Nonprofits Help Disenfranchised Michigan Voter Join Voter Rights Lawsuit
by Lateefah Williams*, 2/2/2009
The Advancement Project and the ACLU filed a motion, on behalf of Lisa Blehm, the wife of a U.S. serviceman, that will allow her to join a voter rights lawsuit. Pepper Hamilton LLP, the law firm representing the two nonprofits, filed a lawsuit in September 2008 on behalf of several nonprofits against several Michigan officials for illegal voter purges.
According to an ACLU press release, "Blehm became a victim of one of those programs, which immediately cancels the voter registrations of Michigan voters who obtain driver's licenses in other states, without issuing the appropriate confirmation of registration notices and following the other voter removal procedures required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA)."
Blemh, a Michigan resident who registered to vote in 2006, temporarily relocated to Georgia in 2007 to join her husband, a U.S. Marine. Although she obtained a Georgia driver's license, she did not register to vote in Georgia and maintained her Michigan residency because she planned to return to Michigan when her husband completed his assignment, which she and her husband did.
On Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008, Blemh went to her polling place and was told that she was not registered to vote. She also was not allowed to cast a provisional ballot.
According to the ACLU, Meredith Bell-Platts, staff counsel with the ACLU Voting Rights Project, said, "Although election officials broke the law when they denied Lisa Blehm the right to vote, we are hopeful that the courts will put an end to misguided attempts at disenfranchising lawful registered voters so this doesn't happen in the future."