Election Law Live

Partisan Organizations Are Protecting Bloated Voter Rolls

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN.) – November 22, 2017: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today commented on a partisan collective’s promise to thwart ongoing probes into bloated voter rolls in 24 states.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Brennan Center, and Demos announced an effort to offer “guidance” to jurisdictions contacted by the PILF earlier this year after a uniform review found bloated voter rolls in 248 counties across 24 states.

“It’s not surprising to see a once-respectable organization like the Lawyers’ Committee lash out in this way after years of dubious efforts to keep voter records outdated and unreliable,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “The LC’s leadership has a lawless record of selectively enforcing voting laws to meet partisan and racialist ends.”

Groups like the aforementioned regularly inject themselves into conversations regarding voter roll maintenance to minimize the importance of federal standards on the matter. Worse, they erroneously accuse election integrity groups of working to trigger mass removals when no such mechanism exists. At its heart, the Lawyers’ Committee and company are trying to resist lawful research to ensure that voters are being properly served by their officials. PILF has already identified counties admitting a failure to regularly clean rolls, some dating back to 2011.

“It seems like we’ve arrived to the point where asking election officials to do what the law requires makes PILF subversive—what a time we live in,” Adams said.

Across 24 states, 248 counties show more registered voters than adult residents, according to figures reflective of the 2016 Election.

“PILF has received a variety of information from counties thus far,” Adams explained. “Some are admitting budgetary constraints prevent updates; others promise reforms after staff shakeups. A cohort of counties unfortunately falls into defensive crouches and hide public records.

“The Lawyers’ Committee’s disapproval of these probes should cast suspicion on their own motives,” Adams adds.

The groups have agitated for years to handcuff state and local election officials against more proactively enforcing voter roll maintenance laws that keep pace with the increasingly migratory electorate. The groups currently support the dismantling of a 30-state cooperative designed to identify individuals registered in duplicate while one party, Demos, defended a Florida county for not reviewing public death notices like obituaries for maintenance lead purposes. While PILF has dedicated resources to offer best practices for modern voter roll maintenance, the other groups threaten legal action for even entertaining contemporary technologies and methods.

PILF President Adams offered a word of advice for jurisdictions currently engaged in voter roll probes.

“Despite any promises to the contrary, these groups have little experience studying and litigating voter roll maintenance matters. Courts have already ruled against the groups’ incorrect interpretation of the NVRA and counties need to know they are losing in places like Florida and North Carolina. Acting on any advice to cease current transmissions of data that the PILF requested will heighten the risk of litigation. PILF has a record of dislodging information in courts after officials bent to political pressure to conceal them.

“If your jurisdiction is not properly maintaining voter records, these groups cannot help you,” Adams added.

Lawyers’ Committee president Kristen Clarke presents a number of concerning characteristics in her views on voting rights.

  • Clarke worked to exclude racial cohorts from full protection of the Voting Rights Act;
  • Clarke worked against bringing the DOJ case against Ike Brown, a Mississippi political operative found liable for voter discrimination against white voters; and
  • Clarke agitated against the inclusion of seasoned federal prosecutors to serve as DOJ poll monitors where manpower was short.

PILF initiated voter roll probes in 24 states in September 2017 after reviewing 2016 voting and Census records. A total of 248 counties and additional municipalities received voter data request letters.

PILF has successfully litigated to institute voter roll cleanup efforts and preserve record transparency in North Carolina, Virginia, and Mississippi.

Voter list maintenance cases continue in Indiana and Texas. A first-of-its-kind trial completed over summer 2017 in Broward County, Florida.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

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PILF Intervention Defends Indiana’s Use of Voter Roll Crosscheck

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – November 9, 2017: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed a motion to intervene in defense of Indiana’s participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program designed to remove outdated and relocated voter records.

The PILF seeks to intervene in the ongoing case against Indiana’s participation in the Crosscheck program. PILF argues the plaintiff’s misleading claims are wrong that the State hastily removes voters after individuals with matching names and birthdates are found registered in other states.

The PILF also shared its concerns that the plaintiff is incorrectly seeking to handcuff voter registrars from maintaining records. The Motion to Intervene, filed today, notes:

The plaintiff’s lawsuit profoundly threatens state control over structuring its own election system based on a patently flawed application of the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”). [It] seeks to impose restrictions on Indiana’s ability to conduct fair and robust elections by limiting the State’s programs for ensuring that its list of eligible voters is kept accurate and current. Plaintiff seeks to impose limits clearly beyond what was contemplated by Congress.

If the Plaintiff had its way, Indiana would be bound by an imaginary rule for cleaning voter rolls using technology and practices from the 1980s,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Our state is still working through the effects of poor list maintenance efforts dating back more than a decade ago when the U.S. Justice Department took action against the state for dirty voter rolls. The Plaintiff is so determined to preserve flaws in our voter records that it would sever lines of communication with other states to accomplish their goal.

Though the PILF seeks to act as a Defendant-Intervenor in the case, the Foundation will make various arguments that it believes would not otherwise be made by the State of Indiana. Four primary defenses were introduced today.

The entire case is based on a faulty legal theory

Plaintiff’s interpretation of the NVRA argues that Indiana can do no more than mail notices to voters and wait for replies. Federal law offers this as an explicit example of a permissible voter list maintenance procedure, but it does not limit Indiana from cooperating with other states to more efficiently identify voters relocating out of its jurisdiction. 

Federal law allows states to remove registrants that relocate and re-register

After a citizen relocates to another state and registers to vote there, her action and the related paper trail constitutes a “written document” demonstrating she has changed residences for voting purposes and justifies removal from her old state’s registry. 

