Advance Notice: Briefs

Republican sues Michigan to purge voter rolls, SOS says suit uses old data

By: - June 10, 2020 11:51 am

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Michigan’s election officials are being sued in federal court for failing to “clean up the state’s voter rolls,” according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Grand Rapids.

The Republican activist who filed the lawsuit, Tony Daunt, alleges that Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has not done enough to purge ineligible voters and other irregularities in the voter registration file.

In-person voter fraud is very rare, as extensive research from the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice shows, but is nonetheless a frequent talking point from President Trump and Republicans on elections. Purging voter rolls for this reason was a frequent practice of Republican former Secretary of State and now-state Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Groveland Twp.), who as recently as Tuesday has criticized Benson for not doing the same. 

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Daunt is the executive director of the DeVos-funded Michigan Freedom Fund and treasurer of the Clinton County Republican Party. He previously worked for Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder, the Michigan Republican Party and former Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe).

Clerks in 16 counties — mostly in northern Michigan — are listed as defendants in the suit. Daunt alleges that the rates of voter registration in those counties are far too high to not be fraudulent.

Benson’s office has criticized Daunt’s lawsuit as a media stunt, arguing that it uses old census data and seeks to cast doubt on the electoral process.

“As with other states, there is a federally mandated delay before some registration records are canceled to ensure responsible list maintenance and has never been credibly linked to illegal voting on any substantial scale,” Benson spokesperson Jake Rollow said.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).