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I recently received a post card from my Secretary of State's office stating... "You may be eligible to vote, but don't appear to be registered."  The only problem... I've been registered for 16 years. I've been kicked off of the voter registration list and I don't know why.

Here is the baffling card:

I intend to call the Secreatary of State's office Monday and ask some pointed questions.  But, how could I have been unregistered?

I have lived at the same address for 8 years.
I have had no change of name or legal status.
My husband and I have voted in the same elections for years and HE didn't get a postcard.
I received a mail ballot (along with everyone else in the state of Washington) for the last election.

So, how did I get unregistered and why now?

I found a blog by another state resident who claimed she had been sent a similar post card recently.

Somehow, their records of my birth month were inaccurate by 2 months. Not my birth year and not my birth day. Just the month. And she indicated it had been wrong for the full 12 years that I have been a Washington registered voter.
Hopefully I will learn my own tale on Monday. But, I am angry.  It would be one thing to contact me and ask me to correct any sort of discrepancy. It is another entirely to wait until just before a presidential election, UNREGISTER me as a voter due to no fault or action of my own, and force me to RE-REGISTER.

Maybe I'm angry for no good reason. Maybe I should just re-register and get on with my life. But, I'm wondering how many of these post cards were sent... how many other people with lives only slightly more hectic than my own will miss the post card, or ignore it because they KNOW they are registered and have not done anything that would cause them to be unregistered.

I will update if and when I get more information about my specific situation.

Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 6:51 PM PT: I called the Secretary of State today... and it all appears to have been a misunderstanding. I am indeed still registered to vote, but under the wrong birth month.

The office said they are doing voter outreach, it doesn't sound like they are removing anyone from the voter rolls. They sent me a postcard because the name and date of birth on my driver's license did not match that of any registered voter.  This explains why it said I was not registered when I checked the web site.  The lady on the phone said she'd correct my birth month, and it had probably been incorrect in the system for the past 16 years.

I can say the post card was VERY misleading. I certainly would have advocated for another means of voter outreach!

Originally posted to faedrake on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:08 AM PDT.

Also republished by PacNW Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When you get your answers (19+ / 0-)

    maybe you could call the local media and try to get them to run the story? Needs publicity so that others who get the postcards will take them seriously. And I'd love to see an update here from you!

  •  While updating my address online in WA (10+ / 0-)

    ...I basically discovered what a piece of crap website the state has set up for updating voting registration information online.  After going through all the steps, the site went to an error page, suggesting something had gone wrong.  Moreover, it said that a confirmation email would be sent and none ever was.  

    Ultimately I ended up emailing the site's tech contact and doing a little troubleshooting with her (fortunately I do website QA for a living so it wasn't exactly a bother).  Turns out that on her end, the database showed I had actually updated the address three different times, but the site failed to ever inform me that the process had correctly worked.

    I'm glad I followed up with someone.  But I wonder how many less tech savvy people out there got confused by the bad website interface and gave up?

  •  that (14+ / 0-)

    is what "voter purging" is all about.

    they're hoping you'll be too mad, or too busy,

    to notice the card -- and re-prove you exist.

    Frequently, they target known democratic areas,
    when targeting who to purge.

    They often rely on faulty computer name matches to figure out who to purge.  

    I read that one purging operation that determined who to"challenge" -- by "purging" anyone who had an 80% name match with a known felon.

    thanks for sharing your story and posting the card, faedrake.  

    PS.  It is illegal to do this within 90 days of an Election.

    Someone broke the law, apparently.

    Are you ready to Vote? Are you still 'allowed' to Vote?
    -- Are you sure?

    by jamess on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:28:04 AM PDT

    •  I don't think WA is doing deliberate purging (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, George3, Eyesbright

      My experience with trying to update my address here (as I detailed above) suggests they may be underfunded, understaffed or dealing with computer software that is just not really up to the task.  

      That said, it's definitely a major problem when someone like the diarist gets kicked off the voter rolls for no apparent good reason.  

      •  and yet the challenge exists ... (6+ / 0-)

        Washington state asks Homeland Security for help identifying non-citizens.

        Ac cording to the letter, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed attached his name to the effort asking for "cooperation to improve voter roll integrity" along with election leaders in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Kansas, Georgia, Arkansas, Alaska, and the battleground states of Iowa and Ohio.

        Is Washington trying to purge those who are illegally registered to vote here before November?

        Elections officials say, no.

        Every month the state goes through voter records to remove names of the deceased and to look for duplicates. Three times a year they check the voting records to make sure there are no convicted felons registered to vote.

        Are you ready to Vote? Are you still 'allowed' to Vote?
        -- Are you sure?

        by jamess on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:47:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We have a republican (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          George3, Eyesbright

          who is currently the state attorney general and would like to be governer. This would be the same attorney general that sued the federal government over health care reform even though the peopleof this state, the governer and most of our elected officals objected.

          I think now he is purging away in hopes he can win.

          It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

          by PSWaterspirit on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 02:23:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the AG has no say on voting (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Eyesbright, Odysseus

            It's the Secretary of State, who's also a Republican but one of the vanishingly few (semi-)sensible ones. Had Sam Reed not been fair and unbiased during the 2004 gubernatorial recounts, Dino Rossi would have been our Governor.

            Reed is retiring. Vote for Kathleen Drew for SoS!!

            Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. -- K.Marx A.Lincoln

            by N in Seattle on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:09:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  At least they told you, and with any luck (4+ / 0-)

    in time to correct it. What about those who find out at the polls? Eek.

