Michigan's college Democrats are suing to block two state statutes that say they target young voters and do make it more difficult to vote.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Thursday on behalf of the Democrats at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, as well as on the Michigan Federation of University Democrats points to a 1999 state law that requires a voter registration address that matches that of your driver's license. It also challenges a Michigan statute that requires anyone who registers to vote by mail or through a third party to vote in person the first time they cast their vote.
The lawsuit alleges that the statutes violate the First Amendment and Amendment 26, which guarantees the right to vote of any person over the age of 18.
Laws are more likely to affect young voters, the lawsuit argues, because they are more likely to move and maintain two directions: one at home and one at school. College students are also more likely to be voters for the first time and take advantage of registering by mail or through a voter registration drive, but often lack access to reliable transportation, the lawsuit says.
"Young voters in Michigan have faced unequal and consequential barriers when registering to vote and vote for the first time, and have even been denied the right to vote completely for reasons that have nothing to do with "Your qualification or eligibility to participate in the Michigan elections," the attorneys representing the group wrote, and the lawsuit also states that state law allows people to register to vote where they sleep regularly, maintain their personal belongings and regular housing.
Young voters in Michigan have faced unequal and consequential barriers when registering to vote and vote for the first time.
Claim on behalf of Democrats at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the Michigan Federation of University Democrats
] A spokesman for Michigan State Secretary Ruth Johnson (R), a defendant named in the lawsuit, said the secretary's office was "taken by surprise with what appears to be a strange lawsuit." It was easy for college students to update their addresses.
"For 20 years, residents have been able to update their address conveniently for both driver's license and voting," said Fred Woodhams, the spokesman, in an email " Michigan is by far the best union state in the registry of people to vote in our 131 offices of the Secretary of State (motor vehicles). Separating a person's address for voting and licensing purposes would cause confusion and lead to different directions for people who thought they had both changed. "
Michigan students are represented by a team of lawyers that includes Marc Elias, who served as general counsel for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.In July, Elias and his team represented a group of Florida college students. They successfully sued the state to get rid of a general ban on early voting on college campuses, in which case a federal judge said the state ban was intentional discrimination under Amendment 26.
No court had found a policy that was intentionally discriminatory under that amendment, which led some observers to speculate that the amendment could be an emerging tool to combat voting restrictions.