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Judge Rules Michigan Voter Purge Program Violates Federal Law

Source: The Advancement Project UNITED STATES STUDENT ASSOCIATION FOUNDATION v. LAND Download the Court Order

Judge Rules Michigan Voter Purge Program Violates Federal Law


October 14, 2008 In a major victory for voting rights, a judge yesterday ruled that Michigan's voter removal program violates federal law and ordered the state to stop illegally purging voters from the rolls. The decision comes in a lawsuit filed last month by Advancement Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Michigan, and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP. "We are gratified that the judge ordered the state of Michigan to halt its unlawful purge program," said Bradley Heard, senior attorney with Advancement Project. "This decision protects thousands of Michigan residents' voting rights from being infringed upon during this important and historic presidential election, and beyond. It is now up to the state of Michigan to afford these voters the protections that federal law requires." Judge Stephen J. Murphy of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that one of Michigan's voter removal programs violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). In question was a Michigan state law requiring local clerks to nullify the registrations of newly-registered voters whenever their original voter identification cards are returned by the post office as undeliverable. Detroit elections officials report that nearly 30,000 voters per year in that city alone are removed from the rolls as a result of this state election law. The NVRA permits voters to remain on the voter rolls for at least two federal elections after voter registration cards are returned.

TERRI LYNN LAND, Michigan Secretary of State; CHRISTOPHER M. THOMAS, Michigan Director of Elections; and FRANCES MCMULLAN, City Clerk for the City of Ypsilanti, Michigan, in their official capacities, Defendants.

Judge Murphy ordered that state to "immediately discontinue their practice of cancelling or rejecting a voter's registration based upon the return of the voter's original voter identification card as undeliverable." The plaintiffs in the case are the United States Student Association (USSA) and the ACLU of Michigan. The parties have asked the federal court to schedule a hearing as soon as possible and to enter an immediate temporary injunction barring further purges under these programs. Attorneys in this case are Heard of Advancement Project; Bell-Platts and Neil Bradley of the ACLU Voting Rights Project; Moss and Michael Steinberg of the ACLU of Michigan; and Matthew J. Lund, Mary K. Deon and Deborah Kovsky of Pepper Hamilton LLP.

From the Order:


'WHEREFORE, it is hereby ORDERED that the defendants Michigan Secretary of State and the Michigan Director of Elections: (1) Immediately discontinue their practice of cancelling or rejecting a voter's registration based upon the return of the voter's original voter identification card as undeliverable; (2) Remove the "rejected" marking in the QVF from the registrations of all voters whose original voter IDs have been returned as undeliverable since January 1, 2006 until the present, unless rejection was warranted for some other lawful reason; (3) Make no other designation, including but not limited to "cancelled," in these voters' registration records in the QVF or elsewhere, that will prevent their ballots from being counted if they appear at the polls and give whatever further proof of Michigan residence is required or permitted under applicable state and federal law; unless such a designation is warranted by written notice from the voter or for some reason other than change of residence; (4) Preserve and not destroy until after December 31, 2009, any and all records relating to maintenance of Michigan's voter registration files that have, since January 1, 2006, resulted in the cancellation of the registration of voters who have applied for out of state driver’s licenses, or the cancellation or rejection of voters’ registrations based upon the return of original voter identification cards ; and (5) Give no order, direction, or encouragement that any other government official or any other person engage in activity hereby prohibited to them. It is further ORDERED that the defendants Michigan Secretary of State, the Michigan Director of Elections, and the Ypsilanti City Clerk file an answer to the complaint in this action no later than fourteen days from the date of this Order. SO ORDERED. s/Stephen J. Murphy, III STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge

CASE DOCUMENTS Source: ACLU

News  Advancement Project And ACLU Sue Michigan Secretary Of State Over Unlawful Voter Purging (9/18/2008) Legal Documents  United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Order (10/13/2008) United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Complaint (9/17/2008) United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Ex Parte Motion 9/17/2008) United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Motion for Preliminary Injunction (9/17/2008) United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Request For Expedited Consideration (9/17/2008)

Reverse Mississippi's Deliberate Ballot Design Manipulation

Action of the Day 091708 -- [prepared by the Care2 Petition Site: http://www.care2.com ] EDA editor's note: We are reproducing the text of the Care2 Alert verbatim. The facts speak for themselves. Republican officials in Mississippi in charge of the state's election procedures have deliberately chosen to alter ballot design in violation of state law and common sense, with the predictable result that voters will be disoriented and many will probably error when voting on the U.S. Senate race. Denouncing the perpetrators of partisan election manipulations like this one is NOT a partisan act on our part. Election fraud, manipulation, and dirty tricks are wrong no matter who the perpetrators are -- and it is a multipartisan civic duty to put a stop to it.

Republican officials in Mississippi must be desperate. They're pulling out the stops in election shenanigans in an attempt to confuse voters, hoping to push a close Senate contest to the Republican candidate. Tell the Mississippi governor: The purposefully confusing ballot is illegal! http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/0Xto/wRCg/E0DA The Republican Secretary of State decided to bury the Senate race below all local contests on the ballot. The race, between interim Senator Roger Wicker -- a Republican temporarily appointed to replace Trent Lott -- and former Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove, is expected to be close, making it one of the most important in the state. Not only does burying this Senate race below all the local ones confuse voters, it's a direct violation of state election law, which clearly states that federal races must be on the top of the ballot! Tell Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour -- who approved the ballot -- to reverse his decision in order to maintain the integrity of America's electoral process! http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/0Xto/wRCg/E0DA