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Federal judge strikes down Michigan primary election law

[JURIST] A federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan on Wednesday struck down [opinion, PDF; ACLU press release] a Michigan election law [text] that limits access to information on presidential primary voters to the Democratic and Republican parties, blocking the state from releasing the voter lists from the Jan. 15 presidential primary election to the two political parties. The ACLU of Michigan [advocacy website] had challenged [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] the law in January, alleging that Section 615c [text] of the Michigan Election Law was 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]. 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 ruling comes amid a dispute over Michigan's delegation at the Democratic National Convention, and likely ended any chance of a new Democratic primary vote in the state. The Detroit News has more.

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