WASHINGTON – On His Face, the Notice Sent at 248 County Election officials have only asked that they do what Congress has ordered: Prune their lists of voters who have died, have moved out or have lost their eligibility – or are facing federal action.
The notice, issued in September by a conservative group, is at the heart of an increasingly bitter argument about the seemingly mundane task of keeping accurate lists of electors – an issue that will be a hallmark argument before the Supreme Court in January.
At a time when the rules of the game of elections has become a standard political strategy, the task raises a major question: is the fact of wiping out ineligible voters of the army worth candlelight if it also means that we jostle legitimate voters?
a history book. The Florida Legislature has ordered that voters' lists be cleared of deceased persons and ineligible criminals prior to the 2000 presidential election. The resulting purge, based on a broad-based fiscal year, is the only way to achieve this goal. matching names, misidentified thousands of legitimate voters as criminals and prevented at least 1,100 of them – some say thousands of others – from voting.
The margin of 537 votes of George W. Bush in Florida secured his place in the White House. Controlling the rules of elections – including who is on or off roles – has been both a crucial part of the political strategy and a legal battleground since 1945.
Conservative Groups and Election Officials Republicans in some states say that roles invite fraud and pirate interference, undermine public confidence in elections and complicate the work of election workers. Voter advocates and most Democratic election officials, in turn, say that the benefits are essentially imaginary, and that the purges are aimed at reducing the number of minority voters, poor and young, who are disproportionately democratic. . The goal here is not the electoral integrity, "said Stuart Naifeh, the lead advocate of Demos' voting rights group. "It's intimidation and suppression of voters."
Wednesday, Demos and two other advocacy groups, the Civil Rights Lawyers Committee and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University assist one of the 248 officials County Electors who have tried to oppose the notice.
The author of the notice to county officials, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, responded quickly. "It seems that we have reached the point where to ask election officials to do what the law requires makes subversive PILF," said the group's president, J. Christian Adams, in a statement.
Mr. Adams is among several conservatives appointed by President Trump to the White House's Advisory Committee on the Integrity of Electors, the electoral fraud group mixed with partisan wrangling over his operations and political intentions.
] Conservative advocacy groups who have conducted often overlapping campaigns to purge the voters' lists.Three of the groups – the foundation, Judicial Watch and the American Civil Union Union – support each other. former lawyers of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice under the administration of George W. Bush.The fourth, True the Vote, is an offshoot of a Tea Party group based in Houston.
Groups argue that election officials ignore a requirement in the National Registration Act of 1993 that a "reasonable effort" be made to defend ineligible voters – the dead, displaced persons, non-voters -citizens and criminals whose voting rights are restricted.
A spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, Logan Churchwell, said that money and "a lack of imagination." The law sets few limits on the lists of maintenance, largely requiring that officials keep voters on the lists for two general elections if they can not confirm that they have moved. The most explicit prohibitions prohibit striking voters simply because they did not vote and forbid radiation within 90 days of the elections
. Churchwell said that too many election officials rely on mail to determine if people have moved, according to voters to return pre-paid confirmation requests sent to their last known address. Voters who lose or fail to return them – or sometimes never get them – are left on the roles. The 1993 law, he said, did not provide for a digital world in which the dead and other ineligible voters can be identified more quickly and perhaps cheaper.
Broward County, Florida, where arguments in a federal lawsuit against the county election supervisor ended this summer. Mr. Churchwell stated that the foundation discovered three people who were alive when Grover Cleveland was president in the 1890s. Election officials "wait for a death certificate to appear and fall on their knees", did it? he says.
Broward election supervisor Brenda Snipes said the county followed the same procedures as the other 66 Rolls. "The record shows thousands and thousands of people who were served during the time they expressed concern," she said. just suspect that a person may be dead or distant and take off roles.
Election officials routinely eliminate their roles, but striking out is an exercise fraught with errors. Registrants who die in other states – say, New Yorkers who spend the winter in Florida – may go unnoticed in the states where they are registered.
