Historic Settlement Reached with Ohio in Lawsuit over Clean Voter Rolls
Judicial Watch recently announced that it reached a settlement in an August 30, 2012 lawsuit against the state of Ohio, which resulted in an agreement with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to take or continue to take a series of actions to further ensure that the state is in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
It may have taken our actions to bring these issues into focus, but in the end, election officials in the State of Ohio made the decision to do the right thing for citizens of the state and for election integrity.
This is an historic settlement, the first of its kind in the history of the National Voter Registration Act. As JW has stated time and time again in letters to election officials and in court filings across the country, dirty election rolls can lead to voter and election fraud.
Under the terms of this groundbreaking settlement, the people of Ohio can now rest easier that their elections will be cleaner, beginning with the 2014 elections. Moreover, given that the problem of dirty rolls is a nationwide problem, Ohio’s good faith steps to address it can serve as a model for other states. Rest assured, JW will do everything in its power to see that it does.
Now to the specifics.
Under the terms of the settlement, which extend through November 2018, the state of Ohio specifically agreed to take or continue to take the following nine actions relating to voter roll list maintenance and NVRA compliance:
- To participate in the State and Territorial Exchange of Vital Events (STEVE) to obtain out-of-state death information.
- To participate in the Interstate Voter Registration Cross-Check program administered by the Kansas Secretary of State to identify registered voters who have moved out-of-state.
- To use Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles data to identify registered voters who move within Ohio, with frequent updates being sent to local officials.
- To use an online voter registration change of address website to encourage voters to keep their registration information current.
- To conduct a special, monthly, duplicate registration elimination program, within defined technical thresholds, for all Ohio County boards of election voter lists.
- To keep online, and available for public access, a current voter registration list.
- To require the county boards of election to send accurate survey information to the Secretary of State’s Office, to be compiled and forwarded to the Election Assistance commission for its NVRA-related surveys.
- To use reasonable efforts to promote the expanded use by recent college graduates of Ohio’s online voter registration change of address system, including education to remind college graduates to keep their voter registration addresses and information current and to request necessary updates; and to endeavor to coordinate these activities in conjunction with Ohio’s colleges and universities.
- To direct boards of election to send confirmation notices annually to voters who may be inactive; and to query boards of election on a regular basis as to whether this direction is being followed.
As you can plainly see, these are specific and verifiable actions that will most certainly help to fix voter registration lists in Ohio and lead to cleaner, more reliable elections.
This has been a year-long fight for Judicial Watch. Our legal action against the state of Ohio began in February 2012 when Judicial Watch sent a letter to the state of Ohio notifying it of violations of Section 8 of the NVRA, which requires states to take reasonable steps to ensure that their voter rolls contain only eligible voters. Judicial Watch subsequently filed its lawsuit in partnership with True the Vote on August 12, 2012.
“This settlement marks a milestone in the fight to make certain that voter rolls are being properly maintained across the state; helping to assure the public that the most basic principles of federal election law are being upheld; and helping to restore Ohioans’ faith in the integrity of our voting system,” said True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht. “Election officials in the state of Ohio are to be commended for shouldering their responsibility to maintain clean voter registration lists.”
I’d like to recognize the fine work of our legal team, which was led by Paul Orfanedes, JW’s Director of Litigation. At Judicial Watch, Paul was helped by JW attorneys Chris Fedeli and Bob Popper. Also partnering with us was J. Christian Adams of the Election Law Center. Our local counsel for the litigation is David R. Langdon and Joshua R. Bolinger of Langdon Law, LLC. Judicial Watch lawsuits don’t litigate themselves, and our legal team puts tremendous time and effort into our public interest litigation.
As part of our Election Integrity Project, JW investigators found that voter rolls in a number of states contained a great number of registrations for individuals who were ineligible to vote. The Obama Justice Department, which is more interested in opposing voter ID than enforcing laws to ensure clean elections.
Judicial Watch notified a dozen states that they must clean up their voter registration lists or face lawsuits. Judicial Watch and True the Vote subsequently filed lawsuits against election officials in Indiana and Ohio, and prompted the state of Florida and other states, without litigation, to remove thousands of ineligible voters from state registration lists. According to independent research published by Pew Charitable Trusts in February 2012, 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.
This is a problem that is of the highest priority for JW as we continue to make certain that every vote cast is legitimate and lawful.
The forces on the left are not going to be pleased with this turn of events because it hampers their ability to steal elections. You can expect leftist groups like Project Vote and the various ACORN spinoffs to continue to wreak havoc in the electoral process. We must remain vigilant if we are to counter these efforts effectively. In fact, we have active litigation over clean election rolls in Indiana and are seeking to defend North Carolina clean election laws from a coordinated assault by Eric Holder and fronts for Al Sharpton and other radicals.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton is author of the NY Times best-seller “The Corruption Chronicles” and executive producer of the documentary “District of Corruption.”