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PIME warns SOS Benson: Stop sending misinformation to election inspectors. Correct guidance now.

Updated: Oct 27


Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME) informs Sec. of State Benson that "your office is disseminating misleading and inaccurate information regarding elections, and this misinformation needs immediate correction.





October 17, 2022

Jocelyn Benson

Michigan Secretary of State

430 W. Allegan St.

Richard H. Austin Building, Fourth Floor

Lansing, MI 48918

Jonathan Brater, Director

Michigan Bureau of Elections

430 W. Allegan St.

FIrst Floor

P. O. Box 20126

Lansing, MI 48901

Dear Secretary Benson and Director Brater:

On behalf of Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME) I am writing to inform you that your office is disseminating misleading and inaccurate information regarding elections, and this misinformation needs immediate correction. Below, I call your attention to 11 issues of misinformation regarding state law as published in your office’s Democracy MVP election inspector information.


As you aptly state in your guide to reporting Election Misinformation:


The act of spreading misinformation about the election process, voter rights, or even an issue on the ballot is a serious threat to election security. These efforts – be they foreign, domestic, partisan, or simply malicious – are designed to sow mistrust in our elections process and are damaging to a healthy democracy


Countering misinformation


Counteracting harmful misinformation by knowing the truth is critical to not only ensure our elections are a secure and accurate reflection of the will of the people, but to the survival of our democratic process.


PIME’s Legislative Committee shares your concerns regarding election misinformation and has reviewed the Democracy MVP election inspector resources as posted on the Michigan Department of State website and emailed as a recruitment tool for poll workers.

I request a response to this letter within seven days. Since PIME has identified the errors in imminent need of correction, the seven-day response is reasonable under the circumstances.

Sincerely,

Patrice Johnson, Chair

Pure Integrity Michigan Elections

Michigan Fair Elections

517-420-7978


P.S. As you are no doubt aware, the United States is a constitutional republic, not a democracy. However, the Secretary of State website is laced with misinformation referencing our nation as a democracy. We respectfully request that you correct this misinformation as well.

A. Opening the Polls

Issue 1: Instructions for handling disruptive behavior in the polling place are contradictory in “Opening the Polls” and “Prohibited Conduct at Voting-Related Locations” and therefore run the risk of creating confusion.

If the board of election inspectors wishes to eject a person for disruptive behavior and that person refuses to leave, the board is not authorized to physically lay a hand on that person. The board should call law enforcement.


Issue 2: Instructions regarding the public announcement of the opening of the polls state that the Precinct chairperson must make the announcement. Legally it can also be done by an inspector designated by the chairman.

Directive from “Opening the Polls”:

“Maintain peace, regularity, and order at the polling place. If a voter, challenger, or poll watcher is disruptive or refuses to observe all applicable standards of conduct, warn the individual and document. If problems continue, eject the individual from the polling place.”

The Law Says:

MCL 168.678 - Each board of election inspectors shall possess full authority to maintain peace, regularity and order at its polling place, and to enforce obedience to their lawful commands during any primary or election and during the canvass of the votes after the poll is closed.

Directive from “Opening the Polls”:

“Precinct chairperson must publicly announce the opening of the polls by declaring, “The polls are now open,” promptly at 7:00 a.m.”

The Law Says:

MCL 168.722 The chairman or an inspector designated by him shall announce to those present at the polling places, the opening of the polls and the closing of the polls.

B. Prohibited Conduct at Voting-Related Locations

Issue 3: Same as issue above.

Directive from “Prohibited Conduct at Voting-Related Locations”:

“A clerk, a member of the clerk’s staff, and/or an election inspector is empowered to ask a person engaging in any of the below conduct to leave the voting location and, if the person refuses to leave, request that law enforcement remove the person from the voting location. (MCL 168.678)”

C. Processing Voters

Issue 4: There are no instructions included to verify signatures, whereas the law states that “the election official shall compare the signature upon the application….”

