A federal judge has allowed an election transparency initiative to publish voter registration records publicly online to move forward despite objections from New Mexico election regulators.
Granting the preliminary injunction Friday, District Judge James O. Browning blocked defendants New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver from prosecuting the plaintiff, Voter Reference Foundation (VRF), for publishing information it has already obtained as the case moves forward.
“New Mexico’s Election Code does not prohibit Voter Reference’s publication of voter data online,” Browning noted in the order.
The judge further held that “Voter Reference is likely to succeed on the merits of part of its viewpoint discrimination and prior restraint claims, Voter Reference will suffer irreparable injury absent a PI preventing viewpoint discrimination and prior restraint, and the balance of equities weigh in the Plaintiffs’ favor.”
Following the judge’s ruling, VRF issued a press release Monday stating that New Mexico’s voter registration list would be republished on its VoteRef.com website, where most other states’ voter registration data is publicly available.
According to the release, VRF initially published the New Mexico data in December 2021 but took it down in March after Oliver referred the organization for prosecution and alleged via social media that VRF had broken the law.
In response, the election integrity group filed a lawsuit.
“We won’t be intimidated by politicians who, for some reason, don’t want to give the people of their state easy access to election records they pay for,” said Doug Truax, founder and president of Restoration of America, which created VRF. “We’re committed to publishing the voter rolls in all 50 states, so the public can scrutinize the most important function of their government – running fair and accurate elections.”
According to the nonprofit’s website, VRF aims to ensure “transparent, accurate and fair elections” in the United States by providing public access to official elections data.
The group is just one of several watchdog groups seeking to increase election transparency. For instance, in recent months, the election integrity group True the Vote has made headlines with its investigation into alleged ballot trafficking during the 2020 election.
With election integrity still topping the list of concerns for many voters around the country, legal proceedings surrounding the topic will likely continue to draw the attention of those seeking assurances that their votes will count this November.