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A federal judge has issued a key ruling in a Michigan ballot integrity case just months away from the 2022 midterms.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Jane Beckering, a Biden appointee with the Western District of Michigan, denied Democratic Secretary of State Joceyln Benson’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed against her office by an election integrity group for allegedly failing to remove more than 25,000 dead voters from registration rolls.
The suit, which was filed in November by the group Public Interest Legal Foundation, claimed that researchers discovered 25,975 dead Michiganders registered to vote as of August 2021. “Of those, 23,663 had been dead for five or more years, while 17,479 had been dead for more than a decade and 3,596 had been dead for at least 20 years,” the Western Journal noted.
Because of the state’s failure to clear up its voter registration rolls, “Michigan is in violation of 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,’” PILF said in a news release at the time when the lawsuit was filed.
Beckering agreed with the group’s arguments.
“PILF has alleged that over 25,000 deceased registrants remain on Michigan’s [Qualified Voter File] and that thousands of these registrants have remained on the active rolls for decades,” she wrote in her ruling.
“PILF alleged that it gave this information to Secretary Benson, who, for over one year, ‘did nothing about it,’ despite the mandates of the NVRA and Michigan’s Election Law. The factual allegations, accepted as true, plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief under the NVRA,” she added.
BREAKING: A court denied Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson’s effort to dismiss our lawsuit over the nearly 26,000 deceased registrants on Michigan's voter roll. https://t.co/NeIT8oxSx1
— PublicInterestLegal (@PILFoundation) August 25, 2022
“It is astonishing that Secretary Benson is so vigorously opposing effective list maintenance,” PILF President J. Christian Adams, a former attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under President George W. Bush, said in a statement following the ruling.
“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,” Adams added.
In March, a review that was released by the Michigan Office of Auditor General noted that the Bureau of Elections “did not perform a periodic reconciliation between the driver’s license file and the [Qualified Voter File].”
In addition, the audit “identified discrepancies in addresses and death status that if identified and corrected could help decrease the risk of ineligible electors voting in Michigan.”
“The audit team was able to identify 2,775 votes that were cast by people who were dead on election day for contests held between May 2019 and November 2020,” The Western Journal reported, adding: “However, in those cases 98.5 percent of the dead voters had died within 40 days of the election, meaning they were within the window of absentee ballot voting.”
Adams’ group reached a settlement in 2021 with the state of Pennsylvania after filing a similar lawsuit to the one filed against Michigan. The state agreed to remove at least 21,000 people who had died from voter registration rolls.
Former President Donald Trump won both states in 2016, but they both flipped to President Joe Biden in 2020.
To the issue of tightening election integrity, a survey released in May shows that overwhelmingly, Americans of all political stripes want to see it happen.
The survey, seen by the Washington Examiner’s “Secrets” column, found that 84 percent of Americans want voter ID, attributing to large numbers of black and Hispanic voters who are behind the dramatic increase in support as the country eases into the 2022 midterm election cycle.
The outlet notes further:
The polling from the Honest Elections Project for two groups, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Conference of State Legislatures, is the latest to show that the push by Biden and his media allies has fallen flat, especially among minorities who the president claimed would be hurt by election integrity laws passed in states such as Georgia.
“Photo ID laws are a case in point: Support for photo ID laws is seven points higher than a year ago. Left-wing special interests and politicians like President Biden carried out an intense, often misleading, a campaign meant to stir opposition to policies like strong voter ID. Their efforts have had the opposite effect. More people than ever — including most black and Hispanic voters — back photo ID laws,” said the polling analysis provided to Secrets.