The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) is a right-wing activist group that is seeking to aggressively purge voters by bullying county election officials with lawsuits claiming violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). ACRU used this strategy to pressure then-Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections, Dr. Brenda Snipes, into conducting an unnecessary and improper purge of the voter rolls, risking the inadvertent cancellation of eligible voters. In September 2016, Demos decided to help fight back by representing 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East’s intervention into the case to defend the county's list-maintenance practices and protect voters from aggressive purges. This intervention brought in the voice of marginalized voters in Broward County, Florida who are at risk of disenfranchisement if ACRU prevails in forcing the use of a number of legally questionable methods of purging voters, including one that the State of Florida tried in 2012 and then abandoned as too risky and inaccurate.
Demos contributed to ACRU’s defeat at the trial court level by putting on a key expert witness, whose testimony Judge Beth Bloom found “persuasive” in her decision to reject ACRU’s claims entirely in her March 2018 order. In contrast, Judge Bloom stated that ACRU’s expert witness’ computations, used to support ACRU’s claim that the voter roll was inaccurate, were “not reliable in that they use an inflated voter registration number and a deflated voter-eligible population number, leading to a misleading result.” In the decision, the court recognized that efforts to maintain up-to-date voter rolls must carefully guard against erroneous removal of eligible voters and found that Dr. Snipes took reasonable steps to ensure that Broward County’s voter rolls were accurate and up-to-date while protecting the rights of Broward county voters. The ACRU and affiliated groups have used the same analysis rejected by Judge Bloom to claim widespread violations of the NVRA in other states and localities around the country.
ACRU appealed the judgment. In March 2019, the case was argued in front of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. On August 22, 2019, the Court of Appeals issued a decision upholding the judgment of the District Court.
1199 SEIU UnitedHealthcare Workers East.
Demos’ co-counsel on this case are Jenner & Block, SEIU, Levy Ratner, Phillips, Richard & Rind, and Project Vote.