By Patrick Colbeck
Per MCL 168.31, the Michigan Secretary of State is the head election official in the state. If the head election official issues directives regarding the conduct of elections in Michigan that violate the law, is it reasonable to assert that the elections executed under those guidelines are lawful? No.
As a point of fact, Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s current Secretary of State, has already been found in violation of the law by five separate court decisions. Individually, each of these cases would be concerning, but collectively they indicate a pattern of lawlessness that needs to be addressed if we are to have any confidence in the conduct of our elections under her guidance.
In this post, we will examine the evidence in support of the assertion that elections in Michigan have been conducted in an unlawful manner since Jocelyn Benson assumed the position as Secretary of State on January 1, 2019. All elections conducted under her direction should be examined closely to determine whether or not the rightful winners of those elections have been lawfully determined. The consequences of such examination are potentially significant. Multiple courts have previously ruled that the unlawful conduct of elections nullifies the subsequent election results.
FACT: Courts Have Repeatedly Found MI SoS in Violation of Law
The following court cases applicable to the 2020 and 2022 election cycles feature Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson as a defendant. Links to applicable court documents have been provided to assist in further examination of the evidence provided. The rulings issued by the judges in the following lawsuits constitute statements of fact. They are not conjecture.
CASE #1: Genetski v Benson
|Statute Violated||Court Decision||Election Integrity Consequences of MI SoS Directive|
|MCL 168.761||Summary disposition granted asserting that Secretary of State violated the Administrative Procedures Act||In an election decided by 154,188 votes, up to 3,416,172 absentee ballots from across the state were counted without any rigor applied to confirm the identity of the individual casting the vote.|
On January 20, 2021, Robert Genetski, County of Allegan Clerk and the Michigan Republican Party filed a lawsuit alleging that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued unlawful guidance regarding signature verification requirements for absentee ballot return envelopes.
On March 9, 2021, Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray issued the following ruling against Jocelyn Benson and co-defendant MI Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater.
If this were the only example of an unlawful directive issued by Benson and Brater, it would be sufficient to indicate that the 2020 election was conducted in an unlawful manner. There are, however, many more examples.
CASE #2: Davis v Benson
|Statute Violated||Court Decision||Election Integrity Consequences of MI SoS Directive|
|Court injunction against ban on firearms in polling place issued||Law-abiding gun owners were discouraged from voting and/or overseeing elections while asserting their constitutional right to self-defense|
On October 22, 2020, Robert Davis filed a lawsuit against Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan State Police Colonel Joe Gasper seeking an injunction against their directive to ban the open carry of firearms in polling places.
On October 27, 2020, Judge Christopher Murray issued an injunction against the unlawful directive issued by Michigan’s head election official.
That makes two court rulings which have found that Benson directives have violated the law. There are more.
CASE #3: Carra v Benson
|Statute||Court Decision||Election Integrity Consequences of MI SoS Directive|
|MCL 168.733||Revised poll challenger guidance issued by court that better complies with the law||Prevents effective oversight of election process by certified poll challengers|
On October 29, 2020, Stephen Carra and Robert Cushman filed for an injunction against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Bureau of Elections Director Johnathan Brater asserting that their directives to election officials violated poll challenger rights to oversee election processes.
On October 29, 2020, Judge Cynthia Stephens issued a preliminary injunction against the unlawful poll challenger directive issued by Benson and Brater.
That makes three court rulings that have asserted that Benson violated Michigan law via the directives issued by her office. There seems to be a trend.
CASE #4: Johnson v Benson
|Statute||Court Decision||Election Integrity Consequences of MI SoS Directive|
|MCL 168.764a||Benson ordered to issue revised guidance in compliance with the law||Enables the counting of ballots inserted after the statutory deadline and after election results have been posted to the general public.|
On September 29, 2020, former Michigan Secretaries of State Ruth Johnson and Terri Lynn Land along with Marian Sheridan filed suit against current Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson asserting that she issued unlawful guidance regarding the time and manner of election process
On October 19, 2020, United States District Judge Paul Maloney ordered Benson to revise her guidance to comply with statute.
We are now up to four examples of Benson issuing election directives pertaining to the 2020 election that violate the law. This definitely indicates a serious disregard for the law by this former Dean of the Wayne State University law department.
CASE #5: O’Halloran v Benson
|Statute||Court Decision||Election Integrity Consequences of MI SoS Directive|
|MCL 168.733||Benson ordered to issue revised poll challenger guidance that complies with the law||Prevents effective oversight of election process by certified poll challengers|
On September 28, 2022, Phil O’Halloran, Braden Giacobazzi, Robert Cushman, Penny Crider and Kenneth Crider sued Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Director of Elections Jonathan Brater asserting that the poll challenger guidelines that she issued to election officials violated Michigan law.
