Project Vote, and Adrian Fontes for the Maricopa County Recorder’s office, reached a settlement of a lawsuit over access to voter registration records. The agreement settles all claims against Maricopa County, the remainder of Project Vote’s lawsuit, against Pima County and the Arizona Secretary of State, remains ongoing.
According to The Daily Caller, Project Vote was “ACORN’s voter registration arm. Project Vote continues to operate despite the reported dissolution of the national structure of ACORN.” Project Vote has been implicated in voter registration fraud incidents.
In Virginia, the State Board of Elections admonished Project Vote and ACORN for turning in a significant number of faulty voter registrations. An audit revealed that 83% of sampled registrations that were rejected for carrying false or questionable information were submitted by Project Vote. Many of these registrations carried social security numbers that exist for other people, listed non-existent or commercial addresses, or were for convicted felons in violation of state and federal election law. In a letter to ACORN, the State Board of Elections reported that 56% of the voter registration applications ACORN turned in were ineligible. Further, a full 35% were not submitted in a timely manner, as required by law. The State Board of Elections also commented on what appeared to be evidence of intentional voter fraud. “Additionally,” they wrote, “information appears to have been altered on some applications where information given by the applicant in one color ink has been scratched through and re-entered in another color ink. Any alteration of a voter registration application is a Class 5 Felony in accordance with § 24.2-1009 of the Code of Virginia.”
In Michigan, The Detroit Free Press reported that “overzealous or unscrupulous campaign workers in several Michigan counties are under investigation for voter-registration fraud, suspected of attempting to register nonexistent people or forging applications for already-registered voters.” ACORN-affiliate Project Vote was one of two groups suspected of turning in the documents.
Following the 2012 election, Project Vote submitted a records request to Maricopa County, in order to ensure that eligible registrants had been fairly and accurately added to the voter rolls. The office of Helen Purcell, then Maricopa County’s Recorder, informed the voting rights group that the requested records would cost nearly $50,000. Project Vote encountered similar barriers to accessing and obtaining records from the Pima County Recorder and the Secretary of State’s office.
Project Vote filed a lawsuit in April 2016 against the Maricopa County Recorder, as well as against the Pima County Recorder and Secretary of State Michelle Reagan. Project Vote is represented in this suit by the law firms of Ropes & Gray LLP, Kierman Law, and Sacks, Ricketts & Case LLP.
In the agreement reached, Maricopa County agrees to make voter registration data—including information on failed and rejected applications—available to the public. The agreement also establishes maximum fees for groups requesting copies of voter registration records in the future. The agreement is in effect for eight years, through the 2024 election cycle.