Judicial Watch achieved a significant legal victory last week – and it may lead to cleaner elections. On December 10, 2012, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, denied Indiana’s motion to dismiss our historic election integrity lawsuit (Judicial Watch, et al. v. King, et al. (No. 1:12-cv-00800)). We allege that the state of Indiana failed to maintain clean voter registration lists as required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), and now we will have our day in court. Make no mistake, this is a HUGE victory for election integrity. True the Vote, the grassroots clean elections watchdog, is both our client and co-plaintiff in this important lawsuit.
The State of Indiana had feebly offered the argument that Judicial Watch did not have standing to bring the lawsuit and, therefore, could not sue Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Indiana Election Division Directors J. Bradley Kind and Trent Deckard in their official capacity. But Judge Lawrence was having none of it, and ruled that the lawsuit can proceed in its entirety.
By way of review, this case began on February 6, 2012, when Judicial Watch notified Indiana election officials by letter that the state was in violation of the NVRA, having failed to clean its voter records to the extent that “the number of persons registered to vote exceeded the total voting population in twelve Indiana counties.”
The Judicial Watch letter also requested that the State of Indiana make available for public inspection all records concerning “the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency” of official lists of eligible voters, per Section 8 of the NVRA.
And what was the state’s reply? Indiana election officials summarily dismissed these concerns about the rolls and flatly refused to produce documents about this issue. And so, on June 11, 2012, Judicial Watch filed suit, leading to our recent court victory.
In its denial of the motion to dismiss, the District Court first ruled that the Judicial Watch and True the Vote had sufficiently fulfilled NVRA notification requirements, stating, “[T]he Court finds that the Letter satisfied the pre-suit notice requirement, inasmuch as the Letter, when read as a whole, makes it clear that Judicial Watch is asserting a violation of the NVRA and plans to initiate litigation if its concerns are not addressed in a timely fashion.”
In denying the defendants’ allegation that Judicial Watch and True the Vote did not have standing to sue, the court ruled that Judicial Watch “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, “has suffered injuries because of the Defendants alleged failure to comply with the NVRA and therefore has standing to bring its List Maintenance Claim.”
Needless to say, this is a major victory for the people of Indiana and everyone who values 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. 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. Actually, it’s worse than that. (The Department of Justice has, at times, behaved more like an enemy combatant against election integrity.)
Our client, True the Vote, was also excited by this victory. Here’s a statement from the organization’s President, Catherine Engelbrecht:
This is 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.
Monday’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. With this early victory, True the Vote and Judicial Watch will continue to expose and correct any instance of failure to maintain our voter rolls. Hopefully the parties can reach a settlement that fixes the problem and saves Indiana taxpayers from the needless cost of litigation.
According to research published by the non-partisan Pew Charitable Trust 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.
And dirty lists equal fraudulent election results. A recent article in the New York Post makes the point: “Current voter-registration systems are flawed, with huge numbers of dead or disqualified voters still on the rolls. And, since voter-ID enforcement is poor, in many places a person can simply claim to be one of those people and vote in their name with no one the wiser.”
For all of these reasons, Judicial Watch officially launched its Election Integrity Project earlier this year, an effort that now continues into 2013 and beyond. JW conducted an investigation demonstrating that voter rolls in the following states contained the names of individuals ineligible to vote: Mississippi, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, and California. Judicial Watch put these states on notice that they must clean up their voter registration lists or face Judicial Watch lawsuits.
Judicial Watch and True the Vote subsequently filed lawsuits against election officials in Indiana and Ohio, and prompted the state of Florida to purge its registration lists of ineligible voters. (We also defended Voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and South Carolina, which will take effect beginning after the New Year.)
The Obama Justice Department, meanwhile, pressured states to register greater numbers of voters on public assistance in 2012, while ignoring a stipulation in the NVRA requiring states to clean up voter registration lists. The Justice Department also opposed voter ID laws and other election integrity measures.
And it appears the administration’s hostility to clean elections is only going to get worse. Recently, according to Bloomberg, Attorney General Eric Holder said that he favors “automatically registering” voters. Let’s be clear: the left wants the federal government to force you to register to vote. Obama isn’t satisfied with nationalizing your health care – he also wants a federal takeover of our election systems, which is contrary to the Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives the states, not the federal government, the authority to “regulate the time, place, and manner of holding elections.” Can you think of any threat greater to the security of your vote and elections than federal government bureaucrats – working with the ACORN network – compiling lists on your voting registration and behavior?
The great American patriot Samuel Adams, who knew well that the right to vote was paid for by the blood of the American Revolution, said that when a person votes, “he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”
The Obama administration and its leftist allies want to turn our voting processes into a chaotic mess where votes are not secure, dead people cast ballots and illegal and legal aliens flood the polls in record numbers. But Judicial Watch keeps battling. And as our victory in Indiana shows, we will do it state by state, if necessary.