by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) requested records from the North Carolina Board of Elections regarding noncitizens registering and voting. Federal law allows this access to voter records, according to PILF’s Kaylan Phillips. The group made the request, but the state board said no. So, in 2019, PILF sued.
PILF filed the lawsuit against the NCSBE in June 2019 for failure to disclose records showing noncitizens registration and voting. The lower court dismissed the complaint saying that PILF could not obtain the records. PILF appealed to the Fourth Circuit.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in PILF’s favor, vacating, and remanding the dismissal by the lower court. This marks a victory for transparency in our elections and for the National Voting Rights Act requiring the disclosure of documents relating to non-citizens registering and voting.
“North Carolina had tried to prevent the public from inspecting records related to noncitizens registering and voting in our elections,” said PILF President J. Christian Adams. “Federal law presumes that election records are public. The Fourth Circuit vacated the lower court’s dismissal of the case. This is an important win because it means that the public’s right to know about election vulnerabilities has been vindicated.”
So it’s a victory for transparency in federal court. Phillips explained to Locke’s Mitch Kokai why her organization requested access to these voter records.
Locke’s Andy Jackson is monitoring the transparency of our elections as well. Just days ago, he updated us on a move by the state elections board to limit transparency when it comes to the issue of election observers – a very important oversight practice.