Recently, a report by Judicial Watch, an independent government watchdog group, showed that Iowa had eight counties with more registered voters than the population of the county. The group announced its intent to sue the counties based on the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, if steps are not taken to clean up the rolls.
Immediately, the media and certain state officials pounced on the report, issuing “shameful” denials and demands that the report be labeled a “misinformation campaign.”
According to Judicial Watch’s analysis of data released by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in 2019 and the most recent U.S. Census Bureau’s five-year American Community Survey, eight Iowa counties are on the list of 378 counties nationwide that have more voter registrations than citizens living there who are old enough to vote, i.e., counties where registration rates exceed 100%.
These 378 counties combined had about 2.5 million registrations over the 100%-registered mark. In Iowa, there are at least 18,658 “extra names” on the voting rolls in the eight counties at issue.
Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), Judicial Watch sent notice-of-violation letters to 19 large counties in five states (California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado) that it intends to sue unless the jurisdictions take steps to comply with the law and remove ineligible voter registrations. Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act requires jurisdictions to take reasonable efforts to remove ineligible registrations from its rolls.
The chart below details the eight Iowa counties’ registration rate percentages:
|Reg Rate||Total Population|
In addition to the eight listed above, Polk County, Iowa’s largest, has an unusually high registration rate of 95.9% of total eligible citizen voting-age population.
“Dirty voting rolls can mean dirty elections and Iowa need to undertake a serious effort to address its voting rolls,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Judicial Watch is the national leader in enforcing the National Voters Registration Act, which requires states to take reasonable steps to clean their voting rolls.
In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a massive voter roll clean up that resulted from a Judicial Watch settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio.
California also settled a similar lawsuit with Judicial Watch that last year began the process of removing up to 1.5 million “inactive” names from Los Angeles County voting rolls. Kentucky also began a cleanup of up to 250,00 names last year after it entered into a consent decree to end another Judicial Watch lawsuit.
However, the backlash has been swift, with Facebook already labeling the report “false information.”
Iowa’s Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, said the claim by Washington D.C.-based group Judicial Watch that total registration numbers for caucuses in eight Iowa counties were larger than the eligible voter population had been disproven by official data.
[However, he did not provide any actual data to back up his claim, unlike Judicial Watch.]
“It’s unfortunate this organization continues to put out inaccurate data regarding voter registration, and it’s especially disconcerting they chose the day of the Iowa Caucus to do this,” Pate said in a news release posted on Twitter, criticizing their data as flawed.
“They should stop this misinformation campaign immediately.”
Democrats start their hunt for a challenger to President Donald Trump in the November general election at the Iowa caucuses.
Judicial Watch’s Facebook post on Monday garnered 10,000 shares and, on Twitter, a tweet on Sunday from conservative student group Turning Point USA’s president Charlie Kirk sharing the same information has been retweeted more than 40,000 times.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton called Pate’s denial of its claim “shameful.”
“It is shameful that the secretary state of Iowa would mislead Iowans and Americans about the accuracy of the state’s registration rolls,” he said in a tweet.
A Facebook (FB.O) spokesman told Reuters that Judicial Watch’s post did not violate its voter suppression policies because it did not make misrepresentations about how to vote or whether a vote would be counted.
The company later said that its third-party fact-checking partners had determined the post to be false, meaning a “false information” label would be placed on it whenever it is shared on Facebook.
Caucus participants arrive to register in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. February 3, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A Twitter (TWTR.N) spokesman also said tweets from Kirk and Judicial Watch did not violate its election integrity policy.
Twitter’s policy says that users are not allowed to post or share “false or misleading information intended to intimidate or dissuade voters from participating in an election.”
So, who’s telling the truth?