Voting Rights Watch: Possible illegal purges?

Tens of thousands of voters in at least six key states - Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina - may have been improperly purged from voter registration rolls. Facing South reported yesterday on the extraordinarily high number of voter checks in those states. The New York Times, basing its findings on reviews of state records and Social Security data, reports that the purging may indeed violate federal law.

According to the NYT, voters appeared to have been purged by mistake as officials tried to comply with the Help America Vote Act of 2002, in which election officials began removing the names of voters who should no longer be listed. But for every voter added to the rolls in the past two months in some states, election officials have removed two, a review of the records shows. The purges could affect the Democratic Party the most because the swell in new Democratic voters this year.

The NYT reports:

  • The six swing states seem to be in violation of federal law in two ways. Michigan and Colorado are removing voters from the rolls within 90 days of a federal election, which is not allowed except when voters die, notify the authorities that they have moved out of state, or have been declared unfit to vote. Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio seem to be improperly using Social Security data to verify registration applications for new voters.
  • In addition to the six swing states, three more states appear to be violating federal law. Alabama and Georgia seem to be improperly using Social Security information to screen registration applications from new voters.
  • Louisiana appears to have removed thousands of voters after the federal deadline for taking such action.
  • In three states - Colorado, Louisiana and Michigan - the number of people purged from the election rolls since Aug. 1 far exceeds the number who may have died or relocated during that period. For example, in Louisiana, at least 18,000 people were dropped from the rolls in the five weeks after July 23. Over the same period, at least 1,600 people moved out of state and at least 3,300 died.