The Public Interest Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit with the New Mexico secretary of state for charging more than $5,000 for a copy of the state’s voter rolls.
PILF alleges that New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is violating federal law by charging such an excessive fee for a copy of the rolls. Under the National Voter Registration Act, states are required to maintain voter roll data for two years minimum and make them available to the public for a small fee specifically to cover “photocopying at a reasonable cost.” PILF says it did not even request photocopies of the rolls, however, only electronic copies.
“New Mexico’s $5,000 fee to obtain a copy of the voter roll electronically conflicts with the NVRA,” PILF President J. Christian Adams said in a statement. “This excessive fee serves as a roadblock to the NRVA’s purpose to allow the public to hold their election officials accountable by ensuring that they are keeping their voter rolls accurate and up to date. Election officials cannot charge anything other than photocopying costs to obtain accesses to registration records.”
New Mexico isn’t the only state charging exorbitant fees for copies of voter rolls and thus blocking public access. According to a PILF spokeswoman, Alabama charges $30,000 for a copy of its rolls, Virginia charges $10,000, and Wisconsin charges $12,500. Louisiana and Texas are similar to New Mexico, charging $5,000 and $5,500, respectively.
These excessive charges are just another example of the barriers to government accountability and transparency faced by good government groups. As such, many are prevented from accessing state voter rolls.
The New Mexico secretary of state’s office did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.