Victory for Voters: Court Blocks Controversial Indiana Law that Could Purge Eligible Voters

June 8, 2018

New York, N.Y. –  Today the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, representing the Indiana NAACP and the Indiana League of Women Voters, won a court case to temporarily halt an Indiana law that would have ignored required federal safeguards for voters, and would have illegally removed individuals from voter rolls in the state. The law was feared to be implemented before the November elections, but now will be on hold in light of today’s decision by the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.  

"This is a big victory for voters in Indiana, and a strong statement against officials who want to use a notoriously error-prone system to hastily and irresponsibly purge people from the rolls," said Myrna Pérez, director of the Voting Rights and Elections Project at the Brennan Center and the organization’s lead attorney on the case.

"We are pleased with the Court’s decision, which will protect Hoosiers against discrimination and disenfranchisement," said Barbara Bolling-Williams, President of the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP. "We commend our attorneys for their work defending the rights of voters in Indiana."

"Today’s ruling helps ensure that eligible voters will be able to cast ballots in November," said Patsy Hoyer and Oscar Anderson, Co-presidents of the Indiana League of Women Voters. "Maintaining voter lists is important, but it must be done in a responsible way and in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act."

Advocates filed the lawsuit against Secretary of State Connie Lawson and the Indiana Election Division last year. The Indiana NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Indiana are being represented in the case by the Brennan Center, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, and Trent A. McCain of McCain Law Offices, P.C. Attorneys representing Common Cause Indiana filed a similar lawsuit against the same bad practice which was also addressed by the Court today. 
 
The plaintiffs argue that Indiana’s law, passed during the state’s 2017 legislative session, violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which is the federal law that guards voters against erroneous removals from the voter rolls. Known as “Motor-Voter,” the NVRA sets clear procedures officials must follow before deleting a voter believed to have moved from one jurisdiction to another from the rolls. 

Indiana’s new law ignores these important protections by allowing election officials to immediately remove voters if the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck system identifies them as registered in another state and additional data selected by Hoosier State officials also matches. The Crosscheck system has resulted in wrongful removals when used elsewhere, often based on loose criteria such as matching a first name, last name, and date of birth alone. The lawsuit notes that in Virginia, Crosscheck had error rates as high as 17 percent.
 
For a full breakdown of the case, read a Q&A here by Myrna Pérez. And for more on the case, click here.

For more information or to connect with a Brennan Center expert, contact Rebecca Autrey at Rebecca.Autrey@nyu.edu or 646-292-8316.
 
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