Complaints Show Problems with Dead, Inactive Voters on MI Roll


A conservative legal group appealed a federal court ruling Tuesday that halted its efforts to purge Michigan’s voter rolls of 26,000 residents who appear to be deceased. On the same day, the RNC claimed Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is not updating the permanent mail ballot list, which includes 92,000 inactive registrants.

The appeal brief by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) urged the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Jane Beckering in March. Beckering, appointed by Biden, stated Michigan is making a good-faith effort to regularly remove ineligible voters from its voter rolls, leading to the dismissal of PILF’s lawsuit arguing otherwise.

PILF originally sued Benson in November 2021, alleging her failure to remove approximately 26,000 potentially deceased registrants from the state’s voter lists, which they argued violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. This law mandates that state officials make “a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters.”

PILF released a mini-documentary in February showcasing the grave markers of numerous deceased individuals reportedly still on Michigan’s voter rolls.

In its appeal, PILF highlighted that its requests to depose Benson and a member of her staff regarding the alleged issues in Michigan’s voter file were denied by the district court. Attempts to depose ERIC, a third-party organization assisting Michigan with voter list maintenance, were also denied by a magistrate judge and Beckering.

As previously reported, the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) is a widely used voter-roll management system initiated by far-left activist David Becker that prioritizes registering new voters over clearing current voter rolls. The program increases voter rolls by requiring member states to contact “eligible but unregistered” residents and encourage them to register.

PILF asserted in its brief that Benson “seeks to evade scrutiny by relying on something labeled a ‘program’ to remove deceased registrants, no matter how ineffective” it is at ensuring accurate voter rolls.

“Indeed, if there was a textbook dispute of material fact under [the NVRA’s] list maintenance obligations, this is it. Yet the district court granted summary judgment to the Secretary,” the appeal states. “Section 8’s reasonableness requirement does not ask if a state list maintenance program exists, but how it is performing. The proof should be in the pudding, and Michigan’s defense that it has a program, no matter how shoddy, is not what Congress intended or enacted.”

PILF urged the circuit court to reverse Beckering’s decision and rule that Benson “violated the transparency obligations of Section 8.” They also requested that the 6th Circuit overturn the lower court’s denial of discovery, specifically, depositions from Benson, her staff, and ERIC, to uncover the full extent of the Secretary’s list maintenance programs.

PILF’s appeal coincided with the Republican National Committee (RNC) announcing it had sent a letter to Benson demanding she update Michigan’s “inaccurate and outdated” permanent mail ballot list, as required by state law. The RNC argued nearly 92,000 inactive voters remain on this list and that Benson’s Election Officials’ Manual “misstates the legal requirement” for removing such voters.

“Because these 91,928 inactive voters have not been removed from the permanent mail ballot list, they ‘must be issued an absent voter ballot’ even though they have moved to a different municipality or even a different state or are otherwise inactive,” the letter states. “Tens of thousands of absentee ballots will thus be sent to voters at addresses where they no longer reside or to voters who are otherwise ineligible to receive them, creating the potential for thousands of absentee ballots to be cast fraudulently.”

The RNC requested Benson to respond by June 6, explaining how her office “will bring its guidance and practices into compliance with Michigan law regarding removal from the permanent mail ballot list.”

Shawn Fleetwood is a staff writer and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He previously served as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood

Shawn Fleetwood
Shawn Fleetwood
Shawn Fleetwood is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington, where he acquired a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Journalism. His work has been featured in several other news publications, such as RealClearPolitics, RealClearDefense, The Federalist, and Conservative Review.

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