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Appeals Court: Secretary Benson's Mass Mailing Of Absentee Voter Applications OK

LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling Wednesday that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was lawfully permitted to send out unsolicited absentee voter ballot applications to registered voters, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.

In a 2-1 split decision, the appellate court ruled that state law and the Michigan Constitution allow Benson to distribute unsolicited applications for absentee ballots, as the Michigan Court of Claims determined in its Aug. 25 opinion in the case, Davis v. Secretary of State.

"As chief elections officer, with constitutional authority to 'perform duties prescribed by law,' the Secretary of State had the inherent authority to take measures to ensure that voters were able to avail themselves of the constitutional rights established by Proposal 3 regarding absentee voting," Judges James Robert Redford and Jonathan Tukel wrote in the majority opinion.

Michigan voters approved Proposal 3 in 2018 to allow absentee voting without having to provide a specific reason.

The judges wrote that Benson acted within the directives outlined for her office in the constitution and state law, and by furnishing the applications, she furthered the purposes of informing qualified registered voters of their right to vote by absentee ballot – if they so choose.

"I am pleased that the court affirmed what we have known all along, that as the state's chief election officer I have the authority and responsibility to ensure citizens know how to execute their right to vote," Secretary Benson said.

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