Detroit Voter Roll Cleanup Lawsuit Ends

Cleanup of Lists Underway

(DETROIT, MI.) – June 30, 2020: The federal lawsuit to enforce targeted voter roll maintenance actions formally resolved today because the Defendants in Detroit and the Michigan Secretary of State acted on data provided to them by the Public Interest Legal Foundation. (Public Interest Legal Foundation v. Detroit).

The Public Interest Legal Foundation had found thousands of dead registered voters as well as duplicates and voter records with missing information. PILF’s briefs, filed this week, note in part:

“[D]iscovery responses now enable the Plaintiff to ascertain that remedial actions were taken after filing the lawsuit. Defendants have taken action on the list of likely deceased registrants provided by the Plaintiff. Further, almost all of the duplicate registrations that Plaintiff brought to Defendants’ attention have been corrected.”

The filing further notes that data to determine the progress made was not available for review until June 25, 2020.

“This is another win for election integrity,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “This case wasn’t complicated. The City of Detroit could have started to fix these problems before litigation, but didn’t. Other jurisdictions should take note- if you don’t act on solid data that your voter rolls are corrupted with dead and duplicate registrations, you will be sued. It is also a message to left wing groups who sought to stop the cleanups. They need to stop standing in the way of clean elections and stop wasting court time with their anti-integrity agenda. Election officials can get rolls clean without removing valid registrants. It’s time groups like the League of Woman voters realized that data-driven list maintenance is something most Americans want.

Initial Detroit Voter Roll Problem Areas

–Voter Registration Rate per 2016 Citizen Voting-Age Population: 106%

— # of Dead Registrants Aged 85+: 2,503

— # of Registrations flagged for duplicate, triplicate concerns: 4,788

— # of Registrations Missing Actual Dates of Registration: 16,465

The initial complaint filed on December 10 explained the Foundation studied the City’s voter list maintenance efforts since 2017 by a variety of means. PILF originally acquired the statewide qualified voter file from the Michigan Secretary of State for the purpose of comparing registration lists against federal death records. The Foundation ultimately sampled all active registrants whose respective ages were 85 years or older, finding more than 2,500 within the age range who were listed in the Social Security Death Index with corresponding death records and/or obituaries.

The Foundation also studied and catalogued examples of single registrants who managed to become registered to vote two and even three times with matching or substantially similar names and other biographical information within the same addresses. PILF flagged a grand total of 4,788 registration files for duplicate and triplicate concerns. Among them, examples of married/maiden name conflicts, simple typographical errors, and conflicting gender designations were trending concerns.

The Foundation also flagged impossibly old and disqualifying young date of birth information held within the voter file. One registrant was stated as being born in “1823,” well before Michigan was annexed into the Union. Another 16,400 registrants were flagged due to the fact that officials did not demonstrate when they actually became registered to vote.

The Foundation sought relief under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which requires officials to make “reasonable efforts” to maintain voter lists and offers a private right to file a lawsuit if standards are not met.

The Foundation is working with election officials around the country on improving election integrity.  Election officials who do not act on validated data regarding errors and duplications may be sued under the National Voter Registration Act.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is leading the nation in enforcing election integrity laws and the National Voter Registration Act, having brought cases in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, Florida, Mississippi, and Maine and filed amicus briefs in litigation across the nation.

The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The case number is 2:19-cv-13638. The attorney for the Public Interest Legal Foundation was Kaylan L. Phillips. Robert L. Avers of DickinsonWright PLLC served as local counsel.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.


Public Interest Legal Foundation