Judicial Watch Election Integrity Project Director Robert Popper to Give Testimony to Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity
SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch Senior Attorney and Director of its Election Integrity Project Robert Popper will provide testimony to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, concerning the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).
Date: September 12, 2017
Time: Panel begins 10 am ET, Popper to give testimony in the afternoon
Location: New Hampshire Institute of Politics
Saint Anselm’s College
Manchester, New Hampshire
Prior to joining Judicial Watch, Popper worked for eight years, five as deputy chief of the Voting Section, in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, in which capacity he garnered numerous professional awards. In his role as the Director of the Election Integrity Project, Popper has spearheaded Judicial Watch efforts nationwide to ensure clean elections, enforcement of both Section 8 of the NVRA and the federal Help America Vote Act requiring states to maintain accurate voting rolls.
In his prepared testimony for the presidential election commission, Popper states:
The American people have come to believe that there are serious problems with our electoral system. One study from last year showed that Americans have little faith in the integrity of their elections and postulated that this partly explains low voter turnout. A Rasmussen poll from 2016 reported that only 41% of those polled believe “American elections are fair to voters.” A Washington Post-ABC News poll from 2016 found that 46% of those polled believed that voter fraud happens either “somewhat” or “very” often.
There are over 2,800 counties in states covered by the NVRA. Of these, 415, or about 15% of all covered counties, did not report sending any confirmation notices during the two-year period from 2014 to 2016. This fact suggests a widespread failure to comply with the NVRA. Moreover, of the counties that did report sending confirmation notices, another 581, or about 20% of the total, reported sending notices during the last two-year period to fewer than 5% of their registered voters. Given that the Census Bureau reports that about 11% of Americans move every year, these low rates also suggest that these counties are not diligently conducting voter list maintenance.
Counties’ overall registration rates also reveal compliance issues. Our study showed that, in 462 U.S. counties, the number of voter registrations exceeded the number of citizens over the age of 18 who resided in those counties. In other words, those counties’ registration rates exceeded 100% of the population eligible to register. Federal courts have repeatedly held that such an imbalance between registrations and age-eligible citizens is grounds for believing that a jurisdiction is not living up to its list maintenance obligations. These 462 counties, moreover, constitute about 17% of all U.S. counties covered by the NVRA where we have enough data to make these calculations.
These facts show widespread noncompliance with the NVRA. The problem, moreover, is worse than it was even a few years ago. When Judicial Watch conducted a similar registration analysis in 2015, we found that 312 counties covered by the NVRA had more registered voters than voting-age citizen population, which was about 11% of all counties where we had the data necessary to make this comparison.
The Department during the last administration appears to have completely abandoned all efforts to enforce the list maintenance provisions of Section 8 of the NVRA. Even worse, the Department engaged in litigation specifically intended to limit the ability of states to remove ineligible registrations from the rolls.
We know that voter fraud, whether impersonation fraud, absentee ballot fraud, registration fraud, double voting, noncitizen voting, or voting by those ineligible under state law, occurs and is, in some form, a feature of every election, and we have suggestive, but not conclusive, evidence about the extent of such fraud. We also know that voter fraud is hard to detect and prove, especially where the law requires a showing of specific intent. We know that many states do not even bother to track voter fraud. We also know that this is probably to be expected, given that voter fraud often is lightly penalized. In preparing my statement, I happened to research some of the voter fraud laws in neighboring Vermont. Its election law provides that the penalty for casting more than one ballot is a maximum fine of $1,000 for a primary or general election, $100 for a local election, and no incarceration in either case. At the same time, Vermont law provides that the penalty for selling maple syrup without a license is a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to a year in prison. [Emphasis added]
The state of Indiana pledged a statewide clean-up of voter registration lists and passed an election integrity law in response to a Judicial Watch lawsuit. Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to reverse a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which had ruled that Ohio’s process for cleaning voter rolls was in violation of the NVRA.
In April, based on its analysis of available census and voter registration data, Judicial Watch sent letters to 102 counties in 11 states, warning them that if they did not comply with their list maintenance obligations under Section 8 of the NVRA, they would be subject to a private lawsuit. States include: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
In addition, in August, Judicial Watch sent a notice-of-violation letter to the state of California and 11 of its counties threatening to sue in federal court if it does not clean its voter registration lists as mandated by the NVRA. The letter was sent on behalf of several Judicial Watch California supporters and the Election Integrity Project California, Inc.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “We are pleased and proud to be represented by former DOJ official Robert Popper before President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. Clean and fair elections are foundational to Americans’ faith in the electoral process. Voter ID, citizenship verification, clean election rolls, and law enforcement are all key steps to protecting our elections from fraud.”
Popper joined Judicial Watch in September 2013 as a senior attorney and as director of Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project. Prior to joining Judicial Watch, Popper worked for eight years, five as deputy chief of the Voting Section, in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, in which capacity he garnered numerous professional awards. Before that, Popper worked as a private attorney in New York City for 17 years, where his practice extended to a wide range of legal matters, including voting rights. Popper served as counsel in a successful constitutional challenge alleging racial segregation in the design of New York’s congressional districts, and successfully defended the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Popper is a published author on the topic of voting rights law. He developed a legal standard relating to gerrymandering that is widely cited by experts and was adopted by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. He has testified before the Missouri Senate Redistricting Committee and the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee; and he has spoken about voting rights to a conference of U.S. Attorneys at the National Advocacy Center, to state officials, and to countless local community representatives.
To watch Popper’s testimony live, click here.