The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

James Freedland, ACLU national, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666;
Sabrina Williams, Advancement Project (202) 728-9557
Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan, (734) 417-8757

Appeals Court Orders Michigan to Restore 5,500 Voters to Rolls

Ruling Is Latest Victory in ACLU and Advancement Project Legal Challenge


federal appeals court late Wednesday cleared the way for 5,500
illegally purged voters to be returned to the rolls in time for
Election Day. The U.S. Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit rejected
Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land's request not to enforce an
earlier court ruling that declared the state's voter removal programs
illegal. The appeals court decision is the latest victory in a lawsuit
filed in September by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of
Michigan, Advancement Project and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Earlier this month, Judge Stephen J.
Murphy of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan
ruled that Michigan's voter removal program violates the National Voter
Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). In question was a Michigan state law
requiring local clerks to nullify the registrations of newly-registered
voters whenever their voter identification cards are returned by the
post office as undeliverable. The NVRA permits voters to remain on the
voter rolls for at least two federal elections after voter registration
cards are returned.

The voter removal program would have
had a detrimental impact in minority, low-income and student
communities across Michigan. These communities tend to be more
transient and to live in multi-family housing. The plaintiffs in the
case are the United States Student Association (USSA) and the ACLU of

The following can be attributed to participants in the lawsuit:

Meredith Bell-Platts, staff counsel with the ACLU Voting Rights Project:

"This is a major victory for
democracy and the people of Michigan. This decision helps restore
confidence in an electoral process that has been badly damaged by
misguided attempts at disenfranchising lawful registered voters. In
just five days, 5,000 voters who would have been shut out of the
democratic process will now have their votes counted and their voices

Bradley Heard, senior attorney with Advancement Project:

"We are gratified that another court
has cleared the way for Michigan's unlawfully purged voters to vote on
Election Day. Federal law is not optional and the secretary of state
must obey it. Every voter must be heard this election and we are
confident that everyone who is eligible to vote on Tuesday will now be
allowed to exercise this fundamental right."

Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director:

"We regret that the secretary of
state has fought this, wasting valuable time and resources on an appeal
when she could have worked to re-enfranchise the 5,000 illegally purged
voters. We count on the secretary of state to act in the best interests
of every person eligible to vote in this state. We applaud the Sixth
Circuit today for filling that role and ensuring that every person who
is eligible to vote in Michigan is allowed to, free of intimidation and

Attorneys in this case are Heard of
Advancement Project; Bell-Platts and Neil Bradley of the ACLU Voting
Rights Project; Moss and Michael Steinberg of the ACLU of Michigan; and
Matthew Lund, Mary K. Deon and Deborah Kovsky of Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Legal documents in this case are available at:

More information on the ACLU Voting Rights Project is available at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666