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Suit challenges constitutionality of parts of Michigan's election law

Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio

Priorities USA, a progressive advocacy group, has sued in federal court to block enforcement of two parts of Michigan's election law.

The lawsuitsays the provisions "create obstacles to voting that constitute an undue burden on the right of Michigan citizens to vote."

One provision, named the Voter Transportation Ban in the complaint, makes it a misdemeanor to hire transportation to take voters to the polls unless the voters are physically unable to walk. 

The other provision, called the Absentee Ballot Organizing Ban in the lawsuit, places restrictions on helping voters submit their absentee ballots to election officials.

The complaint says, "Together, the Voter Transportation Ban and the Absentee Ballot Organizing Ban make it even more difficult for voters for whom voting is already difficult - in particular voters without access to private transportation - to vote."

The complaint contends this especially burdens senior voters, minority voters, voters who are disabled, and low income voters.

According to the complaint, the transportation ban conflicts with federal law and neither ban is justified. The suit claims other Michigan laws already effectively address concerns about possible vote buying or fraud.

The suit names state Attorney General Dana Nessel as the defendant in her official capacity. Her spokesperson said her office had not yet been served with the complaint.

"Priorities USA is fully commited to fighting against suppressive voting laws that make it increasingly difficult for marginalized and underrepresented communities to vote in Michigan and around the country," said Guy Cecil, Chairman of Priorities USA, in a written statement. 

This is the second voting rights lawsuit Priorities USA has filed in federal court in Detroit in recent weeks. The first challenged the constitutionality of Michigan's signature matching law for absentee ballots.

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