When it comes to elections, the old saying “one person, one vote” only works when that “one person” is still alive, living at their registered address, and voting only in that state.
Last week, that old saying got a big boost from a federal court in Maine. U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal ruled in favor of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) in a result that could impact access to state voter rolls across the country. He found that Maine had violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 when it imposed excessive restrictions and fines on using its Voter File for research.
“This is monumental victory [sic] for election integrity,” said PILF President J. Christian Adams according to a March 29 PILF press release. “The use restrictions would have made it extremely difficult to hold Maine and other election officials accountable. This ruling will make other states think twice before passing similar laws.”
What was the issue? PILF requested to see the voter rolls in various states to cross-check the names of active voters with deceased and relocated voters. Maine refused to release the names, citing state law that limited voter data access to “municipal and state election officials for the purposes of election and voter registration information” with a few exceptions.
After denying PILF the voter file and voter history, the state signed a new exception into law, allowing individuals and organizations to purchase the voter file. But the exception included onerous restrictions. For example, under the new exception using the file to audit Maine’s voter rolls would have subjected PILF to costly civil fines.
Clean voter rolls are essential to conducting fair elections and ensuring “one person, one vote.”
PILF asked for access to Maine’s voter file to supplement its database that tracks voter registration errors by state.
The organization’s ongoing findings have proven why its work is so necessary. A September 2020 PILF report found that over 6,700 registrants voted after death, nearly 38,000 registrants voted twice from the same address and 8,360 registrants voted in two states in the 2018 midterm elections. PILF currently has data from 42 states and has identified nearly 350,000 deceased registrants still on voter rolls, almost 450,000 duplicate registrants and 54,000 registrants with nonresidential addresses.
For years, Republicans and Democrats have fought over voter rolls. Republicans have sought access to voter registration lists to ensure that they are up-to-date and free of duplicate names and deceased/relocated voters. Democrats claim they seek to limit access to these names to protect the privacy of voters. However, leftist groups have fought Republican efforts to access voter information while left-leaning states, including Maine, have freely shared the same information with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a partisan organization that was founded to clean voter rolls but went off the rails under the leadership of David Becker.
Recently, six states ended their participation with ERIC, Ohio being the latest state to leave.
In a letter to ERIC, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose explained why the state severed its ties with the organization. “I cannot justify the use of Ohio’s tax dollars for an organization that seems intent on rejecting meaningful accountability, publicly maligning my motives, and waging a relentless campaign of misinformation about this effort,” LaRose said. “The conduct of ERIC and some of its hyper-partisan allies in recent weeks only heightens my suspicion and reinforces my decision.”
With the recent Maine court ruling and six states’ departure from ERIC, it may be the beginning of the end of the left using restricted voter roll access and poor maintenance as a tool in its efforts to manipulate elections.
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