Congress considered registering to vote elsewhere as an act of requesting removal from the voter roll

The NVRA’s legislative history accounts for how a voter’s relocation and re-registration outside of Indiana effectively serves as an example for justified removal from the registry “at the request of the registrant”.

Common Cause Indiana’s Complaint should be dismissed

The Plaintiff’s misreading of the aforementioned notice-and-waiting procedure as the exclusively accepted method for voter roll maintenance—as opposed to a permissible option—presents a claim by which the Court could not offer relief since Indiana is not violating federal law with the Crosscheck.

The Motion to Intervene as Defendant and Proposed Answer by Defendant-Intervenor PILF filings can be found, here.

Attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation are J. Christian Adams, Kaylan L. Phillips, and Joseph A. Vanderhulst.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

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PILF Challenges Marc Elias’ Effort to Block Nevada’s Recall Elections

(LAS VEGAS, NV.) – October 30, 2017: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed a motion to intervene in defense of Nevada’s recall procedures against a lawsuit from Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias.

The PILF seeks to intervene in the ongoing case against Nevada’s recall procedures due to the misuse of evidence and Nevada’s history in the law suit, as well as the larger constitutional concerns about the tenuous application of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark civil rights law. The Motion to Intervene, filed today, notes:

The lawsuit threatens state control over structuring their own election system using a flawed application of the Voting Rights Act. Plaintiffs seek to impose unconstitutional restrictions on the democratic voice of Nevada citizens by extinguishing a means to hold government accountable. This would be the ultimate denial and infringement on the right and freedom of citizens to participate in the electoral process.

Nevada has the power under our Constitution to decide to have recall elections,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Hillary Clinton’s lawyer has been bringing cases across the country to destroy this constitutional arrangement by misusing civil rights laws, and the Public Interest Legal Foundation has opposed him elsewhere, and will oppose him in Nevada. The Voting Rights Act is not a law designed to help Democratic Party interests. It’s intended to protect civil rights–not preserve partisan power.”

Though PILF seeks to act as a Defendant-Intervenor in the case, the Foundation will make various arguments that it believes would not otherwise be made by the State of Nevada. An affirmative defense challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act as applied is one of those arguments. Four primary defenses were introduced today.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional if applied to invalidate a recall election

If the Voting Rights Act were used to prohibit recall elections in Nevada and elsewhere, it would be an unconstitutional use of the Voting Rights Act. Plaintiffs’ claims that recall elections deny or abridge the right to vote for those within a “language minority” are far beyond what the Constitution would allow in this circumstance. “Speaking a language other than English is not the same, or even congruent to, inherent immutable characteristics such as race.”

Using disparate impact standards to block a recall would render a portion of the Voting Rights Act itself unconstitutional

Plaintiffs seek to use improper disparate impact statistical standards to invalidate state laws. Using mere statistical disparities to invalidate state laws would upset the Constitutional balance and constitute an unconstitutional application of the Voting Rights Act.

Plaintiffs offer inadequate facts ‘bearing no relevance’ to Voting Rights Act concerns

The brief states: “Most of the purported facts in the Amended Complaint are a jumble of talking points of various interest groups and academics long opposed to robust state control over elections and laws designed to promote election integrity. Taken together, they fail to state a plausible claim that the Defendants have violated Section 2.”

‘Language Minority’ Provisions of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act are unconstitutional

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act’s prohibition on discriminatory procedures or practices impacting “language minority” groups is unconstitutional on its face, given that it is inconsistent with the Fifteenth Amendment and “exceed[s] Congress’ authority to enforce the right to vote regardless of race.” 

The Motion to Intervene as Defendant and Proposed Answer by Defendant-Intervenor PILF filings can be found, here.

Attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation are J. Christian Adams and Joseph A. Vanderhulst. David O’Mara from the O’Mara Law Firm, PC serves as local counsel.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

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Expert: How Pennsylvania Can Address Noncitizen Voting

(HARRISBURG, PA.) – October 25, 2017: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today offered guidance in how Pennsylvania officers can measure the scale of noncitizen registration and voting.

PILF Litigation Counsel Noel H. Johnson shared a multi-point proposal before the State Government Committee today regarding steps that can be taken to determine the true scale of the problem—an issue that largely remains unclear at this time.

  1. Demand lists of aliens who have been discovered and removed for citizenship defects across the Commonwealth.
  2. Disclose the lists of individuals whom were improperly exposed to voter registration prompts while conducting business with PennDOT.
  3. Review voting histories for those determined to be noncitizens to better discern those who claimed no knowledge of their voter status versus those who intended to participate.
  4. Debate and implement one or more of the variety of options available to help verify claims of U.S. citizenship and eligibility to participate in the electorate. At the very least, stop offering voter registration opportunities to known Green Card holders.

A copy of Mr. Johnson’s full testimony may be accessed here.

In October 2016, the PILF released a study finding 86 noncitizens were registered to vote in Philadelphia between 2013 and 2015. In September 2017, the City of Philadelphia confirmed and expanded upon these findings, announcing that “hundreds” of noncitizens were registered at various points in time.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation has built a record case studies uncovering noncitizen voter registration and voting in a growing number of states.

  • In October 2016, PILF found 86 noncitizens registered to vote in Philadelphia. Forty of those voted in at least one election.
  • In May 2017, PILF found 5,556 voters removed by the Commonwealth of Virginia as “non-citizens”. Roughly 33% voted. This research followed an initial October 2016 sampling that yielded 1,000 noncitizens.
  • In September 2017, PILF found 616 noncitizens within 11 New Jersey counties’ voter registration systems.

The PILF is led by J. Christian Adams, a Commissioner for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

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