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Colorado Tried To Throw Out An Election Watchdog’s Lawsuit Seeking ERIC Data. A Judge Said No

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A lawsuit to obtain Colorado’s ERIC data reports concerning “registered voters identified as deceased or potentially deceased” may proceed, a federal district judge ruled on Friday.

For context, the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, is a widely used voter-roll management organization founded by Democrat activist David Becker that was “sold to states as a quick and easy way to update their voter rolls.” In actuality, ERIC inflates voter rolls by requiring member states to contact eligible but unregistered residents to register to vote.

In their lawsuit against Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) alleged that Colorado’s ERIC data is subject to the disclosure provision of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Under the NVRA, states are required to make “available for public inspection, for a period of at least two years, all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters.” The two exceptions to this provision are records revealing the identity of the government department through which any specific registrant was registered and those showing an individual declined to register to vote.

In June 2021, PILF submitted a letter to Griswold seeking to obtain Colorado’s ERIC data from 2019-2021 “concerning registered voters identified as deceased or potentially deceased.” The legal group also sought “[a]ll reports and/or statewide-voter-registration-system-generated lists showing all registrants removed from the list of eligible voters for reason of death” for those same years, which would include information such as full names, dates of birth, unique voter identification numbers, addresses, and the locality in which each listed voter resided.

Griswold ultimately denied a majority of PILF’s requests in an Aug. 18, 2021, letter to the organization. While the Democrat official provided PILF with “a list of former registrants removed from Colorado’s voter roll for the reason of death” from 2019-2021, she denied the group’s request for “birth days or months,” arguing to do so would violate state law. Griswold further declined PILF’s request for the state’s “ERIC Deceased Data” from 2019-2021.

This prompted PILF to submit a notice letter two days later on Aug. 20, 2021, notifying Griswold that by failing to allow “inspection of voter list maintenance records,” she was violating the NVRA. Griswold responded to the notice on Nov. 18, 2021, once again denying PILF’s request. Her refusal to forfeit the sought records pushed PILF to file suit the following month. Griswold filed a motion to dismiss in response.

Writing for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on Friday, Chief Judge Phillip Brimmer denied Griswold’s motion to dismiss PILF’s suit, writing that “The Secretary has not shown the Foundation fails to state a claim based on a violation of the NVRA because of the NVRA’s disclosure provision or because of exceptions to the NVRA established by other federal statutes.”

“The Court agrees with the Foundation that the NVRA’s disclosure provision should be construed in favor of broad disclosure,” Brimmer wrote. “Accordingly, the Foundation has sufficiently alleged the ERIC records it seeks are concerned with implementing a program or activity under the NVRA, namely, maintaining accurate voter rolls.”

PILF’s lawsuit against Griswold will now be permitted to move forward as a result of Friday’s ruling.

“Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold should stop fighting transparency and hand over these ERIC reports,” PILF President J. Christian Adams said in a statement. “Other ERIC member states should take notice that under federal law the public has a right to inspect ERIC reports.”

In addition to Colorado, PILF is seeking ERIC data reports from Louisiana, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. In Alaska, a federal judge issued a stipulated court order last month that Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom must forfeit such records to PILF.


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