How well voting rolls are maintained has enormous
consequences for voters. Poor list maintenance can result in the
disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, just as inaccurate voter rolls can
complicate election administration. When lists are "cleaned" of
ineligible voters without proper safeguards, large numbers of people can be improperly
removed. This was done in Florida in 2000, purportedly to remove persons
who had lost their voting rights due to a felony conviction. But the
manner in which it was done resulted in the removal
of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, most of whom were
Mandating and implementing best practices for voter list maintenance is an
essential element in protecting the right to vote; these include:
specific criteria for removing voters.
Avoiding list matching as a
means of removing voters.
The Democracy Program collaborates with grassroots groups, advocacy organizations
and reform-minded government officials to change the ways in which citizens
participate in their government by fixing the systems that discourage
voting, hinder competition and promote the interests of the few over
the rights of the many. The Center advances these goals using tools of research, policy
analysis and publications, media outreach and public education,
legislative counseling and advocacy and legal action.
Last month I published a story about new statewide voter registration databases
and how federal rules governing how states must use the databases could
disenfranchise thousands of new voters who have registered to vote for
the first time since the law went into effect in 2004.
The story got a bit lost in all of the hoopla over the Sarah Palin
e-mail hacker so I wanted to draw your attention to the piece again and
add information about how the new federal rules are making it easy for
political parties in some states to challenge the eligibility of voters
to cast a ballot, seemingly in an effort to suppress their votes.
I also wanted to discuss a separate issue involving purges of existing
voters from registration lists, which is affecting thousands of
long-time voters in states across the country who may be surprised when
they arrive at polls in November to find that their name has been
inexplicably stricken from their state's voter roll. I'll discuss the
issue of challenging eligibility in a post labeled Part II and will
address the purges in Part III.