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Voluntary Dismissal of Voter Registration Lawsuit Affirms Integrity of Ongoing List Maintenance Efforts
February 16, 2021
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today the voluntary dismissal of yet another lawsuit that challenged the integrity of Michigan’s 2020 general election.
Filed in June 2020, Plaintiff Anthony Daunt sued Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Director of Elections Jonathan Brater based on allegations of inadequate voter registration list maintenance.
However, among other defects, plaintiff’s alleged claims rested on old, estimated census data and failed to account for the National Voter Registration Act’s (NVRA) required delays in removing names from voter registration files, as well as the NVRA’s prohibition against most routine list maintenance activities within 90 days of a federal election. Michigan held federal elections in March, August and November, making such activities essentially impossible last year.
“The dismissal of this case is yet another example of a speculative claim and baseless allegations made during the 2020 election that ultimately proved unsustainable,” Nessel said. “I applaud Secretary Benson and her staff for their ongoing work in voter list maintenance registration, as well as their commitment to transparency, integrity and accuracy in Michigan’s elections."
Less than a month into this year, the Secretary announced ongoing voter registration list maintenance that left no real dispute as to the plaintiff’s claims. The Secretary’s commitment to voter-list maintenance, when carried out transparently and in accordance with federal law, was clear from the start and demonstrated in her Jan. 28, 2021 press release.
“It was clear when the suit was filed in June of last year when federal law barred most voter-list maintenance, that this was a press release masquerading as a lawsuit filed to undermine public confidence in the integrity of our elections,” said Benson. “The suit prompted no action from us. As we have said publicly all along, strong voter registration rates and accurate voter rolls are good for democracy. And we have continued taking steps to responsibly maintain the state’s voter list since my first day in office by joining the Electronic Registration Information Center, proposing bipartisan legislation to give clerks more tools to update registrations, mailing absentee voting applications to all registered voters and now using that mailing to carry out the largest and most transparent list cleanup in a decade.”
These activities had been planned all along, and it was simply a matter of timing under the NVRA before they could be implemented, said Benson. The lawsuit was an unnecessary distraction.
Benson announced earlier this month ongoing voter registration list maintenance that is being carried out transparently and in accordance with federal law. Among other actions, the Bureau of Elections made publicly available a list of approximately 177,000 voter registrations slated for cancelation to give voters and civic groups the opportunity to review the list and notify local clerks of any list errors.