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True the Vote and Judicial Watch vs Indiana NVRA

True the Vote and Judicial Watch vs Indiana NVRA

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Published by jchristianadams
Legal Document
Legal Document

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: jchristianadams on Dec 10, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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This cause is before the Court on the Defendants’ motion to dismiss (dkt. no. 20). Themotion is fully briefed and the Court, being duly advised,
the motion for the reasons setforth below. The Court also
the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Oral Argument(dkt. no. 27).
 Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. (“Judicial Watch”) describes itself as “a non-profitorganization that seeks to promote integrity, transparency, and accountability in government andfidelity to the rule of law,” while Plaintiff True the Vote describes itself as “a non-profitorganization that seeks to restore truth, faith, and integrity to local, state, and federal elections.”Complaint at ¶¶ 4, 5. The two groups bring this action for declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”), alleging that the Defendantshave violated two provisions of that statute. First, they allege that the Defendants have failed to“conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligiblevoters from the official lists of eligible voters by reason of” voter deaths and residence changesas required by 42 U.S.C. § 1073gg-6(a)(4) (hereinafter referred to as “the List Maintenance
Case 1:12-cv-00800-WTL-TAB Document 37 Filed 12/10/12 Page 1 of 11 PageID #: 164
2Claim”). They also allege that the Defendants have failed to “make available for publicinspection . . . all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conductedfor the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters” asrequired by 42 U.S.C. § 1937gg-6(i) (hereinafter referred to as “the Records Claim”).The Plaintiffs note that the State of Indiana entered into a consent decree in 2006 inresponse to a lawsuit brought by the United States alleging non-compliance with the NVRA.The Plaintiffs allege that the State “made substantial efforts to clean its voter rolls in 2006” incompliance with the consent decree, but that those compliance efforts have not continuedthrough the present. The lack of compliance is demonstrated, according to the Complaint, by acomparison of 2010 Census data and voter registration data, which indicates that the number of persons registered to vote exceeded the total voting population in twelve Indiana counties andexceeded 90% of the total voting population in another 26 Indiana counties.In February 6, 2012, Judicial Watch sent a letter outlining these facts to then-IndianaSecretary of State Charlie White and Defendants J. Bradley King and Trent Deckard, Co-Directors of the Indiana Election Division. The letter stated that “[t]his letter serves as advancenotice that a lawsuit may be brought against you if you do not take action to correct this apparentviolation of [the NVRA] within 90 days.” The letter also requested that the recipients “makeavailable to us all pertinent records concerning ‘the implementation of programs and activitiesconducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency’ of Indiana’s official eligiblevoter lists during the past two years.” In response, Defendants King and Deckard issued thefollowing order:IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED . . . That Co-Directors having determined thatthe complaint or grievance filed by Justice Watch, Inc. [sic.] with the ElectionDivision . . . does not set forth a violation of the NVRA . . . even if the facts set
Case 1:12-cv-00800-WTL-TAB Document 37 Filed 12/10/12 Page 2 of 11 PageID #: 165
3forth in the complaint or grievance are assumed to be true, hereby
thecomplaint or grievance.The Plaintiffs then filed this lawsuit.
 The Defendants move to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that the Complaint fails to state a claim for which relief can begranted. In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court “must accept all well pled facts as trueand draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff.”
 Agnew v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n
, 683 F.3d 328, 334 (7
Cir. 2012). For a claim to survive a motion to dismiss forfailure to state a claim, it must provide the defendant with “fair notice of what the . . . claim isand the grounds upon which it rests.”
 Brooks v. Ross
, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7
Cir. 2009) (quoting
 Erickson v. Pardus
, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)) (omission in original). A complaint must “containsufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
, 683 F.3d at 334 (citations omitted). A complaint’s factual allegations are plausible if they “raise the right to relief above the speculative level.”
 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly
, 550U.S. 544, 556 (2007). With that standard in mind, the Court will address the arguments made bythe Defendants.
A. Notice Requirement
The Defendants first argue that the Plaintiffs failed to comply with the NVRA’s noticerequirement, which provides, in relevant part:(1) A person who is aggrieved by a violation of this subchapter may providewritten notice of the violation to the chief election official of the State involved.(2) If the violation is not corrected within 90 days after receipt of a notice underparagraph (1) . . . the aggrieved person may bring a civil action in an appropriatedistrict court for declaratory or injunctive relief with respect to the violation.
Case 1:12-cv-00800-WTL-TAB Document 37 Filed 12/10/12 Page 3 of 11 PageID #: 166

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