  •  a friggin POST CARD?!!! (3+ / 0-)

    not even a certified letter or first class?

    that post cards get lost among the bulk mail is common - that your particular post card resembles a flippin' advertisement, ferchrissakes, is doubly astounding!

    how many people will simply toss that card without reading it!

    this is outrageous - you didn't mention which state you are in but i'd be willing to bet "$10,000" that yours is a critical swing state.

    what we really need are laws that prohibit disenfranchising voters for at least a year before an election - and then, ONLY by signature required return receipt requested mail! (that would help the post office, too, btw).

    then, at the very least, you would have some notification that you are about to be stripped of your right to vote!  

    AND, with each attempt by a state to do this, there must be documentation included that, if on election day, the voter shows up and refutes that documentation, they get their vote back!


    i loathe the right wing perpetuators of voter fraud more each day!

    •  I have wondered about the push (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      edrie, Thestral, George3, Eyesbright, madhaus

      by Republicans to force the United States Post Office to fully fund the retirement benefits  all current post office employees within the next three years.  My understanding is that if the Post Office can't come up with the money within the next three years, the Post Office would have to close.  

      If that were to happen, then the notifications that you have been dropped from the voter rolls would be delivered how?  Or, not delivered?  Just another disenfranchisement method?

      Time is a long river.

      by phonegery on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:15:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Secretary of State Erroneously Notifies Thousands (13+ / 0-)

    of Registered Voters that They Are Not

    The Washington Secretary of State's office mailed out 1.1 million postcards to eligible voters this week notifying them that they "don't appear to be registered" to vote, generating confusion and suspicion from thousands of recipients who are in fact registered.

    State co-director of elections Shane Hamlin confirms that his office has received about 1,100 phone calls over the past week from concerned registered voters who erroneously received the postcard...,Hamlin defends the mailing as an effort to promote voter registration education: "It's intended to be an outeach," explains Hamlin, "not an attempt to scare people way..."

    But the office's good intentions don't satisfy Kathleen Drew, the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State. "It is clear that this is something that should not be happening 46 days before an election day..."

    The error occurred when the Secretary of State's office cross-referenced the drivers license database with the voter registration database, matching on first name, last name, and birth date. Subject to some further eligibility screenings, postcards were mailed to people found in the former but not in the latter...

    Hmmmm.... Meanwhile, Colorado SoS sends out  postcards to 70,000 already-registered voters...
    ...saying, "Our records show you may be eligible but are not registered to vote..."

    Jim Syring moved to his home in southeast Denver in 1978, and he says he has voted in every election since then. So it was a surprise when he received a postcard from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office...

    Voters in New Mexico also received postcards from the Secretary of State

    The postcards, mailed to voters last month with instructions to return them with a current address... Duran insists that's why she initiated the project and will eventually ask counties to purge some of these voters from the rolls.

    But critics allege that the postcard project's timing and Duran's political record are indications of an effort to suppress New Mexico's increasingly Latino, Democratic-leaning vote...

    ...Across the country, election administrators in Texas, Florida, Ohio, Colorado and other states are working to disqualify voters they say are ineligible or dead. Critics charge that officials... efforts disproportionately affect minority voters. Most voter purges have faced stop orders from courts or the U.S. Department of Justice.

    ...New Mexico, while the postcard project is technically legal, its possible effects are anything but clear. Voting rights advocates say Duran's tactics come from a 21st century voter suppression tool kit, one in which subtlety, tenacity and knowledge of voter psychology have replaced violence, literacy tests and threats...

    Odd how all those SoS's supposedly have the "best intentions" and how they "mistakenly" sent notices to eligible voters, and how it's all just coincidental...

  •  you can probably confirm online. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rja, Eyesbright

    I wouldn't wait until tomorrow; I'd check now.

  •  This is why election day registration, as they (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, Odysseus

    currently have in ten states, should be mandatory.

    This kind of trickery becomes completely useless to vote supressors when states have election day registration laws.

    Republicans, of course, don't like election day registration because it increases turnout:

    Voter turnout is much higher in states using Election Day registration than in states that did not. In the 2004 presidential election, voter turnout in same-day voter registration states was 12 percent higher than states that did not;[2] in the 2006 midterm elections, states with same-day voter registration had turnout rates 10-12 percent higher than in other states.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 12:05:45 PM PDT

    •  In Washington... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Washington State has mail-in voting.  "Election day" is just the deadline to postmark or hand in the ballot that was mailed to the voter.  The only "polling place" in my county is the county election office, and each voters home.

      Secretary of State Sam Reed has been an official of total integrity.  I do not think the present screw up is another Republican voter suppression tactic.

  •  "Residents" (4+ / 0-)

    In the Slog post mentioned elsewhere, this was the very first comment:

    my drivers license and voter registration information is 100% accurate and I still got one of those postcards ... and it was addressed to "Residents" at my apartment address
    Not to an allegedly non-registered individual, just nonspecific "Residents". Quite a few others noted the same thing.

    And of course, everybody pays attention to every postcard addressed as if it's junk mail.

    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. -- K.Marx A.Lincoln

    by N in Seattle on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 12:08:53 PM PDT

  •  I've sent this article to relatives in Washington (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with a heads up to absolutely be sure to verify that they're registered to vote.  OTOH, knowing them, anyone trying to deny them the right to vote in their proper precinct would be subject to a scene that might make the nightly news!

    To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men. -Abraham Lincoln

    by Eyesbright on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:12:42 PM PDT

  •  I actually think the card was right (0+ / 0-)

    You weren't registered to vote. No one with your name, address and birth date was on the voter rolls. The purpose of those cards was to inform you of that fact. I'm glad you got it all sorted out, and I'm glad the state of Washington does these sorts of things. Making sure that as many eligible people are registered is a good thing, and the fact that the DMV information on you matched no one in the registration database should trigger those kinds of notices.

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