“Michigan judge strikes down Benson voter signature match guidance — again”

That’s the headline from Bridge Michigan, though the subhead is quick to note that the “judge upheld separate rules that give clerks broad discretion to consider why a voter signature might not match the version on file,” and everyone declared victory.

The opinion is here.  The statutory language in question says that “An elector’s signature is invalid only if it differs in significant and obvious respects from the elector’s signature on file. Slight dissimilarities must be resolved in favor of the elector. Exact signature matches are not required to determine that a signature agrees sufficiently with the signature on file.”  The court interpreted that language to preclude an initial presumption that a signature is valid. 

I have to confess that I don’t understand the practical difference between a rule that “slight dissimilarities have to be resolved in favor of the elector” and a (rebuttable) presumption that two signatures are the same unless the differences are sufficiently significant to overcome that presumption.

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