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Election transparency group scores legal win in battle to access voter rolls

The judge ruled that a trial may be held on the foundation's claim that the state violated the First Amendment.

Published: April 3, 2024 8:43am

A federal judge ruled that New Mexico election officials violated the National Voter Registration Act by refusing to hand over voter rolls to the Voter Reference Foundation, an election transparency group.

Albuquerque-based U.S. District Court Judge James Browning last week issued a 329-page ruling mostly in favor of the foundation. He determined that the group could access the voter rolls.

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Raul Torrez "violated the Public Inspection Provision by refusing to timely produce voter data in response to Voter Reference’s February, 2022, and May, 2022, voter data requests," the judge wrote. 

The decision came without a trial, but the judge ruled that a trial may be held on the foundation's claim that the state violated the First Amendment by participating in viewpoint discrimination.

The foundation runs, which includes voter information from more than two dozen states. 

"We are very gratified that the court has upheld the right of the public to have meaningful access to vote rolls," foundation head and Arizona Republican Party chairwoman Gina Swoboda said after the ruling, according to ABC News. "With this opinion the citizens of New Mexico can be assured of transparency in this key part of our elections process."

New Mexico Secretary of State's Office spokesman Alex Curtas said his agency will appeal the order.

Oliver "will continue to do everything in her power to advocate for the protection of voters' personal information and ultimately encourage voter participation," Curtas said.

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