Michigan COVID-19 Election Relief*
Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans v. Benson
On behalf of the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, the Detroit Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and individual voters, we sued Michigan over its vote by mail restrictions. We ask the state to extend the deadline for when absentee ballots must be received, provide pre-paid postage for vote by mail, and permit third parties to assist voters in submitting their sealed ballots.
Michigan Criminal Voting Challenges*
Priorities USA v. Nessel
Challenge to two Michigan voting restrictions. The first is Michigan’s restriction on the transportation of voters which makes it a misdemeanor to “hire a motor vehicle or other conveyance or cause the same to be done, for conveying voters, other than voters physically unable to walk, to an election.” By prohibiting the transportation of voters to polling locations, the statute inhibits protected political activities, including important GOTV efforts. The second law is Michigan’s restriction on absentee ballot applications which requires an individual that assists another voter with an absentee ballot application to affirm that she did not “solicit or request to return the application,” and prohibits an individual from assisting another voter in returning their application unless the individual is a registered voter in Michigan or a member of the voter’s immediate family or household.
Michigan State Constitution Voting Challenges
Priorities USA v. Benson
Challenge to two Michigan voting restrictions. The first is Michigan’s proof of residency law which limits the forms of acceptable “proof of residency” in a way that excludes commonly-held documents that demonstrate residency. The statute prevents many voters from exercising their right to register within 14 days of an election or on Election Day, as prescribed by the Michigan Constitution, and this burden falls disproportionately on young voters who live with family members, or in private college dormitories. The second law is Michigan’s automatic registration which, under current practice, only provides that those who conduct business with the Secretary of State after reaching 17.5 years-old are being automatically registered. That means the Automatic Registration Procedure may not reach a significant number of residents who have already obtained driver’s licenses or state IDs, for instance, and have no reason to return to a Secretary of State branch office until several years after reaching the age of eligibility to register to vote.
Michigan Signature Matching
Priorities USA v. Benson
Constitutional challenge to Michigan’s signature match laws, which require election officials to reject absentee applications and ballots if they determine that the signature provided with the applications or ballot does not match the voter’s signature on file with election authorities. We contend that the signature matching process is unconstitutional because the State has not developed any uniform standards or procedures for reviewing signatures, thereby allowing elections officials throughout the state to use arbitrary and diverging criteria; election officials lack sufficient training and skill to accurately compare signatures; and the law does not require election officials to notify voters that their absentee applications or ballots have been rejected, nor does it provide voters with an opportunity to contest a wrongful rejection or cure an alleged mismatch.
Michigan College Student Voting
College Democrats at the Univ. of Mich. v. Johnson
Constitutional challenge to two laws in Michigan that make voting more difficult for college students. The first statute required that individuals who registered to vote for the first time by mail or third-party voter registration drive vote in-person and not by absentee ballot. The second statute, which is commonly referred to as Rogers’ Law, requires that an individual’s driver’s license address match her voter registration address, which causes great confusion among college student voters. After the case was filed, the Secretary of State issued a directive informing elections officials that the statute requiring individuals to vote in-person if they registered to vote via mail or third-party registration drive is invalid. We reached an agreement with the Secretary of State to implement a public education campaign regarding Rogers’ Law, along with a campaign to encourage college student voter registration, to help alleviate the confusion and burdens created by the law.