This column by Logan Churchwell was published March 31, 2014 on Breitbart.com.
A conservative-leaning nonprofit, the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), recently filed a federal lawsuit over allegations that Zavala County is “failing to make a reasonable effort to conduct voter list maintenance programs.” The ACRU claims the county–which supported the re-election of President Obama by 83%–allegedly holds a 105 percent voter registration rate.
Lead litigator for the case, former DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams, argues to Breitbart Texas, that despite Zavala County’s smaller population–voter roll maintenance failures can distort voter turnout and total tabulations in local races.
“Zavala has over 10,000 residents–that makes a big difference in state races,” Adams argued.
The plaintiffs in the case argue that Zavala County officials carry the bulk of the burden to maintain voter rolls unlike other states.
“Nearly all of the work keeping the voter rolls clean is done at the local county level,” Adams added. “The State of Texas has virtually no role other than to provide information to counties to use and clean.”
The filed federal complaint claims, “Voter rolls maintained by the Defendant for Zavala County contain more voters registered to vote than citizens eligible to vote.” The plaintiffs calculate voter registration rates by comparing total voting age populations provided by the U.S. Census and total voter registration figures disclosed by Zavala County.
“Currently, 8,623 are registered to vote in Zavala County when only 8,205 age-eligible citizens live in Zavala County,” according to the filing. “This represents an implausible registration rate of 105 percent.”
The ACRU contends that Zavala County’s voter registration rate is not an isolated issue.
“This has been an ongoing problem in Zavala County and has worsened since 2008. In January 2013, just after the November 2012 federal election, more than 104 percent of citizens old enough to vote were registered to vote in Zavala County. This marked an increase from 102 percent in 2008.”
ACRU v. Zavala County follows a similar lawsuit filed by the conservative group in border-adjacent Terrell County. The ACRU sued the jurisdiction on similar grounds in January 2014 for holding an alleged 121 percent voter registration rate. Both complaints will be considered in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas–Del Rio Division.
Christian Adams explained to Breitbart Texas that given recent revelations of large scale political operations like Battleground Texas allegedly violating voter protection law, ensuring that voter rolls are held to the highest maintenance standards is critical to promote voter confidence.
Lawsuits related to federal statutes requiring voter roll maintenance have enjoyed a relative rebirth thanks to nonprofits such as the American Civil Rights Union and Houston-based True the Vote. Under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act–otherwise known as Motor Voter — private parties may claim standing to compel voting jurisdictions to better maintain records. Both organizations have claimed “preferred settlements” in Mississippi and Ohio in recent years.