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Michigan Loses Federal Appeal Over Voter Rolls

CINCINNATI (CN) - The 6th Circuit refused to lift an injunction barring Michigan election officials from striking the names of thousands of voters from the rolls when their voter identification cards were returned as undeliverable.

The court sided with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, ruling that state election officials can't suppress voter turnout by rejecting or canceling the registrations of voters with undeliverable ID cards.

Under federal law, election officials can only strike the names of voters who confirm their disqualifying address in writing, or fail to update their address and then don't vote in the next two general elections.

The ruling upholds an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III on Oct. 13. Murphy rejected the practice of striking names for undeliverable voter ID cards, but allowed the state to discard the registrations of anyone who applied for a driver's license in another state.

The ACLU had argued that both practices violated the National Voting Rights Act and disproportionately affected transient groups, including students, minorities and poor people.

The defendants filed a motion to stay the injunction.

In order to win, the defendants had to show that the undeliverable voter ID practice does not violate the Act. But Judge Karen Nelson Moore concluded that the tactic "likely violates the clear language" of federal law.

The court denied their motion to stay.

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