If States Maintain Voter List Maintenance Documents Beyond the NVRA’s Two Year Requirement, They Must Disclose Them.
(Harrisburg, PA) – April 4, 2022: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) secured a landmark ruling for transparency in Pennsylvania’s elections.
The Commonwealth publicly admitted that due to an alleged programming “glitch” the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation had allowed foreign nationals to register to vote for decades. Through a public records request, PILF asked to inspect records showing the extent of the problem and actions taken by the Commonwealth to rectify errors in the official voter lists. The Commonwealth denied the request, claiming the records were outside the scope of federal inspection rights.
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that PILF is entitled to these documents under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Judge Christopher Conner writes, “transparency in how states determine voter eligibility—the vital bedrock of our electoral system—is generally paramount.”
In the lawsuit, the Foundation also sought the voting history of more than 1,100 non-citizen registrants who self-reported their ineligibility and requested cancellation of their voter registrations. Previously, after the court rejected the Commonwealth’s request to dismiss the suit, the Commonwealth shared the list of names with PILF, in what the court described as a “veritable sea of black ink” that contained no voting histories. The Court ruled that the Commonwealth must disclose these voting histories too.
Additionally, the Court ruled that if states maintain records for longer than the two-year requirement by the NVRA, then they are required to also disclose these records if they are relevant to a public records request.
“This is monumental victory for election integrity,” said PILF President J. Christian Adams. “Americans have a right to documents exposing government malfeasance and non-citizens being registered and even voting. Pennsylvania spent four years fighting transparency and trying to hide their mistakes. It is sad that transparency in Pennsylvania elections had to be enforced by a Court.”
This lawsuit was filed in February 2018. Prior case filings and documents can be found here. A copy of the Court’s written ruling is here.
Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly 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 has brought lawsuits and won victories in Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and across the United States.
Attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation in this case were Noel H. Johnson and Kaylan Philips. Philadelphia-based Linda A. Kerns of the Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC, served as local counsel.
For media inquiries, please reach out to Lbowman@publicinterestlegal.org