Ballot Update: Judicial Watch Cleans Up Dirty Voter Rolls
Back in January, Judicial Watch had some big news. Our investigation of voter rolls nationwide turned up 2.5 million extra names. Our analysis of data from the U.S Election Assistance Commission found 378 counties that had a combined 2.5 million more voter registrations than citizens old enough to vote. We warned five states—California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, and Virginia—that we intended to sue unless they cleaned up their voter rolls.
Judicial Watch is the national leader in election integrity education and litigation. We’re cleaning up dirty voter rolls across the nation. Under the National Voter Registration Act, states are required to remove “inactive voters” from registration rolls if they do not respond to an address confirmation notice and then fail to vote in the next two general federal elections. Many “inactive voters” in fact have died or moved to a new location.
It’s not news that ballot disputes are bitter partisan affairs, filled with wild attacks and misinformation. But Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton insists that voting abuse cases should not be a Right-Left death match. “If you’re a Leftist Democrat trying to take on an incumbent in a corrupt jurisdiction, voter fraud can keep you from gaining traction as well,” he says. Judicial Watch recently investigated such a case in New Jersey.
In April, we sued Pennsylvania for failing to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from their rolls, as required by the NVRA. Earlier this month, Pennsylvania offered a limited capitulation: it admitted it had reported incorrect information to a federal agency on the removal of ineligible voters.
The Pennsylvania numbers were pathetic. The state initially claimed that in one county of 457,000 registrants, it had found only eight inactive names eligible for removal under the NVRA; in another county of 357,000 registrants, five such names had been removed; in a third county of 403,000 registrants, four such names removed. The state has since revised its numbers, but even the new numbers are too small. Pennsylvania now admits that in eighteen other counties—which together contain twenty-five percent of the entire state’s registered voters—it removed a grand total of fifteen inactive, ineligible voters.
Judicial Watch is keeping the pressure on Pennsylvania. “Pennsylvania’s voting rolls are such a mess that even Pennsylvania can’t tell a court the details of how dirty or clean they are,” Tom says. “The simple solution is to follow the federal law and take the necessary and simple steps to clean up their voter rolls.”
We’ve also gone to court in Colorado to clean up voter rolls. Authoritative studies in recent years show that a majority of Colorado counties have registration rates that exceed 100% of the voting-age population. (Read more about the studies in the Judicial Watch lawsuit, here.) In fact, Colorado leads the nation in percentages of counties with more than 100% of eligible voters registered to vote.
Our lawsuit charges “an ongoing, systemic problem with Colorado’s voter list maintenance obligations” and asks the court to order the state to “implement a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the registration of ineligible registrants” from voter rolls.
In April, we filed suit against North Carolina for the same reason—large numbers of ineligible voters on the state voter rolls. Our lawsuit argues that North Carolina has about one million inactive voters on its rolls. That’s about seventeen percent of the state’s total voter registration.
The state has a terrible voter registration record, one of the worst in the nation. In nineteen North Carolina counties, twenty percent of the registrations were inactive. In three other counties, twenty-five percent or more were inactive.
We told the court that North Carolina failed to clean up its voter rolls. In addition, we say, the state violated the National Voter Registration Act by not providing Judicial Watch with public records related to registration numbers.
Public records are something we know a lot about. Judicial Watch is famously at the forefront of freedom of information efforts around the nation. Less well known, but no less important, are our efforts in election integrity education and litigation. For more on that, take a look at this discussion between Tom Fitton and Judicial Watch Election Integrity Initiative Director Robert Popper on cleaning up dirty voter rolls.
Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: [email protected]
Investigative Bulletin is published by Judicial Watch. Reprints and media inquiries: [email protected]