The Brennan Center has released an important new report on the issue voter purging [pdf]. Election officials regularly remove -- or "purge" -- voters' names from the rolls as they update and improve their lists. Between 2004 and 2006, 39 states and D.C. purged some 13 million voters while cleaning up the rolls.
The problem is that voter purging is often based on bad data and suffers from a lack of oversight, causing an unacceptably high number of eligible citizens to be barred from voting. In addition to the shocking case of Florida in 2000 and 2004 -- where tens of thousands of African-Americans were taken off lists because they were wrongfully identified as "suspected felons" -- the report gives more recent examples, all of which come out of Southern states:
* In Mississippi earlier this year, a local election official discovered that another official had wrongly purged 10,000 voters from her home computer just a week before the presidential primary.
* In Muscogee, Georgia this year, a county official purged 700 people from the voter
lists, supposedly because they were ineligible to vote due to criminal convictions. The list included people who had never even received a parking ticket.
* In Louisiana, including areas hit hard by hurricanes, officials purged approximately 21,000 voters, ostensibly for registering to vote in another state. A voter could avoid removal if she providesd proof that the registration was cancelled in the other state, documentation not available to voters who never actually registered anywhere else.
The report offers a list of reforms to ensure voters aren't wrongfully taken off voter lists and barred from voting, including greater transparency and oversight over the purging process. Read the report for details.