Thursday, September 21, 2023

GOP Candidate Shows Support for Federal Lawsuit to Make Voter Registration Public


Republican Rep. Rebecca Dow, a candidate for governor, is voicing her support of a federal lawsuit brought by a voter integrity group seeking permission to show the public the state’s voter rolls.

The lawsuit that was filed in late March by the Voter Reference Foundation (VRF) in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque names Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas, both Democrats, as defendants. Citing the First Amendment, VRF is asking the court to give the group immediate permission to make voter registration information public.

VRF publicizes voter registration lists, known as voter rolls. Since it began in 2021, VRF has published the voter rolls in 22 states and the District of Columbia. In the complaint, VRF is charging that Toulouse Oliver falsely characterized VRF’s publication of the voter rolls as illegal after the group posted the rolls on its website, 

As we've reported before, the foundation, led by former Trump campaign official and Senate candidate Doug Traux, was founded less than a year ago and has dismissed objections from election officials that its methodology is flawed and its actions may be illegal, at least in states like New Mexico. Currently, New Mexico bans the publication of voter registration information.

In a post on her Twitter account, Dow said Toulouse Oliver "should let New Mexicans access the voter rolls they pay for." Because making voter rolls public is illegal in New Mexico, the legislature would have to change the law, not the Secretary of State.

A ProPublica review found that VoteRef’s origins and funders are closely linked to a super PAC predominantly funded by billionaire Richard Uihlein, founder of the mammoth Wisconsin-based packaging supply company Uline. A descendant of one of the founders of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, Uihlein is a major Trump supporter and a key player in Wisconsin and Illinois politics. Among his political donations was an $800,000 contribution in September 2020 to the Tea Party Patriots political action committee, a group that helped organize the Jan. 6 rally that led to the Capitol insurrection.

The lawsuit states that New Mexico law governing election transparency violates the First and Fifth Amendments. VRF asks that it can continue providing the voter rolls to the public. Several states have statutes that ban the publication of voter rolls. Truax said court battles in those states are likely.

VRF said it will take its New Mexico data off the website pending legal action.


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