GOP celebrates court decision regarding voter signature verification



(The Center Square) – In what Republicans are calling a win for election integrity, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled election clerks cannot initially presume voter signatures are valid.

The decision struck down Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s second attempt in 2023 to adjust signature verification requirements, even after the court ruled in 2021 that those changes were invalid.

The December 2023 guidance manual issued by Benson to help polling clerks stated “voter signatures are entitled to an initial presumption of validity.”

The court ruled “our [state] Constitution calls for a signature comparison without making any assumption for or against validity…The Secretary of State and the Director of Elections possess powers and duties concerning election procedures, but their powers do not extend to the promulgation of rules that conflict with the Michigan Constitution or statutes enacted by our Legislature.”

The Michigan Republican Party, which filed both the 2021 and 2023 lawsuits, issued a response to the verdict.

“Secretary of State Benson cannot pick and choose which elections laws to enforce and which to ignore. The signatures of absentee ballot voters have to and should be verified – it’s common sense. Michigan is crucial to the pathway to victory in November. We must protect and enforce all our election laws to maintain confidence in our system,” Chairman Pete Hoekstra said.

Rep. Ann Bollin, R-Brighton Township, called the ruling a win for election integrity.

“This is the second time a court has ruled Benson tried to overstep her authority. Last time, she turned around and tried to implement the changes again through the administrative rules process. As chair of the House’s Elections committee at the time, I led efforts to oppose her changes. She ignored most of our concerns and moved forward anyway, but the court has now ruled that our concerns were valid. This ruling is a crucial victory for voters and election integrity in our state,” Bollin said.

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