Landmark decision forces LA County to conduct purge of as many as 1.5 million inactive voters from Voter Roll

Changes mandated in Settlement Agreement force California to change manuals for all County Clerks

(Los Angeles, Ca) If you were one of the thousands of volunteers that assisted with election integrity over the last few elections, the state of California owes you a debt of gratitude.

After a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, the Election Integrity Project of California and law firm Kupka, Guyant, Griffin, and Mars, Los Angeles County and the State of California have agreed to conduct a purge of what may be as many as 1,565,000 inactive voters from voter registration rolls. The case is the largest settlement of its kind.

“This settlement vindicates Judicial Watch’s groundbreaking lawsuits to clean up state voter rolls to help ensure cleaner elections,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch and its clients are thrilled with this historic settlement that will clean up election rolls in Los Angeles County and California – and set a nationwide precedent to ensure that states take reasonable steps to ensure that dead and other ineligible voters are removed from the rolls.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal court against Los Angeles County Clerk, Dean Logan, and Secretary of State, Alex Padilla.

The lawsuit was based upon the National Voter Registration act, a law that was passed in 1993 by Congressman Al Swift. The law was intended to expand voter registration by making it a federal requirement to offer voter registration at the various state agencies for the department of motor vehicles. However, the law included basic language about what constitutes a valid registered voter. The basic tenets include the the requirement that a voter respond to letters by an authority validating that they in act live at their named address or that they have voted in at least the past two elections. This is intended to address those that have died, moved or have otherwise become ineligible to vote.

Judicial Watch sued on the premise that as of April 27, 2018 an estimated 1,565,000 voters should have been deemed inactive and removed from the voter registration rolls and that the state and county had not taken the proper steps to make this occur.

As of October 22, 2018, Los Angeles County records reflect 5,280,658 registered voters out of 6,230,147 eligible voters. In the most recent general election and primary election, 1,565,000 votes more than bridged the margin of victory in some races.

As part of the Settlement, the county committed to mailing hundreds of thousands of voters already deemed inactive. This would occur by March 4, 2019,  Los Angeles County is the most populated county in the United States with 10,163,507 residents based on Census estimates.

Judicial Watch began the process of suing the state back in August 2017 when it sent a formal letter to Padilla asserting voter registration numbers were greater than the numbers of eligible voters.

Terms of Settlement Agreement

The 19 page document included many terms that both the Secretary of State and Los Angeles County Recorder must do to correct current issues and to ensure their performance over time.

The Settlement agreement with the Los Angeles County Clerk and the California Secretary of State mandate that the list of inactive voters “shall be mailed an address confirmation notice consistent with the requirements of 52 U.S.C. § 20507(d)(2), Including the notice language specified by that provision, by March 4, 2019.”

Along with other requirements for cleaning up the voter rolls, the Settlement includes an ability to prove the county and state have performed under the Settlement Agreement.

“Plaintiffs may request reasonable assurances that Defendants reasonably are making or have made the determinations described in the preceding paragraph. Defendants shall accommodate Plaintiffs’ requests as long as they are not unduly burdensome.”

The Settlement Agreement also contains language that includes how the Los Angeles County Recorder will continually purge inactive voters.

The Settlement Agreement also included instructions for the Secretary of State to remove an ill informed manual that was used as a resource by all county recorders in the state. The document must be replaced by a newer document that includes current information referencing the outcome of a lawsuit: “the Secretary of State shall alter the instructions provided in the Voter List Maintenance chapter (Chapter 5) of that manual to conform to the statement cited above from Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Inst., 138 S. Ct. 1833 (2018).”

In addition the Settlement Agreement states, “The Office of the Secretary of State shall send a written advisory to all County Clerks/Registrars of Voters in California stating that the cited language from Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Inst., 138 S. Ct. 1833 (2018) indicates that current federal law requires the cancellation of a registrant who has failed to respond to a Section 8( d)(2) Notice and who then fails to vote, offer to vote, correct the Registrar’s record, or otherwise have their eligibility to vote confirmed for a period of time including the next two general federal elections.”

What is the process to purge?

According to the National Voter Registration Act, the following process must occur when validating voter registration:
(1) A State shall not remove the name of a registrant from the official list of eligible voters in elections for Federal office on the ground that the registrant has changed residence unless the registrant–
        (A) confirms in writing that the registrant has changed residence to a place outside the registrar’s jurisdiction in which the registrant is registered; or
        (B)
            (i) has failed to respond to a notice described in paragraph (2); and
            (ii) has not voted or appeared to vote (and, if necessary, correct the registrar’s record of the registrant’s address) in an election during the period beginning on the date of the notice and ending on the day after the date of the second general election for Federal office that occurs after the date of the notice.

Judicial Watch around the country

In addition to its settlement agreements with Ohio and win in Kentucky, Judicial Watch filed a successful NVRA lawsuit against Indiana, causing it to voluntarily clean up its voting rolls, and has an ongoing lawsuit with the State of Maryland.

Judicial Watch helped the State of Ohio to successfully defend their settlement agreement before the Supreme Court. In North Carolina, Judicial Watch supported implementation of the state’s election integrity reform laws, filing amicus briefs in the Supreme Court in March 2017.  And, in April 2018, Judicial Watch filed an amicus brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Alabama’s voter ID law. In Georgia, Judicial Watch filed an amicus brief in support of Secretary Brian Kemp’s list maintenance process against a lawsuit by left-wing groups. Judicial Watch and Georgia won when the Supreme Court ruled in Ohio’s favor.

Judicial Watch was assisted in this case by Charles H. Bell Jr., of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP; and H. Christopher Coates of Law Office of H. Christopher Coates.

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