PILF Client Inks Comprehensive Settlement in South Texas Voter Roll Suit

Agreement Outlines Maintenance, Training Reforms for Texas County

(McALLEN, TX.) – September 18, 2018: Public Interest Legal Foundation client American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) entered a settlement agreement outlining the most comprehensive strategy to date aimed at improving the quality of voter registration records, practices, and training for Starr County, Texas (ACRU v. Rodriguez et. al. 7:16-cv-00103).

Below is a summary of action items and new maintenance strategies agreed to by the parties as outlined in the agreement:

The lawsuit initiated in March 2016 after the ACRU notified Starr County pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act in December 2015 that it was apparently in violation of federal maintenance standards due to implausibly high numbers of voters in contrast to U.S. Census counts of citizens in residence there. Federal and Texas data suggested that from 2010 to 2014, the rate of registration ranged from 100 to 110 percent – very much outside of the norm for other Texas counties of similar size. Before commencing litigation, the ACRU and Starr County could not find an amicable strategy for remedying alleged voter list maintenance failures.

Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act provides parties like the ACRU the right file a lawsuit when they believe a jurisdiction is falling out of compliance with federal mandates. In the event of a judgment in favor or preferred settlement agreement, plaintiffs may seek necessary legal fees in return.

Access a copy of the settlement agreement here.

The settlement agreement provides that the parties will dismiss the Plaintiff’s claims. The dismissal was entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, McAllen Division. The case number is 7:16-cv-00103.

Eric Wiesehan and attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation represented the American Civil Rights Union for the duration of the case.

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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PILF Applauds ‘Final Victory’ in Texas Voter ID Case

(ALEXANDRIA, VA.) – September 18, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today commended Texas’ “final victory” after extensive voter ID litigation.

“Texas voters can finally rest assured their ballots will be waiting only for them on Election Day,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “While the Office of the Texas Attorney General ably handled this case to protect against classic fraud, it also helped harden defenses against external influences and threats to our elections. The ‘safety net’ memorialized in Senate Bill 5 also provides a useful example that other states can and should follow to help voters in need.

“Well-funded interest groups against voter ID should take note: rather than working to weaken our systems, expend your resources to actually help people cast ballots,” Adams added.

Read more about the Texas voter ID case, 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.

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PILF Response to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Voting Report

Report Riddled with Errors and Exaggerations for Partisan Gain

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – September 12, 2018: Leadership for the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today reacted to the findings of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ latest report outlining alleged voting access problems. Several PILF staff and board officers were invited to testify before the Commission in February 2018.

PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams notes:

“The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights isn’t living up to its historic standards. The report on voting and elections is full of errors, exaggerations, and outlandish efforts to scare minorities into thinking they won’t be able to cast a ballot. Registering to vote and voting has never been easier in the history of the United States. That fact is nowhere to be found in the document. The report reads more like a ‘Get Out the Vote’ flyer designed to benefit partisan turnout than a careful and credible report on voting. That’s a shame, and President Trump will have to very carefully examine who serves on and works for this Commission when he has the ability to appoint replacement Commissioners.

Issues with the Report

PILF Board Chairman Cleta D. Mitchell is credited, however, on page 266 for noting how the Commission’s behavior is demonstrative of “the grievance industry” on full display.

PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams, Board Chairman Cleta D. Mitchell, and Board Member Hans A. von Spakovsky were invited to discuss a wide range of topics during the Raleigh hearing in February 2018.

Excerpts from the PILF representatives’ prepared statements are provided below.

“One of the most effective ways to preserve the viability of civil rights laws is to remove partisan politics from civil rights enforcement. As soon as a sizeable segment of the public believes that civil rights laws are being leveraged for partisan ends, a sizeable segment of the public will stop supporting civil rights. The Voting Rights Act has enjoyed broad bipartisan support for decades. But if enforcement of the law is hijacked by partisan interests, the law will lose this bipartisan support.”

J. Christian Adams, PILF President and General Counsel

This Commission, with all due respect, should be about the business of gathering facts, not perpetuating myths … The recent history of litigation involving North Carolina election laws shows that the present system is working, where interest groups and litigants are having their day in court and getting their way, even when the empirical evidence discloses that minority voter turnout is not harmed by enactment of voter integrity measures. Even without preclearance requirements, federal law and the U.S. Constitution are wholly adequate to protect the right to vote.”

