Why Voters Could be Removed From The Rolls
Pam Fessler of NPR reports that more than 125,000 democrats were dropped from Brooklyn’s voter rolls between last November and Tuesday’s primary. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said that the Board of Elections confirmed the voters were removed and that his office would conduct an audit to see if anything improper was done.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the New York City Board of Elections to “reverse that purge,” adding that “the perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed” (NPR).
Fessler writes that it was an unusual amount of named to be dropped all at once, but officials are denying anyone was disenfranchised. While more than 100,000 voters were taken off the rolls, Michael Ryan told the New York Times that 63,000 were added and the decline did not “shock his conscience.” Ryan cited many legitimate reasons for the decline in registered voters, saying that people in New York die or move out of the state every day (NPR).
A 2010 study by the Pew Center, according to Fessler, found that 1 in 8 voter registrations in the U.S. was invalid or significantly inaccurate. The study also found that more than 1.8 million dead people were on the rolls and almost 3 million people were registered in more than one state.
Put simply, if a voter doesn’t show up for two federal elections in a row, his name can be legitimately removed from the rolls. A name can also be removed if election officials verify that the individual has died, moved to another jurisdiction or is not allowed to vote for a different reason (NPR).
David Becker, director of election initiatives at Pew, says some election offices do a better job of following the rules than others. Some of them get into trouble when they rely on bad information to update their lists. For example, they might try to match voters’ names with death records, but not verify that the John Smith on one list is the same John Smith on the other (NPR).
One of the most unpopular and well known purges took place in Florida in 2000, when the state used a faulty list of felons to remove more than 1,000 legitimate voters from the rolls. In some cases, when election officials get around to cleaning up the rolls, there can be a huge number of names dropped all at once. For example, Fessler writes that a few years ago almost 94,000 voters were removed from the District of Columbia’s rolls after the list had not been updated for years.
Comptroller Stringer said he would approach the audit fairly, saying, “there is a feeling among our constituents that there’s something wrong when 125,000 people are purged especially with population increase” (NPR).
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