A judge whacked her gavel on Aug. 25 and jarred loose at least a couple of Jocelyn Benson’s incisors.

At issue were two pestersom election integrity issues plaguing Michigan’s secretary of state: Her refusal to clean the state’s voter rolls of nearly 26,000 dead people—many deceased for two-decades—and not allowing inspection of public records and data.

“It’s alarming that we have to sue the Secretary of State to get her to do her job,” said J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. “This initial win is the first step to ensuring that deceased registrants are not receiving ballots and reducing the opportunity for fraud in Michigan’s elections.”

PILF gave Benson plenty of time to act. The Foundation first notified the Secretary of State in 2020 about the nearly 26,000 deceased registrants on the state’s voter rolls. “After over a year of inaction, PILF sued her in Nov. 2021 to force her to remove these deceased registrants from the voter roll,” Adams said. This week, we got our first win in the case.”


At issue were 25,975 deceased registrants from the voter rolls.

  • 23,663 registrants dead for five years or more
  • 17,479 registrants dead for at least a decade
  • 3,956 registrants  dead for at least 20 years

The United States Western District Court of Michigan denied Benson’s effort to dismiss PILF’s  lawsuit for failing to remove deceased registrants from the state’s voter roll. The court also denied the motions of two leftist groups seeking to intervene. The Detroit/Downriver Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, and Rise, Inc. were granted an opportunity to file a reply.


“The Court concludes that oral argument is unnecessary to resolve the issues presented,” wrote the judge on Aug. 25. “The court denies Secretary Benson’s motion to dismiss, grants the Proposed Intervenors leave to file a reply, and denies their motion to intervene.”

Significance of the suit. PILF brought its case against Benson under the National Voter Registration Act, seeking “declaratory and injunctive relief for two alleged violations of the NVRA: “Failure to Conduct List Maintenance” (Count I) and “Failure to Allow Inspection of Records and Data” (Count II).”

The NVRA requires states to put reasonable programs in place to do list maintenance.

Benson argued that she had a reasonable program in place, so PILF should leave her office alone.

PILF, in documenting over and over the SOS’s failure to remove the deceased people from the state’s list, proved that Benson was failing to provide reasonable list maintenance.

In effect, the 11th circuit court’s ruling sets precedent as to what is not reasonable list maintenance and establishes that Michigan is violating the NVRA.

“It is astonishing that Secretary Benson is so vigorously opposing effective list maintenance,” Adams said. “This initial win is the first step to ensuring that deceased registrants are not receiving ballots and reducing the opportunity for fraud in Michigan’s elections.”

Patrice Johnson is chair of Michigan Fair Elections and Pure Integrity Michigan Elections. She authored The Fall and Rise of Tyler Johnson, the first-place winner of the 2017 National Indie Excellence Award for new nonfiction. Johnson has founded four successful technology companies and holds a master’s degree in English Literature from Michigan State University.

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