Issue 5: The law states, On request of the elector, an inspector may give explanation of the manner of voting; whereas the SOS/DMVP guidelines encourage workers to offer instructions without a request from the elector.

Directive from “Processing Voters”

“Step 1: Identify Voter

• Ask the voter to complete the Application to Vote

• Compare info to the ePollbook

• Ask the voter to show acceptable picture ID (voters unable to show acceptable picture ID may vote by signing an affidavit)

Check the picture and name and confirm that the name on the ID matches the name on the Application to Vote and the voter standing in front of you

• Check the ePollbook to see if the voter’s record includes a status flag

• Initial the Application to Vote”

The Law Says:

MCL 168.523 - (1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2), at each election, before being given a ballot, each registered elector offering to vote must identify himself or herself by presenting identification for election purposes, and by executing an application, on a form prescribed by the secretary of state, in the presence of an election official that includes all of the following:

(a) The name of the elector.

(b) The elector's address of residence.

(c) The elector's date of birth.

(d) An affirmative statement by the elector that is included in the signature statement indicating that he or she is a citizen of the United States.

(e) The elector's signature or mark.

(2) If an elector's signature contained in the qualified voter file is available in the polling place, the election official shall compare the signature upon the application with the digitized signature provided by the qualified voter file. If an elector's signature is not contained in the qualified voter file, the election official shall process the application in the same manner as applications are processed when a voter registration list is used in the polling place. If voter registration lists are used in the precinct, the election inspector shall determine if the name on the application to vote appears on the voter registration list. If the name appears on the voter registration list, the elector shall provide further identification or other information stated upon the voter registration list. If the signature or an item of information does not correspond, the vote of the person must be challenged, and the same procedure must be followed as provided in this act for the challenging of an elector. If the elector does not have identification for election purposes as required under this section, the individual shall sign an affidavit to that effect before an election inspector and be allowed to vote as otherwise provided in this act. However, an elector being allowed to vote without identification for election purposes as required under this section is subject to challenge as provided in section 727.

(3) If, upon a comparison of the signature or other identification as required in this section, it is found that the applicant is entitled to vote, the election officer having charge of the registration list shall approve the application and write his or her initials on the application, after which the number on the ballot issued must be noted on the application. The application serves as 1 of the 2 poll lists required to be kept as a record of a person who has voted. The application must be filed with the township, city, or village clerk. If voter registration cards are used in the precinct, the date of the election must be noted by 1 of the election officials upon the precinct registration card of each elector voting at an election. If voter registration lists are used in the precinct, the election official shall clearly indicate upon the list each elector voting at that election. The clerk of a city, village, or township shall maintain a record of voting participation for each registered elector.

Directive from “Processing Voters”:

“Step 3: Offer Instruction

Offer instructions (i.e. complete voting – front and back, completely darken the oval or box) to each voter on the voting process. Be consistent and do not attempt to influence the voter’s choices.”

The Law Says:

MCL 168.736 - When an elector applying to vote shall not be challenged, or, having been challenged, if the answers to questions asked him while under oath as to his qualifications shall show that he is a qualified elector at that poll, he shall be permitted to vote. The inspector having charge of the ballots shall deliver to said elector 1 of each kind of said ballots to be voted at the election. All the ballots so given to an elector applying to vote shall bear the same number, beginning, for the first elector to whom ballots are given, with the lowest numbered ballots, the next higher number for the second such elector, and so on. On request of the elector, an inspector may give explanation of the manner of voting, and if by the board deemed necessary, an interpreter may be called, but the elector shall not be otherwise assisted in the marking of his ballot, except as provided in this act for assisted electors.

D. Closing the Polls

Issue 6: Instructions regarding the public announcement of the closing of the polls state that the Precinct chairperson must make the announcement. The law states it can also be done by an inspector designated by the chairman.

