California Faces Lawsuit Over Lack of Voter Roll Maintenance

By Cynthia Cai
Cynthia Cai
Cynthia Cai
September 26, 2019 Updated: October 9, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—A California law group is planning to file a lawsuit against the state to bring back election integrity, asking the state as a whole to clean up voter registration rolls in every county.

California has been criticized before for allegedly failing to maintain and clean up its voter lists.

Earlier this year, Los Angeles County lost multiple lawsuits filed by watchdog groups and county residents regarding the need to clean up the county’s rolls. In response, the county began mailing out notices to as many as 1.5 million inactive voters and is planning to remove those who don’t respond to the notice.

Mark Meuser, an attorney at Dhillon Law Group, told The Epoch Times that the group sent a demand letter to the California secretary of state in May 2019. Federal law requires that the secretary of state be given 90 days to correct issues outlined in demand letters.

Since 90 days have already passed, the law group is planning to move forward with a lawsuit.

Meuser said that the issue of election integrity is related to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “Motor Voter Act.” This act made the process for registering to vote easier for U.S. citizens by allowing them to register through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

He said that this law also established some responsibilities for the secretary of state to maintain the voter lists, and this means ensuring that all registered voters are eligible to vote and any noneligible individuals are removed from the database. This essentially turned every DMV in the state into a voter registration center, in addition to the DMV’s typical functions.

However, California has an estimated 5 million inactive voter registrations, which has raised speculation that the state is not doing its part as outlined in the act.

“There is also a section that basically says, before you put somebody on the voter rolls, the state is to ensure that the person is eligible to vote, and the state is to make a determination and send [registrants] notice what that determination is,” Meuser said.

He said that accusations about fraudulent votes being cast, or noncitizens voting in state and federal elections lead to lower participation from eligible voters. It may also lead some residents to move to a different state where they feel more confident about the state’s integrity, he said. Although these accusations and suspicions cannot be confirmed due to the private nature of citizenship status and voter eligibility information, the existence of accusations is what the lawsuit is concerned with.

History of Election Integrity

Questions surrounding election integrity in the United States date back to the 1600s, exist in every state, and come up during every election. Lack of election integrity includes anything that manipulates votes or would lead to inaccurate election outcomes, such as extra ballots, completing ballots for other people, and other concerns.

“I would agree that Donald Trump coming out and talking about noncitizens voting has probably put [election integrity] on the radar for more people,” Meuser said.

What’s different now from the past is the added accusations of noncitizens voting due to the registration process being much easier and more accessible.

Meuser emphasized that the purpose of the lawsuit is to pressure the state to clean up and maintain the voter rolls as outlined by state laws.

“This lawsuit is to make the state do its job so that there can be more integrity in California elections,” he said.

Cynthia Cai
Cynthia Cai