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Judge Denies Michigan Secretary of State’s Motion To Dismiss Lawsuit Removing 26,000 Dead Registrants From Voter Rolls

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In a win for election integrity advocates, the United States Western District Court of Michigan denied Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s attempt at dismissing Public Interest Legal Foundation’s (PILF) lawsuit pertaining to the failure to remove dead registrants from the state’s voter rolls. The court also dismissed motions to intervene from leftist groups, such as the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, and Rise, Inc.

In 2020, PILF had notified the Secretary of State’s office about dead registrants remaining on Michigan’s voter rolls, but Benson did nothing about it. In November 2021, the nonprofit filed a lawsuit against Benson for her failure to remove 25,975 deceased registrants from voter lists.

According to PILF’s own analysis of the 25,975 deceased registrants:

  • 23,663 registrants have been dead for five years or more
  • 17,479 registrants have been dead for at least a decade
  • 3,956 registrants have been dead for at least 20 years

PILF’s lawsuit contends that by refusing to clean Michigan’s voter rolls, Benson violated Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which requires officials to “conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters.” 

Michigan is also a member of ERIC, a voter-roll maintenance organization that ostensibly cleans state voter rolls — meaning the deceased registrants should have been removed long ago.

“We should not have to sue Secretary of State Benson to get her to do her job,” PILF spokeswoman Lauren Bowman told The Federalist. 

This isn’t the first time Benson’s been criticized for her job performance. Back in June 2020, the Michigan Freedom Fund sued Benson and 16 other county clerks for neglecting to maintain accurate voter records. Benson is also known for inflating Michigan’s voter rolls: in September 2020, she sent out automatic voter registration forms to all eligible citizens. As a result of the mailer, 114,000 people were added to Michigan’s voter rolls.

“It is astonishing that Secretary Benson is so vigorously opposing effective list maintenance,” PILF President Christian Adams said in a press release regarding the lawsuit. “It’s remarkable that after sharing this data with the Secretary of State in 2020, dead registrants remained on the state’s voter rolls. This initial win is the first step to ensuring that deceased registrants are not receiving ballots and reducing the opportunity for fraud in Michigan’s elections.”

Last year, the Foundation won a similar lawsuit against Pennsylvania, which compelled the Commonwealth to remove at least 21,000 dead registrants from its voter rolls.

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