Election officials in the city of Detroit are getting sued by an advocacy group that is claiming the city has violated the National Voter Registration Act by keeping dead people on the voter rolls as well as having multiple registrations for the same individuals.
The lawsuit alleges that the city of Detroit’s failure to comply with federal election law has “undermined the confidence of Detroit’s properly registered voters in the integrity of the voter registration rolls and, accordingly, has undermined the integrity of elections held both within the city of Detroit and across the state of Michigan.”
The suit was filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation last week in U.S. District Court, with Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and elections director George Azzouz named as the offenders responsible for not properly addressing the problem.
The foundation, which is a non-profit based out of Indiana, has been trying to get the bottom of this issue for years. They first requested records on Oct. 3, 2017, and finally got their hands on the state’s entire voter roll on April 1. They claim discrepancies in Detroit’s voter rolls were just “brushed aside” and no corrections have been made.
“Someone dropped the ball, and they keep dropping it,” said Logan Churchwell, communications and research director for the Public Interest Legal Foundation. “All you need is a little bit of chaos to spread distrust.”
The lawsuit claims that Detroit had only 479,267 voting-age residents in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from that year. At the same time, Detroit election data indicated that there were 511,786 registered voters in the city.
Considering the fact that President Donald Trump won the state by less than 11,000 votes over Hillary Clinton in 2016, these alleged discrepancies – whether borne out of incompetence or malice – could presumably have a serious impact on the results of the 2020 election if they are not corrected before November. This lawsuit aims to do just that.
The lawsuit claims the foundation has “identified records listing years of birth indicating registrants of 105 years of age and older, with some records listing dates of birth in the nineteenth century.”
“According to the foundation’s research, the oldest, active registrant in the city of Detroit was purportedly born in 1823, 14 years before Michigan was admitted to the Union as the 26th state,” the lawsuit states.
The foundation also claims their research has found that “a significant number of deceased registrants whose registrations should have been canceled, but remain registered to vote in Detroit,”
According to the court documents, the foundation took a sample of 2,503 voter registrants believed to be deceased and determined that “(65) percent, or 1,629 registrants, have been deceased for more than 10 years. Of those, 898 registrants have been deceased for more than 15 years, 324 registrants have been deceased for more than 20 years, and 13 have been deceased for more than 25 years.”
When the foundation was analyzing voter rolls to find identical or similar names, addresses, and birth dates, they believe they made another startling discovery.
The court filing states that “the foundation’s comparison yielded a list of 2,384 entries that are likely duplicates or triplicates… The defendants have many tools available to conduct list maintenance and, yet, they are failing to reasonably maintain the city of Detroit’s voter rolls.”
The Public Interest Legal Foundation was founded by J. Christian Adams, a former Department of Justice employee who also worked on President Donald Trump’s advisory commission on election integrity. They have filed lawsuits in Florida, Texas and Mississippi as well in an attempt to stop voter fraud heading into 2020, but state and local government officials are not making their work easy.
“This type of lawsuit is very rare,” Churchill said. “There’s just not a whole lot of case law on it.”
In addition to Detroit, the organization claims they found similar errors while analyzing voter rolls in the cities of Flint and Grand Rapids. Michigan may be rife with voter fraud issues heading into next year’s presidential election.
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