ALEXANDRIA, VA (Nov. 30, 2015) – The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) has settled a federal lawsuit against the Clarke County, Mississippi Election Commission, marking the third time a Mississippi county has agreed by consent decree to clean up its voter rolls.
In July, ACRU, represented by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), sued the county for having more voters on the rolls than living citizens. The lawsuit, filed by PILF and Mississippi attorney Henry Ross, alleged a violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires maintenance of accurate voter rolls.
In 2013, the ACRU secured Section 8 agreements with Walthall and Jefferson Davis counties, and two weeks ago, on Nov. 12, sued a fourth Mississippi county, Noxubee, over its corrupted rolls.
The agreement between the parties was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Hattiesburg Division, on Nov. 25. The agreement requires the Commission to begin identifying and removing voters who are no longer eligible to vote in Clarke County as early as April 2016.
The ACRU originally notified the Commission by letter in June 2014 that its voter rolls were potentially in violation of federal election law. According to U.S. Census data and other public records, Clarke County, Mississippi had 12,646 registered voters, despite having a voting-age population of only 12,549. The Commission never responded to the notice letter.
The agreement also requires the Commission to periodically notify the ACRU in writing about the Commission’s efforts to clean up its voter rolls.
“Corrupted voter rolls have been a problem in Clarke County for years,” said ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams, who is president and general counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. “This settlement is a positive step towards a cure and should give Mississippians confidence that their legitimate votes will not be cancelled out by an ineligible voter.”
The Obama Justice Department has shut down enforcement of Section 8 of the NVRA and thus allowed voters rolls around the nation to remain corrupted and filled with ineligible registrations. The ACRU is the only private party under NVRA to successfully sue to clean up county voter rolls.
Read consent decree. (PDF 2.5 MB)