Right-lean­ing group de­mands state voter data

Ju­di­cial Watch, cit­ing anom­alies in 11 coun­ties, threat­ens to sue if of­fi­cials refuse.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By John Myers

SACRA­MENTO — Cal­i­for­nia’s top elec­tions of­fi­cer and 11 county reg­is­trars have been asked to hand over de­tailed voter reg­is­tra­tion records or face a fed­eral law­suit, a re­quest that cen­ters on new ac­cu­sa­tions that the records are in­ac­cu­rate.

The ef­fort by the con­ser­va­tive-lean­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion Ju­di­cial Watch seeks an ex­pla­na­tion for what its at­tor­neys con­tend are of­fi­cial records that don’t match the group’s es­ti­mates of the legally el­i­gi­ble vot­ing pop­u­la­tion in the coun­ties, in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les County.

“We want the ac­tual data,” said Robert Pop­per, an at­tor­ney for the Washington, D.C.-based or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The ef­fort was sharply crit­i­cized Tues­day by Cal­i­for­nia Sec­re­tary of State Alex Padilla, who said he had yet to make a fi­nal de­ci­sion on how to re­spond.

“It’s bad math and du­bi­ous method­ol­ogy,” Padilla said of the ac­cu­sa­tions.

Ju­di­cial Watch has re­cently at­tracted at­ten­tion for its ag­gres­sive ef­fort to gather emails from Hil­lary Clin­ton’s time as U.S. sec­re­tary of State, as well as doc­u­ments re­lated to the 2012 at­tack on Amer­i­can fa­cil­i­ties in Beng­hazi, Libya.

The lat­est ef­fort seeks in­for­ma­tion about two sep­a­rate lists of reg­is­tered vot­ers. Like other states, Cal­i­for­nia elec­tions of­fi­cials main­tain both an “ac­tive” and “in­ac­tive” list of vot­ers.

a let­ter sent to Padilla last week, the group charged Cal­i­for­nia of­fi­cials don’t have “an ac­cu­rate record of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers.”

The ex­act size of the al­leged er­rors is un­clear. Ju­di­cial Watch de­clined a re­quest from the Los An­ge­les Times to pro­vide the full de­tails of its voter reg­is­tra­tion anal­y­sis.

“We may be in lit­i­ga­tion shortly,” Pop­per said when asked why the in­for­ma­tion won’t be shared.

Those de­tails, how­ever, are at the heart of the com­plaint. Ju­di­cial Watch al­leges that adding to­gether the ac­tive and in­ac­tive voter lists in the 11 coun­ties pro­duces a to­tal num­ber of vot­ers sig­nif­i­cantly larger than the es­ti­mate of votin­gage ci­ti­zens cal­cu­lated by the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau’s Amer­i­can Com­mu­nity Sur­vey. The or­ga­ni­za­tion used the ACS five-year av­er­age for its base­line of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers.

The let­ter to Padilla claims that com­bined reg­is­tra­tion in the coun­ties — Imperial, Lassen, Los An­ge­les, Mon­terey, San Diego, San Fran­cisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Stanis­laus and Yolo — ex­ceeds 100% of the el­i­gi­ble vot­ing pop­u­la­tion. Pop­per said his group be­lieves it’s im­por­tant to in­clude both ac­tive and in­ac­tive vot­ers in the tally — be­cause in­ac­tive vot­ers can show up and cast bal­lots.

“There are a lot of dif­fer­ent ways that a sys­tem can be abused,” he said. “When you get a re­ally big in­ac­tive list, like they have in Cal­i­for­nia, it’s a sign that things aren’t go­ing well.”

Dean Lo­gan, the reg­is­trar of vot­ers for Los An­ge­les County, coun­tered that the two lists are quite dif­fer­ent. He said the in­ac­tive voter list is more like “a fail-safe to make sure that peo­ple are not ad­min­is­tra­tively dis­en­fran­chised.”

Even then, elec­tions of­fi­cials ar­gue that the lists shouldn’t be com­pared with ACS data, which are com­piled with caveats about pop­u­la­tion ac­cu­racy.

“Voter reg­is­tra­tion is not a sur­vey,” Gail Pel­lerin, reg­is­trar of vot­ers in Santa Cruz County, said in ques­tion­ing Ju­di­cial Watch’s method­oloIn gy. “We deal in real facts.”

Pel­lerin said Santa Cruz County has 44,172 names on its in­ac­tive list, and only 12 of them came for­ward to cast bal­lots last Novem­ber. A voter on an in­ac­tive file who moves to a new res­i­dence must cast a pro­vi­sional bal­lot — which isn’t counted un­til elec­tions of­fi­cials con­firm the per­son’s el­i­gi­bil­ity. In her county, Pel­lerin re­quires vot­ers who are on the in­ac­tive list due to not vot­ing to re­cite their en­tire ad­dress and sign new reg­is­tra­tion forms un­der penalty of per­jury.

“We want our voter file to be as ac­cu­rate as pos­si­ble,” she said.

Rules gov­ern­ing the list of in­ac­tive vot­ers in each of Cal­i­for­nia’s 58 coun­ties are dic­tated by both state and fed­eral elec­tion law. Elec­tions of­fi­cials aren’t eas­ily able to dis­card the reg­is­tra­tion of vot­ers who stop cast­ing bal­lots. Last year, a long-awaited statewide voter reg­is­tra­tion data­base went on­line that al­lows coun­ties to quickly main­tain records that can track the move­ment or death of vot­ers.

The Ju­di­cial Watch al­le­ga­tions come on the heels of in­tense de­bate over Pres­i­dent Trump’s un­proven claims of mas­sive 2016 voter fraud in Cal­i­for­nia and other states. Those com­ments led to the cre­ation of a pres­i­den­tial com­mis­sion on voter fraud, whose lead­ers have asked for sim­i­lar de­tails — names, ad­dresses and birth dates — re­gard­ing Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers as the new le­gal com­plaint.

Padilla, who has twice re­fused to give the in­for­ma­tion to the pres­i­den­tial panel, said he doesn’t be­lieve the new al­le­ga­tions are a co­in­ci­dence.

“To me, it’s clearly part of a con­certed ef­fort, a con­tin­ued at­tack on vot­ing rights and set­ting the stage for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to roll back vot­ing rights,” he said.

Ju­di­cial Watch’s let­ter warned a fed­eral law­suit is pos­si­ble if ac­tive and in­ac­tive voter data aren’t turned over next week. Padilla said he hasn’t yet de­cided how, or when, to re­spond to the re­quest.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.