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Settlement Reached in Wake BOE Voter Roll Cleanup Lawsuit

(RALEIGH, NC.) – June 27, 2017: The Voter Integrity Project is pleased to announce that we’ve reached a settlement agreement for a federal lawsuit to clean voter rolls in Wake County (Voter Integrity Project NC v. Wake County BOE).

After nearly a year of litigation, the Wake County Board of Elections (WCBOE) voted on June 5 to adopt a settlement agreement with the Voter Integrity Project that we believe will serve to improve the county’s voter rolls in the years ahead.

In sum, the parties agreed to the following:

  • The WCBOE will confer with the North Carolina State Board of Elections about the feasibility of comparing voter data against the National Change of Address system on a quarterly basis, instead of the current semi-annual schedule.
  • By the end of this year, the WCBOE will review each “inactive” voter “to ensure timely removal as provided by law” and make completed maintenance efforts subject to public inspection. The WCBOE will continue to conduct such a review on a biennial basis until April 15, 2023.
  • The WCBOE agrees to respond to Voter Integrity Project’s future requests for public inspection of records regarding the accuracy and currency of the voter roll.

“We are glad the Wake Board of Elections is taking measures that will increase public confidence in their hard work,” said VIP Director, Jay DeLancy. “As the agreement outlines, the public will be fully able to witness the progress the discussed maintenance efforts should achieve. All Wake County voters—current, future, and past—are well-served by this agreement. Several other counties in North Carolina have similarly bloated voter rolls and we hope they will cooperate as we examine them on a case-by-case basis.”

VIP’s legal efforts were spearheaded by author and former Department of Justice attorney, J. Christian Adams, now the President and General Counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF).

“We are sincerely pleased with the resolution of this matter,” Adams said. “We are pleased that Wake County has agreed to investigate ways to more quickly identify voter record flaws that risk polling place confusion and absentee ballot irregularities alike. The public should expect verifiable improvements to the local voter registration system in the years ahead. Other counties in North Carolina should take note that requests for public information and obligations to maintain clean rolls must be met.  In the future, election officials across North Carolina should take seriously their obligation to comply with all provisions in the National Voter Registration Act.”

In February 2017, Senior U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt ruled in favor of plaintiff VIP-NC on a case dismissal discussion, finding that the methodology used to determine voter roll bloat was “reasonable”:

“Considering VIP-NC’s allegation that the number of registered voters in Wake County has exceeded, and continues to exceed, the number of eligible voters, which allegation is in turn supported by reliable data and WBOE’s failure to use available jury excuse information, a reasonable inference can be drawn that WCBOE is not making a reasonable effort to conduct a voter list maintenance program in accordance with the NVRA.”

The Public Interest Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of VIP-NC in July 2016 after the organization demonstrated how Wake County’s voter registration list surpassed the total number of eligible voting-age citizens, according to the U.S. Census.

PILF’s client, the Voter Integrity Project, sent public information requests and notice of violation letters to multiple North Carolina counties. This settlement affects only Wake County.

A copy of the settlement agreement, signed by W. Ellis Boyle, Chair of the Wake County Board of Elections, on June 15, 2017 has been made available, here.

We were honored to have PILF in our corner during this legal action,” DeLancy said, “and especially want to thank their Chief Litigation Counsel, Kaylan Phillips. She exemplified the meaning of ‘legal counsel,’ helping VIP accomplish such an alpine task.”

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. 

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[Link to the N&O story on the matter:  http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/wake-county/article158500789.html]

 

 

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