Judicial Watch Victory: Federal Court Orders Maryland to Release Complete Voter Registration Records
(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that a federal court ordered the State of Maryland to produce the voter list for Montgomery County that includes the registered voters’ date of birth. This court ruling is the latest in a series of victories for Judicial Watch in its lawsuit filed July 18, 2017, against Montgomery County and the Maryland State Boards of Elections under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).
Judicial Watch filed suit for the Maryland voter list data after uncovering that there were more registered voters in Montgomery County than citizens over the age of 18 who could legally register (Judicial Watch vs. Linda H. Lamone, et al. (No. 1:17-cv-02006)).
Ruling in Judicial Watch’s favor, Judge Hollander said:
Judicial Watch need not demonstrate its need for birth date information in order to facilitate its effort to ensure that the voter rolls are properly maintained. Nevertheless, it has put forward reasonable justifications for requiring birth date information, including using birth dates to find duplicate registrations and searching for voters who remain on the rolls despite “improbable” age.
In order to avoid turning over the dates of birth for Maryland voters, the Maryland Administrator of Elections, Linda Lamone, directed her staff to remove date of birth as a field on the voter registration application. Judge Hollander ruled that Lamone could not do this, saying:
Because full voter birth dates appear on completed voter registration applications, the Administrator may not bypass the Act by unilaterally revising the Application.
Organizations such as Judicial Watch have the resources and expertise that few individuals can marshal. By excluding these organizations from access to voter registration lists, the State law undermines Section 8(i)’s efficacy. Accordingly, [Maryland election law] is an obstacle to the accomplishment of the NVRA’s purposes. It follows that the State law is preempted in so far as it allows only Maryland registered voters to access voter registration lists.
The judge at the time also asked both Judicial Watch and Maryland to brief the issue of access to birth dates “more fully,” and reserved her ruling on that point. This recent ruling resolves the last remaining issue in the case, allowing Judicial Watch access to full voter registration files for Montgomery County registrants.
The dispute over the voter registration list arose from an April 11, 2017, notice letter sent to Maryland election officials, in which Judicial Watch explained that Montgomery County had an impossibly high registration rate – over 100 percent of its age-eligible citizenry. The letter threatened a lawsuit if the problems with Montgomery County’s voter rolls were not fixed. The letter also requested access to Montgomery County voter registration lists in order to evaluate the efficacy of any “programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of Maryland’s official eligible voter lists during the past 2 years.”
Democrat Maryland officials, in response, went so far as to accuse Judicial Watch of being an agent of Russia, an allegation they later dropped.
New federal data released in summer 2019 showed that the number of Montgomery County’s voter registrations still appeared to be over 100 percent of its age-eligible citizenry.
“Maryland politicians fought us tooth and nail to keep Judicial Watch from uncovering the full truth about their dirty election rolls,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This latest court victory will allow Judicial Watch to ensure Maryland and Montgomery County are removing voters who have moved or died long ago.”
Judicial Watch is the national leader in enforcing the National Voters Registration Act.
Recently, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against North Carolina and two of its counties for failing to clean their voter rolls. According to Judicial Watch’s analysis of voter registration data, many of North Carolina’s 100 counties have large numbers of ineligible voters on their rolls. Judicial Watch also alleges that the States’ own data shows that North Carolina has nearly one million inactive voters on its rolls.
In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a voter-roll cleanup program that resulted from a Judicial Watch settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio. California settled an NVRA lawsuit with Judicial Watch and last year began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County’s voter rolls. Kentucky also began a cleanup of hundreds of thousands of old registrations last year after it entered into a consent decree to end another Judicial Watch lawsuit.
In December 2019, Judicial Watch provided notice to 19 large counties in five states that it intended to sue unless they took steps to comply with the NVRA by removing ineligible registrations from their rolls. In addition to North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Judicial Watch sent letters to counties in California, Virginia, and Colorado. Judicial Watch’s 2019 study of election data found at least 2.5 million “extra” names on voting rolls across the country.
Judicial Watch Attorney Robert Popper is the director of Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity initiative.