Skip Navigation
Court Case Tracker

Michigan State Conference of NAACP Branches v. Land

Published: October 26, 2004

The Center filed suit on behalf of Michigan voters to stop the Michigan Secretary of State and Director of Elections from proceeding with the State’s plan for handling provisional ballots in the upcoming November 2 election.

Joined by the Advancement Project, Michigan attorney Amos E. Williams, and Mannatt, Phelps, & Phillips, plaintiffs charge that the State’s plan to refuse to count provisional ballots “would transform the provisional balloting scheme into a meaningless sham, presenting the voter with a decoy ballot while effectively disenfranchising him.” The complaint claims that the State’s plan violates the U.S. Constitution and federal and state law.

Plaintiffs, the Michigan State Conference of the NAACP, Project Vote, and ACORN, claim that the plan for provisional ballots established in June by Christopher Thomas, Michigan’s Director of Elections, would take away the vote from two large classes of voters: (1) first time voters who face special new ID requirements on Election Day; and (2) citizens who vote in the wrong polling place.

On October 7, 2004, the Michigan Director of Elections agreed to revise the rules for provisional ballots cast by first-time voters who registered by mail but who did not present identification at the polls on Election Day. Under the new rule, Michigan will count those voters’ provisional20ballots if they provide identification up to six days after the election.

On October 19, 2004, the Eastern District federal court of Michigan ruled that provisional ballots cast by voters in the wrong precinct but in the right city, village or township on November 2 must be counted. Defendants appealed the ruling.

In a summary order issued on October 26, 2004 without a written opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling that provisional votes cast in the wrong precinct must be counted.

Principal Legal Documents