Michigan State Senator: Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson Seizing Absentee Ballot Distribution Control

Jocelyn Benson


A Republican Michigan state senator claimed Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) is seizing control of the absentee ballot distribution process and “forcing sensitive voter information to be transmitted over the internet.”

State Sen. Jon Bumstead (R) said in a press release that he has created a website for constituents to register their concerns about changes Benson wants to make to how absentee ballots are distributed and counted.

As The Michigan Star reported last week, Benson is seeking to change the rules about scrutinizing absentee ballots to assume a voter’s signature matches and a ballot is valid.

Specifically, after a court ruled Benson’s order to assume signatures matched was illegal because she did not follow the proper procedure in changing the rules shortly before the election, Benson is attempting to go through the proper procedure this time to make permanent her desire to decrease ballot security.

“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,” wrote State Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray at the time

Bumstead brought attention to another aspect of Benson’s attempt to consolidate her power:

Currently, local clerks are responsible for issuing absentee ballots to voters. But under the new proposed rules, Benson would create an electronic portal centralized in the hands of Lansing bureaucrats, taking away control from local officials. The proposed rules could unnecessarily weaken the security of the election process by forcing sensitive voter information to be transmitted over the internet.

“We know Michigan’s election system is vulnerable and in need of fixing,” Bumstead said. “The proposed rules that Secretary Benson is pushing would compound these vulnerabilities while making our elections less secure and the results less trustworthy. Thankfully, the public has a say, but the opportunity to do so is short. I invite all concerned citizens to visit my new webpage and tell Secretary Benson that her new election rules are wrong for Michigan.”

Bumstead said constituents can go here to air concerns.

A group called Rescue Michigan noted Benson’s proposed changes include:

  • All signatures are presumed valid.
  • Signatures with differences that aren’t “multiple”, “significant”, and “obvious” are valid.
  • Signatures with all of those deficiencies may still be accepted if just one “redeeming factor” is determined, whether or not it negates the multiple, significant, and obvious deficiencies.
  • That one “redeeming factor” can be a shaking hand, a signature that appears “rushed” (e.g. a scribble), or anything the election official can imagine.
  • Even if every factor imaginable says it’s a fake signature, election officials can consider the voter’s age or the age of the signature on file to declare it valid.

The group argues that the move would remove “one of the only safeguards to ensure the integrity of the ballots.”

Benson has scheduled a virtual hearing October 1 at 9:00 a.m. in Detroit to take public input on her changes. After then, she is legally allowed to make them.

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Star News Network. Follow Cooper on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jocelyn Benson” by Ghanumal77 CC BY-SA 3.0.



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