PILF Briefs 6th Circuit in Support of Ohio’s Voter Roll Maintenance Program

(COLUMBUS, OH) – October 22, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) recently briefed the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals as amicus curiae against last-minute requests to provide ballot access to hundreds of thousands of cancelled voter registrants whose “current residencies remain in doubt.”

The plaintiffs are bent on forcing Ohio to import hundreds of thousands of former registrants now apparently living elsewhere into the provisional balloting process this November,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “These demands are ill-timed and would encourage a chaotic 2018 Election for Ohioans actually residing in the state.

Having lost trial court motions for last-minute relief two weeks ago, the plaintiffs are now asking the 6th Circuit to guarantee provisional ballot access to roughly 1 million former Ohio registrants whose residential addresses are held in doubt and may be located outside of the state. 

The Foundation offers three primary arguments for the appellate court to consider.

The trial court found plaintiffs’ actions foreclosed their standing to bring the action

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”) requires any private party wishing to bring an action against a jurisdiction for an alleged failure to first provide “mandatory” notice of grievance(s) in order to give election officials an opportunity to cure the violation before facing litigation. The trial court determined that plaintiff Larry Harmon never provided such notice. The organizational plaintiffs provided only “vague” descriptions of Ohio’s alleged violations of the NVRA, which placed undue challenges on state officials to cure any potential shortcoming. The plaintiffs’ failure to provide the required notice means the court does not have jurisdiction to give the plaintiffs the relief they are seeking.

Plaintiffs’ demands are untimely and a threat to the integrity of the 2018 Midterms

On September 14, 2018, the plaintiffs for the first time asked the court to reinstate cancelled registrants previously in receipt of an allegedly “deficient” voter confirmation notice in time for the 2018 General Election. The Foundation argues this 11th-hour request—whether intentionally or negligently timed—is prohibited by legal doctrines which protect states from burdensome judicial intervention(s) against the regular administration of elections. Such a request would alter the administration of elections with early voting already underway.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly shown caution in exercising judicial intervention

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly declined interventions under the Purcell principle for fear of harming the integrity of an “imminent” election to be administered. In Ohio, ballots are already being cast. The Foundation’s brief urges the 6th Circuit to exercise proper restraint and decline to upend the orderly administration of an ongoing election.

The Foundation’s brief was filed before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in A. Philip Randolph Institute v. Husted, No. 18-3984. Related filings 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, the Foundation seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

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