All eyes were on Michigan in the 2020 election last November. After all, it was the first election in the state in which voters could mail in an absentee ballot for any reason.
As president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation — the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly to election integrity — I watched firsthand the Michigan government’s series of missteps that resulted in what was otherwise an avoidable situation that diluted the vote.
PILF warned Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson before the election that the state’s voter rolls contained a high number of dead registrants. This was particularly alarming since many of these registrants had been dead for at least a decade. This raised serious questions about the last time Michigan’s voter rolls had appropriately removed deceased registrants.
To help avoid a lawsuit later on, we preemptively hand-delivered the data to state officials in Lansing. Yet, Ms. Benson still did nothing to clean the voter rolls before the election or even afterward.
Our review showed that in August 2021, there were 25,975 deceased registrants active on the voter rolls. That is nearly 26,000 opportunities for fraud and abuse.
Of these 25,975 deceased registrants, 23,663 registrants have been dead for five years or more, and 17,479 have been dead for at least a decade. Most inexcusable and almost difficult to believe is that 3,956 have been dead for at least two decades.
To avoid doubt, we even found the obituary and tombstone of a deceased registrant who, if alive today, would be 108 years old. She died in May 2000. It is indefensible that someone who has been dead for over two decades could possibly remain active on any state’s voter rolls.
Despite claims from the left that there is no proof of voter fraud, many people may be surprised to learn that a significant number of these registrants had post-death voting credits in 2016, 2018 and 2020. After what happened in 2000, that only 528 votes decided the entire presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, it is safe to say that one dead voter is too many.
Our public interest law firm has taken action to ensure that the dead registrants are removed before the upcoming 2022 election by filing a federal lawsuit against Ms. Benson and the State of Michigan.
Simply put, she has not done her job. Federal law requires officials to remove the names of ineligible voters from official lists. Ms. Benson has been aware of Michigan’s dead registrant problem for over a year and has done nothing to resolve the problem.
The facts and the law are on our side in this case. In fact, we won a similar case in Detroit last year and in Pennsylvania earlier this year.
Michiganders deserve to have a free and fair elections process. When one fraudulent vote is cast, it dilutes everyone’s vote. The opportunity for fraud and abuse in Michigan is abundantly high, with so many deceased registrants on the rolls.
Ms. Benson is either incompetent or simply does not care. Neither possibility is a good one as the result is the same — the dilution of votes, which violates the constitutional rights of legal voters.
• J. Christian Adams is the Public Interest Legal Foundation president, a former Justice Department attorney and current commissioner on the United States Commission for Civil Rights.