Monday, November 27, 2017

Advocacy group tells 248 counties to clean up their voter rolls or get sued in federal court; sues Ky.

"At a time when gaming the rules of elections has become standard political strategy," a conservative advocacy group has asked 248 counties to "do what Congress has ordered: Prune their rolls of voters who have died, moved or lost their eligibility — or face a federal lawsuit," Michael Wines reports for The New York Times. A conservative group connected with PILF, Judicial Watch, filed a federal suit Nov. 14 against the state of Kentucky. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said "Kentucky has perhaps the dirtiest election rolls in the country" and that "dirty voting rolls can mean dirty elections."

The voting rights group Demos "and two other advocacy groups, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, offered legal help to any of the 248 county election officials who tried to oppose the notice," Wines reports.

Wines writes, "Conservative groups and Republican election officials in some states say the poorly maintained rolls invite fraud and meddling by hackers, sap public confidence in elections and make election workers' jobs harder. Voting rights advocates and most Democratic election officials, in turn, say that the benefits are mostly imaginary, and that the purges are intended to reduce the number of minority, poor and young voters, who are disproportionately Democrats."

Anderson County in Kentucky
(Wikipedia map)
In Anderson County, Kentucky, which received a letter from PILF, County Clerk Jason Denny said it's possible there are more registered voters than people who are eligible to vote, but said his office can't clean up the voter rolls. "We’re not allowed to touch them . . . Only the State Board of Elections can purge them," he told Editor Ben Carlson of The Anderson News. "We have no way of knowing if anything corrupt is going on."

Denny said his office takes care to notify the state Office of Vital Statistics about deaths in the county, which is supposed to cause the deceased to be removed from voter rolls. He thinks bad census numbers may be partially to blame for the alleged excess of registered voters over eligible ones. "Some people don’t fill out the census honestly because they don’t want to be counted," Denny said. "But, they register to vote because they want to vote, and that makes it look skewed."

If that's the case, such discrepancies may continue to show up: the 2020 census will shift toward a more online model of self-reporting, which could cause rural areas to be undercounted.

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