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Conservative group that claims voter rolls are full of undocumented immigrants sues Boston Election Department over access to its list of registered voters

Update: Although the group has a history of making claims that voter rolls are full of unregistered voters - to the point of publishing names and contact info of voters it claims are illegal, even if they are sometimes not - the group's complaint does not make any specific claims about the nature of Boston's registered voters, so the story has been edited to reflect that. Also, the group has dropped the complaint.

A Virginia-based group that claims it's only interested in ensuring fair elections yesterday sued the Boston Elections Department to gain access to the city's voter rolls.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation of Arlington, VA, whose president served on a Trump commission to find widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, only it didn't, says Boston election officials have ignored its request to hand over the city's voter rolls so it can go over them with a fine-toothed comb.

The group says this violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which, while aimed at making it easier for people to vote, contains a "public disclosure" provision it says requires public access to at least two years of records to prove that elections officials are keeping accurate and current voter rolls - and that that includes individual voter records.

The complaint states the group asked the Elections Department for all of the records on Nov. 9, never heard back and so filed a formal complaint with the Secretary of State's office - which oversees both elections records and public-records requests - on Feb. 7.

The group claims the failure to hand over the records is causing it "a concrete informational injury" preventing it from carrying it its ostensible purpose:

The Foundation gathers information about the state of the voter rolls across the nation for the purpose of assessing the accuracy and currency of the rolls and whether officials are complying with state and federal voter list maintenance standards, as well as other best practices. See "Errors in America's Voter Rolls," Public Interest Legal Foundation, https://publicinterestlegal.org/issues/voter-roll-error-map/.

The Foundation will use the requested records to further study and investigate Boston's voter list maintenance activities and Boston's compliance with state and federal law, and other best practices.

Defendant Boston Department of Election's denial of the requested records affects the Foundation's programming and will dictate where additional Foundation resources will be deployed for further investigations, communications with certain election officials, and necessary remedial measures.

The Defendant's failure to allow inspection pursuant to federal law causes harm to the Foundation as it is required to expend additional resources and staff, while limiting the Foundation's ability to fund other pending investigations and programming.

The Defendant's failure to allow inspection of these records further injures the Foundation's non-profit educational programming which includes providing policy advice to state officials and legislative guidance and testimony to Congress regarding state compliance with voting rights legislation requirements.

Further:

The Foundation needs continually to keep its institutional knowledge current and accurate so that the organization can operate efficiently and effectively, including for the purposes that Congress intended under the NVRA. The failure of Defendant to provide records subject to disclosure impairs and directly frustrates the Foundation's accumulation of institutional knowledge about nationwide list maintenance practices by government officials. This impairment harms the Foundation's ability accurately and comprehensively to educate the public and election officials about numerous circumstances, including the state of their own voter rolls. This impairment harms the Foundation's ability accurately and comprehensively to educate members of Congress about numerous circumstances, including possible amendments to the NVRA, compliance with federal law by state officials, and the effectiveness of the NVRA's four (4) articulated legislative purposes.

By denying the Foundation the ability to obtain the requested voter list maintenance records, Defendant is also impairing the Foundation's ability to, inter alia, (1) study and analyze the City of Boston's voter list maintenance programs and activities; (2) assess the City of Boston's enforcement of state and federal voter eligibility requirements; (3) assess the City of Boston's compliance with state and federal voter list maintenance obligations, and other best practices; and (4) aid the City of Boston in carrying out voter list maintenance programs and activities, and other best practices, thus injuring the Foundation.

State law classifies voter names and addresses as confidential - but says elections officials must make them available to candidates, political parties, the jury commissioner and "any other individual, agency or entity that the state secretary shall designate by regulation consistent with the purposes of this section, at a fair and reasonable cost not to exceed the cost of printing or preparing computer readable documents."

In a decision last month, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit sided with PILF in a similar case against Maine's secretary of state, ruling that the federal law and its public-disclosure provision overrule any state voter-roll restrictions. The court said federal regulations provide privacy controls for registered voters and that elections officials could redact "uniquely or highly sensitive personal information." Its ruling does not fully define what that entails, but it cited rulings in other parts of the country that that could include birth dates and Social Security numbers.

In 2019, PILF and its president, J. Christian Adams, settled a defamation lawsuit in Virginia and formally apologized for publishing an "Alien Invastion" report that listed not just names, but phone numbers, addresses and even Social Security numbers of people removed from voter rolls for allegedly being non-citizens - although it blamed Virginia officials for "improperly removing" actual American citizens from the rolls.

PILF's Boston lawsuit was filed by three attorneys - two on its staff in Virginia and Frank L. McNamara Jr., of Bolton, who served two years as US Attorney in Boston under Ronald Reagan, but who was forced to resign after the Justice Department concluded he had lied about his predecessor, Bill Weld, by claiming he had smoked marijuana.

