A member of President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission suffered a major defeat Friday, when a federal judge in Florida ruled against a lawsuit aimed at purging voters from the rolls.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a group led by the conservative voting activist J. Christian Adams, had sued a Broward County elections official in 2016. It was one of several lawsuits the group has brought suggesting mass voter fraud. This case was the first PILF lawsuit to go to full trial.
U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said in her 60-page opinion opinion Friday that one of the main pieces of evidence that PILF presented in the case — that there were more voters on Broward County’s registration rolls than estimated eligible voters — was “misleading.”
Making that comparison is a common tactic PILF has used to bully local election officials into conducting more aggressive voter roll purges, even as elections experts have said that comparing the two sets of numbers is apples-to-oranges.
Bloom went into significant detail in outlining why she agreed with those experts.
“These data sets do not allow for an accurate comparison,” the judge said.
PILF and a related group, the American Civil Rights Union, had sued Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes alleging she had violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires that elections officials make a “reasonable effort” to remove ineligible voters from the rolls because they had died or moved.
Bloom found the challengers’ claims that Snipes did not not maintain an adequate list-maintenance program to be “unsupported by the weight of the evidence.”
She also questioned how the challengers were interpreting the NVRA.
“The Court finds that ACRU’s proposed definition of ‘reasonable efforts’ is too subjective and would lead to an arbitrary, non-uniform, unworkable, and unpredictable application,” she said.
Adams served on a presidential commission created by President Trump after Trump claimed millions of people voted illegally in 2016. The commission was dissolved in January under a barrage of lawsuits.
Christopher Coates, another lawyer involved in the Broward County case, was Adams’ former boss in George W. Bush’s Justice Department, which came under fire for politicization of the department’s prosecutorial work, particularly on voting rights.
Read the full opinion below:
- Contributions allow us to hire more journalists
- Contributions allow us to provide free memberships to those who cannot afford them
- Contributions support independent, non-corporate journalism