Judge orders New Mexico Democrats to release voter registration data

 April 3, 2024

A federal judge in New Mexico has ruled that the state must provide voter registration data to an election integrity group that publishes voter rolls online for public inspection. 

The ruling is a significant setback for Democrats, who have vigorously resisted efforts to increase transparency in elections.

New Mexico threatened to prosecute the Voter Reference Foundation, a conservative group that maintains an online database of voter rolls in over 30 states, after the group listed New Mexico voter data on its website.

In a shock ruling, U.S. District Court Judge James Browning found that the group has a right to access and publish the data under federal law.

Judge allows access to voter data

New Mexico officials argued that Voter Reference Foundation ran afoul of restrictions under state law, but Brown found that those restrictions are preempted by the National Voter Registration Act.

The Public Disclosure provision of that law was meant to uphold election integrity by allowing the public a broad right to inspect voter rolls, Brown said.

“The data sharing ban largely deprives individuals and entities of the ability to engage with disclosed records in such a way that facilitates identification of voter registration-related irregularities,” Browning wrote.

New Mexico's restrictions on data use make "detection of inaccuracies and fraud more difficult," he added. Gina Swoboda, a Trump ally who manages VoteRef.com, and is also the chair of the Arizona GOP, hailed Brown's ruling.

“We are very gratified that the court has upheld the right of the public to have meaningful access to vote rolls,” Swoboda said.

"With this opinion the citizens of New Mexico can be assured of transparency in this key part of our elections process.”

Battle over election integrity

The litigation in New Mexico is part of a wider battle over elections and the integrity of the democratic process.

Democrats have generally opposed efforts to access voter rolls on privacy grounds, while dismissing concerns about fraud as baseless.

While Brown's ruling was mostly favorable to Voter Reference Foundation, he rejected the group's claim that the state violated the First Amendment.

The judge found that there is no constitutional right to access voter data and that New Mexico officials "may condition access to the voter data so long as those conditions are not viewpoint-discriminatory."

A spokesperson for Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she "will continue to do everything in her power to advocate for the protection of voters’ personal information and ultimately encourage voter participation."

Latest News

© 2024 - Patriot News Alerts