Former Michigan Secretaries of State Sue Benson Over Absentee Ballot Counting

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Two former GOP secretaries of state are suing current Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson over a recent ruling that allows the department to count absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled earlier this month that absentee ballots postmarked for November 2 can still be counted as valid even if they arrive up to two weeks after polls close on Election Day, a temporary rule for this election that goes against normal procedure, which generally allows absentee ballots to only be counted if they arrive before 8 p.m. on Election Day.

State Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-14-Holly), who served as secretary of state from 2011 to 2019, and Terri Lynn Land, who served from 2003 to 2011, filed a federal lawsuit against Benson on Tuesday, according to MLive. They were joined by conservative activist Marian Sheridan.

The lawsuit argues that counting delayed ballots would violate the Constitution by taking the decision concerning the state electors away from the U.S. Congress or state legislature and seeks to have absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day thrown out, according to MLive. 

“This policy to abandon the Legislature’s role in establishing the time and manner of elections threatens the integrity of the upcoming election, will result in widespread and severe vote dilution, will (at a minimum) create substantial uncertainty and delay over Michigan’s ability to certify its results, and casts in substantial doubt whether the United States Congress will even accept the results of the popular vote in Michigan,” the complaint says.

The Secretary of State has not been served with the lawsuit yet and had no comment, spokesperson Tacy Wimmer told MLive.

The lawsuit also goes after the proximity of the 14-day delay to the December 8 safe-harbor date for possible ballot recounts, county canvassing board and Michigan Board of State Canvassers’ review, certifications of the votes and the approval of the state’s presidential electors from the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, The Detroit News said.

“It will remain unknown who wins the state’s vote for at least 14 days after Election Day, and any contest about the ultimate result is unlikely to reach a conclusion before the safe-harbor deadline or even before the vote of the Electoral College,” the lawsuit said. .

The lawsuit comes as more than a third of active Michigan voters have requested absentee ballots, totaling more than 2.39 million voters, according to state data released by the SOS.

The lawsuit is still being deliberated in Kalamazoo federal court, MLive said.

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Jordyn Pair is a reporter at The Michigan Star and Star News Digital Media. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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