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Michigan Secretary of State, County Clerks Hit with Lawsuit Over Accuracy of Voter Rolls

— June 10, 2020

Though the presidential election is still months away, many across the country are making preparations for what is hoped to be a smooth election. But one Michigan man has already found a concerning matter with the Michigan voting system and has filed a lawsuit over it. According to Tony Daunt, the director of Michigan Freedom Fund, a conservative organization, “Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and 16 county clerks have failed to keep accurate voter rolls.”

Election 2020 graphic
Election 2020 graphic; image courtesy of conolan via Pixabay,

Filed in federal court yesterday, the lawsuit claims “clerks in 16 counties are keeping voter rolls with a far higher number of registered voters than he believes to be accurate.” The suit states:

“Leelanau County has more registered voters than it has adult citizens who are over the age of 18. That number of voters on the rolls is impossibly high…An additional 15 counties — Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Iosco, Kalkaska, Keweenaw, Livingston, Mackinac, Oakland, Otsego, Roscommon, and Washtenaw — have voter registration rates that exceed 90% of adult citizens over the age of 18. That figure far eclipses the national and statewide voter registration rate in recent elections.”

The suit names Benson, Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater, and the 16 county clerks as defendants and alleges “a violation of requirements for voter registration maintenance established in the National Voter Registration Act.”

When responding to the lawsuit, Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Benson, said:

“The goal is 100% registration among those who are eligible, as higher registration is a sign of a more robust and representative democracy. The suit seeks to gain media attention using debunked claims and bad statistics to delegitimize our elections…It compares old census data and registration numbers that make no attempt to distinguish between active and inactive registration, and asserts the false notion that voter registration rates should be low…Michigan has had one of the best motor-voter systems in the country for decades, whereby nearly all eligible citizens who get a driver’s license or state ID also register to vote. As with other states, there is a federally mandated delay before some registration records are canceled to ensure responsible list maintenance and have never been credibly linked to illegal voting on any substantial scale.”

Daunt, an active member with the Clinton County and state Republican party committees, spends much of his time and resources “monitoring Michigan elections for fraud and abuse.” Lately, he said he’s been spending more time than usual mobilizing voters to counteract the alleged fraud or abuses, as well as “educating the public about election-integrity issues and persuading elected officials to improve list maintenance.According to Daunt, the “federal voting law requires states to operate a program that makes reasonable efforts to remove the names of voters who are no longer eligible because of death or a change of residence.” His suit further states:

“According to the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission, ‘registration lists lie at the root of most problems encountered in U.S. elections.’ Inaccurate voter rolls that contain ‘ineligible, duplicate, fictional, or deceased voters’ invite fraud. ‘While election fraud is difficult to measure … it occurs.’”

At the moment, the suit would like a federal judge to “declare Michigan’s voter roll maintenance program out of line with legal requirements.” Additionally, it would like the judge to “order Benson to implement a program that ensures reliability of voter registration rolls going forward.”


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