Federal Court Rejects Right Wing Voter Roll Lawsuit in Hawaii, But Allows Group to Try Again

People voting election poll (Adobe Stock)
American at a polling booth (Adobe Stock)

After finding that some of their claims are not yet ripe, a federal court has partially dismissed a right-wing group’s attempt to gain access to Hawaii’s voter rolls. 

On June 28, a federal judge granted in part and denied in part the state’s request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) seeking to invalidate Hawaii laws that protect voter information. PILF will have until Oct. 28 to fix deficiencies with its lawsuit, otherwise it will be dismissed for good. 

PILF brought a challenge to Hawaii’s voter roll laws that require counties to maintain an electronic voter registration system with the name and district or precinct designation of every registered voter. The laws also require counties to keep any other information taken from a voter’s registration confidential. 

According to the lawsuit, in 2023, PILF made a request for the state’s complete voter registration data, but the secretary of state’s office did not fulfill it because the state delegates the responsibility of maintaining voter rolls to counties. PILF argues that this violates the National Voter Registration Act’s (NVRA) public disclosure provision, which requires all states to maintain a publicly accessible statewide roll of registered voters, not separate private voter rolls on a county by county basis. 

PILF’s lawsuit also argues that the state’s policy of only providing registration data for election or government purposes violates the NVRA which requires statewide voter rolls to be accessible to the general public. 

In response to the right-wing group’s lawsuit — which is similar to the seven other active anti-voting lawsuits the group has brought in other states — Hawaii asked the court to dismiss the case. 

The judge granted the state’s request in part, writing that PILF brought the case too early because they made an informal request to the state’s chief elections officer, but did not actually fill out a county application for voter data. Due to this, the court concluded that PILF did not suffer an injury, which would be required for PILF to have standing and allow the case to proceed. 

Read the order here. 

Learn more about the case here.