PILF Sues South Carolina for Violating the National Voter Registration Act

Thanks to PILF’s wins in courts nationwide, it is a well-established precedent that the public has a right to inspect voter rolls. 

(Alexandria, VA) – March 18, 2024: The Public Interest Legal Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against the Executive Director of the South Carolina Election Commission, Howard Knapp, for violating Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

In February of 2024, the Foundation requested a copy of the statewide voter roll. The South Carolina Elections Commission refused to provide a copy of the voter roll to the Foundation because South Carolina law prohibits out-of-state residents or organizations from purchasing the voter roll.

South Carolina’s state residency requirement flagrantly violates federal law. The NVRA’s Public Disclosure Provision gives the public the right to inspect any state’s voter roll, no matter whether or not they live in South Carolina.

South Carolina is in violation of the NVRA’s requirements to provide a statewide voter roll for public inspection. Further, any South Carolina law that restricts who can access the voter roll violates the NVRA’s public disclosure provision and is preempted by the Supremacy Clause and the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“It doesn’t matter if you are from Pelion or Portland, Bamberg or Boston, these government records are available to the public under federal law,” said PILF President J. Christian Adams. “Voter rolls are an important list maintenance document the public has a right to inspect. PILF has fought this fight and won in court in three other states. We are confident that this lawsuit will bring transparency to South Carolina’s elections.”

Previously, the Foundation has fought and won access to the voter roll in Maine, Maryland, and Illinois. Most recently, the First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously sided with the Foundation that Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows had to hand over the state’s voter rolls without use restrictions. These cases have established precedent that under the NVRA voter rolls are public records. 

Additionally, the Foundation has an active case against Hawaii for failing to maintain and provide a statewide voter roll for public inspection.

J. Christian Adams, Joe Nixon, Maureen Riordan, and Noel Johnson are the Foundation’s attorneys in this case.

Access case documents for Public Interest Legal Foundation v. Howard M. Knapp 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.


For media inquiries, please reach out to Lbowman@publicinterestlegal.org

Public Interest Legal Foundation