EPIC Urges First Circuit to Recognize Legality of State Voter Privacy Law
June 20, 2023
EPIC has filed an amicus brief in the case Public Interest Legal Foundation v. Bellows urging the First Circuit to reverse a lower court opinion that found a Maine voter privacy law to be preempted by the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”). In the case, PILF—an organization that focuses on election integrity and has at time publicly released individual voters’ social security numbers and wrongfully accused them of felonies—is suing Maine, alleging that Maine’s voter privacy law is illegal. Maine’s voter law allows members of the public to obtain the statewide voter list only if they are doing so to evaluate Maine’s compliance with the NVRA and if they agree to not use the list to publicly release voters’ names, addresses, birth dates, and other personally identifiable information. The NVRA requires states to maintain and make publicly available records relating to the state’s implementation of programs that ensure statewide voter registration lists are accurate.
PILF argues that under the NVRA, all completed voter registration applications, including the information contained in the statewide voter file, must be publicly available, so Maine’s privacy law unlawfully conflicts with the NVRA. The district court agreed with PILF, granting it summary judgment, so Maine appealed.
EPIC’s brief argues that PILF and the district court were wrong: voter privacy enhances election integrity by shielding voters from abuse, intimidation, and coercion. EPIC’s brief argues that publicly releasing voters’ sensitive private information will only discourage voting, so Maine’s reasonable access, transfer, and use limitations enables the public to ensure Maine’s elections are handled with integrity while also protecting Maine citizens. EPIC’s brief also shows that such limitations are commonplace both in voting and other arenas nationwide.