After the media called him out for complaining about a Michigan elections worker not checking mail-in ballot signatures, it turns out that President Trump was absolutely right to be concerned about the practice.
A judge has ruled that the supposedly COVID-induced switch in Michigan election law loosening absentee voter signature verification was “invalid.”
One month before the November 2020 election, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson ordered elections offices to presume that the signatures on ballots were valid.
Republicans and elections clerks brought a lawsuit. Just the News reports the ruling directs elections officials to ignore the October 2020 directive in future elections.
Benson had instructed local election clerks a month before the Nov. 3 election to start with a “presumption” that all signatures on absentee ballots were valid and only reject those that had “multiple significant and obvious” inconsistencies. Republicans and one election clerk challenged her instructions in court.
Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray wrote in his ruling that the secretary of state was supposed to have held months of hearings on the efficacy of such a rule change, issued public notices, and received comments before enacting the rule change.
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.[G]uidance issued by the Secretary of State on October 6, 2020, with respect to signature-matching standards was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
The court did not rule whether the directive violated Michigan state elections law.
The Michigan Appeals Court ruled 2-1 in September that Benson’s individual decision to flood mail-in ballots to all registered voters when they didn’t ask for them was legal. That was another COVID rule copied by many states – including important swing states.
Trump lost Michigan by 154,000 votes, so it’s unclear what difference this rule made in the final tally, but clearly, the diktat made it easier for cheaters to game the system.
The ruling is not retroactive.
Just the News reported that in December in another swing state, Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court ruled elections officials were wrong when they allowed people to bypass voter ID laws because … COVID.
In so doing, the court ruled that local officials like Dane County and Gov. Tony Evers did not have legal authority to exempt all voters to get an absentee ballot without an ID. Evers had issued an executive order earlier this year.
“We conclude that [Evers’] Emergency Order #12 did not render all Wisconsin electors ‘indefinitely confined,’ thereby obviating the requirement of a valid photo identification to obtain an absentee ballot,” the majority ruling concluded.
And in Virginia, PJ Media colleague J. Christian Adams, the founder of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, won a consent decree agreeing the commonwealth would permanently ban accepting mail-in ballots after Election Day, another COVID-related rule change used by several states before the November 2020 election.
Adams reported this week that in another hard-fought state, Nevada, 92,367 ballots – nearly three times the margin of difference in the election – sent by one county came back as undeliverable.
As Adams reported,
That means they were sent where the registered voter did not live. That means someone else could have snatched those misdirected live ballots. That means someone probably did.
This unfortunate number is unwelcome considering President Joe Biden only carried Nevada by 33,596 votes. Clark’s 92,367 bounced ballots demonstrate a real vulnerability with mass mail balloting.
More legal challenges are on the way in other swing states, but their outcome will not impact the 2020 election retroactively.
It just goes to show, however, that some, if not all, of Trump’s election complaints were well-founded despite what the “fact-checkers” say.
If HR 1 is passed by Congress, expect all of these “COVID rules” – and worse – to become permanent.
Welcome to the Banana Republic.