Case Background: Protecting Voters in Rensselaer County 

On July 26, Demos and Protect Democracy filed a lawsuit on behalf of civil and voting rights organizations New York Immigration Coalition, Community Voices Heard, Common Cause/New York, and Citizen Action of New York, along with a Rensselaer County resident Jenifer Benn, to block the Board of Elections of Rensselaer County, New York from illegally sharing residents’ personal information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  

On July 18, Rensselaer County announced that it would begin transmitting to ICE the personal information of all residents who register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV is the most popular method of voter registration in New York.

The County’s actions will intimidate and deter eligible voters from registering to vote when they visit the DMV to apply for a driver’s license, renew their license, or update their address. Plaintiff Benn, for example, is a U.S. citizen and eligible voter in Rensselaer County, but does not want to register to vote at the DMV because she fears that doing so would be harmful to herself, her family, and the community.

Demos and Protect Democracy have also sent a notice letter on behalf of the plaintiff organizations, as well as the League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of New York State, warning the Rensselaer County Board of Elections that disclosure of DMV voter registration information to ICE blatantly violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). If the County does not withdraw its plan to send voter registration information to ICE within 90 days from the letter’s date (July 26), the organizations intend to pursue additional litigation under the NVRA.


Press inquiries

Shanae Bass, Demos, [email protected]

Aditi Juneja, Protect Democracy, [email protected]