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Michigan Supreme Court won't hear challenge to absentee ballot application mailings

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court won’t hear a case challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to mail absentee ballot applications to voters. 

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson mass mailed the applications to registered voters across the state. A Highland Park activist, Robert Davis, sued because he was concerned the unsolicited applications were unlawful and candidates could challenge votes because of that.

In Auguest, the Court of Claims ruled the mailings were legal. The Court of Appeals confirmed that ruling in September.

Now, the Supreme Court has declined to hear the lawsuit. It was turned down by a six to one majority.

One of the judges on the Appeals Court dissented, questioning the legality. Supreme Court Justice David Viviano also felt the case should be reviewed to determine “whether the Secretary of State had the legal authority to mail millions of applications for absentee ballots to voters who did not request them.”

In 2018, voters amended the state constitution to allow no-reason absentee voting. In the past, Secretary Benson has defended the mailing of the applications saying as the chief election official she had the authority, she wanted to help Michigan voters through the process, and she wanted to help limit the voters' exposure to the coronavirus.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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