The New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sided with Attorney General Paxton and Secretary of State John Scott after several groups attempted to sue Secretary Scott for information about efforts to ensure that non-U.S. citizens are not voting in Texas elections.
Secretary of State Scott, following his legal duty, compares voter registration information with citizenship information to help guarantee that only U.S. citizens are eligible to vote. If suspicion arises that an individual has illegally registered to vote, local officials initiate a multi-step process before investigating and, if necessary, canceling his or her unlawful voter registration. If, during this process, the Secretary of State receives information evidencing criminal conduct related to elections, that information is referred to Attorney General Paxton’s office.
Aiming to impede this process, several organizations sued Secretary of State Scott after his office refused a request from these groups to access substantial amounts of nonpublic voter information. In order to protect the integrity of this ongoing investigation process, the security of Texas elections, and the privacy of lawful Texas voters, Attorney General Paxton defended Secretary Scott’s decision.
A lower court ruled that the plaintiffs should receive the private voter data under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, but the Fifth Circuit overruled that decision and sided with Secretary Scott. Agreeing with Attorney General Paxton’s lead argument on appeal, the Fifth Circuit noted that these organizations have no standing to request this private information, highlighting that “not a single Plaintiff is a Texas voter.”
Because of this lack of standing, the court of appeals ordered the lower court to dismiss the case: “Reversing the district court, we hold that the organizations constituting the Plaintiffs lack standing to bring their claim under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”). Consequently, we Reverse and Remand with instructions to Dismiss.”
To read the court’s full explanation for the decision, click here.