News of Note: Convention Delegates Win Settlement in Lawsuit Against Federal Election Commission

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Two delegates to the Republican National Convention has settled a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Two Unnamed Plaintiffs v. FEC. These delegates were represented by attorneys from the Pillar of Law Institute, which was also a plaintiff in the case. The delegates and Pillar brought suit in Wyoming federal court due to a ban against giving any assistance to delegates by corporations, even non-profits.

“Our win ensures that convention delegates will have access to similar sources of funding as party operatives. It also allows non-profits to donate free legal services and educational materials to delegates,” said Benjamin Barr, lead counsel in the case. “Our settlement goes further than that, recognizing that corporate non-profits may provide delegates with travel stipends and other financial assistance, breaking new ground in federal campaign finance law.”

The case arose in May out of concerns that Donald Trump, then the presumptive Republican nominee, would utilize unconstitutional legal tactics such as defamation lawsuits to suppress or punish convention delegates who supported delegate autonomy. If the law prohibited Pillar’s free legal representation of these delegates, campaign finance complaints could have been filed as well.

“Although the 2016 Republican convention is over, Donald Trump’s legal tactics may still boil over,” said Steve Klein, co-counsel in the case. “His recent threat against the real author of The Art of the Deal shows Trump will do just about anything to silence people who disagree with him. Thanks to our lawsuit, we know definitively that federal campaign finance law will not prevent constitutional legal groups like Pillar from defending delegates if they have to fight petty tyranny.”

As the Democratic Convention begins today in Philadelphia, delegate autonomy—the principle that convention delegates cannot be bound to vote for a specific candidate—may yet again prove newsworthy, along with the importance of this recent decision.

“Just as Trump goes out of his way to threaten his opponents, the DNC and Hillary Clinton might submit to the same temptations,” said Barr. “With this win, conscientious delegates now and for conventions to come are not alone. Non-profit corporations are free to help fund their efforts and donate legal services, breathing new life into the convention process.”

PAC Complaint Alleges Trump Campaign Violated Federal Campaign Law

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The grassroots PAC Democratic Coalition Against Trump filed a federal campaign complaint recently against Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign with the Federal Elections Commission.

The complaint alleges five violations including illegally accepting direct corporate contributions, accepting services from a volunteer that were actually compensated, use of the Trump corporate name or trademark to facilitate campaign contributions, illegal use of corporate facilities by a campaign volunteer, and knowingly allowing volunteers to exceed the transportation expense limit.

Meredith McIver, a speechwriter for the Trump campaign, released her plagiarism apology letter yesterday made on the Trump Organization letterhead that stated she was working via the corporation to perform campaign responsibilities. The Trump campaign responded to calls from the Coalition for clarification, where Trump’s spokesman claimed that McIver was serving in a volunteer capacity to the campaign.

Scott Dworkin, Senior Advisor to the Coalition, filed the complaint after reading McIver’s letter and the Trump campaign’s claim that McIver was serving as a volunteer, stating: “McIver offered her resignation from her full-time job with the Trump Organization, not from the Trump campaign.  If she was a volunteer for the campaign, then there should have been no job to resign from.”

Jon Cooper, Chairman of the Coalition, said “This incident is reminiscent of the John Edwards campaign-finance scandal, which likewise involved work paid for by a corporation for a presidential campaign. As such, it is very troubling.”

Numbers Crunched: Presidential Primary Voter Turnout at 29 Percent

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The nonpartisan advocacy group FairVote has compiled and analyzed state-by-state data on voter turnout for the 2016 presidential primaries.

FairVote reviews trends in voter turnout nationally since 2000, as well as differences in turnout by party.

The analysis includes a deeper examination of the 23 states that held competitive primaries in both 2008 and 2016, exploring the effects of primary type (open, closed, or hybrid) and voter access laws.

A full report can be downloaded from FairVote’s website.

Record Breaking Republican Turnout, Decreases in Democratic Turnout

Overall, slightly fewer voters participated in the 2016 presidential primary elections compared to 2008 with nationwide turnout dropping to 29 percent. Almost all states, however, saw higher participation in Republican primaries and lower participation in Democratic primaries. Turnout data shows that more Americans than ever before participated in the 2016 Republican primaries.

