Michigan’s Mass Mailing of Ballot Applications Backed on Appeal

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A Michigan appeals court upheld a finding that the swing state’s top election official, a Democrat, was within her authority when she mailed absentee ballot applications to all registered voters.

The decision Wednesday by the Michigan Court of Appeals held that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson didn’t violate the state’s constitution when she sent out the applications to encourage mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 7,000 people in the state.

The court rejected claims by three registered voters that Benson had exceeded her authority because the state constitution doesn’t “expressly authorize” her to send unsolicited ballot applications. The legislature granted the secretary a “broad measure of discretion” in conducting elections, the court said, adding that the mailing “furthered the purposes of informing qualified registered voters of their right to vote by absentee ballot.”

Mail-in voting has emerged as major issue in the presidential campaign, as President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that it will lead to widespread voter fraud.

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