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Judicial Watch announced on Friday that it sent notice letters to election officials in the District of Columbia, California, and Illinois, notifying them of evident violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993, based on their failure to remove inactive voters from their registration rolls. The letters point out that these jurisdictions publicly reported removing few or no ineligible voter registrations under a key provision of the NVRA. The letters threaten federal lawsuits unless the violations are corrected in a timely fashion. In response to Judicial Watch’s inquiries, Washington, DC, officials admitted that they had not complied with the NVRA, promptly removed 65,544 outdated names from the voting rolls, promised to remove 37,962 more, and designated another 73,522 registrations as “inactive.”

The NVRA requires states to “conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove” from the official voter rolls “the names of ineligible voters” who have died or changed residence. The law requires registrations to be cancelled when voters fail to respond to address confirmation notices and then fail to vote in the next two general federal elections. In 2018, the Supreme Court confirmed that such removals are mandatory (Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Inst., 138 S. Ct. 1833, 1841-42 (2018)).

Federal law directs the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to submit a report to Congress every second year assessing how states are complying with the NVRA. Federal regulations require states to provide data to the EAC for use in this report. On June 29, 2023, the EAC posted data from the most recent surveys it sent to the states and the District of Columbia for the reporting period from November 2020 through November 2022.

Based on the data contained in this report, Judicial Watch contacted a number of states and Washington, DC, to inquire about their compliance with federal law and to request public records. After processing the responses to these communications, Judicial Watch sent notice of violation letters to Washington, DC, California, and Illinois, detailing their non-compliance with the NVRA.

The notice letter to the District of Columbia, sent on behalf of Judicial Watch and the District of Columbia Republican Party, reports:

  • DC reported removing zero voter registrations in the last two-year reporting period for failing to respond to an address confirmation notice and failing to vote for two consecutive general federal elections.
  • DC flatly admitted in correspondence with Judicial Watch that it was failing to remove registrations as required by the NVRA, citing data conversion, staffing, and other issues.
  • DC’s total registration rate—its total number of registrations divided by the most recent census estimates of its citizen voting-age population—is greater than 131%.

The notice letter to California, sent on behalf of Judicial Watch and the Libertarian Party of California, states:

  • California’s survey responses to the EAC show that 27 California counties reported removing five or fewer—and, in most of those counties, zero—voter registrations in the last two-year period for failing to respond to an address confirmation notice and failing to vote in two consecutive general federal elections.
  • Another 19 California counties simply did not report any data about such removals.
  • Twenty-one California counties had more voter registrations than citizens over the age of 18, based on the most recent census estimates.

In all, 46 California counties reported removing only a handful, or no registrations under the NVRA’s change of address rules, or else failed to report any data at all. These 46 counties contain more than 14 million registered voters.

The notice letter to Illinois, sent on behalf of Judicial Watch, Illinois resident and voter Carol J. Davis, and Illinois Family Action, states:

  • In Illinois’ responses to the EAC’s survey, 23 Illinois counties reported removing fewer than 15—and, in almost half of those counties, zero—voter registrations from November 2020 to November 2022 for failing to respond to an address confirmation notice and failing to vote in two consecutive general federal elections.
  • Thirty-four Illinois jurisdictions simply did not report any data about such removals.
  • Fifteen Illinois jurisdictions have more voter registrations than citizens of voting age.

In total, 57 Illinois counties that either reported removing 15 or fewer registrations or failed to report any data at all under the NVRA’s change of address removal procedures. These 57 counties contain over five million registered voters.

Last month, the District of Columbia admitted in correspondence to Judicial Watch that it removed 65,544 inactive voters, will soon remove an additional 37,962 inactive voters, and that it has designated another 73,522 inactive names for potential removal.

California provided some public records and promised a further, substantive response. Illinois provided some public records and promises a further, substantive response. Ultimately, however, if Judicial Watch is not satisfied with the jurisdictions’ responses to its notice letters, Judicial Watch plans to sue under the National Voter Registration Act to ensure the jurisdictions take certain reasonable steps to clean up their voter rolls as the law requires.

“Dirty voter rolls increase the potential for voter fraud,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “As Washington, DC’s, quick cleanup of tens of thousands of names in response to Judicial Watch shows, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of names on the voter rolls that should be removed by California and Illinois. Indeed, Judicial Watch litigation resulted in the removal of four million names from voter rolls in various states recently.”

Judicial Watch is a national leader in voting integrity and voting rights. As part of its work, Judicial Watch assembled a team of highly experienced voting rights attorneys who stopped discriminatory elections in Hawaii, and cleaned up voter rolls in California, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, among other achievements.

Robert Popper, a Judicial Watch senior attorney, leads its election law program. Popper was previously in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, where he managed voting rights investigations, litigations, consent decrees, and settlements in dozens of states.

In July 2023 Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief, supporting the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, which struck down Maine’s policy restricting the use and distribution of the state’s voter registration list (Public Interest Legal Foundation v. Shenna Bellows (No. 23-1361). According to a national study conducted by Judicial Watch in 2020, Maine’s statewide registration rate was 101% of eligible voters.

Judicial Watch in July 2023 also settled a federal election integrity lawsuit on behalf of the Illinois Conservative Union against the state of Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Elections, and its director, which grants access to the current centralized statewide list of registered voters for the state for the past 15 elections.

In April 2023, Pennsylvania settled with Judicial Watch and admitted in court filings that it removed 178,258 ineligible registrations in response to communications from Judicial Watch. The settlement commits Pennsylvania and five of its counties to extensive public reporting of statistics regarding their ongoing voter roll clean-up efforts for the next five years.

In March 2023, Colorado agreed to settle a Judicial Watch NVRA lawsuit alleging that Colorado failed to remove ineligible voters from its rolls. The settlement agreement requires Colorado to provide Judicial Watch with the most recent voter roll data for each Colorado county each year for six years.

In February 2023, Los Angeles County confirmed removal of 1,207,613 ineligible voters from its rolls since last year, under the terms of a settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit Judicial Watch filed in 2017.

Judicial Watch settled a federal election integrity lawsuit against New York City after the city removed 441,083 ineligible names from the voter rolls and promised to take reasonable steps going forward to clean its voter registration lists.

Kentucky also removed hundreds of thousands of old registrations after it entered into a consent decree to end another Judicial Watch lawsuit.

In February 2022, Judicial Watch settled a voter roll clean-up lawsuit against North Carolina and two of its counties after North Carolina removed over 430,000 inactive registrations from its voter rolls.

In March 2022, a Maryland court ruled in favor of Judicial Watch’s challenge to the Democratic state legislature’s “extreme” congressional-districts gerrymander.

Author: Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach. Visit Judicial Watch at https://www.judicialwatch.org/


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