerk Robert Genetski and the Michigan Republican Party filed a complaint the same day that the order was issued, but the delay prevented the ruling from being cited in the ongoing challenges before the certification.

The result is a victory but not in the form of substantive relief of an audit on how these matching rules were applied.

Here is the opinion: Genetski v. Benson, No. 20-216-MM in the Court of Claims for the State of Michigan

311 thoughts on “Court: Michigan Secretary of State Broke The Law On Absentee Ballot Guidelines In The 2020 Election”

  1. This is the 2000 Supreme Court Ruling on a state level. Rules were broken and it is to be fixed next election. The count is done and there is no going back. Now the Republicans can scream for the next twenty years like the Democrats did the last twenty on how they were cheated out of the White House.

  2. It’s not as bad as violating federal criminal, violating the Geneva Conventions and betraying one’s Oath of Office by adopting torture techniques from the Spanish Inquisition. Or the nation’s best attorneys, at DOJ, committing legal malpractice by green lighting torture. Or violating Ronald Reagan’s Convention Against Torture.

    All of the above Bush war crimes have no statute of limitations. Let’s prosecute the big crimes first before we focus on little cases like this one. Americans used to look down on Banana Republics with Kangaroo courts – what changed? The courts have publicly stated that presidents can be prosecuted once out of office, so what about these crimes that betray the American Oath of Office of every government official?

  3. I have to read this again. I hope some with legal knowledge comment on the whole article.

    Zuckerberg Grant Allowed Outsider to Infiltrate Presidential Election in Wisconsin

    …“But what the grant money really purchased in battleground states such as Wisconsin was infiltration of the November presidential elections by liberal groups and Democratic activists, according to hundreds of pages of emails and other documents obtained by Wisconsin Spotlight.

    In the city of Green Bay, which received a total of $1.6 million in grant funding from the Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life, a “grant mentor” who has worked for several Democratic Party candidates, was given access to boxes of absentee ballots before the election….

    …”Wisconsin election law clearly spells out that municipal clerks are in charge of administering elections. Kaardal said Center for Tech and Civic Life’s election security funding came with conditions that bound the city to give these left-leaning actors power they could not legally take.”

    1. “Spitzer-Rubenstein [a private citizen and democrat partisan] was given the keys to the room where the absentee ballots were stored.”

      “Juno [the former Brown County clerk] raised concerns about how the election was conducted in Green Bay. She told the Wisconsin Elections Commission that she believed the Central Count location was ‘tainted by the influence of a person working for an outside organization affecting the election.’”

      This would be a lot more honest if the leftist operatives skipped all of the middlemen, and just said to Biden’s election team: “Here are the ballots. Let us know the final tally.”

  4. Of course, the election was stolen by communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs). The election was stolen by communist (liberal, progressive, socialist, democrat, RINO) traitors committing treason who have been “…adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort” as described and proscribed by the U.S. Constitution. Communist China is the enemy “…[adhered] to…” which commenced WWIII when it released “China Flu, 2020,” a biological weapon of mass destruction, 9 months prior to the election, in order to injure and weaken the Presidency of Donald J. Trump, who was on an inexorable path to a massive landslide victory in November, 2020.

    “The goal of socialism is communism.”

    – Vladimir Lenin

    “[We gave you] a republic, if you can keep it.”

    – Ben Franklin, 1787

    “[We gave you] a republic, if you can take it back.”

    – Ben Franklin, 2021

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, 1776

    All hail the New Guards!

  5. “MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell Says He’ll Counter-Sue Dominion With Two Cases—For Company and Himself”

    MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell said Monday that he plans to launch two counter lawsuits against Dominion Voting Systems, one in his personal capacity and the other on behalf of MyPillow. Lindell was hit with a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit by Dominion last month after repeatedly claiming that the company was involved in a massive voter fraud conspiracy that moved votes in the 2020 presidential election from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden. During an appearance on the latest edition of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s War Room: Pandemic podcast, Lindell announced his plans to legally strike back, claiming that the voting machine company had violated the First Amendment rights of all Americans as well as federal anti-racketeering laws. “You’re also going to have MyPillow going after Dominion in a countersuit and that’s going to your First Amendment speech. You’re going to have me go after them, counter-suing them,” Lindell said. “There are two cases, one will be MyPillow, one will be Mike Lindell. We’re both going after them. They’re a little bit different because one of them, what Dominion did was violate the First Amendment rights of everyone in this country by using bullying lawsuits and RICO law.” “[What] they say to news outlets is, ‘If you let this guy on, we’re going to sue you too,'” he added. “That’s racketeering, that goes back to the mafia days.”

    – Newsweek

  6. oh what a wicked web we weave when first we point at others with our deceit. Judging from the types of bills forwarded they broke their oath of office before, during, and after not the least of which was suborning the military which should have acted but didn’t. I doubt it was the rank and file that will have to go out and fight at east four more years of the Party of Wars adventuring at the cost of the blood of those who will do the fighting. Adding up the score since 1909 since the former Democrat Party became the Progressive Liberal Socialists I wonder just how long will it be before they have put the still in existence Selective Service (Draft) into effect and resort to the their usual blood letting. Took four years to clean up after Obama’s eight solid years with no peace AND four years of zero worth while pay increases and now they want to scut 70 billion? And for what? Didn’t save our Constitutional Republic in favor of their Socialist treachery.

