A public interest legal group and two Virginia jurisdictions have agreed mutually to dismiss lawsuits stemming from the jurisdictions' refusal to allow the inspection of voter rolls for non-citizens.
The agreement was announced Monday by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), an Indiana-based organization that litigates to protect election integrity. The group filed two lawsuits against the city of Manassas and Chesterfield County, Virginia, demanding the jurisdictions release the total number of non-citizens registered to vote in the area.
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PILF will receive lists with the total number of non-citizens registered to vote in both Manassas and Chesterfield County.
"These are positive steps toward quantifying the true extent of noncitizen voter registration in Virginia," PILF president and general counsel J. Christian Adams said in a statement. "Washington and Richmond alike are positioned to consider various election integrity reforms and are right to do so. Those discussions deserve precise data like we’ve obtained."
The group said it is preparing new measures for Virginia jurisdictions that still do not allow it to inspect their voter rolls for potential non-citizen voting activity.
Logan Churchwell, communications and research director at PILF, said the developments are a "big win" for transparency of local governments.
"This is a big win for private citizens working to keep their local governments transparent and accountable. Answers to questions like ‘how many non-U.S. citizens registered in my county last year?' should never be forbidden," Churchwell told the Washington Free Beacon. "In wrapping these cases, the remainder of the Commonwealth is on notice that it cannot hide these data from the public. They might as well start printing cancellation reports with non-citizens found on their rolls now."
Churchwell said the cases also show a way forward for the Trump administration as it studies the scope of illegal voting.
"Looking at the larger picture, these cases show a way forward for the Trump Administration to study and quantify the true scope of illegal voting in 2016 and generally. Only the federal government has the tools and legal powers to compare our nation's voter files to immigration databases. All the information is in the DOJ's hands—if only it will take charge. PILF was forced to fill a gap that the Obama DOJ left with respect to asking these tough questions—but it can get back to that work again."
PILF's efforts previously led to the discovery of a number of non-citizens on voter rolls in the state.
In September 2016, the group released a report detailing the number of illegal immigrants on voter rolls from Virginia jurisdictions that complied with its requests for information.
Of the eight Virginia counties that complied with the group's requests, PILF discovered 1,046 aliens registered to vote illegally. The group also found that ballots were cast in hundreds of instances prior to discovery.
"The problem is most certainly exponentially worse because we have no data regarding aliens on the registration rolls for the other 125 Virginia localities," the group said at the time. "Even in this small sample, when the voting history of this small sample of alien registrants is examined, nearly 200 verified ballots were cast before they were removed from the rolls. Each one of them is likely a felony."
The city of Manassas and Chesterfield County did not immediately respond to requests for comment.