By Elizabeth Dallam Ayoub | December 13, 2023
Policies and procedures. Grievances. Infractions. Employees being put on probation. Most everyone who works for any company, including at-will employees who work for the government, are subject to policies and procedures and grievances and infractions and rules and being put on probation. The end result for some employees might be losing their jobs. Why? Because there are rules to follow and lines not to cross.
If the rules are not followed and if the lines are crossed, employees have been given notice of what might happen to them.
Many employees are given a handbook, asked to read it and then to sign that they have read it and that they will abide by it.
Elected officials are not given a handbook. Instead, they are asked to place their hand on the Bible and utter for all the world to hear an oath that declares that they, in essence, know what their job is and how they should do it:
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 my position according to the best of my ability.
Upholding Michigan law is supporting the Constitution. Failure to follow Michigan law is a violation of a public official’s oath. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson took this oath on the steps of Michigan’s Capitol in January 2019.
Michigan’s elected Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, as the “chief election officer,” is responsible for overseeing the conduct of Michigan’s elections (MCL §168.21). One of her responsibilities includes advising and directing local election officials. In accepting this responsibility, she took an oath to uphold Michigan’s Constitution as well as Michigan law.
Most of us know what happens when employees violate a policy or procedure or have grievances filed against them. In some places it might be three-strikes-and-you’re-out. Other places it could allow fewer strikes. But in the private work arena, there are consequences for failure to abide or comply.
Secretary of State Benson has committed three violations of Michigan law within a 3-year period. Each of the violations is similar: With each violation Secretary Benson did not follow the law before issuing directives or mandates; she just, shall we say, “shot from the hip?” In other words, elected official Benson believed that people should “do as I say and not as I do,” for, after all, if anyone of us were to violate the law we would suffer prosecution.
We the People have the right to legal warfare, to file suit against a public official. We the People did that: first in the fall of 2020 when Secretary Benson on her own initiative, using a power that was not authorized by Michigan law, attempted to ban open carry of guns into voting precincts. Judge Christopher Murray issued an injunction, stating that Benson violated the Administrative Procedures Act, so that this self-initiated mandate of Benson’s could not be enforced.
A few months later Benson decided to direct and advise election officials again on her own whim, her own idea. She advised local election officials to assume that all signatures on absentee ballots were valid. Her whim, not the law. Her attempts to rule, based upon her ideas were once again ruled invalid. (Genetski v. Benson, 20-000216-MM, Michigan Court of Claims)
Just this past fall, October 2023, Benson put new restrictions on poll challengers. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that she, once again, violated election law and passed rules and regulations that did not follow Michigan law. (Philip O’Halloran, et al v. Secretary of State, Court of Appeals #363503 and #363505)
What should concern Michigan residents most, though, is that these violations all affected elections. They compromised the integrity of the People's elections.
Three strikes, and she’s still in the game. Wouldn’t we all like a job where we can commit infractions, ignore policies, and draw a hefty paycheck?
Concern and care is the common thread among Michigan Fair Elections’ volunteers. Each volunteer brings a different skill set to the table to investigate, educate and inform, all in the name of election integrity. If you’re concerned about election integrity, come join us with your skill set!
As Cheryl P, one volunteer says: “I am so thankful for the wisdom of our founding fathers in writing our Constitution and for all the men and women who have fought to protect the freedoms it provides. Ours is truly the greatest country in the world.” Volunteers are working relentlessly to fight for our Constitutional freedoms, while some elected officials are tossing it asunder. We the People will prevail.
Elizabeth Dallam Ayoub serves as MFE’s director of communications. She started her career working for an international company, transitioned into teaching French and Latin while her children were young, and then became a Michigan attorney.
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The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Michigan Fair Elections. Artificial intelligence may have been used in the creation of this message or in the links referenced herein.
MFE Coalition Task Force Meeting
Michigan Fair Elections
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM, Dec. 14, 2023, via Zoom. Link:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Patrice Johnson, Chair, Mich. Fair Elections
--CMV & Soles to Rolls. Clobber report
Stacey Weber and John Cullen, Monroe County
--Data collection and information provided to the clerks
--Where we are with our townships and overall plan
--Communications team report
--Announcing new litigation project
Patrick Colbeck, MI Grassroots Alliance
Nancy Thompson, Engagement Director, Americans for Prosperity
--AFP-MI: Identifying vacancies and recruiting candidates
--Litigation report: Suing the government to improve it
New business: Next meeting Jan. 4, 2024. Merry Christmas!
Next Task Force Coalition Meeting: Thurs., Jan. 4, 2024, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM meeting. Recurring weekly link. Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system: Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system. Weekly: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZEucOqopz8sGdNYKcvyh8hDELFWbG9eNdwz/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGtrTwpGt2RthqARpwMA4_Cb_TxmCldjadzpTTmFTlbOgvSE85kBbBYSd3-