(The Center Square) – Eleven Michigan Republican lawmakers filed a federal lawsuit challenging election changes voters approved in 2018 and 2022.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, the plaintiffs say election officials violated state legislators’ rights because the U.S. Constitution and the Michigan Constitution require state legislatures to regulate the times, places, and manner of federal elections.
“Michigan state election officials committed horrible violations of state legislators’ federal rights in 2018 and 2022, and continue to do so,” Attorney Erick Kaardal, a partner of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, said in a press conference. “Now, the Michigan Constitution contains federal elections regulations that are monuments to civil rights violations. We will need help from the federal courts to clean up the mess that the election officials created.”
The lawsuit says Proposal 2 of 2022 and Proposal 3 of 2018, constitutional amendments regulating the times, places, and manner of federal elections, are legally null and void.
“We also have procedures in place at the state level to amend election law,” said Sen. Jonathan Lindsey, R-Allen. “However, these processes were violated in 2018 and 2022 when an alternative amendment process was used without regard to federal constitutional requirements. This lawsuit challenges recent attempts to subvert our constitutional process and will protect against such actions in the future.”
The suit names Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Michigan Elections Director Jonathan Brater as defendants. The Michigan Department of State said it can’t comment on pending litigation.
Amber McCann, the spokeswoman for House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, said the lawsuit is “shameful.”
“The lawsuit is a direct attack on the voters of Michigan and seeks to undermine the will of the people,” McCann wrote in an email to The Center Square. “Republicans in the state legislature have partnered with the same Minnesota law firm that sought to prevent electoral votes from being counted in 2020. It’s shameful.”
Plaintiffs are Sen. Jim Runestad of White Lake, Reps. Steve Carra of Three Rivers, James DeSana of Carleton, Joseph Fox of Fremont, Neil Friske of Charlevoix, Matt Maddock of Milford, Brad Paquette of Niles, Angela Rigas of Caledonia, Joshua Schriver of Oxford and Rachelle Smit of Martin.
Carra said the approved expensive changes include nine days of early voting, allowing voters to sign affidavits instead of presenting valid identification when voting in person or applying for an absentee ballot, same-day voter registrations, and state-funded absentee ballot drop boxes.
“The founders of this great republic put regulating elections into the hands of the state legislatures, so changes to the election process will undergo a deliberative and thoughtful process by the people’s elected representatives,” Carra said in a statement.
Lawsuit sponsors Michigan Fair Elections and the Great Lakes Justice Center are Michigan-based, nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations.
“The courts need to decide these important legal questions,” Lindsey said. “The people of Michigan are entitled to an answer on the scope and limitations of Article XII, section 2, amendment by petition, especially as it relates to the responsibilities granted to the state legislatures by the United States Constitution. I am honored to play a role in this effort to restore the rule of law in Michigan.”