  7. Let’s just break it down to the most easily understood. According to the constitution the state election rules are to be set by the state legislatures not by individual politicians or judges. Why was this constitutional requirement placed into the law? Perhaps the founders understood that the rules would be better set by the “elected” representatives of the people than by individual members of one faction or the other. When individuals are allowed to set the rules this action should be vigorously opposed regardless of party affiliation. If either party was remiss in pointing out such irregularities they would be neglectful in their duty. The representatives of the Democratic Party have often brought notice to irregularities in elections they have lost and it was their duty to point out such irregularities when they thought they existed. However, there is a bias by posters here in giving credence to the objections of only one side. They declare to us all that they and only they are the keepers of the fairness chalice. Their motto is, let the law be be damned. I am sorely tempted to give their individual identifications but it is so obvious that naming names is not required.

  8. Election laws are written by politicians just so parties can cheat and no one will ever find out or pay for it. These laws are circular reasoning and stupid. It’s like when you get a job interview at a place that has been unionized. They ask you if you are a member of the Union. If you aren’t a union member. well you are out of luck. If you say that you will join the union you are out of luck because you can’t until you are hired. .

    With election laws there are tight deadlines for certification. If you can’t immediately find smoking gun evidence, your suit will be thrown out. The problem is that it is hard to conduct a real investigation under such deadlines. Even if you actually have evidence, the judge can just throw it out anyway because they could claim there is no evidence it changed the outcome, If you are atleast granted a hearing it is likely it won’t be before a certification has taken place and there is almost no way to ever change results at that point so there’s no real incentive to pursue the issue. Because there is no longer an incentive things get swept under the rug and every year the media says, “there is no evidence fraud ever takes place (only because laws make it almost impossible to look at the issue….).

  9. Conclusory answer; failed to identify and analyze all material issues.

    Note: I do admire your ability to get paid for your writing. Perhaps that’s really all that matters in the end.

  10. I always gauge the importance of a topic by how ferociously the trolls like Svelaz and AnonJF come out, so this one must be a doozy. There should not be any issue whatsoever with going over the data etc. if the election was indeed valid; that process would only prove beyond the shadow of a doubt what you all are screaming, it is very curious that you respond this way. When one is telling the truth beyond a reasonable doubt, they do not fight against disclosure, pretty much period. That is really all there is to it. I don’t know what you and your ilk are scared of anyway, given that dem fascists control our entire government at this point – unless, that is, you know it’s a farce and the rule of law still applies. Pathetic. There are a lot more than 74 million of us, and we are not all Conservatives. Finally, a number of us are filing lawsuits to this effect. Thanks for your post, Professor.

    1. “I always gauge the importance of a topic by how ferociously the trolls like Svelaz and AnonJF come out”


      Keep in mind that the talking points trolls are getting their marching orders every morning. So you are correct about how loudly the guilty dogs start barking on certain topics. Also keep in mind that none of them are capable of an original thought, as they have no critical thinking skills.

      Speaking of no thinking skills. Biden calling Putin a “killer”, and saying that he has “no soul”, is further proof that Biden is nothing more than a globalist puppet with Dementia.

      1. “Keep in mind that the talking points trolls are getting their marching orders every morning.”

        Some of our blog members get old talking points and can’t seem to let go of their grievous errors.

          1. “You once again describe yourself, Allan.”

            Not really, and that can be seen when I explain in detail of how I drew my conclusions. Maybe you need to read what I said again.

            “Some of our blog members get old talking points and can’t seem to let go of their grievous errors.”

  11. Let’s not generalize and call the left criminal, but the SOS should be criminally charged.

    To say none of the multiple elections in the state were affected by this illegal action is a pretty lofty assumption. You can’t know something doesn’t exist if you don’t even look and also have little transparency.

    1. “the SOS should be criminally charged.”

      Charged under what criminal statute?

  12. Turley, why do you and all media outlets keep sliding that opinion in regarding “no evidence that it changed the outcome of the election,” how could it possibly be known unless there was an audit based on appropriately restrictive signature analysis? You are a smart guy, and I agree with you most times, but you are conspicuously silent on the issue of election integrity and why the Supremes declined the cases.

    1. “how could it possibly be known unless there was an audit based on appropriately restrictive signature analysis?”

      You could just ask each of the election officials whether they accepted any signatures that they otherwise would have rejected.

  13. Turley attempts to make sure his Trump supporters are on the hook, writes posts like this so they have something, anything to hold on to their grievance that their twice impeached con-man who brought nothing but incompetence and disaster to the nation is somehow vindicated. Trump lost, get over it, and f*** your feelings.

    1. Trump ended the Brennan CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore. For that, alone, Democrats will vilify him.

      Democrats’ impeachments? The first framed Trump for Biden’s wrongdoings. The second was predicated on falsehoods that were
      created and perpetrated by Democrats, including the false WaPo article concerning T’s convo re: Georgia.

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