PILF to Congress: Voting Rights Act Preclearance Was Inefficient

(FORT LAUDERDALE, FL.) – May 6, 2019: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) Communications and Research Director Logan C. Churchwell testified before the U.S. House Committee on Administration’s Subcommittee on Elections regarding the need for the return of the Voting Rights Act of 1965’s preclearance procedures.

In prepared remarks, Churchwell notes that:

Because of the Voting Rights Act, it has never been easier to register to vote and vote as it is in America in 2019 … 2019 is not 1965. The heavy hand of federal micromanagement of state election law was justified in 1965. It is not in 2019.

Churchwell argues that more modern uses of the preclearance power under the Clinton and Obama Justice Departments yielded abuses.

Unfortunately, the preclearance power became a power that was abused. From South Carolina voter ID to Georgia redistricting, Justice Department lawyers exercised powers that they did not possess by blocking states’ laws that were neither discriminatory in purpose or effect, and in some cases, courts handed down sanctions.

Churchwell reminds the Subcommittee that preclearance as a concept will again prove inefficient if reconstituted.

Whether or not the old preclearance regime can be fully credited for the actual progress made in creating a more just voting system – history will show that the program had a proper time and place – and that time has passed. I contend to this body and the general public that trying to resuscitate the concept of 20th Century-style preclearance will prove an inefficient use of federal resources and will always be at least one step behind emerging population and demographic trends.

Read a copy of Churchwell’s testimony, here.

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. ###

PILF to Congress: U.S. Lacks Safeguards from Noncitizen Voter Registration

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – May 1, 2019: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) litigation counsel Kaylan L. Phillips testifies today before the U.S. House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties regarding best practices in election administration.

In prepared remarks, Phillips notes that:

[T]he citizenship checks on the federal voter registration form are merely an honor system … In my experience, these “safeguards” are wholly inadequate.

Phillips argues that the vulnerability has proven to fail immigrants and citizens alike.

Noncitizens continue to be registered to vote, sometimes by their own error and sometimes by the errors of election officials. Our research has shown that individuals have been registered to vote even when they leave the citizenship checkbox blank or, worse, when they answer “no” to the question “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?”  

Phillips urges the Subcommittee to take substantive action.

If the Committee seeks to protect voters, it would be wise to focus on the failure of the citizenship checkbox. One solution is to equip states to verify citizenship before an individual is placed on the rolls.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation has issued reports since 2016 detailing how flaws within the existing Motor Voter programs in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Georgia, New York, and Michigan are exposing ineligible noncitizens to the voter registration process—leading some to vote. These actions often surface when legal permanent residence seek a path to naturalization—only to risk rejection or deportation thereafter.

Read a copy of Phillips’ testimony, here.

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.

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Texas Mayor Arrested on ‘Vote Harvesting’ Charges

(ALEXANDRIA, VA.) – April 25, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today commended the State of Texas and local law enforcement for the arrest of Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina.

“Texas continues to be a shining example of how states can fight voter fraud,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Developing cases against alleged ballot ‘harvesting’ schemes demands significant time, manpower, and investigative acumen. Attorney General Ken Paxton and local law enforcement here again prove they have the right stuff to confront corruption in elections.”

According to a Texas Attorney General’s Office release circulated today, sitting Edinburg Mayor Molina won his 2017 race by more than 1,200 votes after he allegedly organized a “harvesting” operation that fraudulently registered voters in addresses not their own—particularly in an apartment complex belonging to Molina.

The Foundation previously alerted Texas election officials and law enforcement to altered voter registration applications mailed by the Texas Democratic Party, which were directed to noncitizen Rio Grande Valley residents. The Secretary of State referred the complaint to AG Paxton’s office for review prior to the 2018 General Election.

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.

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Election Complaint: Man Apparently Voted Twice in NY, FL

(LARGO, FL.) – April 1, 2019: thePublic Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) alerted local, state, and federal law enforcement to on-camera comments and apparently corroborating voting records describing acts of a person voting twice in Pinellas County, Florida, and Erie County, New York, during the 2018 General Election.

The video footage in question may be replayed here. The Foundation cited legal concerns to the various authorities. Under 52 U.S.C.S. § 10307:

(1) Whoever votes more than once in an election referred to in paragraph (2) shall be fined

not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(2) The prohibition of this subsection applies with respect to any general, special, or primary election held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the United States Senate, Member of the United States House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands, or Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Copies of the complaint letters to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, Erie County Board of Elections, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York are available on the Foundation’s website.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation previously filed election complaints in southern Texas in 2018, involving on get-out-the-vote efforts targeting admitted noncitizens. The complaints were later transferred to the Texas Attorney General for criminal investigation.

