Group Sues Colorado Secretary of State for Illegally Withholding Voter Data

By Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.
December 19, 2021 Updated: December 19, 2021

A good-government group is suing Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold in federal court for refusing to allow the inspection of voter list maintenance records as required by federal law.

Griswold, a Democrat, is refusing to allow the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) access to voter list maintenance documents, including data that Colorado receives from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

Griswold says her agency’s contract with ERIC prohibits the release of the data that ERIC provides to member states. ERIC, a nonprofit that describes its mission as “assisting states to improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increase access to voter registration for all eligible citizens,” was created in 2012 with assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts, a left-wing philanthropy.

Epoch Times Photo
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold in an undated photograph. (Colorado Secretary of State’s Office)

Griswold also claims Colorado can’t hand over the records because of the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act and other laws governing the Social Security death record database. Colorado’s membership agreement with ERIC, she claims, also prohibits member states from disclosing records that are public documents under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993.

Colorado, 30 states, and the District of Columbia outsource the maintenance of their voter rolls to ERIC. ERIC regularly provides the Colorado Secretary of State’s office with reports showing which registered voters are no longer eligible because they have died or relocated. The NVRA provides that all records used to add or remove voters are public records, yet Griswold denied a group’s request to inspect the reports ERIC provides to the state.

“Colorado is hiding voter list maintenance documents the public is legally entitled to,” said PILF President J. Christian Adams in a statement.

“Elections must be free and transparent for Americans to trust their results. Secretary Griswold and ERIC are blocking transparency and violating federal law,” said Adams, a former U.S. Justice Department civil rights attorney.

ERIC also has critics on the political left, as The Epoch Times previously reported.

Liberal journalist Greg Palast has likened ERIC to Jim Crow, a set of post-Civil War state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation. Barbara Arnwine, former executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, reportedly said, “ERIC should be called ERROR because it’s that erroneous and that full of flaws.”

The lawsuit, PILF v. Griswold, was filed on Dec. 16 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Griswold is being sued in her official capacity.

On Aug. 20, PILF notified Griswold that she was in violation of the NVRA for failure to permit inspection of voter list maintenance records as required by 52 U.S.C. Section 20507(i), according to the 14-page legal complaint filed with the court.

On Nov. 18, Griswold notified PILF that she wouldn’t be complying with the group’s requests, the complaint states.

Indianapolis-based PILF describes itself as “the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly to election integrity,” saying that it exists “to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections.”

PILF said in the complaint that it “utilizes the NVRA’s Public Disclosure Provision and state and federal open records laws that require government records be made available to the public. Using records and data compiled through these open records laws, the Foundation analyzes the programs and activities of state and local election officials in order to determine whether lawful efforts are being made to keep voter rolls current and accurate in accordance with federal and state law, and to determine whether eligible registrants have been improperly removed from voter rolls. The Foundation also uses records and data to produce and disseminate reports, articles, blog and social media posts, and newsletters in order to advance the public education aspect of its organizational mission.”

Griswold and the Electronic Registration Information Center didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.