Officials type databases maintained by vital statistics agencies, the Postal Service, which has a list of address changes. But databases can not ensure matches; some jurisdictions do not collect personal information such as social security or driver's license numbers that could facilitate positive identification.
And the databases themselves have flaws and anomalies. Voters with similar or identical names increase the risk of accidental radiation. A University of Pennsylvania study of 125 million voter registration files dating from 2012 revealed that some three million registrants shared a first name, last name, and date of birth common. And people in groups where a few family names are commonly used are particularly vulnerable to being mistaken for roles
Add to that the whims of human error and habit . Clerks make mistakes by typing the registration information into the computers.
"Elected officials, Democrats and Republicans, recognize the value of a good interview lists," said David J. Becker, director of the Center for Innovation and Electoral Research. who is attacking the problems of election administration. "But to be absolutely sure that this person on the deceased list was given to you is the same person on your list of electors?" It becomes very difficult. "
The advocacy groups claim that the question It is not what constitutes a reasonable effort, but what types of efforts are unreasonable.And they draw attention to a case before the Supreme Court as evidence of what the aggressive purges really do.
In this lawsuit, Ohio officials deprived eligible voters of their electoral rights by requiring all paying-form voters to indicate they had moved. not returned the form were written off if they had not voted in the next two elections, even if they were still legally eligible.
The Supreme Court, which will hear the case in January, will decide whether purge has violated the near-total prohibition of the Voter Registration Act regarding the withdrawal of registrants because they do not vote. Three of the four conservative defense groups filed briefs supporting Ohio's purging methods.
"The right to vote is too important to be treated as a right of use or loss," said Naifeh de Demos, who represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
A federal court of appeal invalidated the Ohio rule last year. According to some experts, the Supreme Court has decided to rehear the case, suggesting that judges may be inclined to reconsider the decision of the court of first instance. It also highlights the importance of the Republican Senate's decision to maintain a vacant seat on the court until a Trump administration candidate, a new judge, Neil M. Gorsuch , can give the majority to the conservatives.
any decision is likely to have a rather limited scope because the debate involves only a technical interpretation of a single clause in the law, said Edward B. Foley, an expert on Ohio State University Law School Elections
Examples of the consequences of aggressive purges are not difficult to find: in Florida in 2004 and 2012 , and Georgia, which ended a program in September that canceled or marked to purge about 35,000 registered voters, including two-thirds African-American. This purge was based on a data matching program that reported errors such as a missing apostrophe or a misplaced union trait.
Proponents argue that purging efforts are in favor of their other legal battles. restrictions imposed by Republican governments: amicus memoirs supporting partisan manipulation in Wisconsin; North Carolina's election restrictions later found for violating the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act; and a Kansas rule that imposed proof of citizenship requirements on new registrations for state elections.
The record of groups in the courts and public opinion has been mixed. While they have reached agreements with election officials in a handful of largely rural counties, other lawsuits have been thrown out, and fact checkers (such as here and here) have frequently handed over in question the claims of the groups
. Note that defendants of lawsuits filed by groups tend to adapt to a partisan mold. "In a nutshell, they are targeting minority areas and highly democratic areas," said Snips of Broward, which is the bluest county in Florida.
Mr. Churchwell replied that many of the counties that received notice in September were "red counties that will never become Democrats."
"We do a pretty terrible job in Iowa and in Nebraska "he jokingly
Robert Popper, a former Justice Department attorney now at Judicial Watch, suggested that the criticisms of groups are those who make politics. The Voter Registration Act broadens both voter registration opportunities and demands that lists be eliminated, he added. While the Justice Department of the Obama administration vigorously imposed voter registration requirements, the last lawsuit was filed in 2007.
The Department of Justice of the Trump administration is changing the game. He has already waived prosecution of restrictive voting practices. He asked state election officials to provide him with information on what they were doing to update their brief.
And in August, he filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in favor of Ohio. reversing the opposition of the Justice Department of Obama on this subject.
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