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. ###

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. ###

PILF Seeks to Intervene in the Texas Noncitizen Voter Removal Case

(SAN ANTONIO, TX.) – March 1, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed a motion to intervene in defense of Texas’ efforts to assist in the identification and removal of noncitizens registered to vote in the state.

The Foundation seeks to intervene in the ongoing case against Texas’ recent guidance to counties offering voter list maintenance leads on potential noncitizens registered to vote. PILF wishes to share its concerns about attacks on protected speech and attempts to chill reasonable efforts to clear voter rolls of ineligible registrants. The Motion to Intervene, filed today, notes:

By characterizing [the State of Texas’] reporting on efforts to maintain an accurate voter registration roll as “voter intimidation” designed to “create fear” and “stoke public anxiety,” this case presents an alarming attack on the power of public officials, and their ancillary rights to participate in the public discourse about the actions of their office … To allege that communications such as these constitute threats, coercion, and voter intimidation is an attack on both constitutionally protected speech and on the power of a state election official to manage elections and voter registration.

LULAC and its allies are heavily invested in chilling Texas’ ability to positively identify and remove noncitizens registered to vote,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “This is the end-game for strategy for those who wish to confront the greater election integrity cause. If the plaintiffs prove successful, an official or private party could be accused of voter intimidation for simply communicating concerns about ineligible voter activity.”

The Foundation will make various arguments that it believes would not otherwise be made by the State of Texas.

LULAC’s interpretation of the voter intimidation portion of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional as applied

The VRA plainly requires intimidation, threats, or coercion to actually occur to properly invoke the statute. LULAC and others would have the court rule that communications regarding voter list maintenance efforts be deemed intimidating. LULAC’s allegations seek to expand the Voting Rights Act beyond what the drafters intended and what courts have allowed.

LULAC and others are pleading inadequate facts

The current complaint before the court contains allegations that even if there were found true, cannot entitle relief requested under the Constitution or Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

The Motion to Intervene as Defendant and Proposed Answer by Defendant-Intervenor PILF filings can be found, here. Case number 5:19-cv-00074 (LULAC et. al. v. Texas) is proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas – San Antonio Division.

Attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation are J. Christian Adams and Kaylan L. Phillips. Andy Taylor from the 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. ###

PILF’s J. Christian Adams on CPAC Election Integrity Panel

J. Christian Adams, the President and General Counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation will address a panel discussion on election integrity at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday March 1, 2019, at 1 pm, in the Chesapeake A room. 

I’ll be speaking at #CPAC2019 Friday on #voterfraud & #election integrity. 1pm. Chesapeake A with @johnfund and @HvonSpakovsky. #CPAC #ballotharvesting #immigration #voterID— J. Christian Adams (@ElectionLawCtr) February 28, 2019

The panel entitled The Threat of Stolen Elections: Protecting the Integrity of Elections will touch on the chaos in Florida, noncitizens voting in American elections, and how the majority in the House are seeking to radically transform American elections and remove barriers to voter fraud.  The event it sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.

PILF Applauds SCOTUS for Taking Census Case Early

PILF Submitted Brief in Support of Expedited Hearing

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – February 15, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) commended the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear the 2020 Census citizenship question case ahead of critical deadlines and standard appellate procedure.

The Court absolutely made the right move,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “This decision could give the Justice Department and private parties the chance to enforce the protections of the Voting Rights Act.”

The Foundation was previously granted entry before the district court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court to share the value the citizenship data would have in federal voting rights law.

The Foundation’s brief in favor of certiorari noted:

The district court erred. This error, if not corrected by this Court before the deadline for the printing of Census forms, will have long-lasting effects. The opportunity to collect the data on the 2020 Census, once gone, cannot be reclaimed. This “case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this Court.”

The Foundation offered two arguments in support of the Government’s request for an expedited Supreme Court hearing.

The citizenship question is plainly a matter of national importance.

Due to the simple facts that reliable citizenship data is mission-critical for any party wishing to enforce provisions of the Voting Rights Act and there are another four lawsuits not yet before the Supreme Court, the circumstances have clearly crossed a threshold whereby the Court is justified in bypassing typical appellate procedure.