In summary, compared to 2008:

  • 6 million fewer voters participated in Democratic primaries,
  • 8 million more voters participated in Republican primaries, and
  • 29 percent of eligible voters nationally participated in the primaries.

Wisconsin experienced increased participation by more than 10% compared to the 2008 primary elections. In Wisconsin, 49 percent of eligible voters participated in the primaries, the second-highest in the nation behind only New Hampshire, where 52 percent participated in the first-in-the-nation primary. Primary participation was lowest in Louisiana (18.2 percent), South Dakota (18.9 percent), New Jersey (21.0 percent) and Connecticut (21.0 percent).

Evidence of Voter Switching in Open Primary States

Republican participation increases and Democratic participation decreases are most notable in states with open primaries:

  • Republican participation increased 29 percent in closed primaries and 68 percent in open primaries
  • Democratic participation decreased 11 percent in closed primaries and 31 percent in open primaries

For these states, the relatively small changes in turnout contribute to evidence of party switching, wherein likely 2008 Democratic primary voters choose to cast ballots in Republican primary contests.

Voter ID Laws Have Minimal Impact Nationwide but Disproportionate Impact within Parties

Among the voter access laws studied, laws requiring voter identification impacted participation levels among Democrats and Republicans differently.

  • Overall turnout impact was not measurable. The mean 2016 turnout in states with ID law changes is 32 percent, states that never implemented an ID law averaged 34 percent turnout, and states that maintained ID laws averaged 27 percent turnout.
  • Republican participation increased by an average of 38 percent in states that did not change existing voter ID laws, with a similar margin for states without ID laws. Republican turnout increased 77 percent in states that introduced voter ID laws since 2008.
  • Democratic participation declined 31 percent in states that strengthened ID laws and 2 percent in states that made no changes to ID laws. Turnout declined 6 percent in states that never implemented an ID law.

 

Lawyers’ Committee Expresses Disappointment with Decision to Terminate Critical Federal Observer Program

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The Justice Department has said it will no longer deploy federal observers inside polling sites, a long-standing and critical component of its election monitoring efforts.

The Justice Department announced that it will cease dispatching federal election observers to polling sites, based on the their interpretation of the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

The DOJ also issued a Fact Sheet further outlining the decision.  Federal election observers, specially trained individuals with authorization to enter polling locations and review the counting of the votes, have historically played a critical role monitoring elections to ensure that all voters are able to freely cast a ballot.

Here’s a statement from the committee:

“Literally, tens of thousands of federal observers had been dispatched to observe elections inside polling places in some of the most vulnerable communities across our country.  Federal observers helped to block and deter discriminatory conduct that might otherwise go undetected.  Without federal observers, greater vigilance will be required to fight voter suppression and discrimination at the polls.  While we disagree, the Justice Department’s decision to terminate the federal observer program further underscores the need for Congress to take action now to restore the Voting Rights Act in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County decision.”

Discriminatory conduct that plays out inside the polls on Election Day ranges from challengers that contest the eligibility of minority voters inside polling sites, to election officials failing to uniformly and evenly apply rules governing the voting process.  Federal observers are trained to document and record evidence that can be used in future litigation and often their presence can neutralize and discourage discriminatory conduct that might otherwise occur.

Under Section 8 of the Voting Rights Act, the attorney general can dispatch federal observers to a jurisdiction covered under Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act when it has received “written meritorious complaints” of concerns about racial discrimination concerning an election or otherwise determines such discrimination is likely to occur absent the observers.

Though the Supreme Court’s Shelby ruling regarding the unconstitutionality of the coverage formula for Section 5 preclearance did not reach or speak to continued use of the coverage formula for federal observers, the Department of Justice has interpreted the Shelby decision so that it also applies to observer coverage.

The Department has indicated that it will continue to monitor elections through smaller deployments of DOJ staff members.  In addition, federal observers will continue to be deployed when authorized by court order.

