April 22, 2020, Durham, N.C.— Late Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit that would remove individuals en mass from voter rolls in Mecklenburg and Guilford counties. The lawsuit, Judicial Watch v. North Carolina, et al, was filed in federal court earlier this month to force a purge of thousands of registered voters in the run-up to the general election in November.
“One of the League’s principal goals is to bring more eligible voters into the political process,” said Jo Nicholas, president of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina. “These unlawful and immoral voter purges are antithetical to everything the League of Women Voters works for, and we will fight back every chance we get.”
In mid-April, Judicial Watch, a purported “election integrity” watchdog group, sued Mecklenburg and Guilford counties and state election officials to force a purge of voter rolls in the two counties. Voter list maintenance is historically a government activity. In addition to preventing a purge based on unreliable data, the League and its partner, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, seek to assist election officials who are already overwhelmed with trying to administer an election during a global pandemic.
“Maintaining clean voter rolls is necessary, but it must be based on reliable data that does not put eligible voters in jeopardy,” said Chris Carson, president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “The League of Women Voters has a long history of pushing back on the targeted removal of eligible voters from the rolls. With this action, North Carolina voters are facing increased voter suppression during a global pandemic, and they deserve better.”
The League of Women Voters is joined in this case by the North Carolina APRI and represented by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Dēmos.
“North Carolina election officials are desperately working to ensure that safe and accessible elections can be conducted this year,” said Allison Riggs, interim executive director and chief counsel for Voting Rights at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “This lawsuit is a despicable attempt to push a voter suppression agenda during a public health crisis.”
In addition to the harm voters in these counties will incur if this purge takes place, years of efforts from LWVNC and NCAPRI to register voters in Mecklenburg and Guilford counties could be undermined without intervention on behalf of voters.
“In litigating these voter purge cases across the country, we have seen Judicial Watch and similar groups use bad data, routinely rejected by courts, to try to undermine political participation,” said Emerson Gordon-Marvin, legal fellow at Dēmos.
The motion to intervene is likely to be decided in the next couple of weeks.