Posted on December 21st, 2017
State on Notice that Lawsuit to Disclose Records is Imminent
(HARRISBURG, PA.) – December 21, 2017: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) gave notice to the Pennsylvania Department of State that it could face a lawsuit in 20 days if it fails to reveal noncitizen registered voter records.
In a letter submitted to the PaDOS yesterday, officials were given final warning that they now face “federal litigation should [they] continue to deny access to the requested records” related to noncitizen voters on the state’s rolls. Federal notice requirements dictate that the State has 20 days to address PILF’s concerns before a lawsuit can be filed.
Pennsylvania election officials declined the PILF’s original request to inspect records related to registrants who were later removed following official discovery or admitted non-citizenship. After submitting two letters and as many site visits to inspect the information, the PaDOS denied any access on December 20, 2017.
The Pennsylvania Department of State refused to provide access to the records as federal law requires. The State also admitted in no uncertain terms that it has no “program in place” to identify and remove ineligible noncitizen voters. This admission follows various news reports about the unspecified “hundreds” of similar cases officially cropping up across the state and disclosures that poorly-designed Motor Voter procedures exposed every noncitizen driver’s license customer to voter registration since the 1990s.
“Why are Pennsylvania election officials stonewalling both the Legislature and our request for the facts about their colossal mistake?” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Noncitizens were discovered on the rolls in increasing amounts; Secretary of State Pedro Cortes resigned in a hush; and now the Department of State is hiding records from the public about ineligible registrants. We will go to federal court to get the records they are hiding if they don’t provide them in twenty days.”
PILF President Adams warned the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee on December 12 that recent failures to disclose records related to noncitizens could invite a lawsuit:
“I can report to this Committee that we are now experiencing … stonewalling from the State, and if our requests for data are not met, we will sue State election officials in federal court to obtain the information. This Committee can ask for the same information we have asked for.”
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 1,069 noncitizens within New Jersey’s voter registration system.
- In October 2017, PILF testified before the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee on the matter of noncitizen voting in the state and encouraged an official review to identify more ineligible voters.
A copy of the data request letter can be found, here.
A copy of the Department of State’s rejection letter can be found, here.
A copy of PILF’s final notice letter can be found, 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.