Cleta D. Mitchell, Foley & Lardner Partner and PILF Board Chairman

“A review of the litigation record of the Voting Section during the administrations of Bush and Obama shows a sharp, overall downward trend in the number of enforcement actions filed by the Justice Department under the various provisions of the [Voting Rights Act] from 2001 to 2016, including after 2013, the year Shelby County was decided … [F]ive years after Shelby County, there is still no evidence of widespread, systemic, official discrimination by any of the formerly covered jurisdictions or any other state.”

Hans A. von Spakovsky, Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow and PILF Board Member

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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Report: At Least 3,100 Noncitizens Registered to Vote in Just 13 Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary Cities Fail to Prosecute Alien Voting

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN.) – August 27, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released Safe Spaces, a new report detailing how noncitizens were often invited and given access to ballots in 13 sanctuary jurisdictions across seven states over the past decade. The ineligible registrations were typically discovered only after noncitizens self-reported their statuses to officials. Worse, sanctuary policies have resulted in aliens who do illegally vote never being prosecuted.

Sanctuary jurisdictions in seven states disclosed various data demonstrating how noncitizens entered their voter registration systems, voted, and were later revealed to be ineligible—often taking years for discovery. In many cases, a state’s implementation of the National Voter Registration Act, also known as the “Motor Voter” law, invited noncitizens to participate in voting and relied on those same individuals to self-report their actions at their own peril.

Summary Totals of Self-Reported or Cancelled Alien Registrations

Fairfax County, VA: 1,334

Middlesex County, NJ: 346

Chesterfield County: VA: 321

Philadelphia, PA: 317

San Diego County, CA: 264

Chicago, IL: 232

Arlington, VA: 145

Essex County, NJ: 107

San Francisco County, CA: 28

DeKalb County, GA: 11

New York, NY: 6

Riverside County, CA: 6

Ocean County, NJ: 3

Noncitizen Removals: 3,120

“The failures of Motor Voter are clearly visible in sanctuary cities,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “A terrible combination of bad Motor Voter enforcement, increasing chatter over noncitizen voting rights, and simple disregard for immigration law creates an environment for illegal voting. Bad actors and unassuming immigrants are caught up in this system all the same. Congress must update and fix the flaws in the Motor Voter system.” 

The Foundation advances solutions necessary to close off the voter registration system from ineligible noncitizens in the latest report:

The PILF is currently engaged in federal litigation to seek the release of similar documents representative of the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Harris County, Texas.

Safe Spaces follows the Foundation’s previous reports studying noncitizen voter participation in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Access to Safe Spaces: How Sanctuary Cities Are Giving Cover to Noncitizens on the Voter Rolls is 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.

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Report: How Noncitizens Vote in Allegheny County, PA

Pennsylvania Continues to Hide Full Scale of Alien Voting

(PITTSBURGH, PA.) – July 12, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released Steeling the Vote, a special report detailing how noncitizens were invited and given access to ballots in Allegheny County over the past 12 years. The ineligible registrations were discovered only after immigrants self-reported their statuses to the County.

Amid federal litigation with the Pennsylvania Department of State for complete access to noncitizen voter registration records, Allegheny County election officials disclosed hundreds of pages detailing how noncitizens were regularly offered voter registration by government employees and third-party drives, despite language barriers and clear understandings as to what they were signing. With no comprehensive system for detecting and removing ineligible voters from the rolls, the majority of cancellations derive from noncitizens self-reporting their own deportable offenses.

Key Findings

“Noncitizens have voted in Pennsylvania because Motor Voter registration is broken,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “This report proves how Pennsylvania failed citizens and immigrants alike. For decades, unassuming immigrants were invited to break the law in a systematic fashion while citizens suffered the consequences of vote dilution. Pennsylvania needs a comprehensive election integrity solution and Allegheny County clearly demonstrates what is at stake if the problem isn’t fixed. Congress must update and fix the flaws in the current Motor Voter system.” 

