Michigan Republicans working to invalidate elections law ballot initiatives they claim infringe on their legislative authority are appealing an April court decision to dismiss the case.

Eleven state lawmakers on Friday filed a notice to appeal an April 10 district court order dismissing their lawsuit challenging ballot initiatives approved by voters in 2018 and 2020 that enshrined voting reforms in the state constitution.

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The reforms – which included guaranteed absentee voting for any reason, expanded early voting, automatic voter registration, and others – conflict with the U.S. Constitution that prescribes the power to regulate the times, places, and manner of federal elections to state legislatures, lawmakers argue.

U.S. District Court Judge Jane Beckering, appointed by President Joe Biden, sided with defendants Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who filed a motion to dismiss the case because nearly all of the changes in both ballot proposals have since been codified in state law.

Beckering wrote in a 13-page opinion that individual lawmakers lacked standing to pursue the case because they failed to prove a specific injury.

“Plaintiffs’ asserted injury – the deprivation of the power to cast a binding vote – is neither concrete nor particularized because it is shared by every single member of the Michigan Legislature,” Beckering wrote. “Without standing for bringing their claims, Plaintiffs ask this Court for nothing more than a ‘jurisdiction-less “advisory opinion.”’”

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White Lake Republican state Sen. Jim Runestad told Bridge Michigan in April that while the judge’s decision wasn’t unexpected, it’s “completely off base.”

“As I understand it, the individual Legislature does have standing in a case like this, so it will be appealed,” he said. “Everyone still feels pretty good about it, and we want to get the appeal rolling in time to impact the upcoming elections.”

Runestad and 10 other Republican legislators filed suit against Whitmer and her state elections officials in October 2023 alleging the ballot referendum process violated the U.S. Constitution by circumventing the legislature to enact election reforms.

The lawmakers took particular issue with provisions that allowed voters to cast ballots without identification, nine days of early voting, private funding for elections, state-funded absentee ballot drop boxes, and independent redistricting commissions.

“As an end-around, they used an unconstitutional process, then deceived the public into voting for changes that weaken our elections,” Allen Republican Sen. Jonathan Lindsey said in announcing the lawsuit. “I don’t blame voters. Proponents ran ads saying this ‘enshrines voter ID into our constitution,’ when, in fact, Prop 2 guarantees the right to vote without voter ID – a classic bait-and-switch.

“Voters were deceived. Now these unlawfully enacted changes purport to limit our power as legislators to fix serious issues with our elections,” he said.

The lawsuit is one of several from Republicans challenging Michigan’s election laws and procedures ahead of the 2024 presidential contest.

Others challenge the state’s bloated voter rolls, which currently contain about 300,000 more registered voters in Michigan than legal voters, and a “presumed validity” rule for absentee voter signatures from Secretary of State Benson that the Republican National Committee argues circumvents the state’s absentee voting safeguards.

“Michigan’s state constitution is very clear: election officials have to verify the identity of voters casting absentee ballots,” RNC Chairman Michael Whatley said in March regarding the latter. “Jocelyn Benson is yet again working to undermine election integrity by secretly instructing officials to disregard and circumvent these clear requirements.

“The RNC is suing Benson because Michiganders deserve election integrity, not underhanded Democrat schemes,” he said.

Michigan Senate Democrats, meanwhile, approved legislation last week that would ban election boards from investigating fraud.

Provisions of Senate Bill 603 essentially “sanction the potential legal ability to cheat on elections in Michigan,” Runestad said.

“SB603 repeals current law that gives authority to bipartisan county Boards of Canvassers to investigate fraud and other wrongdoing including ballot tampering during recounts,” Runestad posted to X on Tuesday.

SB 603 is now in the state House, where Democrats regained a majority through special elections last month.