WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson agreed to resolve a federal lawsuit that alleged she allowed Michigan’s voter rolls to become inflated and inaccurate, in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The agreement ends a successful year-long effort, which HEP supported, by Michigan voter Tony Daunt to bring Secretary Benson into compliance with the NVRA and clean up Michigan’s voter rolls.
That effort began in February 2020, when Secretary Benson was presented with evidence of Michigan’s inflated voter rolls. Her refusal to act prompted Daunt’s lawsuit. Throughout, Secretary Benson maintained there were no problems with Michigan’s voter file or her office’s list maintenance, insisting that Daunt’s case rested on “debunked claims and bad statistics.”
But the tide quickly turned on the Secretary. In September, Benson revealed that, after she had mailed unsolicited ballot applications to every registered voter in Michigan, at least 500,000 applications were undeliverable because the voter rolls were inaccurate. And in October, a federal district court rejected the Secretary’s attempt to dismiss Daunt’s case and ordered the parties to proceed to discovery. Now, after seven months of litigation, Secretary Benson has announced plans to cancel 177,000 voter registrations and has admitted in a statement that Michigan lacked “sufficient comprehensive efforts” to maintain clean voter rolls prior to this lawsuit.
Jason Snead, executive director of the Honest Elections Project, released the following statement:
“Voter rolls should always be accurately maintained. Thanks to this lawsuit, Michigan voters now know they will be. Secretary Benson could have admitted the shortcomings of her office’s list maintenance program from the start. Instead, she spent a year fighting to keep her inaction hidden from the public, only to admit—at last—that Michigan’s list maintenance was insufficient all along. Thanks to the tenacity of Tony Daunt and the success of this lawsuit, Michigan is returning to its tradition of keeping clean and accurate voter rolls.”
Tony Daunt, plaintiff:
“The National Voter Registration Act protects the franchise of every Michigan voter, and it’s disappointing – but not surprising – that it took a federal lawsuit to force Secretary Benson to comply with election law. Election integrity matters, and today’s agreement means the state of Michigan will finally comply with laws that protect it. I’m grateful for the incredible work of the Honest Elections Project and the success of this lawsuit in cleaning Michigan’s voter rolls.”