Michigan Voter Roll Clean-Up Case Heads to Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

This is a precedent-setting case that will decide the standard for what is “reasonable” under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

(Lansing, MI) – May 29, 2024: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed an appeal brief with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson’s, failure to make a “reasonable effort” to remove deceased registrants from the voter roll. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires states to make a “reasonable effort” to remove the names of deceased registrants. This is the first time the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will have the opportunity to define what is “reasonable.”

The Foundation’s brief argues that it is not enough for a state to have a voter list maintenance program. For it to be reasonable, the program must be effective.

The federal lawsuit was filed in November of 2021 and alleged Secretary Benson violated the NVRA by failing to remove more than 25,000 deceased registrants from the state’s voter roll. Of these 25,000:

  • 23,663 registrants have been dead for five years or more.
  • 17,479 registrants have been dead for at least a decade.
  • 3,956 registrants have been dead for at least 20 years.

Throughout the litigation, PILF has provided Secretary Benson with the graves and obituaries of many of these deceased registrants who remain on the voter roll. Some of these individuals passed away over two decades ago.

“Secretary Benson is vigorously opposing efforts to remove the tens of thousands of deceased registrants we found on the voter roll,” said PILF President, J. Christian Adams. “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 list maintenance is required by federal law.”

Read the Foundation’s brief here. Access prior case documents in Public Interest Legal Foundation v. Jocelyn Benson here. A factsheet on the case is available here.

This case marks the latest in a long line of cases brought by PILF under the NVRA. PILF has brought more voter roll clean-up and inspection cases under the NVRA than any organization in the United States. It has obtained judgment in many of these and will bring more cases this important election year. 

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly 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. PILF has brought lawsuits and won victories in Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and across the United States. 


For media inquiries, please reach out to Lbowman@publicinterestlegal.org

Public Interest Legal Foundation