Judge Rules New Mexico Voter Data Usage Restrictions Violate Federal Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, a federal court ruled that a right-wing organization, Voter Reference Foundation, is entitled to voter information after finding that New Mexico’s voter data usage rules violate the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Some claims in the lawsuit will proceed to trial.  

The group, which has a video on its website with a voiceover that exclaims “America’s elections aren’t secure. It’s not a fringe conspiracy, it’s a fact,” claims it needs access to voters’ information to “provide public access to official government data pertaining to elections, including voter registration rolls.”

In 2021, Voter Reference Foundation — an organization devoted to the publication of voter information — posted New Mexico voters’ information online including: the registered voter’s name, registration address, registration date, year of birth, party affiliation, registration status, precinct and voting participation history. Soon after, Deputy Secretary of State Sharon Pino wrote a letter to the New Mexico attorney general for possible prosecution for violating New Mexico statutes that govern how voter data can be used. 

Then, the group filed this lawsuit against the secretary of state arguing that the possible criminal prosecution of the group violates its right to free speech in violation of the First and 14th Amendments. Today the court concluded that the secretary of state’s refusal to provide this information violated the NVRA.

The 329 page summary judgment order issued Friday determined that the group is entitled to information the New Mexico secretary of state’s office previously refused to disclose. The court ruled that the National Voter Registration Act’s public inspection provision preempts state law and by denying Voter Reference Foundation access to voter information the secretary of state violated the NVRA. The question of if the secretary of state’s office unconstitutionally targeted the group for its “perceived political ideology” will proceed to trial. 

This decision comes on the heels of an increased number of right-wing lawsuits seeking to gain access to states’ voter rolls ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Just last month, Voter Reference Foundation filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania challenging the state’s prohibition on sharing voter roll information. 

Read the opinion here.

Learn more about the case here.