LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Jonathan Lindsey led an effort by 11 Michigan state legislators in filing a federal lawsuit against state of Michigan election officials.
The lawsuit claims the 2018 and 2022 state constitutional amendments regulating federal elections are null and void due to the process with which they were carried out. The lawsuit argues that Proposal 3 of 2018 and Proposal 2 of 2022 bypassed the state Legislature and, in doing so, usurped the body’s federally mandated constitutional authority.
According to both the U.S. Constitution and the Michigan Constitution, only the state Legislature has the authority to regulate the times, places, and manner of federal elections, and the passage of an election-related ballot referendum without first gaining legislative approval violates both. The Michigan Constitution provides that the legislative power to regulate elections is vested in the Senate and House of Representatives.
“The United States Constitution, the supreme law of the land, contains limited, but critical, election regulations,” said Lindsey, R-Allen. “We also have procedures in place at the state level to amend election law. However, these processes were violated in 2018 and 2022 when an alternative amendment process was used without regard for federal constitutional requirements. This lawsuit challenges recent attempts to subvert our constitutional process and will protect against such actions in the future.”
The amendments included provisions that allow voters to sign affidavits instead of presenting valid identification when voting in person or applying for an absentee ballot; nine days of early voting; private funding of election administration; no-excuse absentee voting procedures; same-day voter registrations; state-funded absentee ballot drop boxes, and independent redistricting commissions.
“As an end-around, they used an unconstitutional process, then deceived the public into voting for changes that weaken our elections,” Lindsey said. “I don’t blame voters. Proponents ran ads saying this ‘enshrines voter ID into our constitution’ when, in fact, Prop 2 guarantees the right to vote without voter ID — a classic bait-and-switch. Voters were deceived. Now these unlawfully enacted changes purport to limit our power as legislators to fix serious issues with our elections. I stand with fellow legislators to challenge that notion.”
Lindsey said the first, most important step was taken, and the issue is up to the courts to decide.
“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.”
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, names as defendants Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Jonathan Brater, Director of the Bureau of Elections. Plaintiffs include Sens. Jonathan Lindsey and Jim Runestad, along with Reps. Steve Carra, James DeSana, Joseph Fox, Neil Friske, Matt Maddock, Brad Paquette, Angela Rigas, Joshua Schriver, and Rachelle Smit.