On the Heels of Recent Shakeup, RNC Files Lawsuit in Michigan Seeking to Purge Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the heels of a recent shakeup in its senior leadership, the Republican National Committee (RNC) today filed a federal lawsuit in Michigan seeking to purge allegedly “ineligible” registrants from the state’s voter rolls. 

 A "vote here today" sign outside a polling station in Michigan on Election Day, 2020. (Adobe Stock)
A “vote here today” sign outside a polling station in Michigan on Election Day, 2020. (Adobe Stock)

Following a swift overhaul in the past week, the RNC’s former leadership has now been replaced primarily with close allies of former President Donald Trump. With former North Carolina GOP chair Michael Whatley and Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump at the helm as co-chairs, the RNC has assumed an avowedly more offensive “election integrity” strategy. 

In an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday, Trump’s campaign advisor, Chris LaCivita stated that “[t]he RNC’s new posture as it relates to litigation is much more offensive and much less defensive.” Lara Trump, who appeared on Fox News the same day, told Sean Hannity that the RNC is devoting “massive resources” to the organization’s “first ever election integrity division.” 

The new Michigan case is the third anti-voting lawsuit filed by the RNC just this year and many more are expected to be filed ahead of the 2024 elections. The complaint, which was filed on behalf of both the RNC and two Republican voters, alleges that Michigan’s top election officials are failing to properly maintain “clean and accurate voter registration records” in violation of a federal law known as the National Voter Registration Act

The complaint claims that at least 53 counties across the state have more active registered voters than adults over the age of 18 and an additional 23 counties have active voter registration rates that exceed 90% of adults over 18. Based on these statistics, the RNC maintains that Michigan’s number of registered voters is “impossibly high” and “inflated.”

The lawsuit goes on to raise concerns how the state’s purported failure to maintain accurate voter lists “undermines the integrity of elections by increasing the opportunity for ineligible voters or voters intent on fraud to cast ballots.” Citing scant evidence, the complaint adds that “[v]oter fraud is very real in Michigan. Several recent elections have suffered from voter fraud.”

Just two weeks ago, a federal judge tossed out a very similar lawsuit brought by the right-wing Public Interest Legal Foundation that mounted claims against Michigan’s voter list maintenance program. In its rejection of that lawsuit, the court held that “[t]he record demonstrates that deceased voters are removed from Michigan’s voter rolls on a regular and ongoing basis,” adding that “[f]rom 2019 to March 2023, Michigan cancelled between 400,000 and 450,000 registrations because the voters were deceased.”

Against the backdrop of the RNC’s new lawsuit, Republicans and right-wing activists are engaging in a nationwide, conspiracy-ridden effort both in and out of the courtroom to purge eligible voters from the rolls. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) is currently working to reinstate the voter registrations of over 1,000 individuals residing in Detroit-area suburbs, whose registrations were improperly canceled as a result of a right-wing voter purge scheme. 

As of today, the RNC is involved in 23 anti-voting lawsuits across 14 states, many of which seek to restrict the voting process in key swing states — including Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — ahead of the 2024 elections. 

Read the complaint.

Learn more about the case here.