The Allegheny County disclosures follow shocking admissions and analyses from Commonwealth and local officials regarding the decades-long practice of offering voter registration applications to all PennDOT driver’s license customers regardless of citizenship status. The report adds that one Philadelphia city commissioner publicly testified “the number of noncitizens who entered the voter registration system during the last two decades exceeded 100,000.”

The Foundation advances solutions necessary to close off the voter registration system from ineligible noncitizens in the latest report:

The PILF is currently engaged in federal litigation to seek the release of similar documents representative of the entire Commonwealth still being held by the Department of State. A lawsuit filed under the National Voter Registration Act was filed in February 2018.

Steeling the Vote follows the Foundation’s previous reports studying New Jersey and Virginia in 2017.

Access to Steeling the Vote: Allegheny County Reveals How Citizenship Verification Protects Citizens and Immigrants Alike is available, here.

Access to exhibits referenced throughout 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.

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J. Christian Adams Commends Kavanaugh Nomination

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – July 9, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a statement in support of President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“President Trump has again delivered on his promise to appoint judges who revere the Constitution,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Judge Kavanaugh has an originalist’s record of respecting the Constitution’s purpose of limiting the power of the federal government and securing individual liberty. Americans should be thrilled that shortly, Justice Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court and upholding the federalist balance of power as originally intended.”

 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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PILF Praises SCOTUS on Texas Redistricting Maps

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 25, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision to largely uphold Texas’ redistricting maps.

“Today’s decision again demonstrates how the Obama DOJ was wrong to target Texas for its voting laws and redistricting maps,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Just like it had done in the Texas voter ID case and even the Ohio list maintenance matter, the Sessions DOJ’s course corrections were necessary and justified. The Obama DOJ seemed to find racial discrimination everywhere and spent millions of tax dollars chasing it. The Supreme Court is wise to help close this chapter.”

Adams previously co-signed a letter in 2017 calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to select effective Civil Rights Division leadership that would end the “ideological rot” tainting law enforcement decisions there.

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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PILF Praises SCOTUS Decision on ‘Partisan Gerrymandering’

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 18, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s finding that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring claims against Wisconsin’s 2011 redistricting map (Gill v. Whitford 16-1161).

“Partisan interests want courts to draw legislative districts. The Supreme Court just made that harder,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “The job of the Judiciary isn’t to decide political disputes that are best resolved in state legislatures. The Court was wise to not break with this tradition today.”

The opinion today noted in part:

That shortcoming confirms the fundamental problem with the plaintiffs’ case as presented on this record. It is a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights. But this Court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences. The Court’s constitutionally prescribed role is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it.

The Foundation, on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union, submitted an amicus brief detailing constitutional concerns in 2017. A summary of arguments are provided below.

Court precedents on the responsibilities of redistricting are clear. Except in cases where a redistricting plan targets a “racial minority for special discriminatory treatment”, states are constitutionally charged designing political jurisdiction. The brief echoes Chapman v. Meier: “We say once again that has been said on many occasions: reapportionment is primarily the duty and responsibility of the State through its legislature or other body, rather than of a federal court.”

Partisan gerrymandering claims upset the federalist balance of power. “The [lower court] based its admittedly novel conclusion not on a finding of discrimination abhorrent to deeply rooted constitutional principles but on the finding that the drafters of the plan intended ‘to entrench the Republican Party in power.’ Such a finding, built on a shaky foundation, at best, upsets the delicate balance of power,” the brief notes.

A copy of the brief, submitted on August 4, 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.

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J. Christian Adams Praises SCOTUS Decision on Ohio Voter List Maintenance Procedures

Justice Thomas Adopts Constitutional Reasoning in PILF Brief

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 11, 2018: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) President J. Christian Adams praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today regarding Ohio’s voter list maintenance policies under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) (Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph Institute 16-980).

“Today’s ruling empowers local officials and concerned parties to utilize the NVRA to ensure the most accurate and reliable voter rolls possible. The days of trying to hamstring maintenance responsibilities in the absence of federal guidance are over.

“This ruling underscores Congress’ intent to hold voter list maintenance mandates and registration opportunities with equal importance. Further, the Court rightfully challenged notions that officials were handcuffed to only taking maintenance action in the event of voter death or relocation. States and locales are charged today to take action utilizing modern tools and best practices to best serve resident citizens.”

In Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, the constitutional arguments argued on behalf of ACRU are adopted:

Respondents’ reading of the NVRA would seriously interfere with the State’s constitutional authority to set and enforce voter qualifications.

The opinion also provides support for other tools being used to clean voter rolls (“So long as the trigger for sending notices is ‘uniform, nondiscriminatory, and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act’.”).

The Court was clearly unconvinced by arguments submitted from former Justice Department luminaries such as former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, AAG Thomas E. Perez, AAG Deval Patrick, DAAG-CR Loretta King, DAAG-CR Pamela S. Karlan, DAAG-CR Julie A. Fernandes, DAAG-CR Samuel R. Bagenstos, and others. The collective’s claims that the NVRA prohibited Ohio’s procedure (especially on the “trigger” mechanism of non-voting) and arguments regarding constitutional avoidance were squarely confronted by today’s ruling. The Court concluded that Ohio’s list maintenance program follows federal law “to the letter.” As Justice Thomas explained in concurrence, the ruling was necessary to honor the States’ constitutional authority to determine who is qualified to vote in Ohio’s elections.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation previously filed an amicus brief on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union in support of Ohio’s policy for removing ineligible and outdated voters. Below is a summary of observations made in support of Ohio’s voter list maintenance policies.

The U.S. Constitution grants Ohio the power to determine which ineligible voters are subject to cancellation. Limited Congressional actions and court precedent find that regulatory authority over federal elections remains exclusively with the states.

Ohio’s ‘supplemental’ voter list maintenance process is in keeping with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002—finding otherwise violates basic principles of Federalism. Regardless of the standard used to rule, the appellate court is currently throttling Ohio’s maintenance procedures based on restrictions not found in the law. A state’s duty to set qualifications for voting is matched with the expectation that they are enforced. Further, Congress has strictly barred states from only using inactivity as a justification for voter removal. The Sixth Circuit incorrectly carries that further, blocking Ohio from its combined approach of considering inactivity and responsiveness to official inquiry.

Ohio does not remove voters simply for failure to vote—which otherwise would be violation of the NVRA and HAVA. The supplemental procedure requires that a voter failing to cast ballots for two consecutive years, does not respond to a confirmation notice within the allotted time, and continues to not vote for an additional four consecutive years be removed. Inactivity alone does not trigger an automatic cancellation.

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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J. Christian Adams Before Congress: Return Citizenship Question to Census

Reform Could Aid African-American Communities

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 8, 2018: Leadership for the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) participated in a hearing convened today by the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice regarding the inclusion of a citizenship status question in the 2020 Census.

PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams spoke in favor of the planned return of the question to its former rate of circulation on Friday, citing improved enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and curbing the “foreign influences” in the American political system.

Excerpts from Adams’ prepared remarks:

The Trump Administration’s decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census is the right decision. Justice Department officials charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act will enjoy more precise citizen population data and thus enhance enforcement of civil rights laws. A census that collects robust citizenship data also will give policy makers the tools to curb the real, everyday foreign influences in our political system – namely ending political subsidies in legislative bodies for areas with large alien populations.

Returning the citizenship question to the Census also will potentially aid African-American communities who have suffered and lost political representation when legislative line drawers do not have precise and robust citizenship data.

Adams explains in detail his own experiences as a former Justice Department attorney when limited citizenship datasets for smaller jurisdictions impacted the ability to clearly determine if minority vote dilution was occurring. He commends Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore for taking charge on the critical reform:

Some have attacked President Trump’s decision to collect robust citizenship data in the 2020 Census and questioned the justifications for that improvement made by Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore, namely that it would help enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. As I have shown in the Lake Park case, those critics are flat wrong. Mr. Gore is squarely correct. Collecting robust citizenship data in the 2020 Census aids enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Adams originally praised the March 2018 announcement regarding the inclusion of the citizenship question, noting at the time: “Only citizens should be given political power. Our current system leads to noncitizens being allocated political power in legislatures at the expense of citizens … This carries the nation one step closer to preventing against actual foreign influences in our elections.”

A copy of Adams’ prepared remarks can be found, here.

Archived video footage of the hearing has been made available here, courtesy of the House Judiciary Committee.

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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