Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia. Those in Pennsylvania can start worrying next year.
Keep checking back, because purges may be ongoing. And alert your friends!
All these states are now participants in the “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck,” a program administered by the Kansas Board of Elections (with help from Arkansas) since 2005 that purports to identify "potential" duplicate voter registrations. It is now offered by the state of Kansas as a service to other states at no charge. Twenty-six have signed on. Pennsylvania will implement only next year.
Here in Virginia, which just joined this program, it appears to be causing some properly registered voters be kicked off the election rolls inappropriately, just as the registration deadline approaches for the upcoming November elections.
In my Virginia county, this purge has not yet happened, but it’s coming, I have learned.
I started looking into this after rodentrancher posted a diary about a letter from the Accomack County, Va., registrar’s office informing him he had been removed from the Virginia voting rolls, on the grounds that he had moved to South Carolina.
In fact, he had moved from South Carolina some time back, updated his registration properly, voted in Virginia last year and, on double checking, confirmed that he is no longer on the South Carolina voter registration list. Nevertheless, he had been purged from the Virginia voter rolls. Oddly enough, not his wife.....just him. He talked to his local registrar’s office and was able to learn that the Virginia Board of Elections had sent the local election boards a spreadsheet of 350,000 names to be expunged from the rolls. But rodentrancher’s contact either didn’t know or didn’t explain the full background.
For more information about rodentrancher’s experience, the diary is here http://www.dailykos.com/.... (In the comment section he responded to a variety of questions and there are other worthwhile comments.)
Another Virginia Kossack, Old Redneck, checked and discovered that he had also vanished from the list of registered voters: http://www.dailykos.com/... . Again, the individual found himself purged, but his wife remained registered. Old Redneck apparently had received zero notification, before or after the fact. He added:
Funny thing is, I'm the chief election official at our polling place!!I’m in Arlington County, Va. I checked my own name in the Virginia database (https://www.vote.virginia.gov/...) and verified that I was still on it–-for the present. I then contacted the Arlington County registrar’s office.
The person with whom I spoke confirmed that the Virginia Board of Elections recently sent the county a list of names to be purged from the voter rolls.
And...what is more...the voter list purge in Arlington County has not taken place yet, but it will. Today is September 4. Voter registration closes October 15.
Arlington County, I was told, was the last county to receive its purge list, after all of the other counties in Virginia. Coincidentally or not, this is a reliably "blue" jurisdiction. (Two out of three Arlington board of elections members are Republican, however, because the governor is Republican, and that’s the rule.)
The person I spoke with had no information on when the Arlington County purge would take place, whether those removed would be notified either in advance or afterwards, or what protections are in place to prevent wrongful removal. The official registrar was tied up in an all-day meeting. Hm, I wonder why?
Separately, and with helpful cues from commenters in rodentrancher’s diary, I dug down into the background.
Several news articles were informative, including these, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch at http://www.timesdispatch.com/... , and the Patriot-News in central Pennsylvania at http://www.pennlive.com/....
These made it pretty clear we are dealing with fallout from something called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck emanating from Kansas. Primary sources, however, appeared scarce to nonexistent.
After trying multiple search variations, at last I somehow turned up a PowerPoint presentation given by an official of the Kansas election director’s office this January. Document may be viewed by going to:
NOTE: I would like to post excerpts in graphical format but lack skills and current software.
Here’s a summary of some of its points:
In 2012 the Kansas Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program compared more than 45 milion voter records in 15 states.
Here’s how it works, in theory, according to the document:
--Each state pulls data on January 15 each year using prescribed data formatIn 2012 the program claims to have identified more than 1.2 million “potential duplicate voters” based on three items: first name, last name, date of birth. (I got this figure by totaling state-by-state numbers on page 11 of the document).
--Upload data to secure FTP site (hosted by Arkansas)
--Kansas IT department pulls data, runs comparison, uploads results to FTP site
--Each state downloads results from FTP site, processes them according to state laws & regulations
--Kansas deletes all other states’ data
Between 2008 and 2010 (three-year period), the program claims to have identified a total of 25 “double votes”–-people who voted twice--as referred for possible prosecution: 15 involving Kansas, four in Arizona and Colorado, and six unspecified.
