Michigan Court Strikes Down GOP Voter Suppression Scheme

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A Michigan state appeals court has upheld a plan by the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, to send an application for an absentee ballot to every registered voter in the state. Some on the right, including President Donald Trump, have complained about the steps that election officials around the country have taken to expand access to voting options that don’t involve visiting a polling place amidst the ongoing dangers of the Coronavirus pandemic. Trump has alleged that an expansion of “mail-in” voting means an expansion of opportunities for system-threatening fraud, but that’s not true.

In this Michigan case, a lower court had already ruled in favor of Benson’s plan, which had been challenged by a group of several voters in the state. After this appeals court ruling upholding the lower court’s defense of Benson’s plan, the Brennan Center for Justice’s Myrna Perez commented:

‘This is a big win for Michigan voters and for American democracy. If the secretary of state had been prevented from sending ballot applications to all registered voters, it would have hurt the state’s efforts to hold fair, safe, and accessible elections.’

At one point recently, Trump angrily complained that Michigan was sending ballots to all voters, but that wasn’t even true — the plan has been for applications that voters can use to get absentee ballots, if they want. Trump’s misrepresentation of reality, which he eventually corrected, underscores the fundamentally fact-free nature of the right’s complaints. There is no evidence for Trump’s claims of some kind of looming mass rigging of the election. The evidence just is not there. Trump’s pulling things out of thin air.

This Michigan case is not the first recent occasion when his side has been dealt a loss in a similar situation. Recently, an Ohio court ruled that the state’s Secretary of State, who is a Republican, had acted arbitrarily and unlawfully in limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county. These boxes expand the opportunities for absentee voters to submit their ballots. In an earlier ruling, a judge denied the Trump administration’s request to keep ballots that were cast via drop boxes in Pennsylvania separate from those cast through other means. The Trump campaign has been challenging the usage of the boxes in the state, and they seem to have been concerned that mingling the ballots could have made their case moot.