In the wake of the Justice Department’s decision, the Lawyers’ Committee will seek to expand its Election Protection program which is the nation’s leading nonpartisan election monitoring program.

Unlike DOJ observers, Election Protection monitors are not able to monitor elections from inside polling places.

However, through expanded presence on the ground, the Lawyers’ Committee and its partners will work to ensure that voters in vulnerable communities are provided critical support from monitors stationed outside polling sites and through its 866-OUR-VOTE hotline.  

Common Cause: Federal Courts in Wisconsin, Texas, Step Up to Protect Voters

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The recent decision by the 5th Circuit Court in Texas and ruling by a federal district judge in Wisconsin should put the brakes on legislative efforts across the country to erect barriers that keep Americans from participating in our democracy at the ballot box.

Good-government nonprofit Common Cause praised the rulings, noting that they are needed now more than ever.

The group put out a statement that said, in part: “Particularly in this election year, lawmakers and election officials should be focused on maximizing voter turnout, not limiting it.”

The statement by President Karen Hobert Flynn continued:

In Texas alone, state officials reportedly have invested more than $3.5 million to defend the law the court set aside today. Those funds would have been far better spent on expanding registration and simplifying voting, changes other states have been able to make while maintaining the integrity of their elections.

Laws like the ones in Wisconsin and Texas limit the right of Americans – particularly low-income citizens and people of color – to cast their ballots.  We commend the courts hearing these cases for recognizing the detrimental effects such laws have on voters.

These decisions put at least a temporary hold on enforcement of a pair of unnecessary voter ID laws. Unfortunately however, appeals are likely and restrictive voting statutes remain on the books in too many states. And regrettably, only a relative handful of states and local governments have made the legal changes and/or financial investments suggested in 2013 by the bipartisan President’s Commission on Election Administration to simplify registration and voting and shorten voting lines on Election Day. That’s why Common Cause and our partners will be focusing on election protection efforts across the country, including in Texas and Wisconsin, to ensure that our elections are safe and accessible to every eligible voter.

Victory for Texas Voters: Strict Photo ID Found Discriminatory

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The full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that Texas’s photo ID law—the strictest in the nation—is racially discriminatory.

This marks the fourth court to find that the law has a disproportionate impact on African-American and Latino voters in Texas.

A federal trial court and a Fifth Circuit panel both found the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by denying African-American and Latino voters an equal opportunity to cast a ballot. The law was also previously blocked under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. It was implemented in 2013, immediately after the Supreme Court gutted a core provision of the Voting Rights Act.

The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and MALC challenged the Texas law in September 2013. That case was consolidated with other similar cases and is now known as Veasey v. Abbott. The attorneys representing the groups include the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dechert LLP, The Bledsoe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.

“No American should ever lose their right to vote just because they don’t have a photo ID. This is an enormous victory for voters in Texas,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “The votes of more than 600,000 Texans were at stake in today’s ruling. The court sent a message that discriminatory photo ID laws are an affront to our democracy and cannot stand.”

“This is great for democracy, and shows how people can operate in a bi-partisan fashion for the good of Texas and re-enfranchise thousands of Texans,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “This is consistent with what federal judges in Washington, D.C., Corpus Christi and earlier in New Orleans had already seen. Judges of both parties have now spoken in four different forums so we hope that the Attorney General recognizes the obvious: that this is a discriminatory law, and stops trying to enforce this law.”

“Today’s ruling deals a terrible blow to the opponents of representative democracy who crafted Texas’ voter ID law, the strictest in the country. The court got it right, recognizing the stink of discrimination,” said Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, chairman of MALC. “Moving forward, however, we cannot rely on the courts to protect our voting rights. Certain states, including Texas, have demonstrated that they will not relent in their fight against unfettered access to the ballot box for all Americans. Whatever procedural course this case follows, Congress must act to restore the Voting Rights Act to put an end to the increasingly subtle and sinister efforts to disenfranchise those who challenge the status quo.”

“This was a hard-fought victory, and the decision ensures that thousands of Texas citizens will be able to cast their ballot on Election Day,” said Amy Rudd of Dechert LLPpro bono counsel for the NAACP Texas State Conference and MALC. “We are proud to have been part of the team that defended the Constitutional right to vote in Texas.”