How many properly registered voters went to the polls and found themselves not on the books is not stated.
Somehow, the last 4 digits of SSN and middle name at least are supposed to be accounted for at some point in the process. I’m not sure how that squares up with touting large numbers of “potential duplicate votes” based on only first and last names plus birth date. There is no detailed information on the sorting process. I’m not sure how much even the participating states are allowed to know about the programming details.
Apparently, however, each state gets a raft load of “potential duplicates” and bears the main burder of sorting through them using some kind of procedures they have to develop on their own. Apparently at least some states are pushing this responsibility down to the county level. The Richmond Times-Dispatch article suggests that Virginia state officials were still at sea as of this spring, let alone the counties.
County officials may be inadequately trained or prepared to cope. Some conceivably might even in desperation decide to just excise all the names and let the individuals voters fight it on Election Day. We don't know. This has had very little publicity, all told. Where is the t4ransparency?
Here is how a state commits to joining:
How Can a State Join the Crosscheck?Just before an election, like now, is the worst possible time to be trying to implement something like this at the last minute, unless of course confusion and time-wasting work to your advantage.
1. Chief State Election Official signs the Memorandum Understanding (MOU)
2. CSEO assigns two staff members:
- one election administration person
- one IT person
3. Staff members will:
- participate in annual conference call and email
- pull VR data in January
- receive cross check results and process
- instruct local elections officials (respond to requests for addresses, signatures on poll books, etc.)
But implementing it at all is questionable to me. More connectivity is not always a good thing. Even with the best will in the world, this process subjects voters in Virginia to potential disenfranchisement from problems in so many interlocking layers of orgainzation where they have no control and may not even be able to get any information:
–Problems with overall program model
–Lousy software in Kansas
–Human errors or IT breakdowns in Kansas
–Human errors or IT breakdowns in Arkansas
–Errors or problems in any other participating state
–Errors or poor implementation practices in hands of Virginia board of election personnel
–Errors or bad implementation practices in hands of county and city election personnel
–Lack of training at any level
–Miscommunications at any level
–Shortage of time and resources in local registars’ office
For example, rodentrancher apparently was removed because someone was using a South Carolina voter list from 2009!
Is this legal?
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Once a dual match has been confirmed as accurate, Section 8 of the National Voting Rights Act allows the removal of voters from the rolls only if they either confirm in writing that they changed their address or fail to respond to a notice and fail to vote in the next two federal general elections.
rodentrancher’s experience suggests that Accomack County may not have been meeting that legal requirement.
Suing might be a good idea, but also a huge absorber of resources.
Finally, as pointed out by a commenter to rodentranchers diary, why go through all this? Some states use a smple method system to notify other states when a new person moving from somewhere else registers as a voter. (New Mexico was cited as an example.) The old state can then remove the voter from the rolls.
Most voter duplications that do exist are admittedly not from fraud, they happen when people don’t know they are required to separately unregister in one place and re-register in the other. So far as we know only a tiny handful of people, like single digits annually, may actually vote twice almost exclusively a paeprwork issue?
Anyway, it would be less work for all states to notify each other automatically of changes instead of doing this whole exercise annually, and finally, if there is to be central coordination of voter registration information around the US, why rely on another state? If we really need it, shouldn’t it be nonpartisan and federal?
Even if you're from one of the other states, apparently you could be facing the same kind of thing. So please check your registration and keep checking.
I'm afraid we all need to get after our state and local election boards to be more transparent about what they are doing here. If you find out anything more, how about a diary? Or message me? And do you have any connections to somebody who might be worth notifying? Department of Justice? Congress? Media?
As one starting point it would be interesting to get hold of the Memorandum of Understanding, seems like it should be available from state governments under Sunshine laws.
Another note: I have balky software and a slow connection that makes some basic things impossible (like editing a diary draft!) I borrowed a computer for a short time just to post this. If anything looks funny or I seem to be commenting in the wrong place in response to your comments, that’s why. I can get and send Kos messages okay though. And I do mean to fix.