Plaintiffs Ask Judge to Find Benson in Contempt of Court for Failing to Correct Election Guidance Manual

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A Michigan Court of Claims judge has been asked to declare Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, in contempt of court for noncompliance with a court order.

The filing also requests that the court enforce the injunction it issued on Oct. 20, ordering Benson to correct the guidance she provided to state and local election officials that the court found didn’t comply with Michigan law.

The court also found that the guidance she issued didn’t have the force and effect of law.

Benson’s guidance came largely in the form of an election operation manual written in May and revised in June.

The emergency motion was filed on Nov. 2 with a requested deadline of 5 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Late in the day on Nov. 2, Court of Claims Judge Brock Swartzle issued an order granting immediate consideration of the plaintiffs’ motion.

Swartzle gave Benson until noon on Nov. 3 to respond to the plaintiffs’ emergency motion requesting enforcement of the injunction ordering her to make the corrections in her guidance and the requested contempt citation.

The five plaintiffs, known collectively as O’Halloran et al., are a group of citizens concerned about protecting the rights of challengers and poll watchers from infringement by Benson’s nonconforming or extra-legal guidelines.

The Michigan Republican Party and the Republican National Committee have joined the suit as plaintiffs.

The Elias Law Group, founded by nationally known Democrat strategist Marc Elias, was recently added to the defense team representing Benson.

The plaintiffs contend that the rules imposed by Benson are barriers to effective ballot counting observation in the fast-approaching election.

The Oct. 20 court order directed Benson to correct her guidance that the court found reduced the grounds for ballot challenges, created the requirement for an additional credential form for poll challengers, banned election challengers from being appointed on Election Day, restricted challengers to speaking only to certain election workers, and prohibited cellphones in absentee ballot counting areas.

By Steven Kovac

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