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Politics Michigan GOP House lawmakers move to ban secretary of state from issuing absentee ballot applications

07:05  22 april  2021
07:05  22 april  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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Republican House lawmakers in Michigan moved to prevent the secretary of state's office from issuing absentee ballot applications.

a close up of Jocelyn Benson © Provided by Washington Examiner

The voting proposal is included within the GOP's budget bill, which was passed through a subcommittee on Tuesday, with all Democratic members opposing, and would need to be approved by the full appropriations committee, the Republican-led House and Senate, and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has the power to strip portions of the legislation, to become law.

"The budget is always an important place to focus on government efficiency. Local clerks have always had responsibility for sending out absentee ballot applications. The secretary of state's office created confusion among the public and press by sending out a mass mailing last year," state Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, the lead sponsor of the legislation, told the Detroit Free Press.

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"This eliminates confusion, makes the process simpler to understand, and keeps the exact same level of service and access for voters," he also said.

During the 2020 election cycle, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was chastised by former President Donald Trump, who threatened in May to withhold funding from the state of Michigan after he claimed that top brass had sent absentee ballots to every registered voter.

However, Benson, a Democrat, had announced that the state will be sending applications for absentee ballots, not the ballots themselves, to all 7.7 million of the state's registered voters. Such a move was upheld in court and touted despite Republican complaints about rising potential for fraud.

Benson's office criticized the proposed voting changes brought forth by GOP lawmakers in the state House.

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"These provisions aren’t about the state budget. They are instead another attempt by state legislators — notably the most nakedly partisan branch of our state government — to overstep their authority in an effort to control our elections and undermine our democracy," Jake Rollow, a spokesman for Benson, told the Detroit Free Press. "It shows the lengths they will go to promote the proposals in their anti-democratic, un-American, ill-informed and unfunded package to roll back the successes of last year’s elections and silence the voices of Michigan’s electorate. It’s a shameful and embarrassing misuse of their authority."

Benson has also criticized a separate, 39-page voter package proposed in the Senate as a bunch of bills that "choose to ignore the data, truth, and best practices and promote policies that will silence the voices of all voters."

Last month, Benson was found to have violated state law when she issued “guidance” on how absentee ballots should be evaluated.

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State Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray decided that Benson did not follow the proper rule-making process when instructing voting clerks in October to presume the accuracy of absentee ballot signatures. Her guidance has since been declared invalid.

"The presumption is found nowhere in state law," Murray, a Republican-appointed judge, wrote in the ruling. "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."

Murray added that she trampled on the state's Administrative Procedures Act after she insisted that only ballots with “multiple significant and obvious” inconsistencies should be questioned.

Benson announced in February that a statewide, risk-limiting election audit in Michigan, one of the states where the vote was contested by Trump, affirmed results of the 2020 general election. President Joe Biden won the Great Lakes State by 154,000 votes. In Antrim County, where a legal fight dealing with voting machines is still playing out, an audit conducted in December netted Trump a mere 12 votes.

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Tags: News, Michigan, Elections, 2020 Elections, Voting, Voter Fraud, Donald Trump, GOP

Original Author: Jake Dima

Original Location: Michigan GOP House lawmakers move to ban secretary of state from issuing absentee ballot applications

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usr: 9
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