Need a little background? Here’s what you need to know:

A federal court in Washington, D.C. blocked Texas’s voter ID law in 2012 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, finding that the law would have a disproportionate negative impact on minority citizens in Texas. In June 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a separate case) ruled that the formula used in the Act for specifying the states covered by Section 5 is unconstitutional. As a result, Texas is not currently required to comply with Section 5. Just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the state would implement the voter ID law.

At the September 2014 trial, the Texas NAACP and MALC, among others, presented evidence showing the state’s ID requirement would erect discriminatory barriers to voting. At trial, experts testified that 1.2 million eligible Texas voters lack a form of government-issued photo ID that would have been accepted under the new law — and minorities would be hit the hardest. For example, the court credited testimony that African-American registered voters are 305 percent more likely and Hispanic registered voters 195 percent more likely than white registered voters to lack photo ID that can be used to vote.

Congressional Democrats—One from PA— Introduce Automatic Voter Registration Bill

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Senior congressional lawmakers last week introduced the Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016, a transformative bill that would add up to 50 million new voters by automatically registering eligible citizens to vote.

The initiative, led by Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),  Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would also cut costs and improve the accuracy and security of America’s voter rolls.

Under the plan, when a citizen interacts with a government agency — for example, to get a driver’s license, apply for public services, apply for a license for a firearm, register for classes at a public university, or when becoming a naturalized citizen — she is automatically signed up to vote, unless she declines.

In the past 16 months, five states, several with bipartisan support, have adopted automatic registration, through the department of motor vehicles. Oregon, the first state to fully implement the plan, is now a national leader in voter registration rates, and has quadrupled its rate of new registrations at the DMV compared to previous years.

The Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016 builds off this tremendous momentum by expanding automatic registration nationwide, and to more government agencies.

“This bill is a significant breakthrough in the fight for a stronger democracy,” said Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “Automatic, universal registration marks a paradigm shift in the way we run elections. It would enfranchise millions while boosting security and reducing error. In the long struggle for voting rights, this is an innovative and encouraging next step. Rep. Brady and Senate leaders deserve enormous credit for putting the fight for a stronger democracy at the heart of policy, where it belongs.”

“Voting is the foundation of democracy. Sadly, we have seen efforts to block access to voting in states across the country. One important step to improving access to the ballot box is making sure that voter registration is easy and accessible for every citizen,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “By automatically and securely registering every eligible voter, we encourage every American to participate in our elections — and that makes our democracy stronger. We commend Rep. Brady and Senators Leahy and Klobuchar for prioritizing voting rights.”

“Rep. Brady and Senate leaders’ comprehensive bill on automatic voter registration speaks to core democratic values — everyone participates and everyone’s voice should be heard and vote counted,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “Automatic voter registration could very well be a game-changer that could move us closer to realizing those principles. When government agencies — that already collect individuals’ voter eligibility information — register eligible citizens, they bring new voters into our political process. It’s these new voters who are still missing from our electorate, and who are very much needed if we are to have a truly representative and robust democracy.”

“The low rates of voter turnout that we see across the country reflect the barriers and hurdles that too many Americans face when registering to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization that leads the national Election Protection program. “Numerous states have taken steps to create discriminatory and burdensome barriers to register to vote which greatly impact African Americans, poor people and other minority voters. Strengthening democracy requires bold action to make it easier for Americans to participate in elections. The Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016 is one important step that Congress can take to bring eligible Americans on to our registration rolls while igniting voter participation rates across our country.”

“Demos applauds the introduction of the Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016, legislation that is designed to increase voter participation by modernizing voter registration systems nationwide,” said Brenda Wright, Demos’ vice president of policy and legal strategies. “Voter friendly reforms such as automatic voter registration, online voter registration, and portable voter registration can streamline and ease the voter registration process, ultimately adding millions of Americans to the voter rolls. Demos encourages broad and inclusive access to voting, and we are especially supportive of including agencies that serve a broad cross-section of citizens to take part in the voter registration process. Outdated, unnecessary, and cumbersome processes currently inhibit too many Americans from exercising their most fundamental of rights. Improvement of these processes is needed to achieve a robust, truly inclusive democracy and to promote the role of government as a good faith partner in this effort. We applaud Representative Brady and Senate leaders in their effort to improve our democracy.”

