Sixth Circuit rules against Michigan voter removals

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday upheld [opinion, PDF; ACLU press release] an injunction granted by a federal judge earlier this month ordering Michigan voting officials to reinstate on voter rolls the names of newly-registered voters whose voter registration cards were returned to the post office as undeliverable. The ACLU of Michigan [advocacy website] had challenged [complaint, PDF] the new Michigan state law, which permitted nullification of such voter registrations, on the grounds that it violated the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) [official backgrounder], which sets forth conditions that must be met before an individual can be removed from voting rolls. In a 2-1 opinion, the Sixth Circuit agreed, holding:

[T]here has never been a determination [here] that the [removed] voters are ineligible....[T]he preliminary injunction is necessary to protect the individual voters of Michigan affected by the undeliverable-voter-ID-card practice....[It] ensures that each individual who has properly registered to vote but was removed due to an error that is out of his or her control will be able to case a ballot on election day.
The NVRA allows registered voters to remain on voter rolls for at least two federal elections after registration cards have been returned as undeliverable. AP has more.

There have been a growing number of controversies over voting laws and procedures in the run-up to November 2008 voting. Earlier this month, the New York Times released a report [text; JURIST report] alleging that thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states, including Michigan, have been removed from voter rolls against federal voting law. The report examined the actions of election officials in Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina, and found that the removal of a number of registered voters violated the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) [text]. The campaigns of both Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain [campaign websites] are recruiting thousands of volunteer lawyers [JURIST report] to help protect voters' rights on election day.

 

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