Settlement Reached in Wake County NC Voter Roll Cleanup Lawsuit
Posted on June 27th, 2017
(RALEIGH, NC.) – June 27, 2017: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a statement announcing a settlement agreement for a federal lawsuit to clean voter rolls in Wake County, North Carolina (Voter Integrity Project NC v. Wake County BOE).
After nearly a year of litigation, the Wake County Board of Elections (WCBOE) voted on June 5 to adopt a settlement agreement with PILF client the Voter Integrity Project NC that PILF believes will serve to improve the county’s voter rolls in the years ahead.
In sum, the parties agreed to the following:
- The WCBOE will confer with the North Carolina State Board of Elections about the feasibility of comparing voter data against the National Change of Address system on a quarterly basis, instead of the current semi-annual schedule.
- By the end of this year, the WCBOE will review each “inactive” voter “to ensure timely removal as provided by law” and make completed maintenance efforts subject to public inspection. The WCBOE will continue to conduct such a review on a biennial basis until April 15, 2023.
- The WCBOE agrees to respond to Voter Integrity Project’s future requests for public inspection of records regarding the accuracy and currency of the voter roll.
“We are sincerely pleased with the resolution of this matter,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “We are pleased that Wake County has agreed to investigate ways to more quickly identify voter record flaws that risk polling place confusion and absentee ballot irregularities alike. The public should expect verifiable improvements to the local voter registration system in the years ahead. Other counties in North Carolina should take note that requests for public information and obligations to maintain clean rolls must be met. In the future, election officials across North Carolina should take seriously their obligation to comply with all provisions in the National Voter Registration Act.”
In February 2017, Senior U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt ruled in favor of plaintiff VIP-NC on a case dismissal discussion, finding that the methodology used to determine voter roll bloat was “reasonable”:
Considering VIP-NC’s allegation that the number of registered voters in Wake County has exceeded, and continues to exceed, the number of eligible voters, which allegation is in turn supported by reliable data and WBOE’s failure to use available jury excuse information, a reasonable inference can be drawn that WCBOE is not making a reasonable effort to conduct a voter list maintenance program in accordance with the NVRA.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of VIP-NC in July 2016 after the organization demonstrated how Wake County’s voter registration list surpassed the total number of eligible voting-age citizens, according to the U.S. Census.
PILF’s client, the Voter Integrity Project, sent public information requests and notice of violation letters to multiple North Carolina counties. This settlement affects only Wake County.
A copy of the settlement agreement, signed by W. Ellis Boyle, Chair of the Wake County Board of Elections, on June 15, 2017 has been made available, 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.