California Begins Massive Voter Roll Clean-Up – Notifies Up to 1.5 Million ‘Inactive’ Voters as Part of Judicial Watch Lawsuit Settlement
JUNE 19, 2019
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has been informed that Los Angeles County has sent notices to as many as 1.5 million inactive voters on its voter rolls. This mailing is a step toward removing the names of voters who have moved, died, or are otherwise ineligible to vote. The massive mailing is the result of a settlement agreement with Judicial Watch requiring the County to remove as many as 1.5 million inactive registrations. In addition, the California secretary of state has alerted other California counties to clean up their voter registration lists to comply with the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), as the secretary promised to do in that same settlement agreement.
All of this is the result of a federal lawsuit Judicial Watch filed in 2017 to force the cleanup of Los Angeles County’s voter rolls (Judicial Watch, Inc., et al. v. Dean C. Logan, et al. (No. 2:17-cv-08948)). Judicial Watch sued on its own behalf and on behalf of Wolfgang Kupka, Rhue Guyant, Jerry Griffin, and Delores M. Mars, who are lawfully registered voters in Los Angeles County. Judicial Watch was joined in this lawsuit by Election Integrity Project California, Inc., a public interest group that has long been involved in monitoring California’s voter rolls.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, voters who do not respond to the notices sent by the county and who do not vote in the next two federal elections must be removed from the voting rolls. Secretary Padilla also agreed to update the state’s online NVRA manual in order to make clear that ineligible names must be removed and to notify each California county that they are obliged to do this. On April 11, Secretary Padilla notified Judicial Watch that this part of the settlement agreement had been implemented.
The agreement also required the office of the secretary of state to send a written advisory to all county clerks/registrars of voters in California stating that current federal law requires the cancellation of a registrant who has failed to respond to an official notice and who then fails to vote, offers to vote, correct the registrar’s record, “or otherwise have their eligibility to vote confirmed for a period of time including the next two general federal elections.”
The updated California National Voter Registration Act Manual, March 2019, conforms to this standard. In April and May 2019, the California secretary of state provided a training presentation to all 58 counties in California regarding the proper list maintenance procedures under the NVRA.
As Judicial Watch previously noted, Los Angeles County has over 10 million residents, more than the populations of 41 of the 50 United States. California is America’s largest state, with almost 40 million residents. The county had allowed more than 20% of its registered voters to become inactive without removing them from the voter list.
Judicial Watch discovered that California had treated the removal of inactive voters as permissive, not mandatory, and had not cleaned its voter registration rolls in at least 20 years. The Supreme Court affirmed last year in an opinion affirming a historic Judicial Watch settlement with Ohio that the NVRA “makes this removal mandatory.”
“This Judicial Watch settlement will result in the immediate and ongoing clean-up of voter rolls in California and LA County,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This victory for clean elections in California will set another national precedent for other states to take reasonable steps to ensure that dead and other ineligible voters are removed from the rolls.”
Judicial Watch is the national leader in enforcing the provisions of the NVRA. In early January, Judicial Watch announced that it signed a settlement agreement with the State of California and County of Los Angeles under which they will begin the process of removing from their voter registration rolls as many as 1.5 million inactive registered names that may be invalid. This was only the third statewide settlement achieved by private plaintiffs under the NVRA – and Judicial Watch was the plaintiff in each of those cases. The other statewide settlements were with Ohio (in 2014) and with Kentucky (2018), which agreed to a court-ordered consent decree.