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Voter suppression can happen a number of ways - and its disturbing no matter what political party, if any, you affiliate with.

This is making headlines right now because across the country voters names are being "purged" from the voter registration rolls incorrectly.

Some news reports suggest its due to "computer mismatch" of records. In Georgia, specifically, several thousand voters are having their citizenship questioned, and because of that, probably will not be able to vote (and if they do vote it will be via a "provisional" or "challenge" ballot - which may or may not be counted).

I'll leave the conspiracy theorists to discuss WHY this is happening (whether or not it's bad acts by one party or another - aka purposefully keeping certain types of voters from being allowed to vote, or if it's due to incompetence or sloppiness by agencies in charge of voter rolls, or a combination of these or other factors). I have my own views of this, but that's not the point. The bottom line is that every American should be allowed to exercise his or her Right to Vote. Period. And I'm not convinced blaming each other is going to help matters. Instead of focusing on the Problem, maybe we could spend more time and energy focusing on the Solution.

I've seen the discussion about how voter purging is important to keep, for example, dead people from voting (I've heard this happens frequently in RI)...  But there has to be a better way to do this... So, as I thought about possible solutions, my first thought was this -- there should be a deadline by which any voter purging should be completed before election day. That way, if you get a letter or you check voteforchange.com and see that you've been "purged" you have time to re-register and get your paperwork in order.

Come to find out - there IS such a deadline... There is apparently a federal law that prohibits widespread voter purges within 90 days of an election. This was established in 1993 by the National Voter Registration Act. However, from what I can find online at the moment, this law seems to be mostly unknown, misunderstood and/or unenforced in states around the country.

According to a study done by U.S. PIRG:
Fifteen years after enactment of the NVRA, however, many states continue to appear unaware of the federal rules regarding voter roll purges.
1. Seventeen states do not have laws, regulations or systems in place to properly implement the NVRA's 90-day ban on voter list maintenance. There is no apparent pattern to the states that lack these protections, and they cross both political and geographic boundaries.

2. Eight states claim that there is no deadline beyond which voters cannot be systematically dropped from the rolls, a direct contradiction of the terms of the NVRA.

3. Four states have their own deadlines written into state law -- all of which are less than the federally mandated 90 days. [According to this this, these 4 states are: Colorado, Ohio, Rhode Island and Connecticut.]
In addition, we found that nine states do not have the proper systems in place for notifying voters who have been removed from the rolls if they are believed to have moved out of the precinct.


Here are a few other articles I found on the subject:

Brennan Center for Justice: Voter Suppression Incidents 2008

TruthOut: The Dirty Details of Voter Purges

CNN: Some voters "purged" from voter rolls

Denver Post: Group sues on voter purge


Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
fraterseraphino
Oct. 27th, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
The real problem is enforcement of these laws.
I would honestly say the fundamental problem with each of these laws is enforcement: as a matter of public policy we do not negate elections once held.

Thus, there is no incentive for elected officials not to engage in widespread voter registration fraud, widespread voter purging, fundraising fraud, or voter fraud--since even if an official is elected to office in an obviously fraudulent election, the most he'll face are fines, which are paid through the political campaign. (And since the political campaign is a separate organization, it can always declare bankruptcy.)


On the one hand I'd love to see a way by which an election can be negated if widespread fraud (fundraising, spending, voter) was demonstrated in a local or national election. On the other hand I realize that this would open up a huge can of worms, as tight elections would inevitably go to court as each side in the election tries to negate the election on unfounded grounds of fraud.

And if you think trust in our election system is at an all-time low now, just wait until each campaign's "dirty tricks" arm manufacturers "proof" of widespread voter fraud by the other party for use in court later!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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