Hundreds of Michigan Residents Registered to Vote AFTER Their Deaths, Probe Finds

A new investigation has found that hundreds of Michigan residents were registered to vote on dates that were after their deaths.

The discovery was revealed in a recent filing in the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF).

According to the PILF, 334 deceased Michigan registrants are listed on government records as registering to vote after their date of death.

The organization launched a probe into the state’s voter records nearly four years ago.

The PILF discovered 27,000 names of likely deceased registrants on the state’s Qualified Voter File (QVF).

The group asked Michigan’s Democrat Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson about her plan to remove them.

The organization gave Benson over one year to act.

Alternatively, the PILF requested that, at a minimum, she make available for public inspection a detailed plan of action for canceling the voter registrations of the dead.

She did neither.

According to the PILF’s filing, Michigan election officials were “unresponsive to specific, sound data provided by the Foundation” regarding the deceased registrants.

Many of those dead voters had been on the QVF for decades.

In a press release, PILF President J. Christian Adams said:

“Secretary Benson is vigorously opposing efforts to remove tens of thousands of deceased registrants we found on the voter roll.”

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“Federal law requires state election officials to have a reasonable program to remove the dead.

“Keeping dead voters on the rolls for two decades isn’t reasonable.

“This case will have significant implications for whether effective maintenance is required by federal law,”

In 2021, the Michigan Auditor General’s office conducted what it called “a death match for active voters in the QVF.”

The match yielded the names of between “twenty and thirty thousand” deceased registrants on the voter rolls.

A three-and-a-half-year legal battle ensued, beginning with the PILF filing a two-point complaint in the federal district court alleging that Benson failed to conduct list maintenance.

She also failed to allow inspection of public records concerning her plan to remove the deceased and other data.

On March 1, 2024, the district court entered a summary judgment rejecting both of the PILF’s points.

The ruling led the foundation to take the case to the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In announcing its victory in the district court, the Michigan Department of State issued a statement on March 2 calling the PILF’s efforts “a thinly veiled attempt to undermine voters’ faith in their voice, their vote, and our democracy.”

According to the PILF filing, the appeal presents questions of “first impression for this Court and raises issues of national importance regarding the interpretation of the National Voter Registration Act.”

In law, a first impression is a new legal issue or interpretation that is brought before a court.

The NVRA of 1993 (known as “Motor Voter”) requires states to “conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the name of ineligible voters” due to death.

PILF lawyers contend that the exact meaning of the phrase “reasonable effort” has not been addressed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals or any court within that court’s jurisdiction since the law’s enactment in 1993.

The district court concluded that whatever Benson is doing to clean up and maintain the voter rolls constitutes a reasonable effort.

Therefore, the court found that she complied with the NVRA requirement.

The PILF asserts that an ineffectual, mistake-ridden, voter list maintenance program that allows between 20,000 and 30,000 dead people to remain on the QVF for decades should not be considered reasonable.

According to the PILF, merely having a nominal voter roll maintenance program in place is not enough to satisfy the NVRA.

What matters to the intent of Congress is “whether the Secretary effectively follows the list maintenance statutes and procedures,” the appeal said.

“The Secretary seeks to evade scrutiny by relying on something labeled a ‘program’ to remove deceased registrants, no matter how ineffective.”

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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