On October 20, 2022, Court of Claims Judge Brock Swartzle ordered Benson to revise her poll challenger guidelines to comply with Michigan Election Law.
The following flyer was developed to assist poll challengers in communicating the ruling by Judge Swartzle.
In spite of the court order, an updated manual was not disseminated to election officials and poll workers prior to the election resulting in conflict at polling places and absentee voter counting boards. Since Benson had failed to issue updated guidance in the days leading up to the election, the plaintiffs filed a motion to hold her in contempt of court.
The Michigan Supreme Court then intervened in the case and placed an injunction upon the lower court to prevent such a motion from being adopted by the court. Notably, the Michigan Supreme Court did not rule that Benson’s directives were lawful. They simply prevented the lower court from filing charges against Benson effectively enabling her to execute an unlawful election.
If this is the first time you have heard about Benson’s serial lawbreaking, please ask yourself “Why?” The media is quick to parrot the narrative that “Trump and others filed and lost at least 60 lawsuits“, but they seem to have omitted any discussion of the aforementioned lawsuits in these lawsuit compilations. I wonder why?
In spite of the silent treatment by the mainstream media outlets, word about the growing number of court victories validating concerns about election fraud was spread via social media and events around the country. As more and more people increasingly learned of the lawless conduct by Jocelyn Benson in her role as Secretary of State, the media was spurred into action. Rather than inform the general public about Benson’s serial lawbreaking, they sought to cover up such malfeasance with articles such as the following one by Clara Hendrickson of the Detroit Free Press.
Please note that the article did not address any of the lawsuits cited in this article. The court opinions for all but Case #5 had been issued prior to the date of this article. In this light, it certainly appears that the purpose of the Detroit Free Press article was something other than setting the record straight on Benson’s misconduct.
On a related topic, follow the link to Clara Hendrickson’s story above at Freep.com. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll notice that Ms. Hendrickson receives supplemental compensation from Report for America which is sponsored by The GroundTruth Project.
According to Influence Watch, the GroundTruth Project is a “left-of-center media” organization. This project in turn is supported by the Boston-based GlobalPost organization.
Why would a Boston-based organization fund reporters in Detroit?
Election Integrity Implications
There is a common theme to all of the directives issued by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in the aforementioned court cases. All of her actions had the effect of decreasing the rigor applied to oversight of our elections. By impeding the oversight of our elections, she has impeded the ability of citizens to collect evidence of election fraud should it occur. In so doing, she enables the substitution of elections with selections.
How can citizens have confidence in the results of elections if the “Ground Truth” regarding how it is executed is hidden from the general public? Honest elections have nothing to hide. On the other hand, fraudulent elections succeed only when their fraud is hidden.
Despite five separate court rulings holding her in violation of the law, there have been no significant consequences for her unlawful actions. Not only has she not been held accountable for her serial lawbreaking, but the elections conducted under her unlawful directives resulted in significant changes to the rules governing our elections going forward. The passage of ballot proposal 2022-2 under her unlawful directives changed the Michigan Constitution so that previously prohibited election practices were now promoted. Furthermore, the change in the leadership of the legislative chambers has resulted in significant statutory changes detrimental to election integrity. This means that unless the results of the 2020 and 2022 elections conducted under what had previously been unlawful guidance are overturned, the integrity of our election system will continue to be undermined.
The implications of conducting unlawful elections are significant. In the past, courts have recognized this significance and issued orders to remedy such lawlessness. These orders have enforced a accepted legal doctrine that asserts that ‘fraud vitiates everything”.
Vitiate; “take away the legal force of or render ineffective”Vocabulary.com
This doctrine has been upheld in numerous cases.
“There is no question of the general doctrine that fraud vitiates theUnited States v. Throckmorton
most solemn contracts, documents, and even judgments.”
“Our courts have consistently held that fraud vitiatesHarding v Lewis
whatever it touches”,
“It is a stern but just maxim of law that fraud vitiatesVeterans Service Club v.
everything into which it enters.”
The fraud vitiates everything doctrine is not simply a generic maxim. It has been applied specifically to elections. In Roe v Alabama, the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit, ruled that if election rules are not followed, then the certification of election results should not reflect votes cast in an unlawful manner.
It is important to note that, during their deliberations, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court and instructed it to determine whether, prior to and at the time of the election, it was common practice to count ballots not processed in compliance with Alabama law. Why is this important? It demonstrates that the court system is predisposed to allowing violations of the law if these violations have historically been allowed to proceed without legal challenge. Thus, it is critical that our present day court system make every effort to hear cases asserting violations of election law else the rule of law be subverted.
