A Michigan judge has ruled that Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's unilateral change to absentee ballot rules violated state law.
One of the changes made by Benson involved procedures for verifying absentee ballot signatures. The guidance issued by Benson allowed signatures on absentee ballots with "slight similarities" to be counted "in favor of finding that the voter's signature was valid," Breitbart reports.
According to Michigan Court of Claims Chief Judge Christopher Murray, the guidance violated Michigan's Administrative Procedures Act "because the guidance 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."
Republican Michigan Representative Matt Hall issued a statement following the ruling, stating that he is "glad the court sees Secretary of State Benson's attempts at lawmaking for what they are—clear violations of her authority."
"If she wants to make changes like these, she needs to work with the Legislature or properly promulgate them through the laws we have on the books," Hall said.
Some have argued that the ruling partially vindicates former President Donald Trump's election fraud claims. Republicans aggressively campaigned against mail-in voting, arguing that it was easier to submit fraudulent votes through such mechanisms.
Republicans also argued that a number of changes made to election rules during the 2020 election cycle were illegal, as many states spearheaded electoral rule changes from the executive branches despite such power being constitutionally vested in state legislatures.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that enough fraudulent absentee ballots were submitted to change the election results in Michigan, which Biden carried by over 150,000 votes.
The ruling came after Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski sued Benson and Michigan Director of Elections Jonathan Brater for issuing a "mandatory directive requiring local election officials to apply a presumption of validity to all signatures on absent voter ballots."
Benson, like many Democrats, aggressively pushed for absentee voting as many Americans stayed at home amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In May of 2020, Benson appropriated millions from the CARES Act to send absentee ballots to every voter in the state of Michigan.
Over 3.1 million Michiganders voted via absentee ballot in 2020.