Judge rules smartphones, tablets allowed in Michigan ballot counting centers

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson plans to appeal the ruling.

Laura Herberg, WDET

A Michigan Court of Claims judge has decided that new rules governing election challengers are invalid, just weeks before November’s midterm elections.

The guidelines were issued by the Michigan Bureau of Elections ahead of the August primary election, but the Michigan GOP didn’t challenge the rules until late September.

Judge Brock Swartzle, a former GOP-endorsed candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court, said election officials cannot follow certain guidelines for the November 8 elections.

Swartzle wrote that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Michigan elections director Jonathan Brater, “exceeded their authority,” in devising the new rules. Those guidelines included a ban on electronic devices in areas where ballots were being counted and processed.

“My number one concern is that Michigan voters have a constitutional right to vote a secret ballot” says Canton Township Clerk Michael Siegrist.

Siegrist is not sure that bans on electronic devices enacted by Canton Township and other municipalities will be effective following Judge Brock Swartzle’s order, despite having been in place for years before the ruling.

Siegrist believes the ban should be standardized statewide.

“Michigan election law gives the Secretary of State supervisory authority over all election officials,” Siegrist says. “So I think it’s very important that every single voter in every single jurisdiction have equal protection under the law (and) should be the same process for everybody.”

The ruling is being hailed as a victory for election integrity and transparency by the Michigan Republican Party.

In a statement, MIGOP Chairman Ron Weiser said, “This legal win will help deliver the transparency needed in our elections and it sends a clear message to Jocelyn Benson and her Democrat cronies that meddling in our elections to their benefit won’t be tolerated.”

Following the 2020 presidential election, Republican protesters flooded Detroit’s then-named TCF Center and disrupted the tallying of votes with chants of, “Stop the Count.” Lies about voter fraud and the refusal to accept former President Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden continue to be perpetuated by the top three Republican candidates for state office: gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, attorney general candidate Matt DePerno, and secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo.

Secretary of State Benson plans to appeal the ruling.

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Author

  • Russ McNamara

    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.