Election Reformers Get New Tool to Pressure States to Clean Up Voter Rolls
Election Reformers Get New Tool to Pressure States to Clean Up Voter Rolls

By Steven Kovac

A new interactive website database is now available free to individual citizens and election reform groups across the country to help in the fight to get all states to obey a federal election law mandating regular voter roll maintenance.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a national, non-profit, law firm dedicated to election integrity, announced the launch of the website on Feb. 27.

The data provided on the website is designed to encourage some defiant state election officials to comply with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF). (Courtesy of PILF)

“We hope this interactive database will draw attention to the hundreds of thousands of errors in the voter rolls. Every error in the voter rolls is a vulnerability in our elections that can lead to fraud and abuse. Election officials must do their job and keep accurate voter rolls,” said PILF president J. Christian Adams in a press release.

According to the federal statute, state election officials must “conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters.”

Evidence of Nonfeasance

As evidence that some state election officials have failed to make a “reasonable effort,” the database spotlights more than 317,000 deceased people that continue to appear on the registration lists of certain states.

PILF researchers also found that 449,000 individuals are registered to vote in more than one state and discovered 54,000 same-address duplicate voter registrations still on the books.

Attorneys for PILF have had to file lawsuits against election officials in Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, Mississippi, Minnesota, and Michigan, to force state election officials to do their statutory duty to clean up the voter rolls.

In 2021, PILF succeeded in getting election officials in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to agree to remove 20,000 dead people from its voter rolls.

In this screenshot from the DNCC’s live stream of the 2020 virtual Democratic National Convention, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson addresses those attending on Aug. 20, 2020. (DNCC via Getty Images)

Since November 2020. PILF has tried to encourage and assist Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, to remove 25,975 deceased individuals from the voter rolls of her state.

Of these 23,663 have been dead for five years or more, with 17,479 of them being dead for at least a decade, and 3,956 have been deceased for at least 20 years.

After a year of inaction, PILF filed a federal lawsuit to force Benson to comply with NVRA.

In response, Benson filed a motion to dismiss PILF’s case.

On Aug. 25, 2022, the United States Western District Court of Michigan denied Benson’s motion to dismiss.

The court also denied the motions to intervene filed by the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, the Detroit Downriver Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and Rise, Inc., all liberal activist groups.

The Michigan Secretary of State Office does not comment on pending litigation.

Presidential Citizens Award

In an online statement, Adams called it “remarkable” that after the data was shared with Benson, the dead registrants remained on Michigan’s voter rolls.

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

Adams said the ongoing lawsuit was the first step to reducing the opportunity for fraud in Michigan elections and ensuring that dead people are not receiving ballots.

In January 2023, Benson traveled to the White House to be presented with the Presidential Citizens Award by President Joe Biden, in honor of her service in the office and her courage in standing up to election-denying protesters, Biden said.

The award is America’s second-highest civilian award given to a citizen for “exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens.”


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