Judicial Watch announced today that the State of Pennsylvania and three Pennsylvania counties admitted they reported incorrect information to a federal agency concerning the removal of ineligible voters from their voter rolls. In April, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania and three of its counties for failing to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from their rolls, as required by the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) (Judicial Watch v. Pennsylvania, et al (No. 1:02-at-06000)).
Federal regulations require Pennsylvania to certify to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) the number of voter registrations removed from the rolls under the NVRA because the voter has moved out of state. According to data the State certified to the EAC in the most recent two-year reporting period:
- Bucks County, with about 457,000 registrations, removed a total of eight names under the relevant NVRA procedures;
- Chester County, with about 357,000 registrations, removed five names under those procedures; and
- Delaware County, with about 403,000 registrations, removed four names under those procedures.
In recent court filings, Pennsylvania admitted it had certified incorrect data to the EAC. The State alleged unverified, revised figures for Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties. Those three counties also alleged their own unverified, revised figures, which differed, however, from those provided by the State. The new numbers alleged by the State and its counties are still a small fraction of the voter names likely inactive, according to Judicial Watch’s analysis provided to the court. Judicial Watch contends that, “even if these numbers are accurate, which we do not concede, they would still be removing too few old registrations.”
In its revised filings, the State also conceded that eighteen other Pennsylvania counties—which together contain about one quarter of Pennsylvania’s registered voters—had removed a combined total of fifteen names under the relevant NVRA procedures in the most recent two-year reporting period.
In its continuing efforts to force states and counties across the nation to comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), Judicial Watch filed its opposition to Pennsylvania’s move to dismiss Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, which contends that Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties failed to conduct a reasonable program to remove ineligible registrants from their federal voter rolls as required under the NVRA.
The lawsuit pointed to the abnormally low number of removals under NVRA procedures designed to identify voters who have changed residence. The lawsuit also pointed out that the Commonwealth had over 800,000 “inactive” registrations on its voter rolls.
Judicial Watch compared registration data in the EAC’s report (which was supplied to the EAC by the counties) to publicly available data from the Census Bureau to conclude that Bucks, Chester, and Delaware Counties had total registration rates, respectively, of 96%, 97%, and 97%. Judicial Watch noted that these numbers are high, both within Pennsylvania and compared to the rest of the country, suggesting a failure to remove outdated registrations.
Other Pennsylvania counties have acted to avoid being sued by Judicial Watch. On January 14, 2020, CBS Pittsburgh reported that because of the threat of a lawsuit from Judicial Watch, Allegheny County removed 69,000 inactive voters. David Voye, Elections Manager for the county told CBS, “I would concede that we are behind on culling our rolls,” and that this had “been put on the backburner.”
“Pennsylvania’s voting rolls are such a mess that even Pennsylvania can’t tell a court the details of how dirty or clean they are. The simple solution is to follow federal law and take the necessary and simple steps to clean up their voter rolls,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Judicial Watch is the national leader in enforcing federal law which requires states to take reasonable steps to clean their voting rolls.
In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a massive voter roll clean up that resulted from a Judicial Watch settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio.
California also settled a similar lawsuit with Judicial Watch that last year began the process of removing up to 1.5 million “inactive” names from Los Angeles County voting rolls. Kentucky also began a cleanup of up to 250,00 names last year after it entered into a consent decree to end another Judicial Watch lawsuit.
Judicial Watch Attorney Robert Popper is the director of Judicial Watch’s clean elections initiative.