“The Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016 is a good first step toward bringing about universal voter registration, something many democracies already engage in by registering new voters at birth,” said Chris Shelton, president of the communications Workers of America. “Casting a vote on Election Day is a right of citizenship. Unfortunately, too many voters today are frustrated by an unwieldy and often inaccessible registration process. Our goal must be to encourage broad voter participation and modernize this process.”

“AAJC welcomes Representative Brady’s introduction of the Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016 as a positive first step in expanding accessibility to all eligible persons in the voter registration process,” said Terry Ao Minnis, director of census and voting programs, Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “The bill modernizes voter registration to be responsive to the changing landscape of our society, including taking advantage of technology.  Yet the bill also recognizes the key need for public education to ensure people are aware of the different ways to become registered and engaged.  We look forward to working with Mr. Brady to ensure that the Bill meets the needs of all communities to ensure all eligible persons are registered to vote.”

“The Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016 would create a voter registration fit for the twenty-first century,” said Marissa Liebling, legislative director at Project Vote. “Unlike most developed democracies, the United States is unique in placing the burden to register almost entirely on the individual. Under our current system, voter registration problems, errors, or confusion can deprive eligible Americans of their right to cast a ballot that will count. By simplifying procedures and expanding agency voter registration, this Act would create a more efficient system while increasing voter registration rates.

The bill is a part of the House Democrats’ “By the People Package,” rolled out today, which strives to fix America’s broken democracy by improving voting access, reforming campaign finance laws, and fighting redistricting abuses.

Learn more about automatic voter registration. Read more from the Brennan Center’s Democracy Agenda.

Find more Election 2016 resources.

News of Note: Coalition and New Jersey Officials Improve Voter Registration Opportunities in the State

Voting rights advocates and New Jersey officials announced today that they have reached a settlement to ensure low-income citizens are provided voter registration services through public assistance agencies, as required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). New Jerseyans will be able to access these registration options in advance of the 2016 presidential elections.

Commonly known as the “Motor Voter” law, the NVRA requires motor vehicle agencies—as well as public assistance agencies that provide services such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other benefits—to proactively offer voter registration services to their clients. Since the implementation of the NVRA in 1993, over 170 million Americans have applied to get on the voter rolls through these registration services.

The settlement follows a notice letter to the governor and Department of Human Services (DHS) from Project Vote, Demos, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Rutgers Constitutional Rights Clinic, the NAACP, and the law firm of McCarter & English. The coalition’s notice letter, sent on behalf of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, alleged that New Jersey’s public assistance agencies were not consistently offering clients on SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid an opportunity to register to vote.

“Equal access to the political process is a core American value,” said Scott Novakowski, counsel at Demos and an attorney in the case. “New Jersey has worked with us to ensure that all eligible citizens are offered voter registration opportunities when they interact with New Jersey’s public assistance agencies.”

After the notice letter, the groups worked with the state to customize a plan that meaningfully complies with Section 7 of the NVRA. The settlement includes the following highlights:

  • Medicaid will automatically provide voter registration opportunities to clients who apply for benefits, renew benefits, or submit a change of address.
  • Clients of SNAP, Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families will receive a voter registration application when they apply for benefits, renew benefits, or submit a change of address in person, online, over the telephone, or by mail.
  • Elections officials will monitor New Jersey public assistance agencies to ensure the required voter registration services are provided, and will address any issues in a timely manner.

“Voter registration through public assistance offices is crucial, because it reaches eligible citizens who are less likely to register through other means,” said Niyati Shah, election counsel at Project Vote. “We’re very glad that New Jersey public assistance clients will now be able to register, as the NVRA requires, whether they go to an office in person or complete their business online.”

