Judicial Watch and Allied Educational Foundation Submit Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Tennessee’s Attempt to Remove Ineligible Voters from Voter Registration Lists
JUNE 13, 2012
Tennessee Democrat Rep. Lincoln Davis’s lawsuit ‘could have a chilling effect on other States’ efforts to prevent election fraud by performing ordinary voter list maintenance.’
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed an amicus curiae brief (Lincoln Davis v. Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State and Mark Goins, Tennessee Coordinator of Elections (No. 2:12-cv-00023)) on June 8, 2012, with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division in support of Tennessee’s attempts to remove ineligible registrations from the state’s voter rolls. Judicial Watch’s brief, jointly submitted with the Allied Educational Foundation, is in response to a lawsuit filed by Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) seeking an injunction to state’s effort to clean up its voter registration lists. The Tennessee Democratic Party is a “Proposed Plaintiff” in the lawsuit.
Rep. Davis filed his lawsuit after learning at a polling station on Super Tuesday that his name was removed from a voter registration list due to a clerical error. Overall, election officials removed six eligible voters from the voter registration list by mistake. These voters were reinstated after the error was discovered. Election officials at the polling station reportedly advised Rep. Davis that although his name was not on the voter registration list, he could lawfully submit a “provisional ballot.”
The provisional ballot law, created as part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, ensures that anyone who claims to be eligible to vote in a precinct can submit their vote when they show up at the polls even if their name is not on the registered voter list. The vote will be considered valid once the eligibility of the voter has been subsequently confirmed. Rather than taking advantage of the provisional ballot provision, however, Rep. Davis elected to file a lawsuit instead.
According to Judicial Watch’s amicus curiae brief, “provisional voting is the remedy Congress intended for remedying voter list mistakes” and Rep. Davis’s lawsuit is a “needlessly drastic” response:
Plaintiffs allege that Tennessee improperly removed approximately six (6) names from the voter rolls, an oversight which has since been corrected. Plaintiffs nonetheless ask for a needlessly drastic preliminary injunction to address a minor clerical mistake that by law is remedied by the availability of a provisional ballot and in fact has already been remedied by the appropriate election officials. If this Court rules in favor of Plaintiffs, it could have a chilling effect on other States’ efforts to prevent election fraud by performing ordinary voter list maintenance.
Judicial Watch argues that Rep. Davis’s lawsuit has the “potential to worsen an already significant nationwide problem,” as voter rolls in many states remain rife with errors and are often highly inaccurate. According to research conducted by the Center for the States of the non-partisan Pew Charitable Trusts “approximately 24 million active voter registrations throughout the United States – or one out of every eight registrations – are either no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.”
“It is now clear that the political Left is intent on blocking even the most modest attempts to ensure clean and fair elections. Rep. Davis’s lawsuit would result in irreparable harm to the integrity of the voting process in Tennessee over a minor clerical error,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Lawsuits such as this are inviting Election Day chaos across the country. And recent events in Florida show that the politicized Obama Justice Department stands in opposition to clean voter rolls and election integrity.”
According to Judicial Watch’s amicus curiae brief, The Help America Vote Act of 2002 works in conjunction with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) to “both increase lawful access to the ballot box and to prevent fraud by increasing election integrity.”
However, the Obama Justice Department is aggressively enforcing a provision of the NVRA that requires states to register voters on public assistance, while ignoring a provision that requires states to ensure that each voter is eligible to vote. The Justice Department has also filed lawsuits against Texas and South Carolina against attempts by election officials in those states to implement voter integrity initiatives such as voter ID laws.
The Justice Department most recently went to court this week to stop from Florida from investigating non-citizen and other ineligible voters currently on the voting rolls there. The state removed 53,000 deceased voters from its list after Judicial Watch filed a letter of inquiry raising questions about list maintenance procedures in Florida. Florida election officials insist the purge will continue. On Monday, June 11, the state filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to gain access to a federal database that will assist the state in removing ineligible alien voters from its list.
On Monday, June 11, as part of its 2012 Election Integrity Project, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the State of Indiana for failing to clean up its voter registration lists. Additional lawsuits against states with dirty voter registration rolls are forthcoming.