Today, leading national civil rights organizations are urging state and county election officials in jurisdictions across the country to reject the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s (PILF) coordinated attempt to launch a wide-scale voter purge effort across the country. Using deceptive tactics promoting voter suppression, and urging actions that could in fact violate the legal requirements of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), PILF’s action has created an immediate need for clarification. In response the coalition of organizations, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and Demos, are offering guidance to jurisdictions on how to comply with the NVRA.
The national effort comes in direct response to letters recently sent by PILF to hundreds of local election officials. In them, the group’s suggested actions could violate legal requirements under the NVRA, a law Congress passed to increase voter participation and registration. PILF uses an unreliable and inaccurate assessment of voter registration rates to accuse the jurisdictions it has targeted of having more voters on the rolls than eligible residents. It then falsely claims these high registration rates alone provide strong evidence that a jurisdiction is not fulfilling its obligation to maintain accurate voter registration databases. PILF has threatened litigation if their proposed measures are not taken. PILF’S letter is part of a larger concerted effort to remove voters from registration lists and further its false and baseless claim that there is widespread voter fraud across the country.
The three civil rights organizations sent a letter and accompanying memo to the jurisdictions targeted by PILF. The groups make it clear the jurisdictions can protect themselves against PILF’s threats and offer to provide assistance in that area. The memo also asserts PILF’s justification for a voter purge, which includes misleading use of U.S. Census Bureau data, is baseless.