PILF Sues Illinois for Failing to Disclose Registered Voter Data
Posted on July 28th, 2020
Prevents Audit for Deceased, Duplicate, Corrupted Voter Records
(SPRINGFIELD, IL.) – July 28, 2020: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed a lawsuit today against the Illinois State Board of Elections for failing to disclose voter registration records under federal law (Public Interest Legal Foundation v. Sandvoss et. al).
“Federal law requires transparency in election records,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Just because someone isn’t engaging in partisan electioneering should not prevent them from ensuring that Illinois’ voter rolls are in order. Illinois’ records must be made available to the public, not just politicians.”
The complaint, filed July 27, explains the Foundation initially requested access to Illinois’ federally required statewide voter file and voting histories on October 16, 2019. On February 21 and after a failed inspection of records, the Foundation provided notice that litigation would commence if voter registration data was not provided as required under federal law.
The Foundation seeks relief under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which requires officials to make voter list maintenance documents like the voter roll itself available for inspection to the general public. The law also offers a private right to file a lawsuit if denied.
Other federal courts which have confronted the issue have sided in favor of disclosure of public records.
The Foundation is pursuing litigation against Maine and Maryland for similar inspection rights violations. Delaware and Massachusetts opened access to their respective registration records pursuant to PILF’s federal inspection requests.
The Foundation accesses public voter registration database extracts to perform audits for deceased, duplicated, and otherwise outdated/corrupted records. Findings can result in federal list maintenance lawsuits to correct flagged registrant files. Lawsuits against Detroit and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, recently wrapped along those lines.
The Foundation has also shared data via court briefs involving changes to mail ballot rules and procedures that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic across 11 cases in California, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The new case was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. The case number is 3:20-cv-03190. The attorney for the Public Interest Legal Foundation is Sue Becker. Chicago-based Christine Svenson 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.