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Comments

It's none of their damned business. The court needs to dismiss this with prejudice.

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That people in Massachusetts should stay out of the politics of other states as well?

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It always seems like some conservative state residents (or their elected representatives) are in a bind about what they imagine is happening in "Liberal" cities and states.

The inverse is not true.

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Last night's WGBH news program spent a good ten minutes on handwringing over the Alabama Supreme Court decision regarding embryos/IVF even though there is basically zero impact on Massachusetts residents.

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the second an Alabaman crosses state lines for treatment, as frequently happens. No one crosses state lines to vote in Boston elections.

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Boston elections do have a national impact if Boston adopts policies (i.e. sanctuary city) which induce people to cross the border without permission.

And Alabamans coming to Massachusetts for IVF care would generally be beneficial to the local economy given that they'd be paying for care here and not covered by public insurance.

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is a strawman argument.

“Boston elections do have a national impact if Boston adopts policies (i.e. sanctuary city) which induce people to cross the border without permission.”

If what you’re arguing is the case, then any local election must then be a national election since by the butterfly effect you’re using, all issues are national issues.

People hop the border to work or to flee political unrest. They don’t do so because Newton declares itself a sanctuary.

Furthermore, someone getting uninsured care here would be highly unlikely to remain to pay the entirety of their bill. That’s the basis of the Romney/Kennedy bill to begin with.

Conservatism Is A Mental Illness

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Who have come to Massachusetts for IVF treatment as the result of the Alabama Supreme Court decision is zero. Who has a strawman argument? There isn't a right to IVF treatment, either, so a provider can refuse treatment to patients without means to pay or insurance.

So again, where is the impact on MA? I watched the segment and there was nothing about local impact.

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Also a dishonest argument because the decision was just made. It’s well-known that the number of women leaving the states that have outlawed abortion is nonzero and from that we can extrapolate that the IVF number would be nonzero.

P.S. Trump lost the 2020 election.

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This isn't abortion, and the Alabama legislature had moved to restore access to IVF in their state by the time the segment aired (there was a statement regarding this afterwards). So handwringing about something which might happen but was actually exceedingly unlikely because a person without the means to pay for IVF in Alabama would come to Mass. to get IVF which they wouldn't be entitled to anyway because they're not a resident and it's an elective process? And again, there was no discussion about impact in MA apart from "this won't have an impact in MA."

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met the trunt who doesn’t come back for more after losing an argument. You all have the same case of last word-itis. No matter how embarrassing, you need to make an ass out of yourself that one last time out the door, like you win a prize for clearing a room out.

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Your last word prize!

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Access to voter rolls is granted to campaigns for the purposes of canvassing and phone banking. It isn't given to just any yahoo on a fishing expedition.

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but i figured it was going to boil down to NPR or WGBH having opinions on politics elsewhere. did not disappoint. fwiw, it's pretty obviously not the same thing.

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On one hand, I agree.

On the other hand, even if their reason for wanting to see the voter rolls is stupid, if the law says that the rolls are public information, then they should be available whatever reasonable standard exists for sharing the information.

Dismissing the case “with prejudice” could set some kind of standard that anyone requesting the rolls would need to demonstrate some kind of concrete local interest in them. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m also not sure that’s a good idea.

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TEAM
The Public Interest Legal Foundation’s Board of Directors and legal team have decades of experience fighting for election integrity. The Foundation lawyers have served in the United States Department of Justice Voting Section, been appointed by President Trump to advise on election integrity and have fought for years in the election integrity space. We are defending election integrity and the Constitutional presumption of state control over elections in courtrooms across the country, at the Supreme
Here is the bio of the organizations Presodent from their website

They are clearly on a mission to increase votes for Trump...

J. Christian Adams
J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS
President & General Counsel

Read More
J. Christian Adams is the President and General Counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. He served from 2005 to 2010 in the Voting Section at the United States Department of Justice Voting Section. President Trump appointed Adams to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. President Trump also appointed Adams as a Commissioner to the United States Commission on Civil Rights where he also now serves with a term through 2025. He has been involved in election law lawsuits in 33 states and the territory of Guam. He has represented multiple presidential campaigns in election litigation. He has a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. He is a member of the South Carolina and Virginia Bars.

