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Michigan Landlords Sue East Lansing For Forcing Them To Provide Voter Registration Materials To Tenants


The Thomas More Society is suing the city of East Lansing, Michigan for compelling landlords to provide new tenants voter application forms and registration materials.

“This is a blatant violation of landlords’ First Amendment rights,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Erick Kaardal said in a press release. “East Lansing is out of line. By its city code, East Lansing may impose penalties for a civil infraction upon landlords if they do not convey the cities’ ideological messages about registering to vote to tenants.”

The East Lansing ordinance states that “at the time occupancy is given to the tenant, the owner or owner’s legal agent shall provide each tenant with specific information on how to register to vote and the requirements to register… and a copy of the State of Michigan Voter Registration Application.” The code further says “a violation of this section shall be deemed a civil infraction.”

Kaardal argues that such a law infringes on a landlord’s constitutional right to free speech.

“Registering to vote is irrelevant to a tenant’s decision to enter into a lease agreement with a landlord,” Kaardal said. “The First Amendment protects an individual’s right to refrain from speaking just as much as it protects the right to speak freely. Where East Lansing’s interest is to disseminate an ideology or policy related to voting, no matter how acceptable to some, those interests cannot outweigh the First Amendment right to avoid being the courier of the government’s message.”

Compelling landlords to provide voter registration materials to new tenants is one way Democrats harvest low-effort votes. Other tactics include sending automatic voter registration forms to all eligible residents, pre-registering teenagers to vote, and granting the franchise to felons.

Multiple leftist-backed 501(c)(3) organizations are solely dedicated to registering low-effort voters. They know such blocs of voters usually lean Democrat and will show up for future elections.

This isn’t the first time a municipality has required landlords to provide voter registration materials to new tenants. In 2020, a federal judge ruled a Twin Cities ordinance mandating landlords offer voter registration forms to their tenants was unconstitutional.

The Thomas More Society is suing on behalf of Matthew Hagen, an East Lansing landlord. The suit seeks permanent injunctive relief, preventing the city from enforcing the ordinance.

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