Judge denies last-minute legal action against online ballots

    Jocelyn Benson at a press conference in Flint, Feb. 21, 2019 | Ken Coleman

    A legal motion to stunt Michigan’s expanded use of online absentee ballots was quashed Monday, with a state court denying a nonprofit group’s request for a preliminary junction in its lawsuit against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

    The suit, filed in late August by Glen Sitek of the self-described social welfare nonprofit Election Integrity Fund, alleges that Michiganders’ new ability to apply for a ballot online is a recipe for fraud. Sitek’s case also argues that the signature-comparing system for absentee and mail-in ballots is unlawfully deficient.

    But Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled Monday that the plaintiffs requested a preliminary injunction far too late to be considered, especially considering that any action would now be “on the eve of an election.”

    Stephens also noted that the plaintiffs did not provide any recommendations on what should be done with the voters or ballots in question instead.

    Since Michiganders voted in 2018 to institute no-reason absentee voting, there has been an increase in the state’s overall voter turnout. That is especially true given the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, as Benson has continued to urge voters to cast absentee ballots rather than risking their health at the polls.

    As of Tuesday, Benson’s office reports that more than 3.1 million Michiganders have requested absentee ballots and more than 2 million have returned them.


    Laina G. Stebbins
    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice. She is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or listening to podcasts, she loves art and design, discovering new music, being out in nature and spending time with her two cats Rainn and Remy.