Judge rules New Mexico voter data usage restrictions violate federal law

by | Apr 2, 2024

A federal court has found that New Mexico’s voter data usage regulations are in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), declaring that the Voter Reference Foundation is entitled to access voter information in the state. Some claims in the lawsuit are set to proceed to trial.

The Voter Reference Foundation, known for its vocal stance on election security, maintains that access to voter information is essential for ensuring transparency and accountability in the electoral process. With a video on its website boldly asserting, “America’s elections aren’t secure. It’s not a fringe conspiracy, it’s a fact,” the organization underscores the urgency of its mission. According to the group, unrestricted access to voter data is crucial for providing the public with official government information related to elections, including voter registration rolls.

In 2021, the Voter Reference Foundation posted New Mexico voters’ information online, including names, addresses, dates of birth, party affiliations, and voting histories. Deputy Secretary of State Sharon Pino alerted the New Mexico attorney general for possible prosecution for violating state statutes governing voter data usage.

The foundation subsequently filed a lawsuit against the secretary of state, arguing that potential criminal prosecution violated its free speech rights under the First and 14th Amendments. Today, the court ruled that the secretary of state’s refusal to provide the information violated the NVRA.

The 329-page summary judgment order issued on Friday concluded that the group is entitled to information that the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office had previously withheld. The court determined that the National Voter Registration Act’s public inspection provision supersedes state law, and by denying Voter Reference Foundation access to voter information, the Secretary of State violated the NVRA.

The issue of whether the Secretary of State’s office unlawfully targeted the group based on its perceived political ideology will be subject to trial.

Read the order here.

Source: Democracy Docket



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