For years in Philadelphia, the numbers of registered voters has nearly exceeded the number of citizen residents eligible to vote, among the highest in Pennsylvania. In response to these unusual circumstances, the plaintiff utilized protections in the National Voter Registration Act that require Philadelphia to allow physical inspection of election records related to voter registration and list maintenance programs. The plaintiff requested information from Philadelphia about tools used to ensure that non-citizens are not registering to vote, as well as other records.
Philadelphia failed even to respond to the request, and thus the lawsuit followed.
The plaintiff in the case is the American Civil Rights Union. The plaintiff originally sent the defendant a notice letter in January 2016 describing potential violations of federal election law, asking to review election records, and seeking to discuss a cure. Philadelphia never replied.
“Corrupted voter rolls provide the perfect environment for voter fraud. Failure to clean the rolls aggravates longstanding problems of voter fraud in Philadelphia,” said J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. “Philadelphia may not be using all the available tools to prevent non-citizens from registering and voting. Concealing list maintenance records from the public isn’t good government, and it violates Federal election law.”Local election officials have an important duty to ensure that federal and state election laws are followed, including the laws regarding voter eligibility. If a locality is refusing to follow federal law regarding inspection of its voter records, it may be failing to follow other important laws. Ensuring that only eligible voters are registered to vote is key to the integrity of elections and public confidence in the electoral process.