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JW Tennessee Brief

JW Tennessee Brief

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Published by: Judicial Watch, Inc. on Jun 13, 2012
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1
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEENASHVILLE DIVISION
LINCOLN DAVIS, ))
Plaintiff 
, ))TENNESSEE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, ) CASE NO. 2:12-cv-00023)
Proposed Plaintiff 
, ) Judge Sharp) Magistrate Judge Knowlesv. ))TRE HARGETT, Tennessee Secretary )of State; and MARK GOINS, Tennessee )Coordinator of Elections, each in their )official capacities only. ))
 Defendants
. )___________________________________ )
BRIEF OF
 AMICICURIAE
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. AND ALLIED EDUCATIONALFOUNDATION SUPPORTING DEFENDANTS AND OPPOSING PLAINTIFFS’MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
Judicial Watch, Inc. and the Allied Educational Foundation hereby respectfully submitthis
amici curiae
brief in support of the Defendants and in opposition to Plaintiff Lincoln Davisand Proposed Plaintiff Tennessee Democratic Party (“Plaintiffs”) Motion for a PreliminaryInjunction, filed on May 25, 2012.
1
This brief is intended to address issues of federal electionlaw raised by Plaintiffs, of which
amici
have knowledge and expertise.
1
This brief is filed concurrently with a Motion for Leave of Court to File an
Amicus Curiae
Brief. The grounds for the request for leave to file this brief are contained in the motion. Noparty or counsel for a party in the above-captioned case authored this brief in whole or in part,and no person other than the
amici
made a monetary contribution intended to fund thepreparation and submission of this brief.
Case 2:12-cv-00023 Document 29 Filed 06/08/12 Page 1 of 15 PageID #: 431
 
2
INTRODUCTION
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg
et seq
.,reflects a careful compromise law designed to both increase lawful voter registration and toincrease the integrity of elections by ensuring that voter rolls are accurate and well maintained.Similarly, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (“HAVA”), 42 U.S.C. § 15301
et seq
., wasanother carefully brokered Congressional balancing act designed to both increase lawful accessto the ballot box and to prevent fraud by increasing election integrity. To make sure that statescould remove names from voter rolls without constant fear of making a mistake and being sued,HAVA included a law requiring states to make provisional ballots available. This provisionalballot law ensures that anyone who claims to be eligible to vote in a precinct can submit theirvote when they show up at the polls
even if their name is not on the registered voter list.
Congress designed this statutory provision to ensure states could conduct reasonable voter listmaintenance (under both their HAVA and NVRA obligations) without fear odisenfranchisement lawsuits if they make one mistake out of millions of registrations.Provisional voting
is
the remedy Congress intended for remedying voter list mistakes. Plaintiffs,however, appear to prefer that States stop trying to undertake list maintenance efforts altogether.Plaintiffs’ attempt to prevent Tennessee from maintaining accurate voter registration rollshas the potential to worsen an already significant nationwide problem. Nearly 20 years afterpassage of the NVRA and 10 years after HAVA, the voter rolls in many states remain rife witherrors and are often highly inaccurate. According to research conducted by the Center for theStates of the non-partisan Pew Charitable Trusts (“Pew”), inaccurate voter registrations arerampant. Pew’s independent research, published in February 2012, indicates that approximately24 million active voter registrations throughout the United States – or
one out of every eight 
Case 2:12-cv-00023 Document 29 Filed 06/08/12 Page 2 of 15 PageID #: 432
 
3registrations – are either no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.
2
Pew also found thatmore than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as active voters on registration listsnationwide, and that approximately 2.75 million people have active registrations in more thanone state.
Id.
Part of the reason NVRA and HAVA have failed to achieve accurate and reliable voterregistration rolls is the existence of lawsuits like the present one. At stake in this case is no lessthan the issue of whether States will be able to maintain accurate voter registration lists pursuantto the NVRA and HAVA without fear of lawsuits that disregard the intent and purpose of theselaws. Plaintiffs allege that Tennessee improperly removed approximately six (6) names from thevoter rolls, an oversight which has since been corrected. Plaintiffs nonetheless ask for aneedlessly drastic preliminary injunction to address a minor clerical mistake that by law isremedied by the availability of a provisional ballot and in fact has already been remedied by theappropriate election officials. If this Court rules in favor of Plaintiffs, it could have a chillingeffect on other States’ efforts to prevent election fraud by performing ordinary voter listmaintenance. In addition, it would eviscerate Congress’ careful balancing act in passing theNVRA and HAVA, which were intended to both increase lawful voter access
and 
increase theintegrity of elections.
1. PlaintiffsRequested Remedy Is Drastically Disproportionate to the AllegedViolation
Plaintiffs appear to believe that the occurrence of any administrative error, no matter howsmall, in a States’ efforts to maintain accurate voter rolls constitutes the absence of safeguards
2
The Pew Center on the States,
Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient: Evidence That America’sVoter Registration System Needs an Upgrade
, p. 1 (February 2012), available athttp://www.pewstates.org/uploadedFiles/PCS_Assets/2012/Pew_Upgrading_Voter_Registration.pdf (visited June 4, 2012).
Case 2:12-cv-00023 Document 29 Filed 06/08/12 Page 3 of 15 PageID #: 433

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