Michigan Secretary of State Loses Round in Fight Over Dead People on Voter Rolls

Michigan Secretary of State Loses Round in Fight Over Dead People on Voter Rolls
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks in Detroit on Aug. 18, 2020. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)
Steven Kovac

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has failed to convince a judge to dismiss a case that could force the state to remove 25,975 deceased people from its voter rolls.

Benson moved for dismissal of a case brought against her in November 2021 by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) for her failure to clean up the state’s voter registration rolls—in an alleged violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

On Aug. 25, Benson’s motion to dismiss the case was denied in an order (pdf) by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The court also denied the motions to intervene filed by the Detroit/Downriver Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, and Rise Inc.
Additionally, PILF’s suit seeks to force Benson to provide documentation of her efforts to remove deceased registrants from the voter rolls, something she has thus far also failed to do.

Names of 25,975 Deceased Voters

PILF notified Benson of the problem in September 2020 and again in November 2020, a year before it filed its lawsuit.

The foundation provided Benson with the names of 25,975 voters who had died but were still on Michigan's voter rolls, as were discovered by its research. Of these, 23,663 registrants had been dead for five years or more, and 17,449 had been dead for at least a decade.

The study found that 3,956 registrants had been dead for at least 20 years.

That time span encompasses the terms of Democratic and Republican secretaries of state, an indication that neither party has been serious about a voter roll cleanup.

J. Christian Adams, president of Public Interest Legal Foundation. (File photo)
J. Christian Adams, president of Public Interest Legal Foundation. (File photo)

PILF president J. Christian Adams said in a statement about the 2021 case: “For over a year, we shared specific data with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office about the alarming problem of deceased registrants on Michigan’s voter rolls.

“Secretary Benson has done nothing to resolve the problem and is even refusing to hand over public documents related to these failures.

“The failure to remove deceased registrants creates an opportunity for fraud and makes Michigan’s elections less secure.

“This case is about ensuring that deceased registrants are not receiving ballots.”

Commenting on the current legal victory, Adams said in an Aug. 25 statement, “This initial win is the first step."

“It’s astonishing that Secretary Benson is so vigorously opposing effective list maintenance,” he added.

Adams called it “remarkable” that, after PILF shared its data with Benson in 2020, dead people remain on Michigan’s voter rolls.

The Michigan secretary of state’s office said it doesn't comment on ongoing or pending litigation.

PILF won a complete victory in 2021 when Pennsylvania agreed to remove more than 20,000 deceased voters from its rolls.

According to a statement, PILF will continue to assist states in the cause of election integrity and to fight against lawlessness in the conducting of American elections wherever found.

Steven Kovac reports for The Epoch Times from Michigan. He is a general news reporter who has covered topics related to rising consumer prices to election security issues. He can be reached at steven.kovac@epochtimes.us