Judge boots challenge to mass mailing of ballot applications


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the secretary of state’s mailing of absentee ballot applications to millions of voters who did not request one, ruling that Jocelyn Benson had “clear and broad” authority to do so.

State Court of Claim Judge Cynthia Stephens’ decision had been signaled after she rejected a request for a preliminary injunction in June. Benson, a Democrat, in May began sending the applications to all voters who were not already on permanent absentee ballot lists for the August primary and November general elections, as a way to encourage absentee voting and dissuade in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stephens said Benson’s actions are not contrary to election law and noted that voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment letting people vote absentee for any reason.

“The Secretary of State, as chief election officer of this state, merely sent applications that will make it easier for voters to exercise that constitutional right, should they choose to do so,” she wrote.

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