Indiana NAACP and League of Women Voters of Indiana v. Lawson
On August 23, the Brennan Center filed suit against the State of Indiana on behalf of the Indiana NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Indiana, challenging a recently enacted law, Senate Bill 442, which violates the National Voter Registration Act’s protections against wrongful voter removals. The suit seeks to compel Indiana to comply with the federal law.
Senate Bill 442, which went into effect on July 1, 2017, places Indiana in violation of provisions of The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), also known as motor-voter. That federal law requires states to abide by safeguards when removing voters from voter registration lists. While responsible voter list maintenance is necessary and appropriate, S.B. 442 will permit Indiana to engage in largescale voter purges without safeguards which can result in disenfranchisement of eligible voters. The NVRA mandates that list maintenance programs be reasonable, uniform, and nondiscriminatory, and requires that states afford eligible voters certain protections against wrongful removal. Before voters can be removed because of change of residence, they must either confirm that they have moved or receive a mailed notice that they are going to be removed, fail to respond, and fail to vote in two consecutive federal elections.
Under the language of the new law, election officials can remove voters who appear on a list of individuals, colloquially known as “Crosscheck,” who have purportedly registered in another state – without confirmation or notice and a two-election waiting period.
Crosscheck has been shown to be unreliable as a sole basis for identifying and removing voters who may have moved. When Crosscheck, which is administered by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was used for a 2013 Virginia voter purge, 40,000 registered voters were removed from the rolls prior to a statewide election, even though local election officials found error rates as high as 17 percent. Moreover, according to a 2016 analysis, minorities are more likely than white voters to be flagged for removal in Crosscheck.
The lawsuit seeks to compel Indiana to provide voters all the protections they are entitled to under federal law against purges. The plaintiffs are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, and Trent A. McCain of McCain Law Offices, P.C
- NVRA Notice Letter from the Brennan Center for Justice to the Indiana Secretary of State (05/25/2017)
- Complaint (08/23/2017)