Washington, DC – On Tuesday, April 11, Judicial Watch announced it has sent notice-of-violation letters threatening to sue 11 states having counties in which the number of registered voters exceeds the number of voting-age citizens, as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011-2015 American Community Survey. According to the letters, this is “strong circumstantial evidence that these … counties are not conducting reasonable voter registration record maintenance as mandated under the [National Voter Registration Act] NVRA.” Both the NVRA and the federal Help America Vote Act require states to take reasonable steps to maintain accurate voting rolls.
The 11 states are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee. The states have 90 days after receiving the letters to address the problem and provide Judicial Watch documentation showing that they have conducted a “statewide effort to conduct a program that reasonably ensures the lists of eligible voters are accurate.” Judicial Watch informed the states that should they fail to take action to correct violations of Section 8 of the NVRA, it would file suit.
Locally, Judicial Watch found that Chatham County in North Carolina has more registered voters than eligible adult citizens.
Fifteen North Carolina counties have more total registered voters than citizen voting age population
Based on a Judicial Watch review of 2014 Election Assistance Commission (EAC) data, the 2011-2015 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and the November 2014 and November 2016 North Carolina total voter registration records, North Carolina is failing to comply with the voter registration list maintenance requirements of section 8 of the NVRA. For example of the five-year American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the 2014 EAC data shows there were more total registered voters than there were adult citizens over the age of 18 living in each of the following 15 counties: Buncombe (registration rate 101%), Camden (101%), Chatham (101%), Cherokee (101%), Clay (106%), Dare (107%), Durham (111%), Guilford (101%), Madison (100%), Mecklenberg (108%), New Hanover (101%), Orange (111%), Union (106%), Watauga (105%), and Yancey (104%).
A comparison of the November 2016 total voter registration records of these 15 counties obtained from the North Carolina state website with the 2011-2015 U.S.Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data shows that this trend has either stayed constant or has increased. The data shows 13 of the 15 counties have increased their total voter registrants by a greater percentage than the rate of increase of citizen voting age population, thus only adding to the disparity. Further, 14 of the 15 counties still have more total voter registrations than citizens eligible to vote, even accounting for the U.S. Census Bureau’s margin of error.
Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act requires states to make a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from official lists due to “the death of the registrant” or “a change in the residence of the registrant,” and requires states to ensure noncitizens are not registered to vote.
Based on its review of Election Assistance Commission (EAC) data, and more recent U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey and the states’ voter registration records, Judicial Watch found the following counties have more total registered voters than the citizen voting age (18) population:
- Alabama: Choctaw, Conecuh, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Washington, Wilcox.
- Florida: Clay, Flagler, Okaloosa, Osceola, Santa Rosa, St. Johns.
- Georgia: Bryan, Columbia, DeKalb, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Lee, Marion, McIntosh, Oconee.
- Illinois: Alexander, Bureau, Cass, Clark, Crawford, DuPage, Franklin, Grundy, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, Jersey, Massac, McHenry, Mercer, Monroe, Pulaski, Rock Island, Sangamon, Scott, Union, Wabash, Washington, White.
- Iowa: Scott, Johnson.
- Kentucky: Anderson, Bath, Boone, Breathitt, Caldwell, Carlisle, Cumberland, Fulton, Gallatin, Greenup, Hancock, Henry, Jefferson, Jessamine, Kenton, Livingston, Magoffin, McCracken, Menifee, Mercer, Monroe, Oldham, Powell, Russell, Scott, Spencer, Trigg, Trimble, Wolfe, Woodford.
- Maryland: Montgomery.
- New Jersey: Essex, Somerset.
- New York: Nassau.
- North Carolina: Buncombe, Camden, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Dare, Durham, Guilford, Madison, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Orange, Union, Watauga, Yancey.
- Tennessee: Williamson.
In its notice-of-violation letters, Judicial Watch warns that the failure to maintain accurate, up-to-date voter registration lists “required by federal law and by the expectations of [state] citizens” will “undermine public confidence in the electoral process.”
Judicial Watch asked the states to “conduct or implement a systematic, uniform, nondiscriminatory program to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reason of a change of residence, death or a disqualifying criminal conviction.” The states are also asked to remove from voter registration lists “noncitizens who have registered to vote unlawfully.”
“Dirty election rolls can mean dirty elections,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These 11 states face possible Judicial Watch lawsuits unless they follow the law and take reasonable steps to clean up their voting rolls of dead, moved, and non-citizen voters.”
As part of its commitment to the enforcement of the NVRA, Judicial Watch struck a legal victory for clean voter rolls in Indiana, forcing the state to clean up its voter registration lists and overhaul its list-maintenance procedures. Judicial Watch also filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of its existing agreement with Ohio to ensure that its voter rolls are up to date. This case is still under way.
Robert Popper is director of Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project. Popper was formerly Deputy Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.