It remains to be seen if we are still governed by the rule of law or whether or not the fundamental transformation of America predicted by Barack Obama has been completed.
There have been two statewide general elections conducted in the State of Michigan since Benson assumed office in January 2021. These elections not only resulted in significant changes to the Michigan Constitution, they resulted in significant changes to the policies enacted due to a Democrat takeover of both chambers of the legislature, the governor’s office, the supreme court, the attorney general’s office and secretary of state. Every citizen in Michigan has standing to seek redress for grievances for the unlawful manner in which these elections were conducted. Every citizen in America has standing to seek redress of grievances pertaining to the 2020 presidential election.
If these infractions are allowed to pass without consequences, the rule of law will have been relegated to the ash heap of history. As demonstrated earlier, the courts have been predisposed not to enforce laws that have a history of not being enforced.
Common sense as well as case law precedent would assert that the results of any election conducted in an unlawful manner should be nullified. Nullification of an election years after the fraud occurred would be a victory for the rule of law. In the wake of such a victory, nullification of an election would likely result in nullification of pertinent constitutional changes, removal of elected officials from office, and possibly the nullification of statutes passed by the votes of the now removed elected officials. Elected officials would at least be subject to quo warranto declarations (MCL 168.861) that would necessitate an audit for each affected race in order to ensure that they had been properly seated.
Another remedy that should be on the table would be to require an independent, professional book audit of all election directives issued by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and her Director of the Bureau of Elections Jonathan Brater. A book audit would evaluate each of her directives against the provisions of the State Constitution and state law. Such an audit is presumed to be part of the process of developing such directives by the Secretary of State, but the rulings of five separate courts indicate that this is clearly not the case. Short of the completion of such an audit, all clerks should be wary of accepting MI SoS directives without verifying they are compliant with the law. Clerks should pursue independent legal counsel as necessary to evaluate any suspect directives in the wake of the breach of public trust by Jocelyn Benson and her administration. “I was just following orders” was not an excuse at the Nuremburg Trials nor should it be an excuse in support of the subversion of the rule of law.
But Wait…There’s More
The previous statutory violations pertain to lawsuits that have already been filed in courts of law. There is significant evidence of additional violations that have yet to find their way into a court of law or even a grand jury investigation. I will address the reasons why it has been difficult to pursue justice for these violations in a future post. Suffice it to say, it is not for a lack of effort or desire.
Case for MI Decertification
In the wake of serving as a certified poll challenger at the TCF Center in Detroit on November 3-4, 2020, I dedicated myself to investigate and publicize the election fraud that occurred during the 2020 general election. All of these efforts culminated in a document that I submitted at 2:54am on January 6, 2021 to a group of Michigan state legislators with whom I had served during my tenure as a Michigan State Senator. I called this document “The Case for MI Decertification”.
The Case for MI Decertification featured a detailed list of constitutional and statutory violations along with references to the affidavits in support of these assertions. A summary of the assertions that I made regarding violations of election law along with a link to the full document can be found in the following post:
In sum total, the analysis provided evidence of 14 state statute violations, 2 federal statute violations, 4 violations of the Michigan Constitution and 4 violations of the U.S. Constitution.
It was hoped that the state legislators would leverage the plenary authority granted to them under Article II Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution to decertify the election results. This did not happen.
Constitutional right to audit
During the 2020 election, the Michigan Constitution in effect at the time guaranteed an individual’s right to an audit of statewide election results.
(h) The right to have the results of statewide elections audited, in such a manner as prescribed by law, to ensure the accuracy and integrity of elections.Article II Section 4(1)(h) Michigan Constitution
Such an audit was one of the remedies sought in the Bailey v Antrim County lawsuit. After a promising discovery phase of the case, Judge Kevin Elsenheimer issued a ruling that dismissed the case on the basis that the remedy sought had already been. that since the Secretary of State (who intervened on behalf of the defense) said that she conducted an audit, an audit was conducted. There was no examination of whether or not the “audit” that was performed was sufficient to “ensure the accuracy and integrity of elections.”
Voter History Accuracy
The July 1, 2023 instance of the Michigan Qualified Voter File (QVF) revealed that there were 240,055 more ballots cast than voters…in an election featuring a presidential election decided by 154,188 votes.
Not only does the number of people who cast their votes in 2020 vary significantly from month-to-month, it has also varied within the same FOIA request response. The Michigan Department of State (MDOS) official response to a FOIA request by the Michigan Grassroots Alliance resulted in MDOS providing two files. One file had a list of all those who voted and specified in a field whether or not they voted absentee or in-person. A second file containing additional information specific to absentee voters only included records for those who voted absentee. The number of voters in each file differed…and both files were in response to the same FOIA request.
