This Friday, the U.S. Justice Department, due to the prior actions of the Obama administration, will be conspicuously absent from a federal courtroom in Virginia as a lawsuit kicks off that could prove critical to protecting the integrity of American elections.
The lawsuit before the court revolves around the public’s right, under federal law, to examine election records. In this case, the specific records sought to identify thousands of aliens who were illegally registered to vote in Virginia. Many of these non-citizens actually cast ballots in prior elections.
Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), 52 U.S.C. § 20507(i), gives the public — and the Justice Department — an unhindered right to inspect election records. Under Section 8, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a nonprofit law firm dedicated to election integrity, has been gathering records on aliens who registered and voted illegally in Virginia. Prior to the November election, it uncovered more than 1,000 illegal aliens registered to vote in just eight counties, and those were just the cases it caught by accident; its review was not comprehensive, because some counties refused to comply with the law and provide the records requested. PILF consequently took one of the recalcitrant jurisdictions, the City of Manassas, to federal court.
This time, the Obama Justice Department filed no briefs supporting transparency. It was left up to J. Christian Adams, PILF’s general counsel, to oppose the city’s effort to dismiss the suit and hide its records. (It’s worth noting that there is no indication Manassas forwarded these records to state or federal law enforcement for investigation and prosecution, despite the fact that registration or voting by a noncitizen is a felony under both state and federal law.)