Issues

Maryland Elections Board Sued for Hiding Voter Registration Records

A voter casts their ballot at a polling station
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A watchdog group is suing the Maryland state board of elections for hiding voter registration records.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), an Indiana-based election integrity group, filed a complaint Dec. 16 against several individuals with Maryland's state board of elections for alleged violations of the National Voter Registration Act's public disclosure provision. The group sought a copy of the statewide voter registration list on Nov. 13 and offered to pay the required fees for the records. Two days later, an individual with the board of elections denied PILF's request, stating that only Maryland residents can obtain voter data.

"Maryland stood to make at least $250 from selling their voter data like usual, but decided to flaunt a recent court decision against them and refused PILF's application," Logan Churchwell, communications director at PILF, told the Washington Free Beacon. "Now, they have to defend a second federal lawsuit and risk paying attorneys' fees. It doesn't pay to hide public records—and here, it's actually profitable to disclose them."

"This case is greater than a denied open records request," Churchwell continued. "This is a statement to election officials around the nation that you cannot expect to get away with denying a critical voting right—the right to inspect our election records."

Maryland's state board of elections did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The lawsuit comes as PILF has found instances across the country of duplicate registrations, deceased individuals still registered to vote, and voter rolls that contain more individuals than there are eligible voters.

PILF filed suit against the city of Detroit last week after discovering 2,500 deceased voters on the city's rolls, nearly 5,000 voters who appear more than once, and 511,786 registered voters in the city where 479,267 individuals are eligible to vote. President Donald Trump carried Michigan by just over 10,000 votes during the 2016 presidential elections.

In November, the foundation discovered 24,000 voter records in Palm Beach County, Fla., which contained errors and potential fraud, including thousands of deceased voters on the rolls and hundreds of cases of double voting.

PILF also sued a Texas county in March over its refusal to disclose information in relation to noncitizens on voter rolls. The foundation later filed a similar complaint against the North Carolina state board of elections. The group last year sued the Pennsylvania state department after officials refused to release records in relation to noncitizens on voter rolls.