MI: Lawsuit Over Voter-Purge Ends; State to Stop Voter Purge Programs

The State of Michigan has agreed to scrap two voter-purge programs to end a lawsuit that accused it of disenfranchising thousands of voters in violation of federal law.

"This is a true victory for Michigan voters," said Bradley Heard, an attorney who sued the state on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the United States Student Association Foundation and the Michigan NAACP.

"Voter removal procedures like those at issue in this lawsuit, which allow eligible and registered voters to be suddenly stricken from the rolls without notice, are bad for democracy," Heard said. "We are happy that the State of Michigan finally agreed to right these wrongful practices."

State officials said a settlement entered Thursday in the 2008 suit is "old news."

"The practices were discontinued over two years ago," said Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land, a defendant in the suit. "In neither case did the plaintiffs produce a single person who was disenfranchised by these practices."

Chesney said the voter purge programs had a negligible impact on voter registration and to continue the legal fight would have been costly.

In 2008, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III ordered state officials to stop removing newly registered voters whose registration cards are returned as undeliverable by the post office.

He also said removing the names of people who apply for driver's licenses in other states is illegal because it doesn't comply with federal law. But he said few people had been shown to be harmed by the practice, so he didn't stop it.

This article was printed by Free Press on June 26th, 2010 and was written by David Ashenfelter.