Directive from “Closing the Polls”:

“At 8:00 p.m., the precinct chairperson must publicly announce the closing of the polls by declaring, “The polls are now closed.” “

The Law Says:

MCL 168.722 - The chairman or an inspector designated by him shall announce to those present at the polling places, the opening of the polls and the closing of the polls.

E. Absent Voter Counting Board

Issue 7: Election inspectors are instructed to “make sure to defer to their [the clerk’s] instruction.” The clerk and election inspectors are to follow the law per their oath of office. If the clerk’s instructions are at odds with the law, it is the worker’s responsibility to inform the clerk and have it noted in the poll book.

Directive from “Absent Voter Counting Board”:

“Your experiences in an AVCB may vary based on direction and guidance provided by your clerk, make sure to defer to their instruction.”

MCL 168.680 - Each precinct election inspector shall, before entering upon the discharge of his duties, take and subscribe the following constitutional oath of office, which oath any of the inspectors may administer: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of inspector of elections according to the best of my ability."

F. Challengers

Issue 8: Guidelines state workers must wear masks; whereas the Michigan mask mandate was canceled Feb. 16, 2022.

Directive from “Challengers”:

“Must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at all times while inside.”

The Health Department Says:

FINAL_MDHHS_Masking_Guidance_21622.pdf (michigan.gov)

G. Assisting Voters

Issue 9: “Curbside voting” was legally unauthorized in 2020 due to COVID-19. Instructions state the ballot is to be taken by two inspectors to the voter in the parking lot, then returned and deposited into the tabulator. Legally, ballots must be voted in the polling place and cast according to election law. They are not permitted to leave the polling place.


Issue 10: Guidelines instruct that voters may receive unspecified assistance from election inspectors or anyone of their choosing as long as it’s not the voter’s employer or an agent of the employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union to which the voter belongs; whereas, the law states, “When at an election an elector shall state that the elector cannot mark his or her ballot, the elector shall be assisted in the marking of his or her ballot by 2 inspectors of election. If an elector is so disabled on account of blindness, the elector may be assisted in the marking of his or her ballot by a member of his or her immediate family or by a person over 18 years of age designated by the blind person.”


Directive from “Assisting Voters”:

“If a voter is unable to enter the polling location and asks the precinct board for voting assistance – also called curbside voting, help must be provided by two inspectors who must take the ballot and secrecy sleeve to the voter in their vehicle in the parking lot and return to deposit the ballot into the tabulator.”

The Law Says:

MCL 168.743 - An elector to whom an official ballot has been delivered is not permitted to leave the polling place without either voting the ballot or returning the ballot to the inspector from whom he or she received the ballot. An elector who attempts to leave the polling place with a ballot in his or her possession, and refuses to deliver the ballot upon request, must be at once arrested on demand of any member of the board of election inspectors.

MCL 168.744 - On election day, a person shall not post, display, or distribute in a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit a polling place, or within 100 feet of an entrance to a building in which a polling place is located any material that directly or indirectly makes reference to an election, a candidate, or a ballot question.

Directive from “Assisting Voters”:


“Voters may receive assistance from election inspectors or other any (sic) person of their choosing, as long as the person rendering assistance is not the voter’s employer or an agent of the employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union to which the voter belongs.”

The Law Says:

MCL 168.751 - When at an election an elector shall state that the elector cannot mark his or her ballot, the elector shall be assisted in the marking of his or her ballot by 2 inspectors of election. If an elector is so disabled on account of blindness, the elector may be assisted in the marking of his or her ballot by a member of his or her immediate family or by a person over 18 years of age designated by the blind person.

H. KNOW THE FACTS

Issue 11: Guidelines instruct workers to wear masks; whereas the Michigan mask mandate was canceled Feb. 16, 2022.

Directive from “KNOW THE FACTS”:

“Voters are NOT required but are encouraged to wear a mask to vote at their polling location.

While poll workers MUST wear a mask or protective face shields while serving.”


The Health Department Says:


FINAL_MDHHS_Masking_Guidance_21622.pdf (michigan.gov)














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