VRF files suit in Pennsylvania to force election officials to make voter rolls transparent
Aug 18, 2022
by Voter Reference Foundation
DOWNERS GROVE, IL -- The groundbreaking Voter Reference Foundation (VRF), which is ushering in a new era of election transparency at VoteRef.com, is filing suit against Pennsylvania election officials to ensure citizens there can view public voter roll records.
Filed this week in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, the lawsuit asserts that the Pennsylvania Department of State is violating VRF's First Amendment rights and its rights under the National Voter Registration Act to allow the public to scrutinize voter records they pay for.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania election authorities are arbitrarily blocking VRF's access to the Pennsylvania list without statutory or constitutional authority to do so. The election authorities are requiring VRF to sign a pledge not to publish the list on the internet in order to access it.
VRF published the Pennsylvania list in August 2021 but took it offline while trying to resolve the dispute with election officials.
"We are not going to allow partisan elections officials to restrict the public's access to election records they pay for," said Doug Truax, Founder and President of Restoration of America, which created and funds VRF. "We have a crisis of confidence in America when it comes to election results and the answer is more transparency, not less."
VRF, for the first time in U.S. history, is publishing the voter rolls in all 50 states. The lists are publicly available but not accessible to most people without paying a large fee and deciphering monstrously large spreadsheets and data files. VRF is paying to obtain the list and publish them in a user-friendly format.
Since it began in 2021, VRF has published voter rolls in 31 states and the District of Columbia, representing more than half the population of the United States. Popular national tech and economic columnist Jeffrey Carter described the effort as a "killer election reform," allowing the public to crowd source the lists to make them more accurate.
A federal court judge in New Mexico issued a preliminary injunction last month -- allowing VRF to re-publish the list in that state after partisan election officials threatened to prosecute VRF for publishing the state voter roll.
Truax predicted there will be more lawsuits ahead in the handful of states that prohibit publication of the voter rolls on the internet.
"People on both sides of the political aisle acknowledge our voter rolls are sloppy and inaccurate," Truax added. “Our ultimate aim is to help clean up those rolls and ensure they are accurate."