Judge: Indiana Lawsuit to Clean Up Voting Rolls Can Proceed
On Monday, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Indiana denied a motion by the state of Indiana to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two watchdog groups. Judicial Watch and True the Vote alleged that Indiana election officials violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) by failing to maintain clean voter registration lists as required by the NVRA.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the decision was "a major victory for the people of Indiana and all who value the integrity of the ballot box nationwide."
"Indiana’s election officials who shirked their responsibility to maintain clean voter registration lists have been put on notice that their lackadaisical attitude is no longer acceptable,” Fitton said. “This victory should put other states on notice that they need to take reasonable and responsible steps to remove dead and ineligible voters from the rolls. The Obama Justice Department has been AWOL on this issue so we will stand in the gap for election integrity.”
True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said the decision was "excellent news for Americans concerned with the integrity of our elections."
“Election officials, from local offices to secretaries of state, cannot wash their hands of the federal requirement to maintain accurate voter rolls for any reason. This decision should serve as clear evidence that citizens can and will hold our election system accountable," Engelbrecht said. “Yesterday’s decision set a standard for private citizens wanting to make a difference. Bloated voter rolls are clear evidence that election officials are not doing the jobs they were hired to do."
Engelbrecht added that True the Vote and Judicial Watch would "continue to expose and correct any instance of failure to maintain our voter rolls," and she hoped "the parties can reach a settlement that fixes the problem and saves Indiana taxpayers from the needless cost of litigation.”
The State of Indiana alleged True the Vote and Judicial Watch did not have standing within Indiana to bring the lawsuit.
On February 6, 2012, Judicial Watch sent Indiana election officials a letter informing the state that it was in violation of the NVRA because it had failed to clean its voting records, as evidenced by the fact that fact that 12 Indiana counties had more registered voters than residents.
After Judicial Watch requested the state of Indiana, per section 8 of the NVRA, make all records regarding the "implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency” of voter registration lists, Indiana "responded by summarily dismissing these concerns about the rolls and by flatly refusing to produce documents about this issue." That prompted Judicial Watch to file suit on June 11, 2012.
The Court ultimately ruled that Judicial Watch had standing because it has “has satisfied this burden by alleging that its members who are registered to vote in Indiana are injured by Indiana’s failure to comply with the NVRA list maintenance requirements.” True the Vote, the court ruled, also had standing because it “has suffered injuries because of the Defendants alleged failure to comply with the NVRA and therefore has standing to bring its List Maintenance Claim.”
According to the non-partisan Pew Research Center study in February 2012, nearly 24 million active voter registrations throughout the United States (one out of every eight registrations) are "are either no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate."