[JURIST] The ACLU of Michigan [advocacy website] filed a federal suit Friday challenging a Michigan election law that limits access to information on presidential primary voters to the Democratic and Republican parties. The complaint [text, PDF] alleges that Section 615c [text] of the Michigan Election Law [text] is unconstitutional because it excludes other smaller parties, as well as individuals, citizen groups and news media, from seeing lists of voter preferences and gives preference only to the two major parties in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and 14th Amendment [Cornell Law backgrounders]. The ACLU said [press release]:
Michigan law does not require voters to register by party and therefore voter party preference information is valuable to political parties, individual candidates, citizen groups supporting or opposing ballot proposals, political consultants, news media, researchers, other specialized groups and members of the public.Under the law, anyone other than the two parties who obtains or uses the voter lists would be guilty of a misdemeanor, and could be fined $1,000 or sentenced to 93 days in jail.
The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of the Green Party, Libertarian Party and the Reform Party of Michigan [party websites], as well as Metro Times, Inc. [media website] and David Forsmark as president of the political consulting firm Winning Strategies. The suit was filed against Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land [official profile]. The Detroit Free Press has more.