Millions of inactive voters must be removed from California counties’ voter registration lists starting next month, thanks to a settlement agreement signed by Judicial Watch.

Back in 2017 Judicial Watch filed a federal lawsuit to make California to clean up its voter registrations. It was joined by the Election Integrity Project California, a public interest group that monitors California’s voter rolls.

The lawsuit uncovered several disturbing lapses, including the fact that neither the state nor Los Angeles County had removed inactive voters from voter registration rolls for more than the past 20 years.

Altogether, there were “3.5 million more names on various county voter rolls than there were citizens of voting age. This settlement could cut this number in half,” according to Judicial Watch, which also alleged in its lawsuit that:

  • Los Angeles County has more voter registrations on its voter rolls than it has citizens who are old enough to register.  Specifically…a registration rate of 112 percent of its adult citizen population.
  • The entire State of California has a registration rate of about 101 percent of its age-eligible citizenry.
  • Eleven of California’s 58 counties have registration rates exceeding 100 percent of the age-eligible citizenry.
  • … Los Angeles County has on its rolls more than 1.5 million potentially ineligible voters…more than one out of every five LA County registrations likely belongs to a voter who has moved or is deceased.

This settlement has far-reaching implications for elections integrity, which has been under intensifying public scrutiny since the 2016 election cycle (here, here, and here)

Not only is California the largest state, with nearly 40 million residents, Los Angeles County is bigger than 41 of the 50 states, with a population of more than 10 million residents. The county also has more inactive voter registrations than any other single county nationwide.

“This is a major victory,” said Ellen Swensen, chief analyst for the Election Integrity Project California, who explained that registration rolls filled with inactive voters “opens the door for voter impersonation and fraud.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla seemed dismissive about the settlement saying nothing much would change.  In 2017, however, he joined with 11 other states in opposing Ohio’s plan to remove inactive voters from its registration lists, calling it an “aggressive purging” that “jeopardizes the fundamental rights of American citizens.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, upheld Ohio’s plan last June, citing the National Voter Registration Act, which is intended to preserve the accuracy of the voter rolls.

Under the settlement with Judicial Watch, Los Angeles County must begin contacting inactive voters. If they do not confirm or correct their registrations next month, their voter registrations will be cancelled.