City Ignores Federal Law, Keeps Thousands of Felons on Voter Rolls
ALEXANDRIA, VA (Dec. 6, 2016) — Philadelphia election officials are doing nothing to remove thousands of felons and other ineligible voters from registration rolls, a brief filed on Monday by the American Civil Rights Union argues.
Submitted by the Public Interest Legal Foundation at the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACRU’s brief contends that a district court erred when it granted a motion to dismiss the ACRU’s voter registration lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia.
The ACRU sued Philadelphia on April 4, gaining access to inspect voting records. This turned up thousands of noncitizens and convicted felons on registration rolls, and also revealed that city officials do not make any effort to remove such ineligible voters from the rolls as required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
Acting on a dismissal request from the city, the district court ruled on Sept. 9 that federal law does not require city election officials to remove convicts from the rolls unless state law provides an explicit procedure for removal.
“But this reading is incorrect,” the ACRU brief notes, citing NVRA’s and HAVA’s express direction to all election officials to remove ineligible voters and keep registration lists accurate.
“Incarcerated felons are not eligible to vote under Pennsylvania law. A person who is incarcerated for a felony in Pennsylvania cannot vote in any way and cannot register to vote while incarcerated….” the brief states. “List maintenance [under federal law] is not merely permissible, it is mandatory.”
The ACRU is the first private entity to win under Section 8 of the NVRA, securing court settlements to clean up voter rolls in counties in Mississippi and Texas. The ACRU has also sued election officials in Broward County, Florida.