Election integrity group sues New Mexico officials over right to publish voter rolls
"We are not going to be deterred by partisan election officials who believe the election records taxpayers pay for are their personal possessions," said Doug Truax, Founder and President of Restoration Action.
Voter Reference Foundation (VRF) is suing the New Mexico secretary of state and attorney general to ensure publication of the state's voter rolls.
The election integrity watchdog filed the First Amendment lawsuit on Monday, asking the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque to assert VRF's right to publish the voter rolls for taxpayers to view.
The lawsuit alleges that Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver falsely claimed in public statements that VRF illegally published New Mexico's voter rolls. Oliver has a history of refusing to release public voting records, according to the lawsuit, as she previously did so when former President Trump requested them in 2017.
"The taxpayers of New Mexico pay for election administration, and they have an absolute right to view the records that are produced," said Doug Truax, Founder and President of Restoration Action, which started VRF. "Confidence in American elections is at a low ebb, and one reason is a lack of transparency."
Since VRF started in 2021, it has published the voter rolls of 22 states and Washington, D.C. so citizens have "the ability to view who is eligible to vote, when they voted, and other basic election data," according to a press release.
After VRF published the New Mexico voter roll in December, Oliver said it was illegal and referred the matter to Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas for investigation and possible prosecution, according to a ProPublica article cited in the lawsuit.
"We are not going to be deterred by partisan election officials who believe the election records taxpayers pay for are their personal possessions," Truax added in a statement. "The public has a right to see them and if they try to block us, we will assert that right in court."
The lawsuit claims that the state’s law regarding the publication of voter data violates both the First and Fifth Amendments since it is too vague and broad and "fails to give notice as to what uses are permissible and which are prohibited."
VRF is requesting a declaratory judgment to continue publishing voter rolls and a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent Oliver and Balderas "from enforcing any statute in violation of Plaintiffs' rights," the lawsuit states.
Pending litigation, VRF will take the New Mexico voter rolls off of its website.
Truax also said that there will likely be litigation in several other states that prohibit the publication of voter rolls.