The settlement agreement will be effective immediately, through December 31, 2018. According to Frank Askin, of the Rutgers Constitutional Rights Clinic, “this agreement expands upon previous efforts by the state to fully implement the NVRA, not only at motor vehicle offices, but robustly at public assistance agencies as well.”

“Compliance with the NVRA is critical to ensuring that all eligible citizens have access to voter registration opportunities across New Jersey,” said Eileen O’Connor, Senior Counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee. “This agreement will help guarantee that clients at New Jersey’s public assistance agencies, a disproportionate number of whom are minorities, have the opportunity to register or update their registration in time to participate in this year’s election.”

“As we approach the 2016 President Election, NVRA compliance is crucial,” said Richard T. Smith, President of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP. “This settlement ensures compliance, and it empowers marginalized communities by maximizing voter registration and participation.”

Editorial of Note: Let Independents Vote in PA Primary Elections

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In case you missed it, we wanted to bring your attention to a recent editorial in the York Dispatch that dealt with independents, political discourse, and Pennsylvania’s closed primary elections.

The editorial board is imploring independents to flex their so-called political muscle and demand a seat at the table when it comes to primary elections.

Here’s an excerpt from the editorial (which we recommend you read in full):

Allowing independents to vote in our state’s primary would likely give moderate voices a better opportunity to win political office. That, in turn, may turn down the volume on our acrimonious political discourse.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll finally get some more folks in office who value nation over party.

Pennsylvania’s independent voice is growing stronger. Now it’s time for the independents to flex that muscle. Call or write your legislators and tell them it’s time to open up our primary system to all voters, regardless of party.

It’s a change that could help the sensible middle tame some of the divisiveness that rules our political experience today.

The entire editorial is available online.

Voting Rights Group Sues GA Sec. of State for Voter Registration Records

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The nonpartisan voting rights group Project Vote filed a lawsuit recently against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, over his refusal to release public records relating to rejected voter registration applications.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleges that Kemp, in his capacity as the state’s Chief Elections Officer, has violated the National Voter Registration Act by refusing to release voter registration records. With a federal election just over four months away, Project Vote—represented pro bono by the law firms Ropes & Gray and Caplan Cobb—will also seek a preliminary injunction to compel immediate compliance with the NVRA.

“The NVRA requires the public disclosure of voter registration records to ensure that election officials are complying with the law when rejecting applications or removing voters from the rolls,” explains Michelle Kanter Cohen, election counsel for Project Vote. “This provision was included in the law so groups like ours can provide oversight to election officials, and ensure that voters are protected from illegal practices, discrimination, and wrongful disenfranchisement. Secretary Kemp is deliberately sidestepping this oversight by ignoring federal law.”

Project Vote’s investigation into Georgia’s voting records began in early 2014, when the group grew concerned about the state’s enforcement of its proof-of-citizenship law. The need for information grew shortly before the 2014 midterm elections, when the group became concerned that Georgia may have improperly rejected, canceled, or failed to add a large number of applicants to the voter rolls.

Subsequently, it was revealed that Kemp’s former Elections Director, Linda Ford, had been asked to resign after illegally removing nearly 8,000 voters from the rolls. The news of Ms. Ford’s resignation reinforced the great need for transparency in Georgia’s voter registration process.

In light of these concerns, Project Vote made good faith requests to Kemp’s office to provide records that would explain why applicants were rejected, canceled, or otherwise kept off the rolls. Two years later, after lengthy negotiations—and despite repeated promises from the state—those records have not been produced.

Project Vote’s lawsuit asks the court to intervene and compel Kemp’s office to comply, so the group can perform the critical public oversight functions envisioned by NVRA. With a federal election on the horizon, Kanter Cohen says Project Vote will also seek a preliminary injunction to obtain the information, so it can ensure Georgia is not using arbitrary or otherwise improper criteria for rejecting applicants or purging voters.

“Our patience is at an end,” says Kanter Cohen. “Secretary Kemp is illegally preventing us from figuring out just what exactly Georgia has been doing with its voter rolls. With a presidential election just months away, we’re not willing to wait any longer, and the voters of Georgia can’t afford to wait.”