Election Law Live

PILF Offers Voter Registration Policy ‘Best Practices’ to State Legislators

(NASHVILLE, TN.) – December 6, 2017: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams will address attendees at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) summit this Thursday.

Adams will join other experts on December 7, 2017 to discuss election integrity policy reforms needed to address modern challenges.

“Elections can always be improved,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. With so many non-citizens, dead registrants, and people who no longer live where they are listed, improvements are needed. State legislators can fix the problems, and it is important that they know about the tools available. Keeping voter rolls clean is thankfully an easier task in 2017 than it was in 1997. PILF’s Best Practices Guide summarizes the most effective tools to get the job done, if only states were to utilize them.”

Best Practices argues that in the quarter century since President Bill Clinton signed his first law, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), “chronic inaccuracy and [a] lack of integrity in the voter rolls” has become the “most significant problem facing America’s electoral process.” Adams will discuss how fossilized federal standards locked administrators into a system of voter roll maintenance via First Class Mail—giving little allowance for adoption of contemporary technologies.

The PILF’s Best Practices report consists of the following suggestions:

  • Seek upgrades to statewide voter registration system software—some of which date back to the mid-2000s;
  • Engage with voter roll maintenance cooperatives like Voter Registration Crosscheck (IVRC) and Electronic Voter Registration Center (ERIC);
  • Perform statewide voter list audits;
  • Upgrade procedures for identifying deceased voters;
  • More closely follow federal datasets indicating voter relocation;
  • Perform annual voter outreach;
  • Perform voter education campaigns;
  • Provide improved online tools for self-updates of voter data;
  • Establish citizenship verification data sources;
  • Provide uniform updates of quarterly voter list maintenance, and more.

Access Best Practices for Achieving Integrity in Voter Registration, here.

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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Adams: The Next Major Battle over Voting Rights is Based on a Lie

PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams writes in The Hill today:

The next major battle for voting rights is built on a lie. Election officials and policymakers are being browbeaten by national activists and Twitter bots to dump an agreement between states to compare voter lists for identifying duplicates and potential fraud.

Imagine that: Abandon tools to keep our elections more honest. If the digital mob had its way, America’s voter rolls would be maintained according to obsolete standards from the 1980s. Voter rolls would remain an unmitigated mess. Some people must like it that way. As of now, 30 states have agreed to share voter records with each other to keep rolls updated when people move from state to state. The average American will relocate about 11 times in their life. When voters move, they rarely inform election officials. When they relocate and die, their records can live on for decades with their former officials none the wiser.

There is a well-funded and dishonest campaign launching against the important Crosscheck program. Activists successfully pushed Illinois lawmakers to reconsider their membership but later failed to inspire the state elections board to dump the system in a vote on Nov. 20. Although they likely considered the state to be an easy first domino to fall and they failed, they will not stop trying. One county clerk in Idaho tried to hype doubts over the program’s reliability even after his office admitted to cutting corners in handling the data. Crosscheck is slowly being admitted into the canon of grasping rationalizations for why Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Read more, here.

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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