There is no logical explanation for such inaccuracies if the elections had been executed with any measure of integrity. Under Michigan law, voter history must be uploaded to the QVF by clerks within 7 days of the election (MCL 168.813) and retained in the QVF for at least five years (MCL 168.509q).
Cast Vote Accuracy
It has been widely reported that 71% of AVCB’s in Detroit were “unbalanced” during the 2020 General Election. This fact is evident to all parties on both sides of the election integrity debate. Being “unbalanced” means that the number of ballots cast did not equal the number of voters to whom ballots were issued. Either the number of ballots cast was inaccurate, the number of voters issued ballots was inaccurate or both. Unbalanced precincts are conveniently not subject to recount under Michigan law (MCL 168.871).
Election Results Accuracy
Per the election result records posted by the Michigan Secretary of State on her website, there is a 3,285 vote difference in the 2020 presidential vote tally depending upon whether or not you roll up the vote totals by precinct or by county.
The courts have already established that the integrity of the elections under MI Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson were suspect due to her unlawful directives. Now we know that the accuracy of the election results is also suspect. There certainly seems to be sufficient grounds to conclude that the statewide Risk Limited Audit conducted by Benson in the wake of the 2020 election did not satisfy the accuracy and integrity criteria specified in the Michigan Constitution.
Destruction of records
A professional audit of election records would reveal the root causes of election record inaccuracies. That is why there are both federal and state laws requiring the retention of records in support of any such audit.
The federal election record statute can be found in Title 52 USC Section 20701. It notably requires the retention of “all records and papers” for a period of not less than 22 months. In Michigan, the federal statute is supplemented by a state statute (MCL 168.811) that requires the retention of election records for a minimum of 2 years.
In spite of both federal and state statutory requirements to preserve election records for periods of 22 months and 2 years respectively, Benson’s office ordered the destruction of poll book and flash drive records crucial to the voter history and vote tally audit trail to be deleted within 7 days of the certification of the election.
She repeated this directive in the wake of the 2022 election.
The significance of this directive cannot be overstated. The MI Secretary of State called for the deletion of the audit trail for voting history and vote tally data. This directive is overtly in violation of both state and federal law.
Without the audit trail provided by the poll book, the state Qualified Voter File (QVF) becomes the de facto record authority for our elections. What makes this directive truly concerning is the volatile and suspect state of voting history data in the state QVF. As of July 1, 2023, there were 240,055 fewer voters in the 2020 general election than ballots cast. Benson ordered the destruction of the records that would help investigators determine how 240,055 ballots were cast without a voter ID associated with them in an election decided by only 154,188 votes.
Without the audit trail provided by the tabulator flash drives, the Statement of Votes becomes the de facto record authority for our elections. Once again, this is truly concerning in light of the vote differences between precinct-based and county-based tallies. The utter inability to observe the process by which these vote tallies are performed due to the repeatedly unlawful guidance issued by the SoS that inhibits effective oversight by poll challengers makes this record destruction even more concerning.
It is clear to objective observers that one of the best ways to ensure that the root causes of the election accuracy and integrity issues are never discovered would be to delete the physical AND electronic records that would enable an auditor to conduct a professional audit. That is exactly what has been done in Michigan under the direction of Jocelyn Benson.
It is a statement of fact, not conjecture, that the directives of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and her administration have been found in violation of the law in five separate court rulings. Instead of informing the general public of these violations, media outlets have sought to provide cover for such malfeasance.
There is a significant body of evidence that suggests that there have been many more such violations, but, once again, the media has been quick to characterize anyone making such assertions as a “conspiracy theorist”. The information presented in this article is NOT theory. It is undeniable FACT. There is no denying the fact that Benson has been found guilty of weakening the integrity of the election system she was elected to secure.
This is America. We require lawful elections conducted with integrity. We deserve and demand lawful elections. The question that remains is whether or not the rule of law still matters in America.
If the rule of law no longer matters, I would assert that the “fundamental transformation of America” called for by former President Barack Obama has been completed. If, however, the rule of law still holds sway in America, then our courts must act decisively to hold those complicit with lawlessness accountable for their subversion of our election system.
- Fake Election Over, Fake Audit Season Begins: What Can Be Done?
- Risk-Limited Audits
- Antrim County Election: Audit or No Audit?
- Antrim County Lawsuit: Do Citizens Have a Right to an Audit?
- MI Senate 2020 Election Report: #BigLie vs #BigTruth
- Let’s Audit the MI Auditor General Report on Elections
- Detroit Elections: Smoke and Mirrors
- Vote Tally Audits: Missing Link
- How Do Counties Roll-up Votes from Precincts?
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