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Judicial Watch, Inc. et al v. Dean C. Logan, et al

The Brennan Center and co-counsel Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP requested permission from the Court to intervene on behalf of California Common Cause in a lawsuit accusing California state and the County of Los Angeles of not purging voters aggressively enough from the rolls.

Published: March 21, 2019

On May 14, 2018, the Bren­nan Center and co-coun­sel Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP reques­ted permis­sion from the Court to inter­vene on behalf of Cali­for­nia Common Cause in a lawsuit accus­ing Cali­for­nia state and the County of Los Angeles of not purging voters aggress­ively enough from the rolls. In Judi­cial Watch, Inc. et al v. Dean C. Logan, et al., the plaintiff Judi­cial Watch — a self-described “conser­vat­ive” organ­iz­a­tion based out of Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — made general and sweep­ing alleg­a­tions that Cali­for­nia and Los Angeles had inflated voter rolls, and that Judi­cial Watch was not given records that had been reques­ted.


Congress passed the National Voter Regis­tra­tion Act of 1993 (NVRA)—also known as “motor voter” – in order to simul­tan­eously increase voting oppor­tun­it­ies for eligible Amer­ic­ans and ensure the integ­rity of our elec­tions. The NVRA requires elec­tion offi­cials to make reas­on­able efforts to main­tain clean voter rolls, while also estab­lish­ing safe­guards to keep voters from being wrong­fully removed from the rolls. Such safe­guards include the require­ment that system­atic list main­ten­ance not be conduc­ted within 90 days of an elec­tion; that list main­ten­ance programs be reas­on­able, uniform, and nondis­crim­in­at­ory; and that voters be removed due to suspec­ted change of address only after they are sent a notice that they are going to be removed, fail to respond, and fail to vote in two consec­ut­ive federal elec­tions.

While respons­ible voter list main­ten­ance is both appro­pri­ate and neces­sary to the integ­rity of our elec­tions, remov­ing voters from the rolls without adequate protec­tions can threaten citizens’ funda­mental right to vote. When voter purges are rushed, based on unre­li­able data, or done without neces­sary precau­tions or ample notice to the public, it is the voters who bear the greatest burden – poten­tially show­ing up to the polls only to discover they have been kicked off the rolls and are unable to cast a ballot.

The Bren­nan Center, on behalf of Cali­for­nia Common Cause, reques­ted to inter­vene in the case to ensure that Cali­for­nia and Los Angeles County elec­tions offi­cials were not direc­ted to engage in the types of error-prone, wide-spread voter purging that can result in the unne­ces­sary and wrong­ful loss of eligible voters’ right to cast a ballot. On July 12, the district court denied the motion to inter­vene, a decision that proposed defend­ant-inter­ven­ors appealed. Follow­ing a settle­ment, the District Court dismissed the case on Septem­ber 5, 2018. On March 20, 2019, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal as moot and vacated the District Court’s order deny­ing inter­ven­tion.