Lawsuit Seeking Harris County Noncitizen Voter Records Can Proceed

(HOUSTON, TX.) – March 11, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) commended an order denying the Harris County Registrar’s request to dismiss a lawsuit seeking access to public records showing the extent of noncitizen voter registration in the county. (PILF v. Harris Bennett 4:18-cv-00981).

The federal district court in Houston, Texas, held that the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar’s motion to dismiss PILF’s case is denied and adopted the U.S. Magistrate’s Memorandum and Recommendation on Monday, March 11.

“Proponents of open and transparent government notched an important victory today,” PILF Communications and Research Director Logan Churchwell said. “Federal law empowers everyone access to inspect voter registration records to determine how well they are kept. Harris County has, for years, told the public about noncitizen voting to influence policy in Austin and Washington. This order brings us one step closer to demonstrating the true scale and causes.

Following the Monday order, the Court is slated to consider motions for summary judgment.

The case continues in tandem with a state court action brought by Harris County against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after his office opined that noncitizen records sought by PILF should generally be disclosed under state statutes as well.

PILF previously responded to claims made by Harris County suggesting that it had no right to data related to noncitizen voter registrants and that the federal case should be stayed pending a state court judgment in Austin, among other matters.

Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 allows individuals to inspect “records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters,” the PILF noted in its original complaint.

A copy of the case fact sheet can be found, here.

The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. The case number is 4:18-cv-00981.

Attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation are J. Christian Adams and Noel H. Johnson. Brenham-based Andy Taylor of Andy Taylor & Associates, P.C. serves as local counsel.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

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. ###