Republicans Win Major Election Integrity Ruling Against Michigan Secretary of State - Tucker
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Republicans Win Major Election Integrity Ruling Against Michigan Secretary of State

A Michigan judge ordered the state’s Bureau of Elections to stop using the election challenger manual it created this year.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Brock Swartzle’s Friday ruling marked a signigicant legal win for the state’s Republican Pary and the Republican National Committee. Their lawsuit victory challenging the legality of the new manual arrived less than three weeks before the midterm election.

Swartzle ordered state election officials to stop using the 2022 manual detailing new updated rules regarding election challengers and poll watchers. The judicial order further requires Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Michigan Elections Director Jonathan Brater to yank the manual or change it to come back into compliance with Michigan law.

The judge ruled some manual provisions, such as banning electronic devices at absentee counting boards, ran counter to existing statutes or did not follow proper procedure. Government agencies have been required to follow the Administrative Procedures Act since its passage in 1946. Failure to properly follow APA procedures was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled against former President Trump’s ending DACA. President Joe Biden’s attempt to reinstate DACA was similary ruled to have violated APA procedures, invalidating it.

Swartzle found that some of the provisions in the manual such as a ban on the use of electronic devices at absentee counting boards were at odds with the law or failed to undergo the proper rule-making procedure with input from the public and state lawmakers.

“Under the APA, only a department’s ‘rule,’ promulgated by that department through the crucible of public notice-and-comment rulemaking, has the force and effect of law,” Swartzle declared. “Any other pronouncement by a department does not have the force and effect of law unless specifically authorized by our Legislature.”

State election officials “exceeded their authority with respect to certain provisions” in the challenger manual, Swartzle said in his decision. The judge declared that manual instructions requiring challengers to present credentials issued using a form from the Secretary of State’s Office and restricting election challengers’ communication were invalid.

Credentialed election challengers are legally able to contest a voter’s eligibility to cast a ballot or challenge election procedures at polling locations and counting boards that process absentee ballots, according to a Detroit Free Press report. Poll watchers do not have the authority to make challenges but can observe Election Day activities, the report added.

The report noted Benson’s office plans to appeal the ruling.

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