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Organization Drops Lawsuit Over Dead, Duplicate Registered Voters

(CBS DETROIT) - An Indiana public interest group named the Public Interest Legal Foundation has dropped a lawsuit it filed in federal court last December. The suit alleged that Detroit had duplicate and dead voter registrations. In an article by The Detroit News, the organization dropped its suit citing "Defendants have taken action on the list of likely deceased registrants provided by the plaintiff," in a court motion on Monday to dismiss the suit. Also saying "Further, almost all of the duplicate registrations that Plaintiff brought to defendants' attention have been corrected."

The actions were taken care of by Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey and Elections Director George Azzouz, who were also the listed defendants in the case. According to The Detroit News, Winfrey said updating the voter polls were part of regular ongoing maintenance but had her office look into specific claims from the lawsuit, one of those claims had a registered voter born in 1823 on the Detroit polls. Winfrey said that extra digging was required, as it was ridiculous and wanted to see what was going on. In the end, she said, "The conclusion was that that was a typographical error."

The City of Detroit confirmed it had taken care of the issues it called "overdue discovery responses" filed on June 25th. Included was the current voter roll. The Public Interest Legal Foundation's motion from Monday wrote, "The voter rolls reveal extensive evidence of remedial action related to the data provide by the plaintiff to the defendants,".

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DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 4 : A man fills out his ballot at a polling station during the mid-term elections November 4, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Today Americans head to the polls to cast their vote in the mid-term elections leaving the control of the US Senate in question. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

The original issue at hand was from a lawsuit filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation. The Indiana non-profit claimed the City of Detroit was in violation of the National Voter Registration Act, by keeping dead and duplicate voters on the polls. The group had been working on the issue for two years, claiming the errors they brought forth were "brushed aside".

In a December 2019 article by the Free Press, made the point that the original lawsuit never claimed someone living tried to vote as a deceased person in Detroit, nor did it implicate voter fraud in the City of Detroit. Back then it was reported the city was accused of not maintaining its voter records as required by law.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation found in its study:

  • Detroit had a 106% voter registration rate
  • 2,503 deceased registrants
  • 4,788 duplicate or triplicate registrants
  • 16,465 registrants had their date of registration missing from city records

Public Interest Legal Foundation President J. Christian Adams said to the Detroit News, "The city of Detroit could have started to fix these problems before litigation, but didn't. Other jurisdictions should take note — if you don't act on solid data that your voter rolls are corrupted with dead and duplicate registrations, you will be sued."

Winfrey said that the organization didn't understand what they do, saying voter records are purged by death records received from the county every month, records received from the Social Security Office, and mailings that come back undeliverable.

In 2016 it was reported that in a recount more than half of Detroit was ineligible because of voter irregularities. State officials examined 20 Detroit precincts where ballot boxes opened during the recount had fewer ballots than what poll workers recorded on election day. Republican Senators at the time asked for an investigation after a Detroit ballot box contained 50 out of the recorded 306 ballots.

© 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Information from the Detroit News Contributed to this report.

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