Judicial Watch/True the Vote to Court: Require Indiana to Clean Up Voter Rolls
Lawsuit Evidence: Indiana Election Officials Have Failed to Maintain Clean Voter Registration Lists Since 2009; Rolls in 12 Indiana Counties Exceed 100% of Total Voting-age Population
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today announced that on October 11, 2013, it filed a motion for summary judgment in the historic litigation (Judicial Watch, et. al v. King, et. al (No.1:12-cv-00800)) against election officials in the State of Indiana for violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Judicial Watch and its co-plaintiff and client, True the Vote, a grassroots election integrity watchdog, allege that the State of Indiana failed to maintain clean voter registration lists as required by the NVRA. True the Vote is a citizens’ watchdog dedicated to securing the integrity of America’s elections.
In the motion for summary judgment, Judicial Watch and True the Vote presented the court with the following new evidence gathered against Indiana over the past 15 months of litigation:
- The Indiana Election Division Co-Directors “frequently disagreed… concerning voter list maintenance, preventing Indiana from initiating numerous voter list maintenance programs.”
- “Indiana has taken a mostly passive approach to voter list maintenance, even though states are required to actively lead, direct, and oversee a list maintenance program under the NVRA.”
- Though the Indiana Department of Health is “required by Indiana law to obtain out-of-state death information from other states for purposes of assisting the Election Division to maintain the voter registration rolls,” for several years has “failed to comply with Indiana law in this regard.”
- Indiana’s voter rolls were inaccurate “due to a general failure to adequately identify voters who had died out-of-state or relocated out-of-state”
- Local Indiana election officials testified that they “cannot effectively undertake efforts to maintain voter registration rolls” unless the Indiana State Government coordinates the participation of “as many as 6 separate Indiana state offices and local election officials in all 92 Indiana counties.”
- Judicial Watch and True the Vote’s expert witness, former Georgia Secretary of State and Chief Election Official Karen Handel, concluded that “Indiana has failed to conduct even the most basic list maintenance program to ensure reasonably accurate voter rolls.”
Arguing that “Indiana has violated NVRA Section 8’s requirement to ‘conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters,’” the Judicial Watch/True the Vote motion cited the following “reasonable activities” the state of Indiana failed to undertake:
- “Conduct a statewide mailing to all registered voters pursuant to the NVRA to identify voters who have moved;
- “Ensure that the Indiana Department of Health obtains death information from other states via the State and Territorial Exchange of Vital Events(“STEVE”) and Electronic Verification of Vital Events (“EVVE”) interstate systems and provides the information to the Election Division for list maintenance;
- “Obtain the Social Security Death Index (“SSDI”) from the federal government and provide appropriate information from the SSDI to each local official;
- “Enter the Interstate Voter Registration Cross-Check (“IVRC”) program for the identification of Indiana voters who move out-of-state;
- “Obtain the National Change of Address (“NCOA”) database from the U.S. Postal Service to identify relocated voters; and
- “Obtain access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (“SAVE”) database from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to identify non-citizen registered voters.”
In addition, the Judicial Watch/True the Vote motion alleged Indiana has neglected to undertake reasonable oversight activities including a failure to conduct adequate training and instruction of local elections officials, to monitor the list maintenance performance of local officials on a regular basis, and to provide state funding to local officials to carry out list maintenance programs.
The case against the State of Indiana began on February 6, 2012, when Judicial Watch notified election officials by letter that the state is in violation of the NVRA, having failed to clean its voting records to the extent that “the number of persons registered to vote exceeded the total voting population in twelve Indiana counties.” The Judicial Watch letter also requested that the State of Indiana make available for public inspection all records concerning “the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency” of official lists of eligible voters, per Section 8 of the NVRA.
Indiana officials responded by summarily dismissing these concerns about the rolls and by flatly refusing to produce documents about this issue. On June 11, 2012, Judicial Watch and True the Vote filed suit, naming Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Indiana Election Division Directors J. Bradley Kind and Trent Deckard as defendants in their official capacity. On December 10, 2012, the District Court denied the state’s motion to dismiss the suit ruling that both Judicial Watch and True the Vote had suffered injuries because of the state’s “failure to comply with the NVRA list maintenance requirements.”
In 2006, the federal government sued election officials in Indiana and forced the state to take measures to comply with the voter list maintenance under the NVRA, which requires that states “conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters.” However, the remedies enacted by the state under a consent decree proved to be temporary and were largely abandoned when the consent decree expired in 2009.
Based upon Judicial Watch’s analysis of publicly available data for the November 2010 general election, the number of persons listed on voter registration rolls in 12 counties in the State of Indiana exceeds 100% of the total voting-age population in those counties. According to the motion for summary judgment, Judicial Watch also found that “Following the expiration of the 2006 Consent Decree in 2009, Indiana ceased regularly monitoring local election officials’ performance of voter list maintenance tasks and ceased notifying local election officials of violations or apparent problems with voter rolls.” The motion also alleges that the state failed to obtain adequate death information or identify voters who had moved out of state.
As part of its 2012 Election Integrity Project Judicial Watch conducted an investigation demonstrating that voter rolls in the following states contained the names of individuals ineligible to vote: Mississippi, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, and California. Judicial Watch notified these states on that they must clean up their voter registration lists or face Judicial Watch lawsuits. Judicial Watch and True the Vote subsequently filed lawsuits against election officials in Indiana and Ohio, and prompted the state of Florida and other states, without litigation, to remove thousands of ineligible voters from state registration lists.
The Obama Justice Department pressured states to register greater numbers of voters on public assistance in 2012, while ignoring a stipulation in the NVRA requiring states to clean up voter registration lists. The Justice Department also opposed voter ID laws and other election integrity measures.
“The facts are truly against Indiana in this case,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “When the state admits in court its continued inability to share basic information between agencies to maintain voter rolls, then we have a serious breakdown in the execution of our most basic of civil rights. Indiana has been reprimanded before for these procedural breakdowns by the Department of Justice – the actions taken by True the Vote and Judicial Watch are intended to ensure that justice will be served.”
“Our lawsuit has documented beyond any doubt the utter failure of Indiana’s election officials to maintain accurate and current voter registration rolls. This failure is not only a violation of federal law, but it harms citizens’ confidence in the integrity of elections and undermines the stability and effectiveness of the electoral system,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Unfortunately, Indiana has rejected multiple offers to settle this case. So once again, a federal court may have to intervene to force Indiana officials to obey the law and clean up Indiana’s voting rolls.”