Census deadlines are approaching too quickly for standard appellate procedure.

The Government has notified the Court that it is against a hard June 2019 deadline to finalize/print Census questionnaires. The brief argues the nation will suffer an “uncorrectable ripple effect into the future if this critical data … is not collected.”

The latest brief was filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in In Re U.S. Department of Commerce, No. 18-966. Related filings can be found, here.

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, the Foundation seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

PILF to SCOTUS: Take the Census Case Now

PILF Submits Brief in Support of Expedited Hearing

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – February 11, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation’s (PILF) filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Department of Commerce’s request that the Court hear its case ahead of critical 2020 Census deadlines.

The United States is currently defending the reinstatement of a citizenship question on the general 2020 Census survey against multiple lawsuits brought by the State of New York and others. The questions now before the Court are whether the district court in New York erred in enjoining the Government’s Census plans and if the plaintiffs can go outside the administrative record to probe the intent behind the reinstatement of the citizenship question.

The Foundation was previously granted entry before the district court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court to share the value the citizenship data would have in federal voting rights law.

Time is running out to correct the errors of the trial court,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “If the Supreme Court doesn’t step in now, the Justice Department and untold scores of private parties will be handicapped in enforcing the Voting Rights Act on a national scale for at least a decade.”

The Foundation’s latest brief notes:

The district court erred. This error, if not corrected by this Court before the deadline for the printing of Census forms, will have long-lasting effects. The opportunity to collect the data on the 2020 Census, once gone, cannot be reclaimed. This “case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this Court.”

The Foundation offers two arguments in support of the Government’s request for an expedited Supreme Court hearing.

The citizenship question is plainly a matter of national importance.

Due to the simple facts that reliable citizenship data is mission-critical for any party wishing to enforce provisions of the Voting Rights Act and there are another four lawsuits not yet before the Supreme Court, the circumstances have clearly crossed a threshold whereby the Court is justified in bypassing typical appellate procedure.

Census deadlines are approaching too quickly for standard appellate procedure.

The Government has notified the Court that it is against a hard June 2019 deadline to finalize/print Census questionnaires. The brief argues the nation will suffer an “uncorrectable ripple effect into the future if this critical data … is not collected.”

The latest brief was filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in In Re U.S. Department of Commerce, No. 18-966. Related filings can be found, here.

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, the Foundation seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

PILF to Congress: H.R. 1 Invites Vulnerabilities in Elections

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – January 29, 2018: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams testifies today before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in opposition to H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019.

In prepared remarks, Adams notes that:

[H.R. 1] would mark the largest transfer of power over elections from the states to the federal government in the history of the nation.”

Adams argues that voter registration and access have never been easier—approaching the point where it is almost harder to avoid the system.

It has never been easier to register to vote and to vote in America than it is in 2019.In fact, it is difficult to avoid opportunities to register to vote.”

Adams cautions the Committee about flaws in the voter registration records across the nation being exacerbated by the effects of H.R. 1.:

“The voter rolls are currently full of ineligible voters who have died or moved out of the jurisdiction where they are registered. H.R.1 would make the problem worse by stripping the power of states to manage their own voter rolls to keep them clean using well-established best practices such as postal mailings and recurring inactivity of registrants in elections. H.R.1’s mandate that states stop using these tools is just bad public policy.”

Adams reminds the Committee about how decentralized powers over elections promote “freedom:”

“There is a reason states were given power to run their own elections, namely, decentralization promotes freedom. The Constitution decentralized control over elections to the states because when power is centralized, a single malevolent actor can exert improper or dangerous control over the process. This is not wild speculation; this is a simple historical fact. Decentralized elections are more democratic because each state develops systems more suited the wishes of their own citizens.”

Before his testimony, Adams penned two op-eds in the Washington Examiner and PJ Media discussing additional issues surrounding the proposed legislation. He warns that some of the high-profile failures witnessed in California’s automatic voter registration system can become federalized under H.R. 1.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation has issued reports since 2016 detailing how flaws within the existing Motor Voter programs in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Georgia, New York, and Michigan are exposing ineligible noncitizens to the voter registration process—leading some to vote. These actions often surface when legal permanent residence seek a path to naturalization—only to risk rejection or deportation thereafter.

Read a copy of Adams’ testimony, here.

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.

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