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been appointed by President Trump to advise on election integrity

wat

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A) Standing? Doesn't someone suing in this mess need to be a registered Republican in the City of Boston? For that matter, doesn't the Massachusetts GOP already have standing, and is not joining in on the side of PILF in this?
B) I am certain that the gentleman from Bolton fills out his annual town Census, upon which purges of voter registrations are based. So how does he assume that Boston, unlike every other municipaility in the Commonwealth, fails to purge the jury and voter rolls when someone is no longer living at the address on the Census?
C) Did PILF fail to file with the Secretary of the Commonwealth to gain access to Massachusetts voter rolls? If so, shouldn't this lawsuit be dismissed (without prejudice) until they follow the state procedures and are somehow denied?

No, I'm not a lawyer, and I don't live in Boston, but I can read and follow instructions. These choads seem to be unable to do so.

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They were allowed to sue Maine over a similar issue and won, so at least in the First Circuit (which includes both MA and ME), they have standing.

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As someone who has accessed Boston's voter rolls in the past for research and also works with GOTV groups that access them on the regular, I do expect that PILF's claims may be found wanting from a procedural perspective. It's not that hard but you do have to pay (it was ~$100-200 two years ago). It won't surprise me that they didn't follow instructions or were asking for details they aren't allowed to have.

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The "Foundation"* claims that not having the information interferes with the foundation's purpose of existing. So? That is irrelevant in that there is no need for PLIF to exist.

Who puts money toward the lies of another fraud of foundations?

Less than .25% (.0025) of voters from 2020 are dead. Total deaths in 2023 was 3,394,001. Given that the .25% is not defined, what can be inferred is that voters die and are not immediately removed from voter registration roles. Why? Because the people running voter registrations do not have Godly powers to let them know when every voter on their rolls has joined the Heavenly Voter Roll. The subterfuge of this "Foundation"

In other words this supposed apolitical non-profit tax exempt organization created to generate the same kind of chaos, strife and destruction of American institutions that Trump loves so much is a Foundation of composed of the degraded remnants of cow utter, or it could be described as utter cow manure.

There are anarchists today. People who want to destroy every institution of the US that has kept this very complex nation. Trump leads the way. His Trump lickers do the evil work that Trump proclaims as his Divine Right.

Evil.

*Why the asterisk? Why is the word Foundation included in the name? A Foundation is usually associated with grant making organizations. PILF is not. Is the use of the word an attempt to distract the political purpose of the organization?

A few other bits of info. This was the ActRight Legal Foundation. They have given money to anti-abortion and Gay/Lesbian soft violence groups such as the Nat'l Organization for Marriage (aka, Faggots and Dykes are Sub-Humans, Inc.).

Their law suits are also sometimes out and out lies. That happened in 2020 when "Foundation" sued the city of Detroit about faulty voter rolls and then withdrew the suit when they could not provide evidence backing the accusation.

The word mendacity seems appropriate to this cabal of ideological thugs.

A final question: What need does this organization satisfy? The ostensible purpose is to assure that integrity of voter registration. Sounds good. How much money do they spend each year in this noble work? From their tax form 990 I wonder if the actual purpose of the organization is to create the illusion of a vast conspiracy to pad the voter rolls of cities that "owners," both Trump licker employees and funders want to project.

Again, mendacity.

Add another thing under the category that one is known by who are one's friends: Their main fund raising consultant (raised $829K in 2020) is called ForthRight Strategy. Their webpage has, "to dedicate our work to advancing the pro-life, pro-freedom, pro-liberty, and pro-security movement in America." Of course that is freedom and liberty for anyone who fits the social mores of the noble ancestors of the Confederate States of America.

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I dont think this Virginia organization would have liked my grandparents either. You see, all four were born in Ireland. But, their off-spring proved useful to the United States in World War II and Cold War.

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But in Boston the death records and voter rolls are kept by two departments of the City. They don't need godly powers -- they just need to compare the two lists. According to someone I know who is familiar with the process, they do exactly that.

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Where you're blocked by municipalities from getting anything updated or useful, but the state Democratic party will sell you updated rolls with recent voting appearances for a hefty fee.

I'd be surprised if many or any undocumented immigrants are on.
I would not be surprised if a lot of non-citizen permanent residents were on, esp elderly ones swept up in neighborhood and elderly housing drives or others through motor-voter.

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Every time I've asked the Boston the elections department for voter rolls I've received them, for free (they come on a CD, .csv or similar format) when I was running and once I had to pay $100. I don't understand what's going on here.

It seems there can be restrictions but why would there be?

Did they want it to be denied?

Why was it denied?

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This "Foundation" sounds like a Sovereign Citizen group.

elections officials must make them available to candidates, political parties, the jury commissioner and "any other individual, agency or entity that the state secretary shall designate by regulation consistent with the purposes of this section, at a fair and reasonable cost not to exceed the cost of printing or preparing computer readable documents."

I'm guessing the "Foundation" didn't submit a request with the Secretary of the Commonwealth or get his approval for anything.

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